Those of us with significant others have all had these moments. We sit back, relax and think about how much we love our partner. We envelope ourselves in the joy that comes from simply being together. You not only reminisce about the blissful moments you’ve had together but in gleeful anticipation you dream about joyous moments the future has yet to bring. Equally as common, we’ve all had those times that we sit back and think about all of the stupid shit your partner has done. As if cued by an unseen director, your partner walks in, just as your thoughts of past dumb shit culminate. You look over to your partner and think to yourself, “ I could really just choke the shit out of this bitch.” At this point, your partner, curious about your stare; normally asks the question, “What’s wrong?” Just as quickly as the thought came, it leaves; you laugh to yourself and respond, “nothing” and everyone goes on about their day. For most of society this was a joke, a comedic look at a common occurrence in relationships. However, domestic violence is not a joke. It is a parasite that eats at the relationship fabric until the union itself is consumed and destroyed. Domestic violence is responsible for a great many of the deprave acts that occur in society.
Born in Chicago on July 15, 1940, Ronald Gene Simmons moved with his family to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1946. After a basically normal childhood Simmons dropped out of high school in September of 1957 and joined the U.S. Navy. Stationed at the Bremerton Naval base in Washington Simmons met Bersabe Rebecca “Becky” Ulibarri. After a three year courtship, Simmons and Ulibarri were married in New Mexico on July 9, 1960 and in eighteen years the couple had seven children. Simmons served his country for 20 years, from 1957 to 1963 in the Navy and from 1965 to 1979 in the U.S. Air Force. During this time Simmons was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross for his service as an airman, and the Air Force Ribbon for Excellent Marksmanship. In November of 1979 Simmons would retire from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant.
In 1979 the Simmons family resided in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. After his retirement neighbors began to notice a change in Ronald as well as the Simmons family as a whole. People in town had actually begun to fear the Vietnam veteran. Visitors to the Simmons home noticed that he always had a beer in his hand. Friends of the Simmons children told their parents that he would stay in one particular room in his home. The room was described as dark, spooky and foul smelling.
On April 3, 1981, the Department of Human Services began investigating Ronald Simmons citing allegations that he had participated in sexual relations with his seventeen-year-old daughter, Sheila. On more than one occasion visitors to the home witnessed him giving her more than friendly kisses good-bye each morning. Eventually Sheila told a school Counselor she was pregnant with his baby. When notified of the impending investigation Simmons packed his family up and fled first to Ward, Arkansas in late 1981 and then to a tract of land that he would name “Mockingbird Hill.” In Dover, Arkansas in the summer of 1983. Charges, though filed, were soon dropped when the Simmons family disappeared.
While in Arkansas, the Simmons household remained largely uneventful until 1987, as far as child molesting incestuous homes go. Simmons worked a string of low-paying jobs in Dover and the nearby area. After acquiring a position as an accounts receivable clerk at Woodline Motor Freight, (probably the best job of them all) he soon quit after numerous reports of inappropriate sexual advances. He went to work at a Sinclair Mini Mart for approximately a year and a half before quitting on December 18, 1987. It was December in 1987 when the proverbial shit hit the fan. On December 22, 1987, Ronald Gene Simmons decided to methodically kill each and every member of his family. Simmons went out to the local Wal-Mart bought a .22 caliber handgun, went home, then bludgeoned and shot his wife Becky as well as their son Gene. He then strangled his three year old daughter. After knocking back a cold when he dumped the bodies into a pit the he’d had his kids dig days earlier.
As the other children came home he informed them of gifts that had for them. The catch was that he wanted to give them their gifts one by one. The first to receive their “gift” was 17 year old Loretta. She was beaten, strangled, then drowned in a rain barrel. Oddly, the next three of his children, Eddy, Marianne and Becky received the exact same gift. Again, he placed these bodies out in the pit.
Billy Simmons, the eldest Simmons’ son, his wife Renata and their son Trae arrived on December 26th for an after Christmas dinner. Ronald killed his son and bride by shooting them and drowned the child. Sheila Simmons arrived later that evening with her husband Dennis McNulty and two children; Sylvia the child she bore from Ronald, and Michael. Once again the adults were shot and the kids were drowned. Unlike the first four, the adult bodies were then lined up neatly in the lounge room of Simmons’ house. Each body was covered with coats except the corpse of Sheila. Her body was covered with the best tablecloth. The little bodies of the two grandsons were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane. Feeling that he had accomplished enough for the day Simmons stopped by Sears to pick up previously ordered Christmas gifts.
Simmons spent the next two days drinking beer and thinking of others that comprised his wicked hit list. On the morning of Monday December 28th Simmons stopped by Wal-Mart and bought a second gun. Next he drove into town to pay the local law office of Peel, Eddy and Gibbons Law Firm a visit. Once inside the first person to greet him was receptionist/secretary Kathy Kendrick, a woman he blamed many of his problems on. Previously he had made periodic sexual advances to Kathy during his visits into the office, all of which had been ignored. Expecting his usual come-ons Kathy thought nothing of it when Ronald showed up. This time however was different, this time Simmons proceeded to shoot Ms. Kendrick to death. While in town he stopped by the offices of the Taylor Oil Company where he shot and wounded his former boss Russell Taylor. While there Simmons shot and killed former co-worker J.D Chaffin. Two more victims would be injured by Ronald Gene Simmons’ wrath before this day was over.
After being arrested by Russellville police Simmons was sent to the Arkansas State Hospital in Little Rock for a competency evaluation by staff psychiatrist. Dr. Irving Kuo found Simmons to be sane and capable of standing trial. On May 12. 1988 Simmons was found guilty of the murders of Kendrick and Chaffin. On May 16 Judge John Samuel Patterson sentenced Simmons to death by lethal injection plus 147 years. Simmons was found guilty of fourteen counts of capital murder in the deaths of his family members on February 10, 1989. On March 16, 1989 Simmons was sentenced to death by lethal injection. To expedite his execution, Simmons waived all rights to appeal in both trials. Arkansas governor Bill Clinton signed Simmons’ execution warrant on May 31st 1990 and on June 25th 1990 Ronald Gene Simmons was put to death by lethal injection. This case was the quickest sentence-to-execution-to-death time in United States history. None of Simmons’ existing family members would claim his body therefore Simmons was buried in a paupers’ plot at Lincoln Memorial Lawn. Still today it is unknown what made Simmons embark on his murderous rampage.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; home of the Phillies and the Eagles and nicknamed, “The City of Brotherly Love”. For those that are familiar with my blog you already know that here, the word “love” probably isn’t going to be the topic we will be discussing. Founded in 1682 I’m sure that this great city has earned its popular nickname but through research I’ve found several incidents in Philadelphia’s history that paralyzed the citizens of this city in fear as well as horrified the nation.
In my book, ”The Darker Side of Evil” we analyzed the exploits of some of the most prolific serial in modern American history. One of the subjects of the book was Harrison Graham, “The Corpse Collector,” a 28-year old mentally retarded drug abuser who lived in a slum district of Philadelphia and rented a third floor apartment. In August of 1987, Graham engaged in a heated argument with his landlord concerning the neighborhood’s complaints of an intolerable stench emanating from his two room apartment. Later Graham left the apartment but not before nailing the entry door shut. Afraid of what may be causing the overwhelming odor police were enlisted to gain access to the residence. Once inside, the officers found two strangled women’s bodies, three more skeletons beneath a mound of garbage on the floor, another tied up in the closet. Further investigation yielded the skeletal remains of victim number seven on the roof of Graham’s building. On August 14, another skull and partial skeleton were excavated from the dirt floor of a row house three doors down from Graham’s building. He surrendered two days later and confessed to seven murders since the winter months of 1986.
In March of the same year police apprehended Gary Heidnik. Heidnik is often referred to as a serial killer, although having been convicted of only two murders. This fact does not lessen the depravity of his crimes. Gary Heidnik held 6 women captive in the basement of his house of horrors located at 3520 North Marshall Street in North Philadelphia. The captives were sexually abused, beaten, and tortured in front of each other. The first off the two women that Heidnik was convicted of murdering died of a combination of starvation, excess torture, and an untreated fever. Sandra Lindsay was dismembered, ground with a food processor and mixed it with dog food, which he then fed to the surviving victims. Having a problem dealing with the arms and legs; Heidnik put them in a freezer and marked them “dog food”. He then cooked her ribs in an oven and boiled her head in a pot on the stove. The second woman that died, Deborah Dudley was fatally electrocuted. Heidnik disposed of her body in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Convicted of two counts of murder in 1988, Heidnik was sentenced to death and incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh. Heidnik was executed by lethal injection on July 6, 1999.
These two cases caught my attention initially but after further research I found several other intriguing crimes out of this city. Mary Noe, born Mary Liddy on August 23, 1928 in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia met and married Arthur Allen Noe in 1948. From this union ten children were born, all of whom died between the ages of 5 days and 14 months. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until the book The Death of Innocents, was published in 1997 and an article in 1998 concerning the book’s subject matter that brought interest in this case. After receiving information concerning the death of the Noe children decades earlier police questioned Mrs. Noe. During her interrogation Mrs. Noe admitted to suffocating four of her children. She went on to state that she could not remember what happened to the other four children who died under similar circumstances. Noe was charged with first-degree murder and as a result of a plea agreement Mrs. Noe was convicted of eight counts of second-degree murder and in June 1999 she was sentenced to 20 years of probation.
I found the next case, known in Philly as, “The Boy in the Box” especially disturbing, even now, as I type, an uneasy feeling comes over me. On February 25, 1957; a boy approximately 4 to 6 years old was found in the Fox Chase community of Philadelphia. The boy was found nude, badly bruised and wrapped in a blanket inside a cardboard box. Police in 1957 took the fingerprints of the boy and were initially confident about a quick resolve to the boy’s identity as well as to his murderer. Hundreds of promising leads were tracked down and several likely suspects were identified and interrogated however 58 years later and having been adopted by the country as “America’s Unknown Child,” authorities are no closer to closing the case now than they were then. Since the child’s discovery, several theories have arisen. Accusations ranging from foster home abuse to the outright purchase of the child by a woman but to date, none has been proven. The boy was originally buried in a potter’s field but in 1998 the body was exhumed in hopes of retrieving DNA. The child was then reburied at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Cedarbrook, Philadelphia, which donated a large plot. The coffin, headstone and funeral service were also donated by the son of the man who had originally buried him in 1957. Sadly, since 1957, Philadelphia has had at least two other unknown children have been found murdered.
In 1982, the decomposed remains of a young girl were found inside a steamer trunk under the Platt Memorial Bridge in southwest Philadelphia. As in the Boy in the Box case, no one came forward to identify the victim. It took investigators five years to solve the mystery. She turned out to be a five-year-old West Philadelphia girl named Aliyah Davis who had been beaten to death by her stepfather in 1981, seven months before her body was discovered. The girl’s mother Maria Davis Fox and stepfather Charles Fox were charged for Aliyah’s death.
