FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A California man who has an unusual and highly-criticized collection of memorabilia lives right here in the Central Valley. William Harder collects letters, artwork and other items from serial killers.
Investigators in California were accusing Harder of helping incarcerated killers profit directly from his website murderauction.com. Harder denies those claims, saying the site is only a hobby. He's also defending his unique collection.
Harder shows off a frame with copies of Charles Manson's booking chart and driver's license. They're just some of dozens of items in his home that are associated with serial killers. From human skulls to artwork, Harder knows his hobby for collecting items that are murder-related is unique.
"My mother loves me. I'm her son. She wishes I collected baseball cards," said Harder.
Harder runs a website called murderauction.com -- what he calls the eBay for murder and other crime-related items. Harder says his fascination started when he was 22 and stumbled upon artwork for sale by Richard Ramirez -- also known as the "Night Stalker." He ended up reaching out to Ramirez and received his first letter from the "Night Stalker" himself not long after. He's since visited dozens of inmates on death row, traveling across the country to make connections with convicted killers.
"Of course I've visited with Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez. It's 70 plus, so it gets hard to start picking individual cases," said Harder.
The self-proclaimed vegan says he doesn't condone killing at all. Harder says his interest in the killers isn't that far off from American culture and violence seen every day.
"People are tuning in, people are interested. I'm not alone in this interest. What just sets me apart from the masses is that instead of watching the documentary I go visit the person and ask why or how," said Harder.
Recently the state investigated Harder, saying he helps killers profit off the auctions and helped one of the "Freeway Killers" serving life sentences from a spree of murders in the '70s and '80s.
"While it makes me a little bit angry and frustrated, it's scary because this is real; they are really trying to say I do these things, and I know that I don't," said Harder.
Investigators ultimately found no crime had been committed by Harder. Harder says he was only passing along a message from one of the killers to his girlfriend on Facebook. While victims advocates have accused him of profiting off killers, he says this is only a hobby and it does not support him. Meanwhile, he's in the process of launching a social networking site called "Murder Space" for other true crime enthusiasts.