Earlier this week I was watching YouTube videos instead of working as I’m sure many, if not most of us do from time to time. I came across a name; Michael Madison. According to the video I was watching, Madison is a serial killer from Cleveland that had recently been sentenced to death. As a true crime writer, this piqued my interest. As I read about Mr. Madison, I found that his death sentence came as a result of a conviction of murdering 18-year-old Shirrellda Terry, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley and 38-year-old Angela Deskins in a series of strangulations that occurred between October 2012 and July 2013.
Responding to reports of a foul odor, authorities investigated a garage leased by Madison. From the findings of the investigation, Madison was arrested on July 19, 2013. The body of Shirrellda Terry was found in the garage behind his apartment building on the corner of Hayden and Shaw avenues in East Cleveland. Authorities believe that 18-year-old Shirrellda Terry was his first victim. Madison originally lived with the corpse of Ms. Terry in the apartment with him until the smell overpowered him. At that point, Madison moved the body from the hall closet in his apartment to the garage. The bodies of Shetisha Sheeley and Angela Deskins. were also kept close to him. One corpse was kept in bushes outside and a third in the basement of a nearby vacant home. Wrapped in duct tape and garbage bags, all three bodies were visible from the second-floor balcony of his apartment.
I read on, taking in more and more information regarding this case and thought to myself, “serial killer in Cleveland, why does that seem familiar?” In amazement, (not like utter amazement, just a bit surprised) I realized that this was the second known serial killer in Cleveland in a matter of fewer than five years. I’d suddenly remembered Anthony Sowell.
Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler was arrested in October 2009 after the bodies of eleven women were discovered by police. Sowell was raised in East Cleveland. After a seven-year stint in the Marines, Sowell was convicted for kidnapping and rape in 1989. On September 22, 2009, Latundra Billups reported to police that after a few drinks Sowell became angry, hit, choked and raped her. On October 29, police arrived at his home with a warrant for Sowell’s arrest. Authorities did not find Sowell at home; however, what they did find shocked Cleveland to its core.
Police found the bodies of two women buried in a shallow grave in the basement. The remains of four other women were found on the 3rd floor of the home, in crawl spaces in the house. After more digging in the backyard, the corpses of three women were found as well as the partial remains of a fourth. A bucket inside the house containing a skull brought the body count to eleven victims. Sowell, arrested two days later; was charged with eleven counts of aggravated murder and 74 counts of rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. On July 22, 2011, Sowell was convicted on all but two counts against him, including the murders of the eleven women whose bodies were found in his house. On August 12th Anthony Sowell was sentenced to death.
Initially amazed to find that the city of Cleveland had been faced with back to back serial killers; further research brought me to the conclusion that serial murder was nothing new to Cleveland, Ohio. By my count, Cleveland had at least 10 serial killers who either got their start or finish there. The first known instance of serial murder in Cleveland started back in the 1930s. The suspect was known to have killed at least 12 victims with some accounts believing the number may be closer to 40 victims during his run. During his reign of terror, he was known to gruesomely decapitate his victims with his bare hands. Many times he would do so while the victim was still alive. Newspapers dubbed this individual the Cleveland Torso Murderer.
From 1935-1938, the Cleveland Torso Murderer also known as the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run; dismembered at least 12 victims and dumped the remains in the area of Kingsbury Run, an area on the southeast side of Cleveland, Ohio. Despite being pursued by Cleveland’s Public Safety Director, famous lawman, Eliot Ness, as well as lead detective Peter Merylo, he was never apprehended.
The victims of the Torso Murderer were normally drifters,
runaways and prostitutes. Of the 12 known victims, only 3 were identified; Edward
Andrassy, Florence Polillo, and Rose Wallace. The sinister acts of depravity
that earned the killer his title were the beheading and dismembering of his
victims. At times he would cut the victim’s torso in half or remove their
appendages. As stated earlier, many times the victim was still alive during
mutilation making the decapitation or dismemberment the excruciatingly painful
cause of death. Most of the victims’ remains were found long after they had
been murdered, this contributed greatly to the inability to identify them.
Especially since the heads were often missing.
The official body count of the Torso Murderer was 12, however area murders that fit the profile of other victims go as far back as 1921 when dismembered bodies were found in swamps and boxcars near New Castle, Pennsylvania. On July 22, 1950, the decapitated body of 41-year-old Robert Robertson was found in Cleveland. This means that crimes fitting the same modus operandi as those of the Torso Murderer were occurring years after they were thought to have ended.
I was totally taken back by the sheer number of serial killers that have called Cleveland Ohio home at some point. Most of society remember being sickened by the despicable exploits of Ariel Castro, however many are unaware that Cleveland has ties to the Milwaukee cannibal Jeffery Dahmer. As I concluded my studies of this otherwise booming metropolis I came to the conclusion that the Rock and Roll Capital of the World may also be the Serial Killer Capital of America.
We’ve all had relationship break-ups. People handle this situation in various manners. Often times it’s a mutual agreement between the couple. Other times it comes out of the blue and leaves one of the involved parties hurt and devastated. Regardless of the reason behind the split, for most of us the end result is the same. We hurt for a while then we get over it.
In the late 1990’s it was a breakup that led to a 5 year reign of one of the most prolific serial killers in Chinese history, Yang Xinhai; the Monster Killer. Yang Xinhai confessed to committing 65 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003. The murders ended 2003 when he was apprehended by authorities. Yang Xinhai was found guilty and executed in February of 2004.