There was another unknown child who remained unidentified for more than a decade after his battered, decomposed remains were discovered stuffed inside a nylon duffel bag in a vacant lot in 1994. This unknown child came to be known as “The Boy in the Bag.” Buried in 2001 the child’s gravestone simply read, “unknown boy.” However in 2005 the boy’s name and how he died was In 1994, a four year old Jerell Willis, actually from East Camden, New Jersey; was beaten to death then stuffed into a duffel bag that was dumped in a trash-strewn lot in Philadelphia. For years, family members that inquired about young Jerrell’s whereabouts and well-being was given the run around by his mother and father. In 2005, the boy’s mother, Alicia Robinson was arrested at her Southwest Philadelphia home. During her interrogation Mrs. Robinson admitted to officers that she and her husband, Lawrence Robinson, also known as Jevon Willis; struck Jerell numerous times in their apartment. The boy became lethargic and then unconscious. The husband, Lawrence Robinson, during this time was incarcerated in Riverfront State Prison in Camden, serving the second year of an eight-year sentence for sexual assault. Alicia Robinson was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007.
Dolores Della Penna was born on December 13, 1954. The honors graduate from St. Hubert’s Catholic High School known for her quiet, friendly nature. Shortly before midnight on July 11, 1972 Dolores Della Penna was abducted from her home in the 4900 block of Rawle Street in Philadelphia. Witnesses informed authorities that they saw the young lady being beaten and dragged, apparently unconscious, into a car. It turns out that the 17-year-old Philadelphia schoolgirl was tortured, gang raped, murdered by dismemberment and beheaded. Della Penna’s torso and arms were later located in Jackson Township, New Jersey, while her legs were found in neighboring Manchester Township near the border with Jackson. The head has not been found.
This gruesome crime has remained unsolved over the years. However, one explanation has been constantly retold and reported to the police. It seems that a drug dealing biker gang fronted one of Della Penna’s acquaintances with drugs. The acquaintance blamed Della Penna for stealing a cache of those drugs and informed the dealers. In 1992 a Graterford inmate reaffirmed the story and added he actually witnessed the beating of Della Penna by drug dealers at a Kensington garage on the night of July 11, 1972. The inmate, who was 16 at the time of the murder, gave his account to a Graterford prison guard who passed the information on to authorities. In 1994 the witness, approximately 38 years old at the time described the homicide to detectives at Philadelphia Police headquarters and testified before the grand jury. In his testimony, the inmate confessed to witnessing the murder but out of fear for his own life decided to remain silent concerning the crime. Through this testimony and with the assistance of corroborators, detectives identified six suspects in the murder, three of which having died since the 1972 killing.
From 1972-1977 Ira Einhorn and Holly Maddux shared an apartment in Philadelphia. In 1977 Maddux broke up with Einhorn and moved to New York. On Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux returned to collect her things from the apartment and was never seen again. Weeks later during questioning, Einhorn claimed that Holly left the apartment heading to the store and never returned. During the following months several of Einhorn’s neighbors complained of foul smells emanating from his apartment. On March 28, 1979, police searched Einhorn’s apartment and were horrified to find Maddux’s decomposing corpse was found in a trunk stored in a closet. In 1981, just days before his murder trial was to begin, Einhorn skipped bail, and fled to Europe. Over the next 17 years Einhorn remained in Europe and began a new life, eventually marrying even. Unbeknownst to Einhorn, Philadelphia courts had tried and convicted the murderer in absentia. On July 20, 2001, after a lengthy extradition battle, Einhorn was returned to the states to serve his prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Lastly, during Harrison Graham and Gary Heidnik’s reign of terror there was another serial killer on the loose in the streets of Philly. Dubbed “The Frankford Slasher” by the media, this perpetrator sexually assaulted and stabbed to death at least 9 women in and around the Frankford area of Philadelphia from 1985-1990. These murders as well as the exploits of Heidnik and Graham paralyzed the city with fear. In turn, Philly residents placed a great deal of pressure on the police to solve the crimes and put an end to the murders. Carol Dowd was one of the 9 women found slain during this time. On April 28, 1990 her body of was found behind a Frankford Avenue seafood market. As a result of an comment, fish market employee Leonard Christopher became the prime suspect. Despite witness’s testimony that several of the women were seen in the company of a middle aged white man before their disappearances, Christopher was questioned concerning all of the murdered women. Lacking evidence linking him to any murder, Christopher was tried and convicted of the murder of Carol Dowd and on December 12, 1990, sentenced to life in prison.
Every major metropolitan city in our country has endured its share of evil. Despicable acts that the residents care not to remember but will never forget. Wickedness of an unspeakable nature seeps in and unhinges communities while changing the lives of all parties involved; forever. The crimes reported in this post occurred in Philadelphia, PA and is forever a part of its history, however, in no way are they exclusive to this city nor are they indicative of the residents of this fine city as many of these acts and worse have occurred in cities across the country and around the world. To my readers in Philadelphia, Chicago and around the globe, I thank you for your time and implore you to let brotherly love continue.
Let me apologize for my absence, I’ve been spending time filming the hit show CHICAGO PD, starring a great, up and coming actor named LaRoyce Hawkins; as well as the upcoming Fox series EMPIRE with acclaimed stunt performer Eddie J. Fernandez and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard. My participation in these productions can be considered minimal at best but hopefully won’t end on the cutting room floor. However minute my role; it was a pleasure to be in the company of these talented actors. Unfortunately, news out of nearby Hammond, Indiana brought me back to earth and returned me to my original calling.
The body of 19 year old Afrikka Hardy was found at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana on October 17th. Friends of Ms. Hardy had begun to text her after her disappearance and became apprehensive when they received suspicious text responses believing that they were from the suspect. Evidence collected from the crime scene led to of 43 year old Darren Deon Vann being considered a suspect. After obtaining a search warrant, authorities arrested Vann near his Gary, Indiana home.
Once in custody, Vann began a horrific tale of the internet, prostitution and murder. Vann’s confession led authorities to the discovery of 6 additional bodies in the Northwestern Indiana area. Vann told interrogators how he arranged a rendezvous with Ms. Hardy who posted her “services” on an internet site. While in custody Vann confessed to the murders of Anith Jones, Teaira Batey and four other women from the Hammond/ Gary area. The current number of Northwestern Indiana murder victims in which Vann may be responsible is now at 7. Statements made during the course of his confession lead authorities to believe that the overall death toll may be much higher and his spree may extend back over 20 years.
Darren Vann, the suspect in these serial murders is no stranger to law enforcement. A convicted sex offender from Austin, Texas, Vann pleaded guilty to rape in 2009. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The victim in the 2009 case told police that in 2007 she went to Vann’s apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her. Sentenced to 5 years Vann received 15 months credit for the time he was in jail awaiting trial and was released in 2013. Despite both incidents, Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. In a recent interview, Vann’s ex-wife, who asked not to be named, cited that she had not known Vann to be violent. The woman that happens to be 29 years older than Vann went on to add that she knew a different kind of man, one who was friendly, protective and not abusive. However her adult son had a different view of Darren Vann. Vann’s ex-wife’s son says he was “creepy” and “strange.
Vann, who is housed in Lake County Jail, located in Crown Point, IN is being charged with one murder however, other charges are said to be forthcoming. Lake County Jail is the pre-trial detention facility for those awaiting trial but unable to make bail arrangements. Gary and Hammond, Indiana are the cities in which the women’s bodies were located, and both fall within Lake County boundaries. A reliable source within the jail indicates that there had been a buzz among the female residents of the jail in recent months about the disappearance of several area women as well as to whom the culpability may fall. Through the pods and cells of the women’s jail, ladies would speak of missing relatives and friends many of whom had chosen prostitution as a means of survival.
Since his arrest, Darren Vann had been cooperating with authorities. During his interrogation Vann told investigators of the locations of victim’s bodies throughout the abandoned buildings in Gary. However, Vann’s cooperation ended recently at a magistrate hearing at Lake County Jail. Vann stood stone-faced and refused to acknowledge Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan as she asked the defendant basic questions regarding his name and his ability to understand his
charges. In response the accused stood stoically, non-respondent to the questions posed to him by the judge. Sullivan then addressed Vann’s public defender, Matthew Fech, urging him to “tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place.” Ultimately, Vann was held in contempt and the hearing rescheduled for the following week
As we mentioned earlier there had been talk among area residents concerning several disappearances. In The Darker Side of Evil, we use the term, “throwaway people.” Individuals that society cares not to look at therefore are hardly missed if they disappear. The accused, Darren Deon Vann; took advantage of law enforcement’s lackadaisical approach to following up on missing person’s reports. We have human beings vanish from the face of the earth and no one willing to take the time and effort to look at the evidence in front of them to find them. We’ve seen this time and time again. Andre Crawford terrorized Chicago’s Englewood area in the 1990’s. In addition to similar M.O.’s and circumstances, the killer also made use of abandoned residences.
On the other hand we cannot place the blame totally upon law enforcement. In a blink of an eye mothers, daughters, sisters and wives all gone; never to be heard from
again. If we take time to take an interest in the lives of one another this sort of crime would be impossible. Tupac Shakur once said, “How can the devil take a brother if he is close to me?” Some of these victim’s remains were mummified and skeletal meaning that they had been deceased for several months. People, let’s take time to reconnect with that estranged family member, distant cousin or long lost friend. Let them know that even though you may or may not agree with the way they are living their life; you still care. Inquire about that person you haven’t seen in a while. If we actively and aggressively keep tabs on people in our lives it reduces the likelihood of tragedies such as this occurring. Any information concerning people that we haven’t seen in a while should be forwarded to law enforcement. Let’s assist these families in receiving closure for their missing loved ones.
“It’s interesting when people die,” Don Henley, DIRTY LAUNDRY 1982. That phrase sums up America’s obsession with death. Whether its gang violence, serial killing or mass murder; each night we position ourselves in front of the television to receive our nightly fix, fed to us by the media. The focus of “The Darker Side of Evil,” was not only to bring to light the existence of Black serial killers in the U.S; the book also addresses the media’s ability to lessen the body count of these monsters through information and exposure. These predators, Black or White, normally operate within familiar circles and hide in plain sight, normally victimizing women within their own race, yet having no personal ties to. Female prostitutes and drug addicts comprise the target prey of most serial murderers. The disappearance of these individuals from the community go unnoticed a great deal of the time, enabling the perpetrator to continue to kill, virtually unnoticed
Occasionally, serial killers operate outside of the norm. Many choose young males as their choice of quarry. As in the case of Israel Keyes, some operate in multiple geographical areas. A select few choose to cross racial lines in their bloodlust. Such was the case of Cleophus Prince Jr., “The Clairemont Killer”. Prince terrorized the Clairemont community of San Diego County, California from January through September 1990. Though he chose to victimize women as most serial murderers do, his preference was to stalk rape and murder White women while he himself is African-American.
