Carl “Charlie” Brandt
Fort Wayne, Indiana-
On the evening of January 3rd of 1971, 13 year old Charlie walked into his parents bathroom where his father, Herbert, had been shaving and his 8 month pregnant mother, Ilse, was bathing; the young man shot his father in the back, then turned his firearm on his mother. She was shot multiple times; one of those bullets hit the unborn baby boy in the head, he died instantly. Charlie then focused his attention on his then 15 year old sister, Angela, who had been in her bedroom. He aimed the gun at the teen, but for whatever reason the weapon wouldn’t fire; a physical struggle ensued. Charlie overpowered his older sister, he wrapped his fingers around her neck and began to squeeze.
Angela would later say that it felt like Charlie had been in some sort of a trance or something, because he suddenly just snapped out of it and let his little sister go; the girl was able to run away and notify police. Their daddy survived the attempted murder, but Mama and her unborn baby did not.
The creepy part, doctors could find no mental illness; there had been absolutely no history of childhood abuse, no trauma, nor had anyone noticed any red flags which may have warned of something sinister on the horizon. Incredibly, Charlie was never brought up on criminal charges for what he’d done; instead he was forced to spend a single year in a psych ward, then released into his unconditionally loving father’s custody.
Upon his release Charlie’s father insisted that the teen remain part of the family, and he was adamant that Charlie’s two younger siblings would never know that their big brother had been responsible for Mama Ilse’s murder. Charlie’s oldest sister, on the other hand, would later state that she’d always felt uneasy around the neither who’d attempted to steal her life.
So, life went on, and Charlie was able to put the entire thing behind him; in 1984 the young killer had earned a degree in electronics, and in 1989 he moved to the Florida Keys – Big Pine Key, to be exact. Our killer fell in love and married a woman named Teresa, “Teri” for short. The few who had been aware of the man’s horrific past insisted that Charlie inform Teri of his troubled youth, and Charlie had sworn I that he had told Teri. This is up for debate, as most of the family claims they were never told of Charlie’s past and Teri was the world’s worst secret keeper. That said, at least one relative claims to have had a discussion with Teri about it. We shall get to that momentarily.
Charlie and Teri had been so deeply in love, those who knew the pair thought they had been the perfect couple; two peas in a pod. They had always been together, the pair spent nearly all of their free time out on the water. They truly seemed to be the best of friends, one of those enviable couples – until September of 2004.
Hurricane Ivan hit South Florida, and the Brandts were forced to evacuate the Keys. Teri had a beloved niece, a 37 year old advertising executive named Michelle Jones, who resided in Orlando. Michelle invited her Aunt Teri and Charlie to come stay with her, and on this particular night several friends were supposed to come hang out with them.
Unfortunately no one showed up, and Michelle was left there with Teri and Charlie. The next day, September 13th of 2004, Michelle’s friends called and said they would’ve liked to come by, but Michelle solemnly stated that it wasn’t a good time as her aunt and uncle had been fighting; this would be the very last time anyone would ever hear from Michelle again.
For the next couple of days Michelle failed to return any phone calls, which had been very much out of character for her. Finally Michelle’s frantic mother convinced a friend named Debbie Knight to go check on her daughter; no one answered the front door, so Debbie began looking in windows. Imagine this woman’s surprise when she peeked through a garage window and saw a figure hanging from the rafters! Police were immediately summoned.
Investigators found Teri Brandt laying on the couch in a pool of her own blood, she’d been stabbed in the chest 7 times. Michelle had been murdered in the bedroom; she’d been decapitated and horribly mutilated. Charlie had disemboweled Michelle, removed her heart and lungs, cut her into pieces, and he’d posed her severed head by sitting it next to her corpse. As for Charlie, he had been the one Debbie had witnessed hanging from the rafters in Michelle’s garage; after he’d done his worst with the women in his life, this killer had committed suicide.
Unfortunately is not where our story ends. Investigators searched the Brandt home in the Florida keys and found that Charlie had been obsessed with snuff films, autopsy photos, surgical procedure books, and necrophilia. After learning of our killer’s troubled youth, police decided to look into the possibility that Charlie had been a serial killer. They found that there were multiple cold cases which bore striking similarities to Michelle Jones’ death: decapitated victims whose hearts and/or other organs had been removed. Wherever Charlie had gone, savage death could be found.
One of these suspected victims had been a 20 year old named Lisa Sanders, also from the Keys. On the night of December 16th of 1988, Lisa had gone missing whilst walking home from a party. Her corpse was later discovered on a gravel road, she’d been horribly mutilated. The poor young lady had been stabbed multiple times, and her heart, brain, colon, bladder, eyes, vagina, thyroid gland, and one fallopian tube had all been removed. It was so heinous that many locals simply refused to believe that a human could possibly have been responsible for this, it was surmised that maybe an animal such as a vulture had desecrated Lisa’s corpse. Today it’s believed this was some of Charlie’s handiwork.
Another victim was a homeless woman named Sherry Perisho who died on July 16th of 1989. Sherry had been discovered partially nude, her throat had been slashed, her head severed. Just like Michelle, her body was extensively mutilated and her heart had been cut out. Sherry’s body had been discovered less than 1,000 feet from where Charlie had lived at the time, and he matched a composite sketch.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this case is that Teri and Michelle’s murders didn’t necessarily have to happen; maybe other lives could’ve been spared as well. You see, Teri’s brother, Jim Graves, recollected after the massacre that his sister had confided in him that on the night in which Sherry Perisho was slain that she’d found her husband inside their garage drenched in blood. When asked why he was so bloody, Charlie had matter-of-factly stated that he had been cutting up fish. Maybe Teri would’ve continued to completely believed in her husband, but then Sherry’s heavily mutilated corpse had been found, and so incredibly close to the Brandt home. Jim recalled that Teri had debated calling the police, but you know. Who wants to believe that they’re married to someone capable of something this incredibly gruesome?
“Well, you know what the perfect revenge is, Jim? You kill somebody, and then you cut their heart out, and you eat it.”Charlie Brandt
There are 26 unsolved murders in South Florida dating back to 1973, the very year in which Charlie moved to Florida from Indiana; at least 6 have been linked to our killer. Maybe Charlie murdered the women he was attracted to, that’s a theory; it’s also believed that he had been enamored with his wife’s beautiful younger niece.
There are so many suspected victims, I’m just gonna tell you of a couple of the most heart wrenching ones. This is 12 year old Carol Sullivan, from Volusia county. She was last seen alive at her bus stop just before 7 am on September 20th of 1978. She disappeared, was never seen alive again. We know she’s deceased as her skull was discovered approximately 2 miles away in a 5 gallon bucket nearly two weeks later, though nothing else has ever been found. It’s worth mentioning that a 20 year old Charlie had been living in Volusia at the time. The case is officially cold. Another haunting case involves an unnamed 4 year old baby girl. It’s suspected that old Charlie was the culprit, but again, knowing something and proving it are two separate things.