Yang Xinhai was born in Zhengyang County, Zhumadian, Henan Province, China on July 29, 1968; the youngest of four children. In 1985, the 17 year old high school drop-out traveled around China working as a laborer. When work was not available Yang became a burglar. In 1988 and 1991, Yang was sentenced to labor camps for theft in Xi’an, Shaanxi and Shijiazhuang, Hebei. In 1996, he was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted rape in Zhumadian, Henan and released in 1999.
After his release in 1999, Yang met and began a brief relationship with a young female student. After learning of his criminal past the young lady broke all ties with Yang. Based upon his interrogation, this break-up is what Yang cites as the motive of his 5 year, 67 victim, killing spree. His rampage was so extensive that it would take hours to chronicle each murder separately; however I will enlighten you on just how he would operate.
Calling upon his experience as a burglar he would gain entry to a home. Always wearing new clothes and oversized shoes he noiselessly roamed through the home, not to steal; simply to murder. Using axes, hammers and shovels, he would violently slaughter his victims. Many times he would quietly take out whole families, primarily farmers. From 1999 through 2003 Yang Xinhai terrorized the provinces of Anhui, Hebei, Henan and Shandong, murdering anyone unfortunate enough to be at home that night. During these home invasions he would rape the women before murdering them in cold blood. The beginning of the end of his bloody rampage occurred in October 2002. Yang killed a father and a six-year-old girl with a shovel and raped a pregnant woman. The woman survived the attack and despite enduring serious head injuries; described the assailant to authorities.
During a police “shakedown,” of nightclubs in Cangzhou, Hebei; Yang was brought in for questioning. Authorities noticed that he appeared excessively nervous and soon found out why. A person fitting his exact description was wanted for murder in four provinces. As the interrogation intensified, Yang eventually confessed to 65 murders, 23 rapes and five attacks causing serious injury: 49 murders, 17 rapes and five attacks in Henan; eight murders and three rapes in Hebei; six murders and two rapes in Anhui; and two murders and one rape in Shandong. DNA matches in several crime scenes sealed the cases against Yang. Ironically, unbeknownst to Yang, he had contracted HIV from one of his rape victims. When asked about the reasons for the murders, Yang told authorities that he lashed out against society due to this girlfriend breaking up with him. From that breakup he developed a hatred of people. When asked about his crimes he was quoted as saying: “When I killed people I had a desire. This inspired me to kill more. I don’t care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern…I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern.”
On February 1st, 2004 Yang Xinhai was found guilty of 67 murders and 23 rapes, and sentenced to death in Luohe City Intermediate People’s Court, Henan. In an instance of swift justice Yang was executed only 13 days later. On St. Valentine’s Day 2004, Yang Xinhai was executed by firing squad. Thus was the end of The Monster Killer, Yang Xinhai.
Growing up, my summers were spent in rural Georgia. Some of my earliest memories are those of my cousins and me being told to go out and, “slop the hogs.” Yes this chore was just as fun as it sounds. Slopping the hogs can be best defined as taking buckets of leftover food from the prior day’s meals and pouring them into the feeding trough out in the pig pen.
My grandparents made what can be called a “modest,” living at best, from farming. I could never imagine the term multi-millionaire being used to describe someone in this line of work. To my surprise I came across Robert Pickton. Robert Pickton was actually a multi-millionaire pig farmer in Port Coquitlam, a city in British Columbia, Canada. He and his brother David owned a family run operation in the area. The multi-millions came not so much from pig farming operations; they actually neglected that end of the business. It was the land itself that netted the Pickton’s millions. The farmland, purchased for $18,000 by Leonard Pickton and his wife, Helen Louise, in 1963, was worth $300,000 in 1993. By 1994 it was valued at $7.2 million. In the fall of 1994, they sold a part of their farm for $1.7 million to Eternal Holdings, a townhouse development company. That same year the city of Port Coquitlam also bought a chunk of their land, for $1.2 million, and turned it into a park. In 1995, Port Coquitlam’s school district bought a piece of the pig farm for $2.3 million, and built Blakeburn Elementary School on the site.
In 1995, soon after the Pickton’s financial windfall, area residents noticed that women began to come up missing. David Pickton took his earnings and moved up the road and begun a non-profit organization, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society. The organization would sponsor parties and social gatherings for other organizations throughout the area. The regular clientele were those that partook in the seedier side of life. Bikers, drug dealers and users and prostitutes comprised the palace’s day to day crowd. David Pickton’s organization became so popular that attendance would regularly top 2000 guests. At times the guests would stop by Richard’s converted slaughterhouse to visit, buy meat etc. Farm employee, Bill Hiscox began to notice that some guests of the farm, particularly women; had begun to come up missing. Hiscox reported his suspicions to the authorities and on February 6, 2002, police executed a search warrant for illegal firearms at the property. While in custody authorities issued a second search warrant as part of the ongoing investigation of the missing women. The following day Robert Pickton was charged with various charges included possessing and storing firearms without a license. He was later released and was kept under police surveillance.
Unbeknownst to Pickton, the police had discovered key clues concerning the disappearance of area women during the search of his property. Vancouver police had uncovered several personal items belonging to missing women such as identification cards, prescription medicine etc. On February 22, Pickton was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson. On April 2, three more charges were added for the murders of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. A sixth charge for the murder of Andrea Joesbury was laid on April 9, followed shortly by a seventh for Brenda Wolfe. On September 20, four more charges were added for the slayings of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark and Jennifer Furminger. Four more charges for the murders of Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall were laid on October 3, bringing the total to fifteen, making the investigation the largest of any serial killer in Canadian history. On May 26, 2005, 12 more charges were laid against him for the killings of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and Jane Doe (unidentified woman) bringing the total number of first-degree murder charges to 27.