Cleophus Prince Jr. was born in Alabama on July 24, 1967 to Dorothy and Cleophus Prince Sr. Unlike the childhood experiences of most other serial killers, Prince Jr. Had not been abused in his youth and grew up in an environment that, described by his sister Tesa, was gentle and loving. However, Prince did not have a totally violence free upbringing. His father, Cleophus Prince Sr.; spent over 11 years in prison for murder.
As an adolescent, Prince never got into drugs, gangs or any other of the known pitfalls of youth. Growing up he never had any brushes with the law and became a role mode to his 7 younger siblings. After graduating high school in 1987 Cleophus Prince Jr. enlisted in the US Navy. In December 1989, not long after his stint in the service, Prince and his girlfriend Charla Lewis moved into the Buena Vista Gardens; an apartment complex in the Clairemont section of San Diego. Unfortunately, in January 1990, a 21-year-old Tiffany Schultz met her new neighbor.
On January 12, 1990 Prince spotted Tiffany Schultz sunbathing in a bikini just inside the door of her apartment. He then requested a hanger from the building manager; his reason was that he had locked his keys in his automobile. After receiving the hanger, Prince went back to the apartment building instead of heading to the parking lot. Moments later, neighbors that lived in the apartments below Ms. Schultz claimed that they heard noises and running water from her apartment. They described the noise as the sound of someone being beaten.
Neighbors noticed later that no one had seen Tiffany leave her apartment. Phone calls to her home went unanswered. It would be her roommate that endured the horror of discovering Tiffany’s lifeless body in her bedroom, lying face-up, clad only in bikini bottoms. Extending under the bed was her left leg and her right leg was posed at a 60-degree angle. A pathologist would later count 47 separate stab wounds around her left chest area, nearly half of which clustered around her breast. The murders were committed with so much rage that many of the punctures went all the way through the body. The other two areas that had sustained an attack were her neck and upper right thigh.
After an examination it was deemed that Tiffany had not been raped. Her boyfriend was immediately questioned and released by authorities. Tiffany worked part-time as an exotic dancer. Investigators thought that this was an isolated incident of one of her customers following her home and causing her untimely demise. They were dead wrong.
On February 16th, Janene Weinhold dropped her roommate off at work at about 9a.m. The two women were also residents of the Buena Vista apartment complex. Later that day the roommate waited patiently for Janene to pick her up from work. Oddly, the normally dependable 21 year-old was not only late but was not answering the phone. At approximately 8p.m., the roommate finally made it home. The young lady was horrified to find the body of the deceased Janene Weinhold.
The corpse lay on the bedroom floor wearing nothing but a bra. Similar to the first murder, her legs had been left open and she bore a concentration of stab wounds over the right breast. Not similar to the first, this woman had been raped. The frightened roommate soon found the phone and called police.
During the investigation police interviewed neighbors. The neighbor directly below Janene told authorities that earlier, at approximately 11:30 a.m. she saw a Black man sitting on the stairs; head in hands and with a saddened expression on his face. Moments later she heard noise coming from the apartment upstairs, the neighbor thought to call upstairs but just as quickly as they had begun, the noises stopped so she went on with her day.
The following month Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie, another second floor tenant of the Buena Vista apartment complex left her apartment heading to the corner store. On her way she noticed a Black man waiting at the bus stop. Returning from the store she noticed that the man was gone, assuming that he had caught the bus. The next time she would see this man he looked as if he was coming directly toward her in an aggressive manner. Surprisingly the man went right past Anna. Badly shaken, Anna hurried frantically to the door of her apartment. As she fumbled with the keys she heard footsteps coming up the stairs approaching her. Suddenly Anna had an epiphany, the man had never caught the bus, he had been stalking her since the time she saw him at the bus stop. Miraculously she found the right key, ducked into the apartment and locked the door before he made it up the stairs. Panic-stricken she listened with her ear against the door until she was sure he was gone. Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie had escaped the wrath of the Buena Vista Gardens murderer. Unfortunately, the next woman wouldn’t be nearly as lucky.
Eighteen year old Holly Tarr chose to visit her big brother, a Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex tenant, for spring break from her Michigan high school. She decided to bring along her best friend Tammy and both of the high school seniors were looking to enjoy a California spring break. On the morning of April 3rd the two young ladies enjoyed playing tennis in the rec area. The girls then headed to the pool to do some sunbathing and noticed a Black man in the weight room area watching them. Leaving Tammy poolside, Holly returned to the apartment to take a shower. Ten minutes later Tammy followed suit and headed to the apartment. As she approached she heard Holly scream. She ran to the door yelling her friend’s name but received no response. Eventually Tammy’s yelling and knocking at the door drew the attention of a member of the maintenance staff, who opened the door.
Tammy gained entry to the apartment just in time to see the same man that was watching them from the weight room scramble out of the bedroom. The man, holding a cloth to his face and a knife in his hand fell, got up and ran out of the apartment. Tammy ran into the bedroom and saw Holly, wearing only panties and bra, lying on the floor, barely alive. She had been stabbed once through the heart and like the others, her legs had been left spread apart. Tammy cried as she watched her friend gurgle blood and struggle for breath yet slowly expire. EMTs, though expeditious, could not save the dying teenager. As they removed the body, Tammy noticed that the opal ring Holly wore was missing.
As officers closed off the crime scene and searched for evidence they noticed several key clues. A Nike Air Jordan shoeprint was found near the door. The print did not match any shoes in Holly’s brother’s closet. Holly’s blood soaked T-shirt as well as a blood stained knife was found in the parking lot. Tammy told authorities of the Black man that watched them from the weight room. As officers checked the sign in sheet, there was only one name that they weren’t familiar with; a C. Prince. After further investigation it was found that C. Prince was Cleophus Prince Jr., a tenant in the building.
Officers tracked Prince down the following day and questioned him concerning his whereabouts on the day of Holly’s murder. During the interview he refused to be fingerprinted, answered the detective’s questions with a flippant tone and immediately asked if he could leave. Simply working out was not illegal and since the officers had no evidence to the contrary, his request was granted and Prince was allowed to leave without being charged.
The relationship that brought Prince to the Buena Vista apartments had ended earlier that spring. He now shared an apartment with Robert and Robin Romo. He confided to them that during a recent date he had that he in fact had raped his date multiple times during their night out. Not long after the police interview Prince moved out of the apartment complex.
In late May, Prince burglarized the home of Elissa Keller. The 38-year-old Keller shared an apartment with her 18-year-old daughter in the Top of the Hill apartment complex. On May 21st Keller had not reported to work nor was she answering phone calls. Co-workers thought this odd and contacted her about Elissa’s absence. Her daughter, who was away at the time, called and also got no answer. Worried she informed the police of her concerns. The daughter cut her trip short and returned to their apartment late that evening. She was horrified to find the dead body of her mother on the bedroom floor. Identical to the Buena Vista murders, the victim had a cluster of stab wounds to her chest. Elissa had also been beaten in the face, as well as choked. Next to her lifeless body lay her blood soaked underwear turned inside out. Devastated as she spoke with detectives, the daughter informed them that a gold nugget ring her mother wore at all times was missing from her finger.
Investigators walked the crime scene and soon deduced that the perpetrator entered through a window that had been left partially open. Detectives also noticed a familiar shoe print on the floor nearby. They also noticed a peculiar honeycomb pattern in the blood that was found at the other murder scenes.
On the morning of September 13th, neighbors of the Clark family heard 18-year-old Amber Clark, arguing with a male. Suddenly they heard Amber cry out then silence. Not long after, Pamela Clark returned home from her morning workout. Pamela, who was due to be at work in the afternoon, never arrived to her office. Phone calls made by her colleagues went unanswered. Curious, Pamela’s friend from work stopped by the Clark home and was shocked to find the body of Pamela lying in the doorway of the home. Pamela was on her back, nude, with her arms spread out at 90-degree angles to her body. She had been repeatedly stabbed, with eleven deep wounds to the upper left chest area. From blood trails on the floor, it appeared that she had been stabbed elsewhere and dragged to this location. Near her head lay a bloody knife.
After regaining her composure the friend called the police, however unbeknownst to her, the horror wasn’t over. As she walked through the home she found Amber dead on the bedroom floor. Though she was partially clothed, her breasts were exposed. Like her mother, she too had eleven stab wounds in a cluster on her chest. Another bloody knife was found in the bathroom nearby.
Examining the horrific scene, officers found that money had been taken from the women’s purses. Also missing was Pamela’s wedding rings and other small items. Officers located a torn dining room window screen and identified the window as the point of entry. They also found footprints made by an athletic shoe near the window.
Law enforcement compiled all of the similarities of the recent murders and drew the conclusion that this was the work of a serial killer. The county of San Diego was in an uproar and citizens put great pressure on law enforcement to solve these murders. A city councilman whose district included Clairemont told reporters he was fielding some 300 to 400 calls a day from concerned citizens. He went to meet with some people and found that they were in a state of terror. A task force was assembled to work these cases day and night. The task force consisted of twenty-seven detectives, five sergeants, one lieutenant, and a police captain. The murders were highlighted on America’s Most Wanted to gather any information that the public may have.
Ironically, during the same time frame, San Diego was being plagued by a series of burglaries. The burglar wore socks on his hands to so not to leave fingerprints. The perpetrator of the burglaries was no big secret though, except to law enforcement. Cleophus Prince Jr. bragged to trusted friends at work of the loot he had come across by burglarizing homes, even offering his foreman at Nacomm Communications several pieces of jewelry. A consummate talker, Prince now began to brag about women he was dating. Prince told friends he was dating an older white woman, a massage therapist. He had a wedding ring he said was hers, and he added that he was having sex with the woman’s daughter as well.
Eventually boasts from Prince’s mouth got to the ears of law enforcement. Neighbors from the various burglaries remembered the older model bluish-gray vehicle with a noisy muffler being present at the scene of burglaries. A BOLO, (Be on the Look Out) was placed on the car description. Soon officers got a tip that a member of the Family Fitness Center on Miramar Road (the same gym that Pamela Clark belonged to) drove such a vehicle. On February 4, 1991, an employee called police and reported that a man had just driven a 1982 Chevy Cavalier through the parking lot. The driver, Prince, was sitting there in his car when officers arrived fifteen minutes later. Though he had been a member of the club, Prince’s membership had been cancelled making him a trespasser and subject to arrest.
During the search of Prince’s vehicle officers found black leather gloves and wool gloves, along with a knife with an eight-inch blade, a steak knife, and two folding knives of different sizes. Though the items were suspicious, none were illegal. Prince could not be held for long on the trespassing charge so after being fingerprinted and having a blood sample taken he was released. Prince immediately left town and headed to his native Birmingham, Alabama.
