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I'll tell you one place we will be watching. If this documentary thing you're making ever gets to the theaters, he won't be able to help himself. He will see this movie as many times as he can. We'll keep an eye on as many screenings as we can, because he'll be there.
~ FBI Agent Leonard Schway regarding the Water Street Butcher.
You know, to be perfectly honest, I don't think either of us are gonna want you alive for the things I'm going to do to you.
~ The Water Street Butcher speaking to his next victim.
Edward Carver, better known as the Water Street Butcher, is the protagonist villain of the 2007 horror film The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
Edward Carver is a cunning and extremely disturbing serial killer, torturer and rapist. Calling him a huge sadist is quite an understatement, considering the gruesome nature of his murders and the fact that he would even kill a child (in fact, the child murder was his first one).
The Water Street Butcher enjoys toying with his victims before their impending death, usually by taking his time and taunting them. Completely soulless and remorseless, he only backed up once because he would have been exposed if he didn't.
At one point, he even forcefully keeps one of his victims as a slave to slit the throat of a prostitute he kidnapped in order to break her furthermore. He also leaves the aforementioned female slave alive, so she could commit suicide afterwards, only to dig up her corpse for further violations.
Carver also records all of his atrocities, not only for his own entertainment but also for the police (and by extension for all) to witness his crimes.
He may also consider his films as a sort of twisted "art". This is further reinforced by his taste for the theatrical, as in the sole scene where he films himself, he wears a commedia dell'arte bird mask, also known as a zanni mask, in order to remain unseen.
Powers and Abilities
He knew how to kill and dispose of people in many different ways, and he can play a serial killer profile exactly the way he wants. He especially liked filming his bizarre crimes with an old video tape camera, and collected over eight hundred tapes before police raided his home in 2001.
Although his name was eventually revealed (Edward Carver), his identity remains unknown for the public and inspectors, and he goes out of his way to not make people find out.
The only time he shows himself to the camera is when he's in complete disguise, including a commedia dell'arte bird mask. In a police sketch from 1993, his age looked to be in his mid-to-late twenties, putting him in his late thirties/early forties by 2007 (when the documentary was filmed).
Sometime in the late 1980's/early 1990's, the Butcher began his murder spree. Around 1988, he kidnapped an eight year old girl named Jennifer Gorman and killed her. His first murder was just based on impulse.
Later on, he became better. Somewhere between Pittsburgh and Poughkeepsie, he acted like his car broke down and hitched a ride from a married couple, Frank and Jeanette Anderson. He lured them to a desolate road a few miles off the freeway, where he clubbed Frank in the head with a hammer. Before Jeanette could escape, he put her sleep with a chemical agent while filming her face up close.
Later, the Butcher woke up Jeanette saying he had a surprise for her. He walks backwards with the camera to reveal that he cut Frank's head off and put it in Jeanette's stomach. It's later implied that she died when her head was cut off. Before killing the Andersons, the Butcher left a message on a local gas station security camera. While covering his face, he used sign language to say "red house". Jeanette's body was found buried behind the Red House Tavern just a mile away.
At one point, the Butcher killed the tenant of a house in Poughkeepsie and buried him in the backyard. The Butcher would live in this house over the next ten years or so.
In 1993, the Butcher traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania where he kidnapped a nineteen year old college student named Cheryl Dempsey. He also killed and mutilated her boyfriend Tim Surrey. The Butcher, in disguise, beat Cheryl into accepting her new name as “slave”.
When Cheryl's kidnapping was announced, the Butcher went back to Reading, went up to Cheryl's mother Victoria, and acted like a sympathetic person asking to help. It dawned on Victoria that he was the man who kidnapped Cheryl, but before she could react, he ran off. After returning to Poughkeepsie, he dressed Cheryl in a medieval dress and a rubber mask.
Later in 1993, Poughkeepsie became aware of the Butcher's crimes, so he got himself a new M.O. He acted as a police officer and began kidnapping prostitutes. He would arrest them, take them back to his house, and kill them. He would even force Cheryl to kill some (a tape a shown where she's forced to slit one's throat).
