California: A Haven for Sexual Predators and Serial Killers
The dense, emigrant, mobile population of California, along with its large areas of wilderness, have made the state a fertile ground for serial killers, many of whom have not been caught, or have paid for their crimes elsewhere, leaving a bloody trail in the state. The victim of one unidentified sexual predator and serial killer was 17-year-old-five-and-dime store clerk Louise Tauber. She was found bound and hanging from an oak tree in the San Diego area, April 19, 1931. She had been raped. A 12-year-old boy had seen the girl bound and gagged in the rear seat of a car. Police made a frantic search of the area, hoping to find her alive. The unidentified killer was found to have been linked to other deaths of women in southern California.
The most infamous unidentified California serial killer was the Zodiac Killer of Northern California. Among the notorious captured serial killers are Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, known as the Hillside Stranglers; William Bonin and associates, the Freeway Killer; Richard Trenton Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento; Juan Corona, murdered 25 men; Harvey Glatman, bondage photographer; Patrick Kearney, necrophiliac, admitted to 28 murders; Randy Kraft, 66 murders (convicted of 16); Edmund Kemper, The Co-ed Killer; Charles Ng and Leonard Lake, killed 25, who specialized in killing their female sex slaves; Cary Stayner, the Yosemite Murderer; William Suff, the Riverside Killer; Chester Dwane Turner, 13 murders and Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. Serial killers are almost always convicted of several murders, while actually having committed many more.
Typologies of Serial Killers
- Visionary Killer: This killer feels compelled to kill because of ‘voices’ in their heads or visions that tell them to do so. For example, Herbert Williams Mullin claimed to hear voices that told him a disastrous earthquake was imminent, but he could save California through murder. Mullin killed thirteen people in an effort to ‘save California’. It was later determined that Mullin suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
- Mission Oriented Killer: These individuals feel that it is their duty or mission to kill certain kinds of people. For example, Ted Kaczynski, commonly refered to as the Unabomber, started a bombing campaign in an effort to save the environment, which he felt was being destroyed around him. He targeted places that were creating ‘high technology’ such as universities and airlines. Kaczynski’s bombs killed three people and injured twenty-three.
- Power-Control Killers: These killers seek complete control over their victims. Seuxal activity is almost always involved in these cases. John Wayne Gacy,“The Clown Killer”, would fall into this category. Gacy murdered and raped 33 teenage boys, burying 26 of them in the crawl space of his home.
- Hedonistic Serial Killers: This is the most common type of serial killer. These individuals kill for the thrill and enjoyment they get from the act of killing. There are three subtypes of hedonistic killers:
- Hedonistic comfort killers: Killing victims provides the killer with some sort of comfort; usually money. Dorthea Puente ran a boarding house in California where she killed her elderly tenants and buried them in the backyard so she could claim their social insurance checks.
- Hedonistic lust killers: The serial sexual predator; fantasy plays a large role and their satisfaction depends on the amount of torture and mutilation they inflict on their victims. Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the best-known hedonistic lust killers. He searched for a beautiful, submissive, and eternal lover. Dahmer killed 17 men and boys in this search for his perfect lover; his murders involved rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism (so that a part of his victims would stay with him forever).
- Hedonistic thrill killers: Their primary thrill is to create fear and death. The act is usually not sexual and is not drawn out over period of time, they are solely interested in the kill. Hedonistic thrill killers often work in teams. The notorious “Zodiac Killer” claimed to be responsible for 37 murders but investigators have only been able to pinpoint 7 victims, two of which survived. The Zodiac killer sent taunting letters to the police, and was never caught or identified.
Ted Bundy’s murders
While some Bundy experts, including former King County detective Robert D. Keppel, believe Ted may have started killing in his early to mid-teens a twelve-year-old neighbor vanished from her house when Bundy was fourteen the earliest verified murders began in 1974, when he was 27.
Shortly after midnight on 4 January 1974, Bundy entered the house of Joni Lenz, an 18-year-old student at the University of Washington, and bludgeoned her with a crowbar while she slept. Bundy also removed a bed rod from Lenz’s bed and used it to sexually assault her. She was found the next morning, in a coma, lying in a pool of blood. Lenz survived the attack, but suffered permanent brain damage.