Prince’s samples were sent to Maryland for testing along with samples from each of the murder scenes. Three weeks later, the police learned that there was a match between Prince and the semen samples from the Weinhold rape and murder. Police also learned that for each of the similar murders, Prince resided in the immediate area. Dispatched to his most recent address officers found that Prince no longer was in the area. However, during the search of his old apartment officers did find an opal ring that matched the description of the one removed from Holly Tarr when she was stabbed.
The police got a tip as to where Prince had gone and were elated to find that he had been arrested in Birmingham for burglary. The down side is that he had made bond and been released. After finding out the nature of San Diego’s interest in him his bondsman was contacted to find out where he was. Prince was then alerted to turn himself in. The following day, accompanied by his parents, he turned himself in to Birmingham authorities.
Initially on five murders had been linked to Prince until searches turned up another item that had belonged to a victim: a unique ring that matched the one missing from Elissa Keller. She was added to the victim list. Among the evidence against Prince was DNA matching several crimes. The Air Jordan shoes owned by Prince left footprints at several crime scenes also. The victims all fit a similar type: white, attractive brunettes that were physically fit. All except Holly Tarr had received the cluster type stab wounds. Her friend Tammy had interrupted her murder.
On July 13, 1993 Prince was convicted of murdering six women – Tiffany Schultz, 20; Janene Weinhold, 21, who was also raped; Holly Tarr, 18; Elissa Keller, 38; and Pamela Clark, 42, and her daughter, Amber, 18 – who were stabbed to death in their homes in Clairemont, University City and East San Diego. He was also convicted of 20 burglaries that occurred at the same time. Cleophus Prince Jr. was sentenced to die by lethal injection. Due to numerous appeals Prince currently resides on death row in San Quentin, as of this posting no death date has been set.
Normally I refrain from providing commentary on my posts, but I must get this out. Prince was sentenced to death in 1993 however, due to a vast number of appeals he is still alive 21 years later. These cowards find it so easy to prey on unsuspecting women, raping and murdering them without a second thought. But once they are caught, they make deals, file appeals, do any and everything imaginable to either avoid the death penalty or squeeze as many years as they can out of the state in which they are incarcerated. How many times have we seen the perpetrator agree to enter a guilty plea in order to take the death penalty; “off of the table?” Over and over again we have seen the defendant flee to Canada or some other sympathetic country to receive asylum from the death penalty when they gave no sympathy to their victims, brutally murdering just for the sport of it.
In every photo of Cleophus Prince Jr. he is shown smiling. The look on his face illustrates the arrogance and narcissistic demeanor of this individual. Each picture pisses me off more and more especially when I read that this punk is trolling for pen pals. In short, on behalf of the families of his victims and real men everywhere, I would love the opportunity to wipe that goofy ass grin off of his face and give him exactly what he is looking for; an old fashion ass kicking.
As I maintain my constant search for acts of extreme depravity I happened to run across a story from 2008. As I read through the story I thought to myself, “This can’t be real.” Sadly however, as I read the same story from different sources, I came to the conclusion that this story is not only real but one of the most disturbing that I had run across in a while.
Tyler, Texas is approximately 100 miles southeast of Dallas. In January of 2008 Tyler was home to 25 year old Christopher Lee McCuin and the strange events that follow. On Friday, January 4th McCuin took his girlfriend, 21-year-old Jana Shearer by force from her Whitehouse, Texas home. McCuin then murdered Jana at his home later that night. McCuin then drove to his estranged wife’s home, where he stabbed his wife’s boyfriend, William Veasley, 42. Though officers arrived at the home
expeditiously, McCuin managed to escape after a short chase.
Saturday morning McCuin arrived at the home he shared with his mother. Excitedly he exclaimed to his mother that he had something she needed to see out in the garage. To her unexpected horror, McCuin’s mother and her boyfriend stepped into the garage to see the mutilated corpse of Jana Shearer. The mother and boyfriend hurriedly fled the garage area in hopes of flagging down a police officer. Ironically, it was McCuin that called 911 on himself. He reported to the dispatcher he had killed Shearer and was boiling her body parts.
Officers arrived to find McCuin barricaded in the home. After a short stand-off McCuin surrendered and was taken into custody without incident. After his apprehension a tactical team entered and found Shearer’s body. During their search of the property officers were shocked to find an ear
boiling in a pot of water on the kitchen stove. Officers also found a hunk of human flesh on a plate with a fork stuck into it.
Although it is unclear whether McCuin actually ate any of his victim; authorities believe that, according to his 911 call, he may have tried to eat some of Ms. Shearer’s body parts.
Christopher Lee McCuin, 25, was arraigned Monday, January 7th, 2008 on a capital murder charge and was given a 2 million dollar bond. McCuin’s past charges include driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges. When he was arrested, McCuin had an outstanding felony retaliation warrant. Authorities cite that McCuin had a history of violence, pointing out past instances of assaulting his estranged wife, his girlfriend and his sister. Officials are unsure of the cause of McCuin’s rampage.
I read further, thinking to myself about how we feel as a society feel about cannibalism. I tried to understand what could have set him off in this fashion. Surely there had to be warning signs concerning this young man’s instability. Still deep in thought about this young man, I came across a new headline concerning this tragedy. “Christopher McCuin accused of mutilating and killing girlfriend Jana Shearer dies.”
It seems that after being held in Smith County Jail for almost a full year, Christopher Lee McCuin died in his cell. McCuin was pronounced dead at the East Texas Medical Center. Authorities report that they do not believe McCuin’s death was suspicious and that foul play wasn’t suspected noting he was in a jail cell by himself.
How does an otherwise physically healthy individual just up and die? As an outsider looking in I can only imagine about what went on in that jail. A Black man accused of murdering, mutilating and cannibalizing a white woman in Texas; I truly doubt that a thorough investigation was made into this. Although I’m sure the young lady’s family would have wanted to see justice served, maybe they can rest a little easier knowing that he won’t be around to hurt anyone else. Rest in peace Jana Shearer and may God’s blessings ease the pain of all affected by this tragedy.
Can social status or wealth replace the desire to rape and murder within the hearts and minds of serial killers? Can social acceptance and financial gains quell the obsession and compulsion to degrade and deprive of life? Colonel David Russell Williams was a decorated colonel and a rising star in the ranks of the Canadian Air Force. At his height, Col. Williams managed Canada’s largest military airfield. Among his prestigious commendations, Colonel Russell Williams received the Canadian Forces
Decoration and the South-west Asia Service Medal. In December 2010 Col. Williams was chosen newsmaker of the year in Canada, not solely due to his military exploits; Williams became a media and news mainstay due to the revelation of the Col. Williams no one knew. By the end of 2010, Col. Williams’ impeccable military career and his legacy would be destroyed and the great colonel would become an embarrassment to a nation. Williams’ perverse desires were too intense to keep in check. He allowed them to overtake him and develop into a sickening need to rape and take the lives of two women thereby transforming the lives of his victims as well as their friends and families…forever.
“I look better than any of those bitches,” Russell whispered as he admired himself in the full length mirror; modeling lingerie that he had pilfered from one of his victim’s closets. He had always been partial to red but the lavender brought out the color in his eyes, so he thought. Searching in his bag of clothes, Russell recalled memories of the pleasure he obtained by stealing articles for his bag of personals. He loved breaking into different homes and rummaging through the women’s underwear, so much so that he referred to it as, “collecting artifacts.” Russell welcomed the release from normal day to day responsibilities. He was regarded as a stand-up citizen, but more than that, he was regarded as a model military man. As he gazed upon his image in the mirror, he chuckled to himself believing that he had everyone fooled. The fact is, Russell was a commander in the Canadian Armed Forces, a position that was above reproach; who would believe that in his spare time he was a cat burglar with an appetite for women’s lingerie. Unfortunately, unbeknownst even to Col. Williams was depths of depravity that his obsession would eventually take him to.
Born on March 7, 1963 in Bromsgrove, England, Williams and his family emigrated to Canada, where they moved to Chalk River, Ontario. After graduating high school in 1982 and graduating from the University of Toronto with an economics and political science degree, Williams enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1987. In 1990, he received his flying wings, and was posted to 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, based at CFB Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, where he served for two years as an instructor.
Promoted to captain on January 1, 1991, Williams was posted to 434 Combat Support Squadron at CFB Shearwater, N.S. in 1992, where he flew the CC-144 Challenger in the electronic warfare and coastal patrol role. In 1994, Williams was posted to the 412 Transport Squadron in Ottawa, where he transported VIPs, including high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries.
Williams was promoted to major in November 1999 and was posted to Director General Military Careers, in Ottawa, where he served as the multi-engine pilot career manager.
He obtained a Master of Defense Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2004 with a 55-page thesis that supported pre-emptive war in Iraq, and in June 2004, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and on July 19, 2004, he was appointed commanding officer of 437 Transport Squadron at CFB Trenton, Ontario, a post he held for two years.
From December 2005 to May 2006, Williams also served as the commanding officer of Camp Mirage, a secretive logistics facility believed to be located at Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that provides support to Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan.
He was posted to the Directorate of Air Requirements on July 21, 2006 where he served as project director for the Airlift Capability Projects Strategic (C-17 Globemaster III) and Tactical (CC-130J Super Hercules), and Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (CC-127J Spartan), working under Lieutenant General Angus Watt.
In January 2009, he was posted to the Canadian Forces Language School in Gatineau, Quebec, for a six-month period of French language training, during which he was promoted to colonel by recommendation of now-retired Lieutenant-General Angus Watt.
On July 15, 2009, Williams was sworn in as the Wing Commander at Canadian Forces Base Trenton by the outgoing Wing Commander Brigadier General Mike Hood. CFB Trenton is Canada’s busiest air base and locus of support for overseas military operations. Located in Trenton, Ontario, the base also functions as the point of arrival for the bodies of all Canadian Forces personnel killed in Afghanistan, and the starting point for funeral processions along the “Highway of Heroes” whence their bodies are brought to Toronto for autopsy.
Williams has been described as an elite pilot and “shining bright star” of the military. He had flown Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Governor General of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada, and many other dignitaries across Canada and overseas in Canadian Forces VIP aircraft. The exposure of the perverse actions perpetrated by Colonel Williams would erase an otherwise stellar career.
Jessica Lloyd, 27, vanished on January 28, 2010. Investigators identified distinctive tire tracks left in snow near her home. One week after her disappearance, the Ontario Provincial Police conducted an extensive canvassing of all motorists using the highway near her home from 7 pm on February 4, 2010, to 6 am on the following day, looking for the unusual tire treads. Williams was driving his Pathfinder that day — rather than the BMW he usually drove — and an officer noticed the resemblance of his tire treads. These were subsequently matched to the treads near Lloyd’s home.
On February 7, 2010, the CFB Trenton base commander was called by the OPP in Ottawa and asked to come in for questioning. During the 10-hour interview he confessed to the numerous crimes of which he was later convicted. Early the next morning Williams led investigators to the woman’s body in a secluded area on Cary Road, 13 minutes away from where he lived. Williams was also charged in the death of Corporal Marie-France Comeau, a 37-year-old military flight attendant based at CFB Trenton, who had been found dead inside her home in late November 2009.