It's implied that Cheryl was forced to strangle another prostitute, but as the Butcher tried to coax two girl scouts, he heard the prostitute in his basement, so he told the scouts to leave and took care of her himself as the camera was left filming Cheryl's face in a mirror while she was tied up in a glass box.
The Butcher still committed his original crimes. He picked up a British woman, whose car broke down, in his cop car. The Butcher pulled his car over and it's implied that he raped her right in that spot. Later, the woman is tied up in his basement when the Butcher does a slow cat-like crawl towards her while in black tights and a white mask on his head. He rises his head revealing that he's wearing his iconic bird mask. He then stabs her in the neck slowly with two prongs attached to his fingers, killing her.
The Butcher planted evidence on his victims implicating a Poughkeepsie detective named James Foley. Foley was arrested and put on trial in Pennsylvania. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on September 9, 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks. The Butcher sent a map saying "missed one" to Foley's former detective partner, and another body was found. Foley was exonerated on the twelfth and it's put in the newspaper, but it receives little to no attention because of 9/11.
The IP address was tracked on the printed map, and the Butcher's house is found, but the desired killer is long gone and managed to leave no fingerprints behind. The Poughkeepsie Tapes are found as well as Cheryl Dempsey, who has been kept alive for eight years. Dempsey has been so psychologically abused that she tortures herself behind peoples' backs.
In 2007, the documentary was filmed about what happened. All sorts of people, ranging from victims' family members to FBI agents, gave their testimony. Cheryl Dempsey was finally interviewed as well, but now she is disturbed and whispers. At one point during her interview, she scratched her head with the stump of her left forearm, implying that she cut it off. She says that the Butcher loved her and will come back for her, and later kills herself two weeks later. After Dempsey's funeral, her body is stolen by the killer, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Before The Movie
Dozens of unknown people - Killed by the Water Street Butcher, Edward Carver, in an unknown manner.
During The Movie
Unknown Woman - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, body shown.
Two Women - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Unknown Man - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Unknown Woman - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Unknown Baby - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Male Tenant - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Four Women - Killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen, mentioned.
Jennifer Gorman - Kidnapped and killed by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner off-screen.
Unknown Man - Bludgeoned in the head with an unknown weapon by the Water Street Butcher.
Unknown Woman - Kidnapped and bisected by the Water Street Butcher.
Mrs. Anderson - Decapitated and burned by the Water Street Butcher off-screen, body shown.
Mr. Anderson - Decapitated by the Water Street Butcher off-screen, head shown.
Elizabeth Jackson - Decapitated with a circular saw by the Water Street Butcher.
Unknown Woman - Decapitated with a hack saw by the Water Street Butcher.
Unknown Person - Decapitated with a fire axe by the Water Street Butcher off-camera.
Tim Surrey - Gutted, castrated, and head crushed by the Water Street Butcher.
Six Female Prostitutes - Killed off-screen by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner, mentioned.
Female Prostitute - Throat slit by Cheryl Dempsey, coerced by the Water Street Butcher.
Four Female Prostitutes - Killed off-screen by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner, mentioned.
James Foley - Executed by the state of Philadelphia by lethal injection, framed by the Water Street Butcher.
Unknown Woman - Suffocated with a plastic bag by the Water Street Butcher.
Female Prostitute - Stabbed in the neck with needles by the Water Street Butcher.
Three Men - Killed off-screen by the Water Street Butcher in an unknown manner, mentioned.
At Least 37 People, likely far more
Every single one of Edward's tapes lined up in bins, with a total of over eight-hundred altogether.
Edward torturing Cheryl.
Edward with Cheryl acting as his desk.
Edward creepily stalking and killing an unknown woman.
Edward hitting a body with an axe.
Edward sawing the head off an unknown woman.
Edward forces Cheryl to kill a woman as punishment for disobeying one of his orders.
Cheryl after being rescued when Edward abandoned her. It's unknown if he cut her hand off or she did herself.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (scene of hanging)
VHS tapes have an average of two hours worth of recording space, meaning at least one person had to sit through roughly 33 days worth of content made by Edward for documentation.
In one of the trailers for the film, the man standing in front of the 800+ vhs tapes is portrayed by Ben Messmer, the same actor who portrays Edward.