This 12-part podcast from How Stuff Works follows Melissa Moore, who was raised as Melissa Jesperson, a writer from Washington State who also happens to be the daughter of Canadian-born serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, a.k.a. the Happy Face Killer.
Jesperson, a six-foot-six truck driver who spent much of his life on the road, murdered at least eight women over a five-year span in the early 1990s. (He claims to have killed many more.) Now serving a life sentence, Jesperson earned his nickname from the gloating, smiley-face-laden notes he sent to police after his kills.
Happy Face stands out because of Moore’s intimate tie to the criminal in question. She grew up in a small town in Washington state and survived the escalating violence from her home life and the man she called her father. But its biggest strength is the way it focuses on the more potent personal impact of Jesperson’s crimes — not only on the victims, but on his long-suffering family. Moore, who was a teenager when she learned about her father’s double life, uses her painful upbringing to explore deeper questions about family grief and the splintering effects of trauma.
Moore is also an Emmy-nominated crime correspondent. She hosted Monster in My Family, as well as a recognize expert on the topics of recovery from trauma, domestic violence and serial violent crimes. In 2016, Moore released her second book, Whole: A Guide to Self-Repair — which provides powerful proven tools to reframe the pain experience and regain confidence after trauma. Today, she lives in California with her husband Sam and two teenage children.