Williams was arraigned and remanded into custody on Monday, February 8, 2010. A week after his arrest, investigators reported that, along with hidden keepsakes and other evidence they had found in his home, they had matched a print from one of the homicide scenes to his boot. In addition to the four primary incidents, the investigation into Williams includes probes into 48 cases of theft of women’s underwear dating back to 2006. In the searches of his Ottawa home, police discovered stolen lingerie that was neatly stored, catalogued, and concealed.
Along with the murder charges, Williams was charged with breaking and entering, forcible confinement, and the sexual assault of two other women in connection with two separate home invasions near Tweed, Ontario in September 2009. According to reports, the women had been bound in their homes and the attacker had taken photos of them.
Hours after the announcement of Williams’ arrest, police services across the country reopened unsolved homicide cases involving young women in areas where Williams, a career military man, had previously been stationed. According to news reports, police began looking at other unsolved cases based on the full statement that Williams gave to police.
Williams appeared before the Ontario Court of Justice in Belleville, Ontario. Williams waived his right to a preliminary inquiry and thus had his next appearance scheduled at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for October 7, 2010. On October 18, 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to all charges. On the first day of Williams’ trial and guilty plea, details emerged of other sexual assaults he committed, including that of a new mother who was wakened with a blow to the head while she and her baby were asleep in her house.
The first day of trial revealed several aspects of Williams’ perversity not previously known. Through trial commencements Williams’ pedophiliac tendencies were exposed. He confessed to stealing underwear of girls as young as nine years old. During a break-in into the bedroom of a 12-year-old, he left a message in her computer saying: “Merci” (“Thank you” in French).
Williams admitted to 82 fetish-related home invasions and attempted break-ins between September 2007 and November 2009. Williams had progressed from break-ins to sexual assaults with no penetration to rape and murder. While in operation he kept detailed track of police reports of the crimes he was committing, logged his crimes, kept photos and videos, and had even left notes and messages for his victims. Revealed during trial were thousands of pictures of his crimes that he kept on his computer. During investigations and presented throughout the trial were numerous pictures of Williams dressed in the various pieces of underwear and bras he had stolen, frequently masturbating while lying on the beds of his victims.
On October 22, 2010 Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert F. Scott sentenced Williams, to two concurrent terms of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
In response to his arrest, conviction and subsequent embarrassment to Canada and the Canadian Forces, Williams was stripped of his rank, and later dishonorably discharged. Williams’ uniform was burned and his medals were revoked and cut into pieces, his commission scroll (a document confirming his status as a serving officer) was shredded, and his Pathfinder was crushed and scrapped. He currently resides in a maximum-security prison in Port-Cartier, Quebec.
First of all, let me apologize for the hiatus between posts. Rest assured that I am back and you can look for regular posts from the Reignmaker1911.
Freeways aren’t anything spectacular, other than the daily hazards that accompany driving they aren’t looked upon as dangerous. They run through cities, counties and states, allowing us to maneuver about this country of ours. Unfortunately between 1972 and 1980, numerous freeways in southern California became the final resting place for a great many, the number may be in the hundreds. At least 36-44 male victims are accredited to a single murderer. The highways and byways of California ran red with the blood shed by William George Bonin who raped, tortured and murdered these men. Though many murderers used these thoroughfares as their killing fields, it was the wicked exploits of William Bonin that earned him the title of, “The Freeway Killer.”
Born January 8, 1947 to alcoholic parents, William Bonin along with his older and younger brothers, were raised primarily by his grandfather, a convicted child molester. The pattern of abuse and the vicious cycle of rape permeated Bonin’s life at an early age. As a child young William was raped by his father. At the tender age of 6 Bonin was sent to an orphanage. During this period he was subjected to constant sexual assaults perpetrated by the older boys. Eventually, William became a willing participant in the homosexual sex acts with the other boys. At the age of 9, Bonin was released from the orphanage and began his transition from prey to predator as he began to molest younger boys in the area.
In 1965 Bonin enlisted into the Air Force and was sent to Vietnam. While logging over 700 hours of combat and patrol time, Bonin earned a Good Conduct Medal. William Bonin also displayed exemplary courage under fire by risking his own life to save the life of a fellow soldier. Bonin was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in October, 1968 and returned to Connecticut to live with his mother before moving to California. Air Force officials later learned however that Bonin, during his tenure in the service, had sexually assaulted two fellow soldiers at gunpoint. From this point the depravity and sexual sadism of William Bonin would reach new depths.
In 1969 Bonin would have his first run-in with law enforcement. He was arrested for the sexual of assault of 5 young men throughout Los Angeles County. During the assaults Bonin picked up the boys while driving around then handcuffed and sodomized them. During pre-trial evaluations Bonin was diagnosed as a “mentally disordered sex offender” and upon conviction was remanded to Atascadero State Hospital. It was here that the light was shed on the abuse Bonin received as a child. Though he had no memory of the abuses, physical evidence proved otherwise and the doctors deduced that his subconscious had repressed any ability to recall the experiences consciously. Doctors also found a variety of other physical and psychological anomalies. They reported brain damage in the area that is thought to restrain violent impulses; manic-depressive illness, and several unexplained scars on his head and backside. As with the abuses; Bonin could not recall the origins of his scars. Bonin remained at Atascadero for five years. He was released, not due to being cured but due to fact that nothing more could be done for him. On his file the doctors simply stated that he was no longer a danger to others. Though he was examined at great length by neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists; the actual treatment William Bonin received is unknown to this date.
Obviously Bonin had not read his own chart because within 16 months of his release he had sexually assaulted 14 year old David McVicker at gun point and attempted to abduct another teenage male. Bonin received a sentence of one to 15 years in prison. McVicker would be his last rape victim that lived to testify.
Released in October of 1978, Bonin was anxious for a fresh start. He immediately moved to the town of Downey, CA and soon found employment as a tow truck driver. William even met a girl with whom he began dating. He told friends the he and she went to nearby Anaheim every Sunday. Bonin became acquainted with fellow Downey resident Everett Fraser. Fraser would throw elaborate parties at his home, to which he would always invite Bonin. A 22-year-old factory worker and part-time magician named Vernon Butts was in attendance at one of these parties. Over time Butts became enamored with Bonin and was excited by sadistic homosexual activities. Sharing the same ideology, the ne’er-do-well Butts leapt at the chance of becoming Bonin’s first accomplice. Together, they would prowl the highways of Southern California in Bonin’s olive drab van, looking for teens to ravage.
In May of 1979 the body of 14-year-old Reseda resident, Thomas Lundgren was discovered in Malibu. Lundgren had been emasculated as well as slashed across the throat, stabbed, and strangled to death. In August the remains of Mark Shelton, a 17-year old from Westminster were found at Cajon Pass. On August 5, 1979, sometime between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., Bonin and Butts picked up Marcus Grabs. Grabs was hitchhiking along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. The depraved duo sodomized, beat and stabbed Grabs over 70 times. They then dumped the body in Malibu Canyon. Butts would go on to assist Bonin in at least 5 more murders. Despite the obvious similarities in modus operandi of the three killings, officials in Orange as well as Los Angeles County refused to acknowledge the possibility of a serial killer being in operation. However, that manner of thinking would change as the death toll continued to rise.
Three weeks later the mutilated and semi castrated corpse of 15-year-old Donald Hyden of Hollywood would be found near Ventura Freeway. On September 12, 1979, the body of David Murillo, 17, was found in the same vicinity. Both teens had been sodomized and strangled with a ligature. David’s head had been bashed in with a tire iron. Eight days later, an 18-year-old Newport Beach youth named Robert Wirostek was abducted as he cycled to his job at a grocery store: his body was found on September 19 alongside the Interstate 10 Highway.
In late November 1979 a corpse of an unidentified youth was found in Kern County. The victim was savagely beaten, then strangled to death before his body was discarded. On December 2nd, the nude body of 17-year-old, Frank Dennis Fox was found alongside a highway five miles east of San Diego. On December 13th another John Doe was found, mutilated and discarded like trash. In early January of 1980, the body of Michael McDonald from Rialto was found fully clothed body in San Bernardino County Approximately a week and a half later the strangled corpse of 15-year-old, Long Beach teen, John Kilpatrick was found in Rialto.
In early 1980 Bonin had recruited a new accomplice, another sexual psychopath, Gregory Matthew Miley. On February 3rd, while driving from Downey to Hollywood they met a 15-year-old hitchhiker named Charles Miranda. They forced Miranda into the van and robbed him of his wallet. Bonin then over powered the boy and beat and raped him. Bonin then goaded Miley to join in, not being able to sustain an erection, Miley raped the boy with a blunt object.
On February 5th 1980 the two men abducted, raped and killed James McCabe. The 12 year old boy was waiting at a Huntington Beach bus stop for a bus to Disneyland. The two men tricked young James into the van by promising to take him to Disneyland. Once inside, Miley drove as Bonin beat and raped the boy. Eventually Miley pulled over into secluded area and as Bonin strangled the boy with a tire iron, Miley jumped up and down on his chest. James McCabe’s body was left near a garbage dumpster in the Garden Grove area of the city of Walnut, CA. These monsters used McCabe’s six dollars, his Disneyland entrance fee, to purchase themselves lunch.
Ronald Gatlin, an 18 year old from Van Nuys, CA was found in March 1980. Not only was Gatlin beaten and sodomized as the others were; Gatlin suffered deep lacerations in his ear and neck resulting from being tortured with an ice pick. His body was found in the city of Duarte. One week later, on March 21st, 14-year-old Glenn Barker was also raped, beaten and strangled to death with a ligature; which had become Bonin’s signature method of murder. Unlike the others, Barker’s body bore multiple cigarette burns, possibly the evidence of a new accomplice. Later that same day 15-year-old Russell Rugh was abducted from a bus stop in Garden Grove. He too had been raped, bound, beaten and strangled to death. His body was found laid next to that of Barker’s in Cleveland National Forest in Southern California.
One evening in late March, Bonin encountered William Pugh at a function held by Everett Fraser. Bonin offered him a ride, agreeing to take him wherever he was going. Once inside, Bonin asked Pugh if he would like to engage in sexual intercourse with him. Shocked by the question, Pugh attempted to jump out of the van at the next stoplight. Bonin grabbed him by the collar, snatched him back in and according to Pugh; confessed to him his exploits as “the Freeway killer”. He told Pugh just how much he enjoyed picking up teenage males to rape, torture and murder. He then leaned in even closer and said, “If you want to kill somebody, you should make a plan and find a place to dump the body before you even pick a victim.” He dropped Pugh off at home without incident. Pugh, a common thief had never killed anyone; that would all change very soon.