During a preliminary inquiry held in 2003, investigators found that long before the murders began, Robert Pickton was involved in an attempted murder of a sex worker in 1997. Prostitute, Wendy Lynn Eistetter testified at the inquiry that after he had driven her to the Port Coquitlam farm and had sex with her, Pickton slapped a handcuff on her left hand and stabbed her in the abdomen. During the melee that ensued, Eistetter stabbed Pickton in self-defense. Later, both she and Pickton were treated at the same hospital, where staff used a key they found in Pickton’s pocket to remove the handcuffs from the woman’s wrist. Ironically, the attempted murder charge was stayed by the Canadian courts citing the Wendy Lynn was a known drug addict. Prosecution deemed her testimony was too unstable to hinge their case upon. Also during the inquiry it was discovered that the police had received several tips concerning the disappearance of women. Vancouver police detective constable Lori Shenher received a tip in 1998 stating that Pickton should be investigated in the case of the disappearances. Another call in 1999 informed Canadian police that Pickton had a freezer filled with human flesh on his farm. Investigators interviewed Pickton, even received permission to search his property; however police never actually made the search.
Pickton’s trial began on January 30, 2006 in New Westminster presided by Justice James Williams. Pickton pled not guilty to 27 charges of first-degree murder in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The voir dire phase of the trial took most of the year to determine what evidence might be admitted before the jury. On March 2, one of the 27 counts was rejected by Justice James Williams for lack of evidence.
On August 9, Justice Williams severed the charges, splitting them into one group of six counts and another group of twenty counts. The trial proceeded on the group of six counts. The remaining 20 counts could have been heard in a separate trial, but ultimately were stayed on August 4, 2010.Because of the publication ban, full details of the decision are not publicly available; but the judge has explained that trying all 26 charges at once would put an unreasonable burden on the jury, as the trial could last up to two years, and have an increased chance for a mistrial. The judge also added that the six counts he chose had “materially different” evidence from the other 20.
Though initially set to start January 8, 2007, Pickton faced first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Frey, Abotsway, Papin, Joesbury, Wolfe and Wilson on January 22. On that date, the media ban that was put in place at the beginning of the trial was lifted and for the first time Canadians as well as the rest of the world would hear the gruesome details of what was found during the search of the Pickton property.
The jury and court would hear testimony from investigators that found skulls cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside. The remains of another victim were stuffed in a garbage bag in the bottom of a trash can and her blood-stained clothing was found in the trailer in which Pickton lived. Part of one victim’s jawbone and teeth were found in the ground beside the slaughterhouse, and a .22 caliber revolver with an attached dildo containing both his and a victim’s DNA was in his laundry room. In a videotaped recording played for the jury, Pickton claimed to have attached the dildo to his weapon as a makeshift silencer. A loaded .22 revolver with a big, spiky black, Hindu made dildo over the barrel and one round fired, boxes of .357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three milliliters of blue liquid inside, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac.
More incriminating videotapes were found, a tape of Pickton’s friend Scott Chubb saying Pickton had told him a good way to kill a female heroin addict was to inject her with windshield-washer fluid. A second tape was played for Pickton, in which an associate named Andrew Bellwood said Pickton mentioned killing prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs. Yes feeding them to the pigs!
The horror of what was found on the farms; the dismembered corpses, the feet, teeth, bones, the wood chipper, and the freezers paled in comparison to the thoughts of the area residents. I will explain. Robert Pickton supplied meat to a great many in the immediate and not so immediate area. Piggy’s Palace sported a reputation of serving a very raunchy crowd. Biker’s, prostitutes and drug addicts comprised the primary customer base. However, most of the residents of the area had patronized Piggy’s Palace at one point or another. Two mayors, several city council members, local business and civic leaders, ice hockey moms, high school and elementary school students–they all came for functions, dances, concerts and other recreations at Piggy’s Palace. To be brief, he bought the pigs, fattened them, and sold the meat to friends, or roasted them for the bikers, prostitutes, mayors, and Little Leaguers who partied at Piggy’s Palace. The entire city of Port Coquitlam (pop. 53,000), it seemed, was feeding on pigs that had been fed by the suspected serial killer Robert Pickton. Thousands of people had been to the palace and had enjoyed some roasted pork, pork from Robert Pickton’s farm. Let me help you here; Pickton kills victims, Pickton feeds victims to pigs, people eat pigs; therefore people eat victims.
The unusable remains of the pigs Robert slaughtered and served to his friends and neighbors–pig entrails, brains, bones, nerve tissue, and gore–were taken by truck to a rendering plant. Many are certain that the partial remains of the murdered sex workers were also hauled in those trucks. The plant turns animal bones, guts, fish, blood, pig entrails, used restaurant grease, and, now many believe, the remains of sex workers into a number of consumer products, like lipstick base, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. These commodities that improve human appearance are shipped all over the world. The fact is that we may all have bathed in the remains of victims.
Women began disappearing from Vancouver in the 1980’s. At approximately the same time women began disappearing from the streets of Seattle and Sea Tac, WA. In both cases the women were known to be sex workers, drug addicted and or homeless; the type of people described in my book, The Darker Side of Evil, as throw away people. One difference in the two cases is that the women that were vanishing from the streets of Seattle and surrounding areas were being found; at least the remains of the victims were turning up. The remains of many of the missing Seattle women resurfaced in the wild areas around the airport, beside the freeways, and, most infamously, along the banks of the Green River. In Vancouver the victims just seemed to disappear. It is assumed that this is the reason that Vancouver authorities appeared to approach their missing persons’ issues in a seemingly lackadaisical manner. Without any evidence of a crime being committed there was simply no reason to assume that these women had been victims of any type of crime. In stark contrast, it was obvious that the women of Seattle and Sea Tac had been murdered and frightened communities demanded action. It was that call to action that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the monster known as The Green River Killer.
