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Katy Victims Advocate Fights “Murderabilia” Industry, Hopes to Prevent Killers Profiting from Crimes

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

June 8, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark


Can “murderabilia” be stopped?” Andy Kahan, a victims advocate and Katy resident discussed the booming industry this weekend at CrimeCon in Austin along with industry legends like Nancy Grace. He believes murderabilia glorifies killers and allows them to profit from their crimes, which further inflicts pain on the victims left behind.

Andy Kahan educates a large crowd at ComicCon on "Murderabilia" with his stage lined with personal artifacts and manufactured items from serial killers. Photo courtesy: Andy Kahan.


Tackling Bail Bonds to "Murderabilia"

You may recognize him from the evening news as Kahan has been unarguably the strongest voice against the bail bond crisis in Texas, primarily Harris County. As Director of Victims Services and Advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston he directly sees the impact that the murders/homicides has through the victims that are left behind.


"The victims are the only people in the criminal justice system that are not there by choice," says Andy Kahan.


Katy Dad, Victims Advocate Coined the Term

Kahan coined the phrase “murderabilia” to refer to the sale of collectibles associated with murders, murderers, and homicides. Anything created or worn by mass killers can be marketed. Clothing (especially worn during a crime) artwork, writings, and even items like hair and nail clippings, and used deodorant go for top dollar.

Kahan with Chris Hansen of To Catch a Predator.

Victims are Affected by Murderabilia Sales

“From the victim’s perspective this is absolutely nauseating and disgusting,” says Kahan.


Like many things, education is key to stopping or at least controlling murderabilia, especially as obsession for such items only grows thanks to the national interest in True Crime shows.


“Everyone wants to talk about this,” says Kahan. “People like to see the dark side of what makes people tick, what makes them people take someone’s life when they don’t even know them,” explains Kahan.


For Kahan, his journey with murderabilia began In 1999 after reading about a New York serial killer who had been selling artwork. That led him to discover this multi-million-dollar industry.


In 2001, Ebay stopped selling such items, but that opened the market up to other sites and his search began.


“The murderabilia market continues to boom,” says Kahan. “It was an underground market and then the internet brought the market to where people could access it. They are selling both personal artifacts and manufactured items.”


Public Must Know

He takes every chance to educate and inform the public that murderabilia is a growing industry and to help people understand that sometimes offenders are profiting from their crimes. CrimeCon 2021 in Austin was a great opportunity to do just that. It’s the largest crime event of its kind with big speakers such as Nancy Grace, Dr. Angela Arnold, Joscott Morgan, Nate Eaton, and more.


Some of Charles Manson’s Hair Lives in Katy

Photo courtesy: Andy Kahan

And speaking of murderabilia, Kahan has a collection himself that he takes to his talks. Some of the highlights from his CrimeCon lecture that gathered the most shock and awe was his actual sample of Charles Manson’s hair, one of the Night Stalker’s letters, a personal letter to Andy from Edmund Kemper, nail clippings from a California Seral killer, and though a manufactured item the Jeffrey Dahmer doll with the word “eat me” on him always gets a gasp.


He started his own collection in order to better understand this industry and how it works.


Kahan had over 170 guests attend his lecture of the state of murderabilia. The event was also available virtually and it’s not known how many attended his lecture there.


“I’m under a strong believe that no one should commit murder and then be able to turn around and profit off of the crime,” says Kahan. He shows his items to prove to people what is out there and that people are actually buying this stuff.


“How they profit varies and is complicated,” explains Kahan. “Some profit and have written deals and some are clueless their stuff is being sold.”


A Mission to Focus on the Victims

Kahan’s mission is to focus on the victims and how this impacts them.


“We owe victims the dignity and respect to shut this down,” says Kahan. “Most people just have no idea how big this is. It’s shocking.”


Kahan says that most prisons are even unaware that stuff is being shipped out and sold for profit.


“It’s the strangest thing I’ve seen in nearly 35 years in the criminal justice industry,” says Kahan.



35 Years in the Business

Kahan opened the City of Houston’s Crime Victim Assistance office in 1992. Since then, he’s continued to fight for families for nearly 35 years by helping keep criminals behind bars. He’s received many national and local awards for victim advocacy. He assisted the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in crafting a policy to block death row inmates from having Facebook accounts. He’s also worked on multiple documentaries on the subject.


“I come from within the criminal justice system and it made me question who the system was fighting for,” says Kahan. “It drove me to where I am now to make sure victims had a voice.”


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