Harry Todd Turner was a 15-year old runaway from a boy’s home in the Lancaster community. Bonin and Pugh found the boy street walking in Los Angeles and offered him $20.00 for sex. Once inside the van, Bonin bound, raped and bit the boy numerous times. Exhausted from the assault, Bonin told Pugh to beat the child. Pugh beat Turner about the head and body for several minutes with a blunt object. Bonin then strangled Turner to death with his own T-shirt and discarded him near the Santa Monica Freeway.
April 10, 1980 proved to be a busy day for the psychopaths; abducting 16-year-old Steven Wood from Bellflower, as well as 18-year-old Lawrence Sharp from Long Beach hours later. Both young men were sodomized, beaten and strangled with Wood’s naked corpse being discarded beside the Pacific Coast Highway. Sharp would be found in May behind a Westminster gas station.
Bonin would re-team with Vernon Butts in the April 29, 1980 kidnapping of 19-year-old Daren Kendrick. Kendrick was abducted from the parking lot of his job. While he was raped and beaten like the other victims, Kendrick was forced to swallow chloral hydrate which left him with caustic chemical burns on his mouth, chin, chest and stomach. The young man also suffered an ice pick being driven through his right ear that caused a fatal wound to the upper cervical spinal cord. His body was found in Carson near the Artesia Freeway.
On May 19th Bonin asked Butts to accompany him on his next foray. Butts declined the offer and Bonin went on alone to abduct a 14-year-old South Gate boy named Sean King. According to Bonin, King’s body was discarded in Yucaipa, though to date his remains are yet to be found. Excitedly, Bonin returned to Butt’s home and bragged of the killing to his accomplice.
In late May, Bonin asked a 19-year old, mentally challenged drifter by the name of James Munro to move in with him. Impressed with his demeanor, Munro agreed to the arrangement. Bonin also convinced his supervisor at the Montebello delivery firm for which he worked to give Munro a job. Approximately a week later Munro and Bonin spotted Steven Jay Wells at a bus stop on El Segundo Boulevard. After being enticed into the van, Wells was driven to Bonin’s apartment where, according to Munro, the youth was raped, beaten, and strangled with his own T-shirt. The two men then stuffed the lifeless body into a box and proceeded to the home of Vernon Butts. Bonin asked Butts for advice concerning methods of disposing of the corpse with Butts simply responding, “Try a gas station like’ or ‘where’ – I don’t know which – ‘we dumped the last one.” Wells’ body was found discarded behind a Huntington Beach gas station.
Unbeknownst to Bonin, William Pugh had been arrested in May for an unrelated car theft. While incarcerated, Pugh heard on the news of law enforcement’s search for the perpetrator of the rash of murders. Confiding to a counselor, Pugh expressed that he may know who is responsible for these crimes. The counselor relayed the information to a LAPD homicide sergeant named John St. John. St. John interviewed Pugh, finding his testimony to be credible; St. John decided that Bonin might indeed be the Freeway Killer.
Round-the-clock surveillance of William Bonin began on June 2nd, 1980, the same day that Steven Jay Wells was murdered. On June 11 police observed Bonin attempting to pick up five separate teenage boys. William Bonin was arrested later that evening while sodomizing a young man in his van. In July, police arrested 22-year-old Vernon Butts, charging him as an accomplice in six of the “freeway” murders.
Bonin was formally charged with 14 counts of murder, eleven counts of robbery, plus one count each of sodomy and mayhem. Butts, charged with 6 counts of murder himself and fearing the death penalty, began to tell police of other accomplices. James Michael Munro, who upon Bonin’s arrest had stolen his car, was arrested in Michigan on July 31 and returned to California to stand trial on charges of killing Stephen Wells. Miley was arrested in Texas and charged with the murders of Charles Miranda and James McCabe. Butts, Miley and Munro all agreed to testify against Bonin in exchange for being spared the death penalty. Pugh, also attempting to save his own skin, agreed to a plea deal in exchange for his testimony and eventually received 6 years for manslaughter.
Bonin expressed no remorse for what he had done. Once confronted with the evidence Bonin freely confessed to police concerning the crimes for which he was charged as well as to those that law enforcement knew nothing of. Bonin confessed to killing 21 young men and boys, though officials cite that through blood and semen stains as well as hair and carpet fibers, the number of deaths for which he is responsible may possibly be double that. He shared aspects of each crime in horrifying detail. After his arrest Bonin told a reporter “I’d still be killing. I couldn’t stop killing. It got easier each time.”
Bonin’s trial began on November 5, 1981in Los Angeles County. Here he was charged with the murder of 12 of his victims, the victims who were murdered within the county jurisdiction. Vernon Butts, Greg Miley and James Munro testified for the prosecution. They spelled out details of the torture suffered by assorted “freeway” victims, the glee with which Bonin inflicted pain and the roles each of them played in the commission of these atrocities. In return; Butts, Miley and Munro drew life sentences in return for their testimony against Bonin.
On January 5, 1982, after eight days of deliberation, jurors convicted Bonin on ten counts of murder and ten of robbery. (He was acquitted in the deaths of Thomas Lundgren and Sean King.) Two weeks later, he was formally sentenced to death. About one year later he was convicted in Orange County of the other four murders, for which he received a second death sentence. Though sentenced to death, Bonin took advantage of the American legal system and appealed his sentence a number of times. After exhausting all of his appeals, on February 23, 1996, William George Bonin was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison. Bonin was the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the history of California.
The true crime genre has given me insight on some of the most wicked people to walk the face of the earth. At times I sit in utter amazement as well as in true disgust as I read and research the atrocities committed by the men and women. The most frightening thought is that these people look exactly like anyone else. There is no visible indicator that would identify any of the people as inherently evil or dangers to humanity, yet as we read we realize that we share this planet with individuals that give no regard to human life.
After hundreds of hours of reading, interviewing and film, I thought that I had reached a point of numbness in respect to the depravity of these crimes. I felt that by constantly being exposed to these crimes I would develop a mental callousness to these people and their exploits and honestly in a way….I had. However, my next subject made me realize that I’m not quite as tough as I thought I was.
In 39 short years on earth, Carl Panzram would murder at least 22 people and sodomize 1000’s of males. Panzram was born on June 28, 1891 in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The last of 8 children, Panzram was a mischievous child; when he was eight he was convicted of drunk & disorderly conduct behavior. Carl broke into a neighbor’s home when he was 11. He stole anything he could get his hands on, including a handgun. He was quickly found out by his brothers, who beat him unconscious. Panzram received beatings from his brothers regularly and for any reason, no matter how insignificant. Carl was later arrested for the burglary. In 1903, at the age of 12, he was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. During his two year stay, Panzram was repeatedly raped, beaten, and tortured by staff members. In retaliation, young Carl burned down the school’s warehouse. By the time he was released in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic filled with hatred and rage. Panzram developed a propensity for running away from home. When he was 14 he ran away and was reportedly gang raped by a group of hobos.
As he entered adulthood, Panzram became a proficient thief and burglar. He went through varied periods of incarceration until he joined the United States Army in 1907. While serving his country Panzram was convicted of larceny and served a prison sentence from 1908 to 1910 at Fort Leavenworth. During his time in prison, Panzram tallied numerous violations of prison rules, each carrying its own punishment, usually merciless beatings from prison guards. Upon his release from Leavenworth in 1910, Panzram realized that he was virtually homeless. Having spent most of his life behind bars, Carl Panzram had become irreversibly and totally evil, void of any level of kindness.
To call Carl Panzram a rapist would be like calling the North Pole “chilly.” From the time he was released from prison, Panzram robbed and raped his way around the country. He rode the trains over vast distances and spent time in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, cutting a path of destruction across the country in a methodical, relentless way that kept police hot on his trail but a step behind. He raped without mercy, rarely passing up an opportunity to take on a new victim. In his autobiography
Panzram stated, “Whenever I met one that wasn’t too rusty looking I would make him raise his hands and drop his pants. I wasn’t very particular either. I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human beings.” Panzram also had an affinity for fires also. In his own words he states, “I burned down old barns, sheds, fences, snow sheds or anything I could, and when I couldn’t burn anything else I would set fire to the grass on the prairies, or the woods, anything and everything.”
In the summer of 1911, Panzram went about the business robbing and burglarizing. He would make his escapes by hopping boxcars and rolling to the next town. He jumped a freight train heading northwest and brought along some stolen guns that he had buried outside town before he got arrested. While he was in a boxcar with two other bums, he saw another opportunity for rape. Just as he was about to make his move a railroad cop appeared. Panzram got the drop on the officer, raised his pistol and robbed the cop of his watch and whatever money he had. Then, while the other two men watched, he raped the officer at gunpoint. He then forced the other two men to do the same.
Carl continued his travels around the country using various assumed names. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burgled a house in Astoria, Oregon. and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. Law enforcement promised Panzram a light sentence if he revealed the whereabouts of the rest of the stolen goods. Though he complied, Panzram was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Feeling double-crossed, he broke out of his cell and burnt down the jail. Panzram was immediately transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary. Once at the prison, Panzram got into trouble almost immediately for rule violations, and punishment became routine; as did his escapes from prison. On May 12, 1918, Carl escaped from the Oregon Prison for good. He sawed through the window bars using a hacksaw blade and jumped down off the prison walls. As frantic guards fired hundreds of rounds at the fleeing convict, Panzram made it into the woods and disappeared from sight. He later hopped a freight train heading east and left the Pacific Northwest forever.
In the summer of 1920, Panzram ended up in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He found an old three-story colonial located at 113 Whitney Avenue. Once inside, Panzram found a large amount of jewelry, bonds and a .45 caliber automatic handgun. The name on the bonds was William Howard Taft; yes the 27th President of the United States. Panzram had burglarized the home of ex-president Taft. Taft’s Colt .45 caliber handgun would go on to be used in several murders. After stealing everything he could carry, Panzram escaped through the same window that he entered and hit the streets carrying a large bag of loot.
In 1920, Carl Panzram crossed from thief and rapist to serial murderer. He traveled to the lower east side of Manhattan and sold most of the stolen jewelry and bonds. Using some of the money he gained from the burglary, Carl bought a yacht named the Akista. He sailed the boat up the East River, eastward through the Long Island Sound past the south shore of the Bronx, the City of New Rochelle, and Rye and onto the rocky coast of Connecticut. As he traveled he would burglarize several boats, he would steal booze, guns, supplies and anything else that he could make a buck from. He docked the Akista at the New Haven yacht club; it was there that the seed of a murderous future was planted.
While at the yacht club, Panzram noticed the constant flow of sailors. He realized many of them were looking for work on outgoing freighters or local boats. Panzram concocted a scheme to hire sailors as deckhands for his ship then rob rape and kill them. From his confession Carl admits, “Every day or two I would go to New York and hang around 25 South Street and size up the sailors. We would wine and dine and when they were drunk enough they would go to bed. When they were asleep I would get my .45 Colt automatic, this I stole from Mr. Taft’s home, and blow their brains out.” He would then tie a heavy rock to the body and toss the deceased sailor overboard. Panzram murdered at least 10 sailors in this fashion. Local residents became suspicious when he would dock to buy supplies; regularly carrying a different crew. Upon realizing that he was arousing the curiosity of the locals, Carl sailed down the coast of New Jersey with his last two passengers until he reached Long Beach Island, where he intended to kill them both. In late August 1920, a huge gale hit and the Akista smashed to pieces against the rocks. The three men swam to shore and parted ways.
