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Melissa Moore, daughter of 'Happy Face' serial killer Keith Jesperson: 'I worried I would turn out like him'
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- Keith Jesperson murdered eight women in the 1990s and sent clues to police
- Jesperson gave daughter Melissa Moore lessons on how to be a good citizen
- He told her to change her name when he last saw her aged 15
By Emily Davies
PUBLISHED: 11:57 EST, 1 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:09 EST, 2 April 2013
The father who tucked her into bed at night was also the man who murdered eight women and left clues for police signed with a happy face.
This was the truth that Melissa Moore, now aged 33, had to come to terms with as a teenager when her father Keith Hunter Jesperson was convicted of homicide.
Ms Moore has spoken of the ordeal of being related to a serial killer in a book which gives a candid account of her adolescence after her father's conviction.
Melissa Moore (left) spoke of how she came to terms with the fact that her father was a serial killer (right)
CNN reported how Ms Moore came to terms with being the daughter of the Happy Face Killer, who killed eight women during his time as a long haul truck driver in the 1990s.
Jesperson, who was divorced from Ms Moore's mother, earned his notoriety by sending confessions describing his heinous crimes to police and journalists and signing them with a smiley face.
He often targeted prostitutes and homeless women, sexually assaulting them before killing them with his bare hands.
Jesperson murdered his first known victim Taunja Bennett, in 1990, after meeting her at a bar near Portland, Ore. and inviting her back to a house he was renting.
He beat her and strangled her to death after they had sex, then went back out to a bar to create an alibi. He later returned to the house to dispose of the body before leaving town.
He struck again in August 1992 when he raped and strangled a woman, repeated the crime with a prostitute named Cynthia Lyn Rose a month later, then killed a fourth woman, also a prostitute, named Laurie Ann Pentland from Salem before the year was out.
Jesperson claims to have killed hundreds of women, but very few were ever identified as Taunja Bennet and long-time girlfriend Julia Ann Winningham were
Jesperson claimed Pentland set him off when she tried to double her fee and threatened to call the police if he didn't comply.
His fifth victim, a Jane Doe living on the streets in Santa Nella, Calif., was discovered in July of 1993.
Another Jane Doe who's death was attributed to Jesperson was found in September 1994.
In one particularly brutal homicide, he raped and strangled a woman named Angela Surbize who he was driving from Spokane, Wash., to meet her boyfriend in Indiana, then strapped her face-down to the undercarriage of his truck so her face and prints would be ground off by the road while he drove.
He was finally caught in 1995 after strangling long-time girlfriend Julia Ann Winningham, who he said did not love him but only wanted his money.
He confessed details of his murderous history while in custody, but later recanted much of it.
Ms Moore described her confusion over the two sides to her father. She remembered playing games with him, having family meals at the local truck stop and being tucked into bed 'like a burrito' by Jesperson at night.
She said: ‘When I was growing up, my dad had put so much pride in my last name, and he gave me lessons on how to be a good citizen.
‘My name was now known for these horrific murders, and it started to make me wonder if I was like my dad.’
Melissa Moore said her father (pictured with her in the early 1980s) was encouraged her to be proud of her identity and taught her to be a good citizen
But Ms Moore recalled that she had seen her father been violent during her childhood and had beat their pet dog to death in front of her by repeatedly striking it in the head.
‘But I didn't like to remember that,' she added.
At the age of 15 she paid her last visit to her father when he was awaiting trial at Washington's Clark County jail and he told her: ‘Missy, you need to change your last name.'
She said: ‘That's when I knew that these things were true.'
At the age of 21 she got married and took her husband's surname, deciding to sever all ties with Jesperson, who was serving multiple life sentences.