Bundy’s next victim was Lynda Ann Healy, a senior at the University of Washington. On 31 January 1974, Bundy broke into her room, knocked her unconscious, maticulusly removed her clothes and dressed her in jeans and a shirt, foled her night clothes, wrapped her in bedsheet, and carried her outside. A single hair would be found at the crime scene which did not belong to the victim. A year would pass before her decapitated, dismembered remains were found.
From that January to June he stalked and killed more than one young woman a month, a spree that culminated in July with the double daytime abduction and murder of two females at a lakeside park near Seattle.
He murdered approximately ten victims in Oregon, Utah and Washington. Bundy had a remarkable advantage as his facial features were charming yet not especially memorable. He would be later described as a chameleon, able to look totally different just by changing his hairstyle, for example.
All his victims had been young, attractive, with their dark hair worn at shoulder length or longer, parted in middle – they all resembled Stephanie, the love of his life that he could never have.
That autumn, Bundy moved on to Utah, where the killings began in October with the murder in Midvale of Melissa Smith, the 17-year-old daughter of police chief Louis Smith. Bundy raped, sodomized, and strangled the Smith girl. Her body was found nine days later. Next was Laura Aime, also 17, who disappeared on Halloween. Her remains were found nearly a month later, on Thanksgiving Day, on the banks of a river.
A week before the final, grim discovery, Ted Bundy was arrested in Salt Lake City for suspicion of burglary. Erratic driving had attracted the attention of police, and an examination of his car – a small VW – revealed peculiar items such as handcuffs and a pair of panty hose with eyeholes cut to form a stocking mask. The glove compartment yielded gasoline receipts and maps that linked the suspect with a list of Colorado ski resorts, including Vail and Snowmass. Carol Da Ronch – a lucky woman that escaped- identified Ted Bundy as the man who had attacked her in November, and her testimony was sufficient to convict him on a charge of attempted kidnapping. Other states were waiting for a shot at Bundy now, and in January 1977 he was extradited to Colorado for trial in the murder of Caryn Campbell, at Snowmass.
Faced with prison time already, Bundy had no time to spare for further trials. He fled from custody, and was recaptured after eight days on the road. He tried again, with more success, found lodgings on the outskirts of Florida State University. Suspected in a score of deaths already, Bundy had secured himself another happy hunting ground.
In the small hours of January 15, 1978, he invaded the Chi Omega sorority house, dressed all in black and armed with a heavy wooden club. Before he left, two women had been raped and killed, a third severely injured by the beating he inflicted with his bludgeon. Within the hour, he had slipped inside another house, just blocks away, to club another victim in her bed. She, too, survived. Detectives at the Chi Omega house discovered bite marks on the corpses there, appalling evidence of Bundy’s fervor at the moment of the kill.
On February 6, Ted stole a van and drove to Jacksonville, where he was spotted in the act of trying to abduct a school girl. Three days later, twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach disappeared from a schoolyard nearby; she was found in the first week of April, her body discarded near Suwanee State Park.
After the murder of Leach, Bundy for some reason returned to his Tallahassee apartment, though the rent was due, and dumped the stolen van in a high-crime neighborhood. It was never found. Bundy then stole another vehicle, only to be nearly arrested after being pulled over. He managed to escape when the officer left him alone while he checked the stolen car’s plates. Returning to his apartment Bundy wiped the place clean of prints, stole a VW and finally fled Tallahassee. After some harrowing encounters with restraint and hotel employees concerning his now-reported stolen credit cards, Bundy ended up in Pensacola, Florida, where his stolen plates were recognized by a patrol officer and he was pulled over after a short chase. Refusing to go quietly, Bundy fled on foot, falling and pretending to be shot when the officer fired on him. Bundy leaped up and resisted when the officer ran up to him, but after a brief struggle Bundy was again – once and for all – under arrest.
Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us - has devised a twenty-item checklist identifying the main characteristics of the psychopathic personality.
- Glib and superficial charm - the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally vacile. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied.
- Grandoise self-worth - a grossly inglated view of one’s abilities and self-worth. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
- Need for stimulation or proneness to boredeom - an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulations; taking chances and doing things that are risky.