In 1921, Panzram served six months in jail in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for burglary and possession of a loaded handgun. When released he stowed away on a ship and landed in Angola, a Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa. Panzram landed a job with the Sinclair Oil Company as a foreman on an oil-drilling rig. The company was involved in searching for new sources of oil in Africa. Once there Panzram raped and murdered an 11 year old African boy. He gives the account in chilling detail, “A little nigger boy about 11 or 12 years old came bumming around,” he said. Panzram lured the boy back to the Sinclair Oil Company grounds where he sexually assaulted and killed him by bashing his head in with a rock. “I left him there, but first I committed sodomy on him and then I killed him,” Panzram wrote in his confession. “His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader.”
Panzram then moved to an area called Lobito Way and lived in a fishing village. The locals suspected him of murder but had no proof. He eventually hired six natives to assist him in the lucrative but dangerous occupation of crocodile hunting. While in the jungle the six men demanded a share of the profits. In return, Panzram shot each native in the back of the head then fed the bodies to the hungry crocodiles; he then rowed back to Lobito Bay. Realizing that many people saw him leave with the men and come back alone, he knew he had to relocate.
Panzram then headed north up the Congo River toward a place called Point Banana and then made his way to the Gold Coast. Robbing local village farmers along the way, he eventually got enough money to buy a fare to the Canary Islands. From there he stowed away on a ship to Lisbon, Portugal. Upon his arrival, he soon discovered that the local government knew about his crime spree in Africa and cops were on the lookout for him. Fortunately for Panzram he found another ship headed for America. Stowing away on the ship he soon found himself back in the United States by the summer of 1922.
Soon after he arrived in the U.S. Panzram renewed his captain’s license and retrieved the papers for his yacht, the Akista. His plan now was to steal another boat and register it with his yacht’s name. On July 18, 1922, while searching unsuccessfully for a similar boat to steal, Carl came across a 12 year old boy walking alone on the west side of Salem, Massachusetts. The boy’s name was George Henry McMahon who lived at 65 Boston Street in Salem. He had spent most of the day in a neighbor’s restaurant until the owner, Mrs. Margaret Lyons, asked George to run an errand. Panzram kept the boy for 3 hours where he reportedly sodomized the child six times before bashing his head in with a large rock. During the rape, Panzram stuffed magazine pages down the child’s throat and after the murder; the boy was left covered up with tree branches.
In haste, Panzram rushed to separate himself from the crime scene. As he fled the wooded area where he left McMahon’s body; two Salem residents passed by. The pair noticed how nervous and fidgety Panzram seemed, but they continued on their way. Though young George Henry’s body would be found three days later, the crime would go unsolved until 1928.
Panzram continued his search for a replacement boat and early in the summer of 1923 he stole a ship out of a Providence, Rhode Island marina. Panzram sailed the boat up the Hudson River to Yonkers. In Yonkers Carl met 15 year old George Walsoin. Panzram used the teen’s infatuation with sailing to lure him into his clutches. Promising that he would allow the boy to work with him on his trip upriver, Panzram waited til late in the night and sodomized the child.
Arriving in Kingston, a small bay off the Hudson, Panzram met a young man that seemed interested in purchasing the boat. Panzram took the buyer out to the yacht on the night of June 27 where they had a few drinks together. Unbeknownst to Panzram, the young man had no intention of purchasing the boat but to simply rob Carl of all he possessed. Realizing the true objective of his guest, Panzram shot the man, tied a metal weight onto the body and threw the man overboard; young George Walsoin stared in utter shock.
The next morning, Panzram and Walsoin, sailed into Poughkeepsie, NY. Panzram went on shore and stole a quantity of fishing nets worth more than $1,000. They set sail again and cruised across the river to Newburgh. After the boat dropped anchor, George jumped ship and swam to shore. He eventually made his way back to Yonkers the next day and told the police about being sexually assaulted by Panzram.
Area police were on the lookout for Panzram and his ship. After staking out the marina all night, Panzram docked and on the morning of June 29, 1923, the officers boarded the yacht and arrested Panzram. Using his sailing name, “Captain John O’Leary,” Panzram answered questions from the investigating detectives who charged him with sodomy, burglary and robbery. The next day he was placed in the Yonkers City jail awaiting court appearance. Panzram used his boat as collateral to hire an attorney. In turn, the lawyer arranged bail for Panzram, who immediately skipped. The lawyer, attempting to verify his property, was alerted by authorities that the boat was stolen and must be immediately confiscated. The attorney was left with nothing for his services.
On August 26, 1923, Panzram broke into the Larchmont train depot on Chatsworth Avenue. While rifling through passenger luggage he was confronted by a Larchmont cop, Officer Richard Grube, who was making his rounds. After wrestling with and disarming Panzram, he placed him under arrest. Still using the name John O’Leery, Panzram confessed to three additional burglaries. In village court the next morning, Judge Shafer set bail at $5,000 and remanded Panzram to county jail pending grand jury action. While in the village jail, Panzram told cops he was an escaped prisoner from Oregon where he was serving a 17-year sentence for shooting a police officer.
Larchmont police sent telegrams to Oregon. On August 29th, they received a reply citing that “Jeff Baldwin,” was a wanted man in Oregon. Telegrams came from various regions of the United States, each with various names but all describing the same man, verifying that indeed this man is wanted with several bounties on his head. Panzram even tried to claim a $500 bounty on himself using the logic that since he confessed, he should receive the reward.
Larchmont sentenced Panzram to prison for a five year term. He was taken to Dannemora, just 10 miles from the Canadian border, in October 1923. During an escape attempt, he climbed one of the prison walls and immediately fell 30 feet below onto a concrete step. He broke both legs and ankles. His spine was also badly injured. He received no medical attention for his injuries. He was carried into a cell and dropped on the floor. In July 1928, after serving five long, hard years, Panzram was discharged from Dannemora. Permanently crippled by lack of medical attention and certifiably insane, Carl Panzram was free again.
Consumed with revenge, the six foot 200 lb. Panzram set to put in motion the killing spree he had concocted while incarcerated. Within two weeks, he committed a dozen burglaries and killed at least one man during a robbery in Baltimore. Fortunately for the citizens of Washington DC, Panzram was arrested for burglary. It was during this period of incarceration that Carl would meet his one and only friend. Through this friendship the world would become aware of the true evil that coursed through the veins of Carl Panzram.
A naïve 26-year-old rookie guard named Henry Lesser had recently been hired to the jail in Washington DC. As Panzram was processed into the jail, an inquisitive Lesser asked Carl why he was here. In response Panzram said with a wry smile, “What I do is reform people.” The young guard monitored Panzram over the next few weeks. Unbeknownst to Lesser, Panzram wasn’t planning to hang around much longer. He had gradually been chipping away at the concrete surrounding the bars in the window of his cell so that he could eventually escape. His plans were thwarted by an overzealous inmate that informed the warden of his plans. As punishment Panzram was handcuffed to a pole and beaten mercilessly by guards. Lesser pitied Panzram and expressed his compassion by giving him a dollar to buy cigarettes and extra food. In a life filled with pain, this was the only act of kindness that was ever expressed to Carl Panzram. The two men became friends and confided in one another. Soon, Panzram agreed to write his life story for Lesser. And so, over the next few weeks, while Lesser supplied pencil and paper, Panzram wrote down the details of his twisted life of hate, depravity and murder.
Panzram wrote a 20,000 word confession. Within this journal of his life, Carl detailed the murders of at least 22 murders, over 1000 rapes and countless robberies and arsons; all eventually verified by the authorities of the various municipalities in which they occurred. As Panzram enlightened society to the true nature of his crimes, he felt obligated to divulge a trick used by criminals of his day to avoid capture. Criminals were frequently able to avoid arrest warrants by changing names. Panzram committed his transgressions against society under several names including, Jefferson Baldwin, Jeffrey Rhodes, John King and John O’Leery.
The document not only gave accounts of crimes but also contained Panzram’s opinions of the criminal justice system of the day. He gave graphic testimony of abuses he suffered while in prison. Prisons at that time were little more than hell holes, castles of pain designed to break unruly inmates; mentally and physically. Wardens served as the kings of these castles of pain and used the guards to carry out their orders, often utilizing physical torture to ensure obedience. The purpose of prison was strictly punishment and detention with little to no emphasis placed on rehabilitation. Panzram’s descriptions of his treatment during his periods of incarceration led to major changes in corrections in prisons nationwide.
Void of guilt or remorse, Panzram wrote of his tyrannical exploits occurring around the globe. He proudly admitted being the perpetrator of these crimes and gave vivid accounts of each offense, given with disturbing detail. Panzram however, adamantly blamed the commission of these acts on the criminal justice system. He blamed his crimes, not on himself but on society and the prison system, which he said perpetuates itself by producing more criminals.
On November 12, 1928, his trial for burglary began. Acting in his own defense, Panzram was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 25 years. Panzram was promptly transferred to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. While in Leavenworth, Carl was assigned to work in the laundry facilities. Having told the warden that he would kill the first man to bother him, on June 20, 1929 he killed Robert Warnke, foreman of the prison laundry, battering him to death with an iron bar. During the trial for this murder, the jury took just 45 minutes to arrive at a verdict. Carl Panzram was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
Panzram refused to file any appeals, threatening to kill human rights activists that attempted to appeal on his behalf. On September 5, 1930 Carl Panzram was hung at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner’s face and declared, “I wish the entire human race had one neck, and I had my hands around it!” When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Panzram barked, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
Such was the end of arguably the most evil man in American history. In his own words, Carl Panzram describes his life, “I am 36 years old and I have been a criminal all of my life. I have 11 felony convictions against me. I have served 20 years of my life in Jails, Reform Schools and prisons. I know why I am a criminal. Others may have different theories as to my life but I have no theory about it. I know the facts. If any man ever was a habitual criminal. I am one. In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both Man and God. If either had made more, I should cheerfully have broken them also. The mere fact that I have done these things is quite sufficient for the average person. Very few people ever consider it worthwhile to wonder why I am what I am and do what I do. All that they think it is necessary to do is to catch me, try me convict me and send me to prison for a few years, make life miserable for me while in prison and then turn me loose again. That is the system that is in practice today in this country. The consequences are that such that any one and every one can see crime and lots of it. Those who are sincere in their desire to put down crime are to be pitied for all of their efforts which accomplish so little in the desired direction. They are the ones who are deceived by their own ignorance and by the trickery and greed of others who profit the most by crime. If you or anyone else will take the trouble and have the intelligence and patience to follow and examine every one of my crimes and actions you will find that I have consistently followed one idea thru all my life. I preyed upon the weak the harmless or unsuspecting. Those I have harmed were all either weaklings either mentally or physically. Those who were strong in either mind or body I first lied to and led into a trap where they were either asleep or drunk or helpless in some way. I always had all the best of it, because I knew ahead of time just what to expect and the others did not. I therefore was strong in my knowledge and stronger in body than those preyed upon. This lesson I was taught by others. Might makes right.”