As stated earlier Justice James Williams decided to split the counts against Pickton citing undue stress being placed upon jurors. On December 9, 2007 the jury returned with a verdict that Pickton is not guilty on 6 counts of first-degree murder, but is guilty on 6 counts of second-degree murder. On December 11, 2007 Justice Williams read 18 impact statements from victim’s families; he then sentenced Robert Pickton to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years; the maximum punishment for second-degree murder and equal to the sentence which would have been imposed for a first-degree murder conviction. Also noted earlier was the fact that the decision to try Pickton for the other 20 murders was set aside. Prosecution had taken into account the fact that any additional convictions could not result in any increase to the sentence that Mr. Pickton has already received. Despite numerous appeals, Robert Pickton’s sentence was upheld.
Robert Pickton was accused of the murder of 27 women, however in a conversation between him and an undercover police officer posing as his cellmate Pickton confessed to the murder of 49 women. He went on to tell the officer that he had planned to kill 50 women then stop and that the only reason he was caught was due to getting, “sloppy.” The scary part about this is that it may be true. Initial attempts to have Robert Pickton investigated were all but ignored by authorities. Had a proper investigation been performed when he was accused of the attempted murder of Wendy Lynn Eistetter was committed a great many lives may have been saved. Not only was that not the case, the charges against Pickton was dropped thereby giving him an even greater air of invincibility.
How many Robert Picktons are in the world today? Every major city on this continent has its area known as, “skid row”; urine scented blocks littered with bloodstains, crack vials and dirty condoms. Within these areas sexual predators stalk their prey. Each day, prostitutes are beaten, raped, robbed, tied up, held down, doused, burned and not to mention….murdered. Most of these incidents never make the local news unless the media, our gateway to the world; choses to notify the public of such occurrences. Unfortunately, by then, it is usually too late for a great many victims and their families. How do we solve these problems? I have never been a fan of the Jerry Springer program but I think he sums it up at the end of each show. As he closes out each taping he looks at the camera as says these simple words, “Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.” Let’s try that for starters.
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.
When researching topics to be used as subject matter for my books & blogs, I seek out illustrations of man’s disregard for human life. In my book, “The Darker Side of Evil,” we take a look at 10 African-American murderers who operated in complete anonymity while destroying communities from the inside out and how the media helped them do it. In each blog post, I’ve examined the lives of serial murderers throughout American history and their crimes against humanity.
There are several adjectives that I may use to describe my personal feelings for these perpetrators and their acts of depravity. Anger, hatred and disgust are a few that immediately come to mind. Three days ago I began researching the exploits of Leonard Lake and Charles Ng; at the end, there was only one word to describe my feelings for the last 72 hours; sheer and utter horror.
Born in Hong Kong on December 24, 1960, Charles Chi-Tat Ng, (Charles Ng) was born to a wealthy corporate executive and his wife. Throughout his childhood Charles exhibited a compulsion for theft which led to his constant expulsion from various schools throughout his youth and into his teenage years. After moving to the United States as a young man, Ng was involved in a hit and run. To avoid consequences and with the help of a recruiting sergeant that provided falsified documents, Ng; who was not a U.S. citizen, joined the Marine Corp in 1980. After serving less than a year, Ng was charged with, escape from confinement, attempted desertion andtheft of heavy weaponry. Sentenced to 14 years, Ng’s sentence was commuted and he was dishonorably discharged and released in 1982.
The story of Leonard Lake begins in San Francisco. Born on October 29th of that year young Leonard would be raised by his grandparents from the age of six due to his parents separation. From his youth, Lake exhibited a preoccupation with pornography from a young age, often taking nude photos of his sisters. Encouraged by his grandmother, Lake was said to have participated in sex with his elder sisters regularly until he enlisted into the Marine Corps in 1965.
Lake endured two tours of duty in Vietnam. It was during his time in the service that he was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder and given a medical discharge in 1971. Obsessed with the “hippie,” lifestyle, Lake lived on communes of such that practiced the ideology of free love throughout the seventies. During his hippy years Lake would often produce, direct and star in his own porno movies. He also developed the desire to “possess,” slaves. Lake would often make bondage and other deviant sexual behavior an aspect of his self-produced films. Toward the end of the decade, Lake would eventually be charged and convicted for grand theft. Released from custody in 1980, he soon married Claralyn Balasz, a woman he had met back in 1977. Not long after that he met Charles Ng.
Having the Marine Corp in common the two men developed other shared interests, such as firearms. They began collecting automatic weapons from illegal sources, and a team of federal agents raided their ranch in April 1982, arresting Lake and Ng for firearms violations. Due to his past charge of escape, Ng was denied bail. Lake, however, was granted a $6,000 bond which he posted and skipped on immediately. Lake, using the name Charles Gunnar, floated around northern California. Claralyn Balasz divorced Lake during this time though they remained friends.
Ng would be sentenced and confined at Leavenworth federal penitentiary. Paroled after 18 months, Ng soon resumed his relationship with Lake and moved with him to a cabin owned by the family of Claralyn Balasz in Wilseyville, California. Next to the cabin, Lake constructed a bunker, similar to a dungeon. Within the fortified walls of this dungeon the men kept video equipment and illegal weapons. The men also kept instruments of torture. On this unassuming property, atrocities were committed that would shock society to its core. The actual number of people that these men abducted, tortured, raped and murdered remain unknown still today.