- Pathological lying - can be moderate or high.
- Conning and manipulativeness - the use of deceit and deception to con, cheat, or defraud others for personal gain.
- Lack of remorse or guilt - a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims.
- Shallow effect - emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings.
- Callousness and lack of empathy - a lack of feeling toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
- Parasitic lifestyle - an intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependance on others.
- Poor behavioral controls - expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, agression, and verbal abuse.
- Promiscuous sexual behavior - a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners.
- Early behavioral problems - a variety of behaviors prior to age thirteen, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.
- Lack of realistic long-term-goals - an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals.
- Impulsivity - the occurrence of behaviors than are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation.
- Irresponsibility - repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments.
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions - as reflected in low conscientiouness, an absense of dutifulness, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
- Many short-term marital relationships - a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship.
- Juvenile relinquency - behavior problems between the ages of thirteen and eighteen.
- Revocation of conditional release - a revocation of probation or other conditional releases due to technical violations.
- Criminal versatility - a diversity of types of criminal offences; taking great pride in getting away with crimes.
Ted Bundy: I don’t sit around and worry about it, no. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. I’ve always had the death penalty. It’s just a matter of knowing when you’re going to die.
Hugh Aynesworth: Well here’s a good sign: Two men were scheduled to be executed in Louisiana last week and both got stays.
Ted Bundy: Well, that may last for a while, but they’re eventually going to get Congress to pass legislation whereby state prisoners have limited access to federal habeas corpus. It’s coming, but it doesn’t worry me that much. Not like being on a plane. Does the thought of, you know, crashing on an airliner worry you? It’s in the back of your mind, but….
Hugh Aynesworth: Yeah, but when you board a plane you haven’t already been told that you are going to die-maybe not this year or this month, but soon.
Ted Bundy: Yeah.
Hugh Aynesworth: But I guess if you knew, it would make you not enjoy your remaining days.
Ted Bundy: Sure. Or to take advantage of them. That’s precisely what I’d like to do. Well, thaks for coming by, Hugh, and…
Hugh Aynesworth: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed visiting with you more today than ever before. I hope to see you again, but I don’t know if I ever will or not.
Ted Bundy: Yeah, uh, the pressure, that element of pressure separated us because you always felt you had to get something from me and I felt that your interests were not my interests, so we floundered a bit all the way.
Hugh Aynesworth: Well, we both learned some things, I believe. I was glad to hear you say that in the rediscussing and reliving…going back over some of these years…you made an important breakthrough for yourself.
Ted Bundy: Yes, and I’m glad, too. I think it was important. That’s why I feel that all this was not a waste. It started to put me on the path to where I am now. Just thinking about this business was so terrible, so horrible. You really jarred me a couple of times, knocked me back from where I thought I was to where you thought I ought to be. I don’t recall exactly when it happened, but while I was facing all this from you-which wasn’t easy for any given session-I slowly began to understand what I had to do next, how I had to restructure my life. I’m in a lot better shape now. Oh well, who’ll remember either of us in a hundred years?
At seventeen, John Thomas Straffen had the mind of an 8-year-old. The youth, who had grown up in a school for mentally retarded children, assaulted a 13-year-old girl and the courts sent him to an institution. Released at age twenty-one, he lived in Bath until he strangled two girls, as he said, to annoy the police because he hated them. At his trial at the Taunton Assizes in October 1951, he was found unfit to plead and was commited to Broadmoor Asylum. Six months later he escaped. He was at large for only a few hours, but in that time he murdered another girl, Linda Bowyer. He told the police without being asked, “I did not kill the little girl on the bicycle.” His mental condition brought up several questions of how mentally incompetent defendants should be tried in capital cases. In his July 1952 trial for the third murder, he was found Guilty, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Nurses Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine Wood were not only co-workers at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home in Walker, Michigan, but lesbian lovers who’s sexual appetite went into overdrive at the thought of murder. Together they killed six elderly females that resided at the home and on more than one occasion made love as they washed the body of thier victim in preperation for burial.
Wood eventually told her ex-husband about the killings, perhaps because she was afraid of what Graham would do to the children in her charge at her new job, or more likely because Graham had taken on a new girlfriend. The man immediately informed police who charged Graham with six counts of murder and anointed Wood the prosecutions star witness. Predictably, Wood managed to put the bulk of the blame on her twisted ex-lover.