As we continue our journey into the twisted minds of those that commit the heinous crime of matricide, we happen across the name Carl “Charlie” Brandt. Born at some point in 1957, Charlie Brandt exhibited no psychotic traits in his youth, resulting in a basically normal childhood. Normal, that is until January 3, 1971.
On that date, Charlie Brandt shocked his small Fort Wayne, Indiana community. Brandt, only 13 at the time, retrieved a handgun from his parents’ bedroom and shot them as they prepared for bed. Both parents were in the bathroom at the time. Brandt’s mother, 8 months pregnant, was shot several times as she took a bath, her injuries were fatal. Brandt’s father, who survived the shooting, was shot point blank in the back. Next in young Charlie’s sights was his fifteen year old sister, Angela Brandt. After finding Angela, Charlie raised the gun, pointed, aimed and……..click; nothing happened. He pulled the trigger several times more but the gun never fired. Angela calmed her younger brother down and ran to the neighbors to call the authorities.
During questioning, Charlie’s father, Herbert Brandt, told authorities that it was his son that had committed these heinous acts. Police didn’t know what to do with their 13-year-old killer. Charlie was too young to be held criminally responsible for his crimes; therefore he never was charged with murder. Indiana courts ordered that Charlie undergo three separate psychological evaluations. The evaluations were proved all but useless. Psychiatrist Ronald Pancner along with two colleagues labeled Charlie a mystery. The child showed no signs of serious mental illness. After talking with Charlie about his friends, his family and his interests, Dr. Pancner reported to the courts that Charlie showed no evidence of diminished mental ability or capacity. The reports found that the child did well in school and loved a family that loved him; in other words, there was nothing to diagnose.
The State of Indiana saw fit to place Charlie in a psychiatric hospital, where he stayed just over a year — only until his forgiving father could win his release. Upon his discharge, Herbert Brandt moved the entire family, including Charlie, to Florida. Mr. Brandt forced Angela and Charlie to swear to never speak of this matter. Even Charlie’s two baby sisters, too young to remember, were never told the truth about their mother’s death. The incident is never spoken of again.
Fast forward to September 2004, the impending threat of Hurricane Ivan has Floridians evacuating their homes. Now married, Charlie Brandt is urged by his niece, Michelle Jones, to move him and his wife Teri into her home in Maitland, Florida in lieu of the approaching hurricane. Michelle, a successful television executive, was excited about having her aunt and uncle as guests and invited friends over regularly to socialize. On the evening of September 13, the good times would come to a tragic end.
Due to incessant bickering between Charlie and Teri, Michelle had warded off all would be visitors that evening. Expected guests were told by phone that the evening’s festivities would be cancelled. In the background the drunken bantering of the Brands was clearly audible. Eventually however, the phone calls were no longer being answered at Michelle’s home which worried several relatives and friends, including Michelle’s mother, Mary Lou Jones.
On September 15, Mary Lou convinced Debbie Knight, a mutual friend of her and her daughter, to stop by Michelle’s home. While on the phone with Mary Lou Debbie knocked on the doors and windows but got no answer. Looking for entrance, Debbie noticed the garage door. Once inside, Debbie was horrified to find Charlie Brandt’s body hanging from the rafters. Due to sweltering temperatures and the length of time since his death, Brandt’s body was in a state of decomposition. Ms. Knight then contacted Maitland police. The officers found Teri Brandt lying on the couch dead, she had been stabbed seven times in the chest. Nothing could prepare officers for what they would find next. In the master bedroom, the body of Michelle Jones was found decapitated. She had been disemboweled with her heart removed. On the bed next to her laid her head. It was obvious to the authorities that Charlie Brandt had murdered the women then taken his own life.
What seemed like the end of the investigation was only the beginning. Mary Lou Jones was livid to find out about the 1971 murder of Charlie’s mother and the facts surrounding the case. Angela had revealed to investigators the gruesome events of that evening. Even more shocking was the shrine Charlie had built in his own home. The truth was that Charlie Brandt had been infatuated with Michelle for years. Along with a graphic poster detailing the female anatomy, hundreds of pictures of Michelle had been collected by Brandt. Combined with lingerie photos, it was clear why Brandt called Michelle his,”Victoria’s Secret.”
After investigating the life of Charlie Brandt, law enforcement officials began looking at cold cases. Profilers were positive that Michelle was not the first person he murdered in that fashion. Upon closer inspection, and with DNA evidence, it was found that at least three murders can be attributed to Carl “Charlie” Brandt. Officials admit, off the record, that considering the travels of Brandt and the similarities in murder style; Brandt’s body count over a thirty year period may be astronomical.
“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” ― William Makepeace Thackeray. Mothers are indeed God in the eyes of a child. Mothers not only protect and teach us, they provide our initial spiritual guidance as well as inspire their children to become better. As a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy,” I could go on and on about the endearing qualities of motherhood, which saddens me as I write this post.
A week or so ago I was surfing through the internet and happened across a young man and his video. Though he was considered a rapper, this was not a music video.
This video was of him going into Chase bank and withdrawing $20,000. The young man then returned to the sidewalk outside the bank and the adjacent parking lot and began throwing money in the air as well as handing hundreds of dollars out to passersby. Now, being as broke as I am, I was instantly offended, however my envy would soon turn to disgust as I read further. In the video, the young man, Qaw’mane Wilson, claimed he was “giving back,” to his fans. The article however, read that this young man had allegedly arranged for two of his friends to murder his mother, an owner of a popular hair salon on the west side of Chicago. The cash that was being thrown around was the money he collected from her bank account and insurance policies.
The mere thought of committing an act of violence against my mother sickens me. There must be a special place in hell reserved for a child that murders their own mother. Throughout modern history, various cases of matricide have been documented. Though instances of this despicable act are many, none have paralleled the vileness of serial killer and necrophile, Edmund Kemper.
Born in Burbank, CA on December 18, 1948; Kemper was said to be a bright child. After his parents divorced in 1957, he and his sister was raised by his mother, Clarnell, in Helena, Montana. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, his mother was a violent alcoholic who would constantly belittle, humiliate and verbally abuse him. It was during this period that Edmund developed a cruelty toward animals. Due to his increasingly erratic behavior, Kemper was forced to sleep in a locked basement. His mother feared that he would sexually abuse his sister.
After a short stay with his father, Kemper was sent to North Fork, California live with his paternal grandparents on their ranch in 1963. There Kemper received the
same, if not worse, verbal and emotional abuses from his grandmother. Everything came to a head on August 27, 1964. After an argument, Kemper shot his grandmother in the head. Some reports claim that he also stabbed her with a kitchen knife after shooting her. When his grandfather came home from grocery shopping, Kemper went outside and fatally shot him in the driveway. Edmund immediately called his mother who urged him to call the police. During questioning, Kemper was asked why he committed this atrocity; his response was simply, “I just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma”. He added that he killed his grandfather because he knew that he would be angry at him for what he had done to his grandmother. Kemper was committed to the Atascadero State Hospital and released in 1969. At the time of his release, Kemper had grown to 6 ft. 9 inches, with a weight close to 300 lbs.
Having been convicted as a juvenile and serving less than five years, Kemper began a fresh start. Against the wishes of several doctors at the hospital, he was released into his mother’s care. Kemper eventually got a job with the State of California’s Department of Public Works/Division of Highways in District 4 now called Caltrans or California Department of Transportation.
The verbal abuse from Kemper’s mother escalated over the years. The constant belittling and berating caused something evil inside of Edmund to grow and in 1972 it surfaced. On May 7, 1972, Kemper was driving in Berkeley. Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa, both 18, were Fresno State students attempting to get to nearby Stanford University after spending a few days in Berkeley. Kemper picked up the two hitchhikers. After driving them around for a bit, he took his gun out from under the seat and pulled off into a deserted area. He put Anita in the trunk of his car. He stabbed Mary Ann to death and slashed her throat. He removed Anita from the trunk and, with a larger knife, stabbed her to death. He drove around in his 1969 Ford for a while with the bodies in the trunk, trying to decide what to do. He eventually took them back to his apartment, took lewd photographs of the naked corpses then dismembered them. Kemper had oral sex with Pesce’s severed head then put the body parts in plastic bags and disposed of them. He later tossed the severed heads into a ravine.
On the night of September 14, 1972, Kemper picked up 15-year-old Aiko Koo, who had decided to hitchhike to dance class after missing the bus and was afraid of being late. The Korean dancer caught sight of his gun and began to panic. After convincing her that the gun was to kill himself, he stopped his car at the side of a road and strangled her to death, and then had sex with her corpse. After stopping at a local bar for a couple of beers, Kemper to the corpse back to his apartment; dissected her and disposed of the body parts.
Cindy Schall was a 19-year-old Cabrillo College student. On January 7, 1973 Kemper picked her up and shot her in the head with a .22 caliber pistol. Placing her body in the trunk of his car, Edmund drove back to his mother’s house, where he dissected her in a bathtub. He buried her severed head in his mother’s garden as a joke and discarded the rest of her remains in a ravine.
After a fierce argument with his mother, Kemper met 24-year-old Rosalind Thorpe and 23-year-old Alice Liu on the UC Santa Cruz campus. After leaving the university grounds, Kemper fatally shot Thorpe and Liu with a .22 caliber pistol. He then wrapped their bodies in blankets, and placed them both in the backseat of his car. Once he reached a secluded area, Kemper raped both of the corpses. The next morning, he dismembered their bodies and discarded the remains off in Eden Canyon near San Francisco.
On Friday, April 20, 1973, Kemper fell asleep at home waiting on his mother to return from a party. When he awoke, she was in her room reading. As he entered the room she said, “I suppose you’re going to want to sit up all night and talk now”. Kemper replied, “No, good night”, before beating her to death with a claw hammer. He then decapitated her and used her severed head for oral sex before finally using it as a dart board. He then removed her vocal cords and attempted dispose of them in the garbage disposal. Kemper then invited a friend of his mother, 59 year old Sally Hallett, over to the house. When she arrived, he strangled her to death.
Kemper often drank with law enforcement officers at his favorite watering holes. It would be to one of these officers that he confessed the true nature of each and every one of his crimes. At his trial, he pleaded “not guilty” by reason of insanity. He was found guilty in November 1973 of eight counts of murder. Though he requested the death penalty, due to a moratorium on capital punishment at that time he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Edmund Kemper currently resides at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.