Initially, Lake and then Ng once released; begin killing the neighbors and their families. Lake had already murdered his own brother Donald, who had stopped by for a visit. Acquaintances such as Charles Gunnar had been killed for his money and identity. Rural neighbors Lonnie Bond, his girlfriend Brenda O’Connor and their infant son, Lonnie Jr. had been murdered as well as Harvey and Deborah Dubs and their young son, Sean. In these instances, the men and children were killed immediately. The women were held hostage while being raped and tortured repeatedly.
On June 2, 1985, Ng was spotted shoplifting by a local hardware store clerk. The clerk immediately notified authorities, however, when they arrived, Ng had left the premises. The clerk informed the responding officer that the white Honda Prelude that the thief had arrived in still remained in the lot. In the car sat Leonard Lake and when confronted by the officers, Lake identified himself to them as Robin Stapley and had a driver’s license in that name. The initial search of the vehicle turned up the vise Ng had stolen as well as a .22 caliber revolver with a silencer. The officers ran the car to find that it was registered to a Paul Costner. Both Robin Stapley and Paul Costner had been previously reported missing. Lake was placed under arrest and transported to the police station.
At the station, Lake confessed his real name and that he was a wanted fugitive. He also told authorities that the name of the shoplifter was Charles Ng. After requesting a cup of water Lake was found convulsing and foaming from the mouth. It was found later that Lake swallowed a cyanide pill that had been taped to his shirt lapel.
During the search of the vehicle police noticed several blood stains throughout the car. Noticed also were several shell casings as well as a bullet hole in the interior of the vehicle. Within the glove box several ID’s and credit cards in different names were found along with utility bills for the cabin in Wilseyville in name of Claralyn Balasz.
Police contacted Claralyn Balasz about the discovery and questioned her concerning Ng. After some prodding, she eventually admitted taking Ng to run various errands and dropping Ng. off at the airport. Balasz also agreed to take officers to the cabin in Wilseyville.
The following day, Balasz accompanied by Lake’s mother, Gloria Eberling at a grocery store located on Highway 88 a short distance from the cabin. The ladies led the officers up Blue Mountain road to the cabin. As they approached the officers felt an ominous presence come over them as they gazed upon the structure comprised of cement blocks next to the small cabin. The cabin consisted simply of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Upon entering, the officers immediately noticed a blood-like spray on the wall. Spotted next was a small caliber bullet hole in the wall and one in the floor of the kitchen. The master bedroom held a four-poster bed that had electrical cords tied to each of its posts. Bolted through the floor at each corner of the bed were heavy eyebolts and above it, a 250-watt floodlight had been fastened to the wall.
The officers then found lingerie of assorted sizes and types; all with blood stains. Throughout the house was video equipment, all registered to a person named Harvey Dubs. Unbeknownst to the officer at that time, Dubs, his wife and child; had been missing since July 24, 1984. They had been last seen at the cabin by neighbors.
The law enforcement officials immediately left to obtain a search warrant for the rest of the property. As they waited on the warrant, officers returned to the property and conducted a brief interview with Balasz and Eberling. Fearing possible implication, the women stubbornly refused to answer any of the officers questions. Aware that a tremendous evil had been committed on this property the officers asked Balasz for permission to open the bunker. Her advice to them was to take it up with Mr. Ng.
The following day, Tuesday, June 4, 1985, a full search of the property was authorized. A task force comprised of several officers was assembled to conduct the search. San Francisco police chief, Cornelius Murphy, authorized a twelve-man unit and Sheriff Ballard of Calaveras County assembled a team of five men and placed Lieutenant Bob Bunning in charge. Deputy Chief of Inspectors Joseph Lordan was placed in charge of the San Francisco detachment. As they began the search around the bunker officers noticed a trench which seemed to contain clothing coming from underground, all with a top coat of lye.
Noticing that a nearby house seemed abandoned, officers contacted the landlord of the property, Bo Carter. During an interview Mr. Carter told officers that when he had recently come to collect rent from his tenants he was greeted by a man claiming his name was Charles Gunnar. The man explained to Carter that the tenants, Lonnie Bond, his partner Brenda O’Connor, their infant son Lonnie Jr. and another man named Robin Stapley had abruptly moved ten days prior. Carter also informed officers that an eroded bank near the boundary between the two properties had been recently dug up.
The officers entered the bunker. The main room was a twenty-foot by twelve-foot workshop area with a range of hand tools and power saws hanging on a plywood wall next to a workbench. The tools were found to be encrusted with a dried brownish substance, possibly blood. They soon found that the plywood tool rack was in fact a door leading to a smaller room. Inside were a double bed, a side table, books and a reading lamp. On one wall was a wooden plaque with the legend “Operation Miranda” carved into it. The room also contained military equipment including uniforms, boots and a vast array of weapons, including assault rifles, shotguns and machine guns. On the floor, police found a work shirt and a baseball cap with the words “Dennis Moving Service” embroidered on them. Forensic technicians recovered several fingerprints from the weapons and tools, prints that were later positively identified as belonging to Ng and Lake.
Outside investigators recovered two bones beside the driveway. Initially unsure if they were human, the question would soon be answered as a deputy found a human foot protruding from the ground. The grounds of the ranch were dug up and 12 corpses were uncovered in shallow graves. With the help of sheriff’s canine dogs they uprooted some fifty pounds of human skeletons and fragmented bones, teeth and partial remains of missing men, women and children. Among these victims were two families: Harvey Dubs and his wife, Deborah, and baby son, Sean; and Lonnie Bond and Brenda O’Connor and their baby son, Lonnie Bond Jr. The women had been sexually abused and killed after their husbands and infants were disposed of. Five of the bodies were of men lured to the ranch to be robbed and killed including Robin Stapley and Paul Cosner. Another corpse was identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, who knew Ng because her boyfriend had once been his cellmate in prison. Investigators continued to uncover one horror after another as more skeletons were sorted out of scattered fragments.
