Crime

Talk of reopening serial killer Bob Berdella’s Bazaar Bizarre is dismissed as a hoax

A recent hoax claimed that serial killer Robert Berdella’s former flea market booth would be reopened in Westport. The owner of the flea market has said the idea was never considered.
A recent hoax claimed that serial killer Robert Berdella’s former flea market booth would be reopened in Westport. The owner of the flea market has said the idea was never considered.

If anyone in Kansas City wanted to shop at a dead serial killer’s flea market booth, they can forget it.

Reports of a grand reopening of Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre — the Westport Flea Market curio shop once run by notorious Kansas City murderer Robert Berdella — were a hoax, according to flea market owner Joe Zwillenberg. And those supposedly behind the project announced Thursday they have abandoned the idea.

The reopening of a booth under the name Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre had been announced earlier this month on a Facebook page and discussed by local television stations. The creators of the Facebook page did not identify themselves by name but claimed to be relatives of Berdella.

Berdella ran the booth in the 1980s, around the time he tortured and killed six young men in his Hyde Park home.

Berdella confessed to the killings and died in prison in 1992. His story has become a grim piece of Kansas City lore and the location of his former home on Charlotte Street a landmark of crime history.

Zwillenberg said he learned of the Facebook announcement from a customer and hasn’t spoken with the people behind it. He’s never considered allowing Berdella’s shop to be re-created and isn’t interested in it, he said.

Occasionally flea market visitors ask about Berdella’s old booth, and Zwillenberg shows it to them. The booth has been occupied by another vendor for years and there is nothing to mark the killer’s former presence there.

“We don’t shy away from it,” Zwillenberg said. “It’s history. But we aren’t thinking of setting up a booth for him.”

Zwillenberg said he had tried without success to reach the people behind the Facebook announcement. A person operating the page Thursday declined to comment when contacted by a Star reporter.

“I think it’s just a hoax,” Zwillenberg said. “Someone’s just put that up there to get a rise out of people.”

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