Ted Bundy to Robert Pickton: B.C. couple houses private ‘murderabilia’ collection

Joshua and Weyla Roy display some of the many letters they have from serial killers like Robert Pickton and Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Joshua and Weyla Roy have been collecting murderabilia, oddities and wet specimens for years, building up a private collection with the goal of housing them in a museum one day. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Joshua and Weyla Roy display some of the many letters they have from serial killers like Robert Pickton and Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Joshua and Weyla Roy have been collecting murderabilia, oddities and wet specimens for years, building up a private collection with the goal of housing them in a museum one day. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
A preserved cow eyeball, part of Joshua and Weyla Roy’s collection. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
A 100-year-old fetus from the Buffalo School of Medicine. It now sits in Weyla and Joshua Roy’s private collection. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Joshua and Weyla Roy have been collecting murderabilia, oddities and wet specimens for years, building up a private collection with the goal of housing them in a museum one day. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
A skeleton Joshua and Weyla Roy acquired after getting a phone call from someone saying they have a skeleton in their closet. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Weyla and Joshua Roy’s cedar home is set on a quiet road in Metchosin. They have two dogs, a pet pig and live with their youngest daughter, 14. For the most part, it seems like an average home until you step inside.

Various pieces of art, letters and displays of oddities the couple has been collecting for years, hang on the home’s burgundy walls. They call it their collection of “murderabilia” and have been building the private collection for many years with the goal of opening a museum.

“It started when we went to New Orleans. We ended up going to the Museum of Death and found the world of true crime collecting and oddities,” Joshua said. “We bought the first item in our collection, a rib bone, and it went from there.”

The couple has signed artwork, letters and documents from notorious serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Robert Pickton, Dennis Rader (the “BTK” killer), and the “unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.

Some of the pieces were acquired from other collectors before the killers met their deaths in prison while others are correspondence between the couple and the individual.

“People watch shows about them because they’re safe and can watch this thing that’s scary,” Weyla said. “It’s like watching a horror movie but you’re learning about real people. You get insight into something you wouldn’t in every day life.”

Joshua said a lot of what they collect comes from “the worst of the worst” which is what makes it interesting.

“Why are they bad and creepy?” he said.

Through collecting these items and corresponding with the individuals, the Roys said they’ve been able to learn more about them, with insights – such as penmanship or what they choose to talk about – that are often not found in documentaries or podcasts. They said some come off as very normal, while others don’t.

Their correspondence with Robert Pickton, for example, has been going on for eight years. Pickton knows Joshua is a carpenter and works in construction, so he has sent them plans for a big, new pig farm for when he is released from prison.

The letters feature Pickton’s immaculate handwriting which has been ruled and underlined so everything is in a straight line.

Letters from Rader come with tests for them to pass in the form of homework and deciphering colour codes.

He also creates a seal to add to the letters and gives people he corresponds with a green, yellow or red dot.

The green dot means he will communicate with them while the red dot means they are no longer on speaking terms.

Other individuals have sent them artwork and they’ve commissioned a piece of art as well.

The couple also collects oddities and wet specimens, ranging from human bones to a preserved cow’s eyeball or a 100-year-old fetus their daughter named “Benjamin Button” since he came from a medical school where he taught many students.

In building their collection, they’ve been able to join a world-wide community of murderabilia, true crime and oddities collectors to learn from and trade with. They’ve travelled to many places to meet with other collectors and call themselves mid-range collectors.

Currently, those interested in seeing the “murderabilia” visit their home but the Roy’s dream of opening a museum one day.

They’ve hosted pop-up museums in Vancouver that they said went over well, with many families coming in to examine the items they have and learn about them.

One was planned for Victoria this summer but with the pandemic, they decided to not go ahead with it. Joshua said they might look at opening a pop-up museum in October, depending on how the situation changes.

“We have interactive pop-ups,” Weyla said. “People can pick up the oddities and see them. It’s one thing to look and say ‘wow that’s human femur’ but to pick it up and feel the weight of a bone or turn it from all angles … I sure love the interactivity of it.”

Joshua and Weyla said collecting the items is an “expensive hobby” and they likely won’t gather any more true crime related items because they have mostly everything they want.

They may continue to collect oddities, however, to house in their future museum.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca

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