Police also found an incinerator with thick fireproof walls that were capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. Within this apparatus were charred fragments of human bones (in excess of 45 pounds in total), but they were unable to determine the identity of the victims or their number. Additionally, the state attorney urged the public to help identify 15 bodies that had been uprooted on the ranch grounds.
Later, a sealed five gallon bucket was uncovered which contained a check book in the name of Robin Scott Stapley, jewelry, credit cards, driver’s licenses, wallets and two videotapes without labels and a third marked “M. Ladies Kathy/Brenda.” The first two videos were later viewed, the first showing Lake and Balasz at a Thanksgiving dinner. On the second, Lake had been filmed discussing his greatest fantasy – kidnapping a woman and enslaving her. The third video was the most disturbing; it showed a young woman, identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, chained to a chair and later forced to perform a striptease while being taunted by Lake and Ng. In another part of the video, Ng could be seen clearly cavorting on a bed with Kathy while Lake took still photographs. The tape also included footage of Brenda O’Connor begging for information regarding her baby. In answer, Lake tells her “Your baby is sound asleep, like a rock.” Eventually, when the constant barrage of taunts and threats breaks her resolve, Brenda agrees to cooperate. Later in the tape she can be heard taking a shower with both men. On tape, Lake was heard to say, “By cooperating with us, that means you will stay here as a prisoner, you will work for us, you will wash for us, you will fuck for us. Or you can say no, in which case we’ll tie you to the bed, we’ll rape you, and then we’ll take you outside and shoot you. Your choice!”
Inside the cabin, between blood soaked mattresses officers found a diary written by Leonard Lake that described in chilling detail how he and Ng had selected, raped, and murdered numerous victims. His diary was crammed with sexual fantasies involving sex slaves he planned to keep in his bunker after a nuclear holocaust. He wrote: “God meant woman for cooking, cleaning house and sex. And when they are not in use, they should be locked up.” On another page he scribbled, “If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it.” No one knows how many people Lake killed during his lifetime, but it is thought that his first victim was his brother, Donald.
Leonard Lake escaped prosecution, having died by ingesting the cyanide pill. Ng caught a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago; from there his whereabouts were unknown. His location remained a mystery until July 6, 1985. On that date Ng was arrested while shoplifting food from a market in Calgary, Alberta. On November 29, 1988, a Canadian judge ruled that Ng should be extradited to California for trial. Legal maneuvers stalled his extradition until 1991. By firing and hiring court appointed attorneys, Ng was able to delay the commencement of his trial until August 21, 1998. In the longest and most expensive trial in California history, Charles Ng was convicted of 12 counts of murder in February 1999. On May 3, 1999 Charles Ng was sentenced to death and currently resides on death row at San Quentin State Prison. To date there is no actual count of the victims of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake.
During a recent interview I was asked a question. The interviewer wanted to know if I possessed a certain amount of empathy for the subjects of my blogs & books due to my criminal background. Caught somewhere between disbelief and apprehension, I regained my wits I responded, (in the most cynical tone that I could muster) “no, why would I.” I went on to inform the young lady that it is due to my criminal past that I know for a fact that violence in any capacity is senseless and above all evil. Regardless of whether I was attempting to become the “Nino Brown,’ of Chicago or trying to become the Black Frank Abagnale, Jr.; violence was never part of my modus operandi.
The following day I was having lunch with 2 Chicago Police officers that actually had thwarted my criminal endeavors back in my “hay day”; now that I’ve gone straight, we’re buddies….yay. Anyway, I told them about the interview and we had a big laugh. However, as we continued to talk, a melancholy presence fell upon our table. We began to talk about senseless violence and the names of Alton Coleman and Debra Brown came up.
The term “senseless violence,” does not begin to describe the death & destruction carried out by these two. Born in 1955, Alton Coleman resided in Waukegan, Illinois. A middle school drop out that earned the name, “Pissy”, as a youth due to his tendency to wet his pants, Coleman first came to the notice of police as a teenager when he was picked up for breaking windows in his Waukegan housing project. As a teenager Coleman had acquired a reputation for his strong sex drive among his peers. Neighborhood acquaintances reported that he was bisexual and willing to engage in sex any time, any place with anyone. As Coleman approached adulthood he developed an insatiable taste for deviant manners of sexual gratification.
In 1973 Coleman & an accomplice raped and robbed an elderly woman. However, during the trial, the woman refused to testify against Coleman regarding the rape. Found guilty of robbery, Coleman was sentenced to 2 years in prison. From 1973 to 1983 Alton Coleman would be charged in a total of 6 sex crimes, (one involving the rape of his own niece). Of the six charges; two were dismissed, in two he was found guilty of lesser charges and in two he would be acquitted. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. In a span of less than three months, he and Debra Brown would commit; 8 murders, 7 rapes, 3 kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies in 6 different states.
Debra Brown was born in 1962. One of eleven children, Brown suffered head trauma as a child and was deemed borderline mentally retarded. Later in life a psychiatrist would diagnose Brown as having dependent personality disorder. Until the age of 21, Brown led a mostly mundane and uneventful life. That would all change in 1983 when she met Alton Coleman. Despite being engaged to be married to another man, Brown detached from her family and accompanied Coleman.
