KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 20, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Can the business of “murderabilia” be stopped? Andy Kahan, Director of Victims Services and Advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, stated his case against this booming industry on The Dr. Oz Show last week. He believes murderabilia glorifies killers and allows them to profit from their crimes, which further inflicts pain on the victims left behind.
Behind the scenes at the Dr. Oz Show. Photo courtesy of Andy Kahan.
Katy Dad, Victims Advocate Coined the Term
Kahan, Director of Victims Services and Advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, 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.
This Hurts Victims
“From the victim’s perspective this is absolutely nauseating and disgusting,” says Andy Kahan, of Katy.
In 1999, Kahan read 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 such as Murderauction.com.
Kahan said he wanted to know the dealers and understand how this business could be happening.
“I monitor the sales and listings best that I can and make sure that they aren’t too outrageous,” says Kahan. “I feel for the victims that have to know that the killer of their loved one is profiting from the crime. It’s like being gutted all over again.”
Kahan has worked with politicians such as Texas Senator John Cornyn to pass a policy that can limit and ban such sales. All efforts to date have failed.
“This is an issue of profiting vs. free speech,” says Kahan.
As long as there are people who want to pay top dollar for such items, policing it will be difficult.
“People want to own a piece of that,” says Kahan.
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.
30 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 30 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.
Last week, Kahan appeared on the The Dr. Oz Show. He discussed murderabilia and his efforts to follow and regulate the process of such sales. In the segment, Kahan debated with William Harder, a murderabilia collector and seller. Kahan advocated for the rights of the victims and their families. He warned that the sale of items from convicted killers allows them to feel relevant, and feeds into their ego.
“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.”