Graham went to trial in 1988 and Wood told the court of her role as lookout when Graham suffocated the helpless women. When the trial was over it was no contest and Graham was easily convicted on all counts and sentenced to life without the possiblity for parole. For her part Wood recieved a sentence of 20-40 years.
July 14, 1974 Lake Sammamish
Two more victims were added to Bundy’s growing list: Janice Ott and Denise Naslund. They had each disappeared within sight of their separate friends, but this time police had a tenuous lead. Passers-by remembered seeing Janice Ott in conversation with a man who carried one arm in a sling; he had been overheard to introduce himself as “Ted.” With that report in hand, detectives turned up other female witnesses who were themselves approached by “Ted” at Lake Sammamish. In each case, he had asked for help securing a sailboat to his car. The lucky women had declined, but one had followed “Ted” to where his small Volkswagen “bug” was parked; there was no sign of any sailboat, and his explanation - that the boat would have to be retrieved from a house “up the hill” - had aroused her suspicions, prompting her to put the stranger off.
Police now had a fair description of their suspect and his car. The published references to “Ted” inspired a rash of calls reporting “suspects,” one of them in reference to college student Theodore Bundy.
The authorities checked out each lead as time allowed, but Bundy was considered “squeaky clean;” a law student and Young Repulican active in law-and-order politics, he once had chased a mugger several blocks to make a citizen’s arrest. So many calls reporting suspects had been made from spite or simple overzealousness, and Bundy’s name was filed away with countless others, momentarily forgotten.
Mental Disorders and Young Offenders
Three types of mental health disorders are frequently found among young offenders:
- attention deficit disorders: they have difficulty maintaining their attention in learning situations such as school, but also demonstrate the same sorts of behavioural characteristics―inattention and impulsivity―outside of school. Attention deficit disorder appears frequently among young offenders.
- oppositional defiant disorder: these kids show oppositional attitudes to any sort of authority and simply battle against any sort of behavioural restrictions. They’re not necessarily criminal, but simply won’t accept recommendations or advice. This makes up a smaller subgroup of young offenders.
- conduct disorder: the largest group of young offenders that display a mental disorder have this condition, which is basically an early form of wide-ranging antisocial behaviour in children whereby they engage in antisocial behaviour that violates the rights of others. Such behaviour begins to emerge in late childhood and early adolescence―before the age of 15. This sort of antisocial orientation takes one of two forms. For some, early antisocial behaviour becomes a pattern for life and can develop into a full-blown antisocial personality disorder. For others, this conduct disorder is more time-limited―part of the adolescent experience―in which young people engage in behaviour that adults simply don’t like. It may simply be part of testing or pushing boundaries, after which these young people eventually develop appropriate constraints on their behaviour.
How Fingerprinting Helped Capture Richard Ramirez
Richard Ramirez was known as the Night Stalker. Ramirez was a serial killer. He killed many people, and he chose his victims at random. He killed during the night. In California, during 1985 and 1985, Ramirez killed at least thirteen people. But then he made a mistake. In August 1985, Ramirez attacked two people. Both survived. One of the victims saw him drive off in a Toyota. A suspicious neighbor also saw the Toyota. The neighbor gave the police the license number. They tracked the car down in Los Angeles, where Ramirez had abandoned it.
Forensic investigators used a special technique to search the car for fingerprints. They put a plate of superglue inside and closed the doors and windows tight. Soon the superglue fumes spread throughout the inside of the car. Wherever there were fingerprints, the fumes would react with the skin oil. Later, investigators used a laser-a narrow, powerful beam of light-to search the interior. They found a single fingerprint. When they ran the print through their database, they came up with a match. Ramirez had been arrested years earlier for a minor crime. His fingerprints were on file. So the police knew who the Night Stalker was. But they didn’t know where he was. They send his photograph to newspapers and TV stations all over California. On August 31, Ramirez tried to steal another car. The owner fought him off. People on the street recognized Ramirez from his photograph and chased him down. In November 1989, Richard Ramirez was sentenced to death. He remains on Death Row.