In early 1984 Coleman had been indicted for a rape and murder of a 14 year old girl he had committed the previous year. Once Coleman found out about his “wanted” status he and Brown embarked one of the most prolific crime sprees in American history. In early May of 1984, the couple went north to Kenosha, WI where they met and befriended Juanita Wheat, her 7 year old son and her 9 year old daughter Vernita. On May 29, Wheat gave permission for Vernita to go with Coleman to his apartment to pick up stereo equipment. The couple abducted young Vernita and transported her back to Waukegan. On June 19th the body of Vernita Wheat was found in an abandoned building in Waukegan, four blocks from Coleman’s grandmother’s apartment. The body was badly decomposed and the cause of death was ligature strangulation. Police also found a fingerprint at the scene which was matched to Coleman. After befriending Robert Carpenter in Waukegan the pair stole his car and headed to Indiana.
In June of 1984 the two were in Gary, IN and crossed paths with 9-year-old Annie and 7 year old Tamika Turks who were walking home from a nearby candy store. Coleman & Brown convinced the two children to accompany them into the woods under the pretense of playing a game. Both children were then bound and gagged with strips of cloth torn from Tamika’s shirt. Annie was then forced to have sex with both adults. Annoyed by Tamika’s crying, Brown held his hand over her nose and mouth while Coleman stomped on her chest, then strangled her to death with elastic from a bed sheet. Annie survived the torment; unfortunately Tamika’s partially decomposed body was discovered on June 19, 1984. The cause of death was ligature strangulation. The two children resided with their grandmother who, stricken with grief over the ordeal and unable to deal with her loss, took her own life.
The very same day, Donna Williams and her car came up missing. The 25 year old Gary resident had met the couple only a few days prior to her disappearance. On July 11, 1984, Williams’ badly decomposed body was discovered in Detroit, MI about a half-mile from where her car was found. The cause of death was again ligature strangulation. On June 28, 1984, while in Michigan; Coleman and Brown committed a home invasion upon the Dearborn Heights, Michigan residence of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer Jones. Palmer was handcuffed by Coleman and then badly beaten. Mrs. Jones was also attacked. Coleman ripped the Jones’ phone from the wall and stole their money and car.
In July 5th of 1984 the pair turned up in Ohio, Toledo to be exact. Virginia Temple, the mother of several children, met and befriended Coleman and Brown. During their acquaintance the two became especially interested in Virginia’s 9 year old daughter Rachelle. Virginia’s family became concerned when she had not been heard from over a period of time. Troubled by the lack of contact, family members were shocked when they entered her home to find her children unsupervised. The bodies of Virginia and Rachelle were found in a crawl space, they both had been strangled to death. Frank and Dorothy Duvendack of Toledo had the misfortune of meeting Coleman & Brown. On the same day of the Temple murders the two entered the Duvendack home, bound them in phone cord and took their money and car. Later that evening the pair met Reverend and Mrs. Millard Gay of Dayton, Ohio. They stayed with them in Dayton and then accompanied them to Lockwood, Ohio, on July 9, to a religious service. On July 10, the Gays dropped off Coleman and Brown in downtown Cincinnati.
During their stay in Cincinnati, Brown & Coleman met 15 year old Tonnie Storey. After failing to return home from school, Storey’s parents reported her missing on July 11, 1984. Eight days later her body was found in an abandoned building. She had been strangled to death. During the investigation, one of Tonnie’s classmates testified that she saw Coleman talking to Tonnie the day she disappeared. A fingerprint at the crime scene was also linked to Coleman
On July 13, 1984, Coleman and Brown bicycled to Norwood, Ohio. Under the pretense of being interested in a travel trailer, they arrived at the home of a local couple, Harry and Marlene Walters. Once inside the Walter’s home, Coleman picked up a wooden candlestick and, after admiring it, struck Harry Walters on the back of the head. The attack was so vicious that the candlestick broke and lodged a chunk of bone against Mr. Walters’ brain. Coleman and Brown proceeded to strike Mrs. Walters up to 25 times about the face and head. The two also mutilated her face and scalp with a pair of vice grips. The two lay dying in a bloody mess until about 3:45 pm. Sheri Walters was horrified when she arrived home from work to find her parents bound with ligatures around their hands & necks. Mr. Walters, survived the attack, but suffered brain damage. Mrs. Walters however, succumbed to injuries that left her face unrecognizable and a skull so smashed that pieces of it and her brain was missing Coleman and Brown stole the couple’s car which was found two days later in Lexington, Kentucky.
In Williamsburg, Kentucky, Coleman and Brown kidnapped college professor Oline Carmichael, Jr., forced him into the trunk of his car, and then drove it to Dayton, Ohio. Authorities found the car and Carmichael still alive in the trunk.
While in Dayton, Coleman and Brown revisited the Gays. Rev. Gay recognized Coleman who by now had been nationally televised as a wanted and dangerous fugitive. Reverend Gay asked Coleman, “Why you want to do us like that, like this,” and according to Gay, Coleman responded: “I’m not going to kill you, but we generally kills them where we go.” Coleman and Brown took their car and headed back toward Evanston. On the way back home, they took time to steal another car, killing the 77-year-old man who owned it.
It was in Evanston that the couple’s crime spree ended. While crossing an intersection on July 20, 1984, Coleman was recognized by someone from his old neighborhood. The unsuspecting pair crossed the street and when the red light changed the witness drove north to the nearest gas station to alert authorities. Police officers caught up with Coleman and Brown at a nearby park. When confronted, Coleman, who possessed no identification tried to deny that he was Alton Coleman. During this time Brown attempted to separate herself from Coleman but was met by two approaching officers. During a custodial search, Brown was found to be in possession of a handgun; the two were immediately taken into custody without incident.
A week following the arrest, law enforcement officials from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio met to determine the most effective manner of prosecution against Alton Coleman and Debra Brown. Michigan, who does not have capital punishment, was quickly ruled out as the place to begin. Ohio was given the first opportunity to bring the murderous pair to justice. In Ohio both Coleman & Brown were sentenced to death for the murders of Tonnie Storey, and Marlene Walters. The two were also sentenced to die in Indiana for killing Tamika Turks, 7, of Gary, Ind. In Illinois, Coleman received the death sentence for slaying Vernita Wheat, 9, of Kenosha, Wis. Vernita’s body was found in Waukegan. Alton Coleman was the only person at the time to have death sentences in three different states.
Despite numerous appeals, on April 26, 2002, Alton Coleman was executed by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Debra Brown, however, had her Ohio death sentence commuted to life without parole by Ohio governor Richard Celeste. This outraged Ohio residents due to Brown’s unrepentant attitude. During the sentencing phase of her first Ohio trial, Brown sent a note to the judge which read in part: “I killed the bitch and I don’t give a damn. I had fun out of it.” Governor Celeste, a known opponent of the death penalty, cited her low IQ scores, non-violent history prior to meeting Coleman and her dependent personality as his reasons for the commutation of her sentence. Debra Brown is currently housed at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Marysville, Ohio. Brown still has a death sentence in Indiana which may be exercised at the state’s discretion.
As we concluded our meal, a frightening thought came to mind. Most criminals, regardless of their crime, are not caught for every crime that they’ve committed. I, myself, know that I’ve not been caught for every infraction of the law that I’ve done. Hell, I ran a red light, (it was yellow/red actually) and a stop sign on the way to the lunch meeting. So the numbers of victims given to these serial murderers as they are convicted may only be a fraction of the actual amount of carnage they’ve caused and the lives they have ruined.
I would be remiss if not a full blown hypocrite if I did not address the acts of depravity committed daily here in my own city. The word depravity means moral corruption or wickedness. What act of moral corruption or wickedness is there greater than that of a parent disregarding his responsibilities to a child? The senseless violence that has permeated Chicago neighborhoods as well as neighborhoods around the country can be traced directly back to the lack of not only a positive male role model within the home and in the community, but the lack of a family unit at all.
As an advocate for prison reform I have and will continue to point out injustices throughout our legal system, however as a man first and foremost I will call it how I see it. For the most part, perpetrators of inner city violent crime are not forty something males. Old men aren’t riding around with their buddies gunning up public parks. Young adults and teenagers, (more specifically young males) are the trigger pullers, but the accomplices are the men & women that brought them into being. How, one may ask? There are great responsibilities in becoming a parent. Parents play a direct role in whatever their children become; positive or negative. When parents are not actively participating in the development of their children; someone or something else will. Whether its music videos, video games, neighborhood drug dealers or other children, the void will be filled.
As with most crime, inner-city violence is committed in areas that the perpetrator is familiar with. The serial killer plots his attack against members of his own community, not only because he is easily camouflaged but also because of his ability to remain close to that which he despises. The same applies to inner city violence. A young man grows to loathe his current socio-economic situation. Without positive familial reinforcement, he seeks that what is lacked in the home from the streets. In the streets the young man acquires a warped sense of morality, justice and values from other like-minded youths.
Several parents have abandoned proven effective traditional methods of raising children and embraced time outs or becoming our child’s friend. Other parents have given up “parenting”, all together allowing children to simply “grow up” forcing them to deal with the harsh realities of life on their own. Many parents have turned away from their own morally sound upbringing to indulge in lifestyles that accentuate the pleasures of “immediate gratification,” thereby destroying the likelihood of establishing a respectful parent-child relationship. These factors, combined with the massive numbers of fathers that are currently incarcerated, create a climate ripe for the senseless violence that we see, read & hear about today.
The socio-economic stresses attached to inner city life can be challenging but not insurmountable. The challenges are increased when a child has to face the world without the vital tools for success that only caring parents can provide. Needing support to handle day to day struggles, the child turns to his peers for assistance. Misguided youth become misguided young adults who are ready, willing and able to misguide their peers as well as other youths in the community. Parents have allowed themselves to be replaced by these peers, as well as, by various forms for entertainment such as video games, television and music lyrics. Through constant exposure to these forms of media that emphasize misogyny, violence and indifference toward life and without responsible parents to enforce the value of true morality and work ethics, the child forms a warped, “code of ethics.”
The lack of parental guidance denies a child of the ability to deal with day to day obstacles in a rational manner. The ability to use logic instead of emotions to solve problems is a skill that falls within a parent’s scope of duties. Without the capability to apply logic to a difficult situation and arrive at a reasonable conclusion, the emotionally charged child engages in a violent confrontation often ending in tragedy for an innocent victim.
Without self-respect, success of any type is unattainable. A child that does not respect himself cannot and will not respect parents or authority figures. If the child continues on this self-destructive path of disrespectful behavior, negative contact with law enforcement is inevitable. It is these young people; lacking the respect for self and others and possessing a false sense of entitlement, that commit the majority of community based violent crime. Self-respect, or the child’s lack of it, falls squarely upon the shoulders of the parents. Self-respect creates strong moral character; strong moral character prevents many incidents of senseless violent crime from ever being committed.
Community based violence is the result of many components; I would dare to say that most, if not all, can be traced back to ineffective parenting. It would interest me to see just how many of the perpetrators actually come from homes where both parents had an active role in their childhood development. Parents must regain the power that they have given to the streets, the TV and the radio by becoming parents again. The only way to end the violence that infect our communities is for parents to not just talk but to show children through their actions that true success must be attained through education and work. Morality & integrity cannot be found in the street and are not the responsibility of teachers and schools but must be addressed in the home. Respect of self and of others cannot be found in books but must be conveyed from the hearts & minds of parents to their children. To solve the problem of violence in our neighborhoods, parents must raise their children instead of allowing them to simply grow up, therefore, in an effort to save our communities; parental guidance is suggested.