Killer Couples In California

VennerRoadStarred Page By VennerRoad, 2nd Jul 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2tj2v-qk/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Non-Fiction

California may be known as the Golden State, but it has a dark legacy.

Killer Couples In California - 1

In January 1979, two young women, both students, were murdered in an empty house at Washington State University; both were strangled, and it took the police no time at all to make an arrest. Kenneth Bianchi was working as a security guard, and although this was a double event, the police probably thought it would lead nowhere. Even if they had suspected Bianchi of committing other crimes, they could not possibly have imagined the kind of monster he was.

Bianchi’s arrest led to his cousin Angelo Buono, and to a connection with the unsolved murders of two women in California who were believed to be the victims of a serial killer who had become known as the Hillside Strangler. There had long been a suspicion that this was not one man but two working together, and this turned out to be true. The first victim of Buono and Bianchi was a teenage prostitute named Yolanda Washington. Her murder was the only one that was not planned, and was arguably accidental. She was killed over a financial dispute, but after that the two developed a taste for blood, and sadism. Their youngest victim was just twelve years old.

It took time to build a case against Buono, but his cousin wasn’t going anywhere, and eventually the former stood trial for ten murders; he was convicted of nine of them. The trial, which in spite of his plea bargain Bianchi did his best to sabotage, lasted two years, ending in November 1983. Buono was sentenced to life without parole, and died in prison from a heart attack on September 21, 2002. There has been intelligent speculation that he committed other murders, in particular those of three girls in Rochester, New York, where he was born. Theoretically, Bianchi was and is eligible for parole, his first hearing being in 2005. In 2010, he was given a fifteen year review, but realistically he will never see daylight again.

Difficult though it is to comprehend such evil, it is surely impossible to imagine anyone being inspired by it. Or is it? Buono and Bianchi murdered their first victims in October 1977; Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris committed their first murder in June 1979 using a similar modus operandi.

Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker was said to have the highest IQ of any American prison inmate; sadly he did not use it, and was a hardened recidivist well before his thirtieth birthday. In 1974, he stabbed a supermarket worker during the course of a petty theft, and was lucky to escape a murder charge when the knife narrowly missed the victim’s heart. It was while serving a sentence for this crime that he met convicted rapist Roy Norris. In prison, the two men hatched a conspiracy to kidnap, rape, torture and murder teenage girls. And when they were released, that is what they did.

At a push, one could imagine sexual predator Norris doing something like this, but why would Bittaker? It could have been because Norris was the only friend he ever had, but as he was clearly the dominant partner, this may not have been the case. Whatever, they bought and kitted out a van to use for the purpose, one they Christened Murder Mac.

At first they showed extreme patience, picking up numerous girls in their van – hitchhikers – and simply driving them from A to B. Their first victim was a sixteen year old girl who was dragged off the street on June 24. On September 3, they kidnapped two girls, one of them just thirteen years old. Their undoing was Bittaker’s bravado and his partner’s indiscretion. In November 1979, Norris met up with an old friend, an ex-con, and boasted to him about their crime spree. This man had two daughters, and horrified, went to his attorney, who took him to the police. After some initial skepticism an investigation was launched, and among the souvenirs they found when they raided Bittaker’s addresss was a tape of their last victim being tortured.

A transcript of this has been published; be warned, it is not for the squeamish. The same can be said for the testimony at Bittaker’s trial. Probably because he was regarded as the slightly lesser evil of the two, Norris was offered a plea if he testified against Bittaker. In March 1980, he pleaded guilty to four counts of first degree murder and other charges; on May 7, he was given a sentence of 45 years to life. Bittaker’s trial did not begin until January 1981; the tape of the torture of their last victim, Shirley Ledford, was played, and this led to several people fleeing the courtroom. In spite of being sentenced to death, Bittaker is still on death row, and is unlikely ever to be executed.

Killer Couples In California - 2

Bad as Bittaker and Norris were, Leonard Lake and Charles Ng were both more prolific and less selective. They murdered men as well as women, for money as well as for kicks, and in addition to torturing their victims they videotaped rather than audiotaped their torture.

Lake was a native of California who had served in the Marine Corps receiving a medical discharge. Ng, a native of Hong Kong, was born into luxury, the son of a wealthy Chinese national. Expelled from boarding school in England, he too enlisted in the US Marine Corps (by artifice); the two men met through a magazine advertisement.

Their crimes did not come to light until Ng was caught shoplifting. When Lake intervened on his behalf, it quickly became clear that he was not who he said he was; his ID belonged to one of their victims. He was arrested, but committed suicide by swallowing a concealed cyanide tablet, and leaving his partner in depravity to face the music alone. Lake took four days to die, a fittingly slow death for such a monster. Although Ng had managed to flee after the shoplifting fiasco, Lake did one decent thing before he died, implicating him in his suicide note. When the police searched Lake’s ranch they found a dozen corpses in shallow graves including two entire families.

Meanwhile, Ng had fled to Canada, but a mere two months later, on July 6, 1985, he was arrested for shoplifting again, irony of ironies that he and Lake could get clean away with some of the most heinous crimes ever documented but be brought down by something so trivial. Although there was overwhelming evidence that he and Lake had murdered up to twenty-five people, the Canadians refused to extradite him because he could face the death penalty. The extradition case dragged on for years, but in 1991 he was returned to California, and in 1998 he was finally brought to trial. In February the following year he was convicted of eleven murders, and in May, was sentenced to death. He remains in San Quentin, on death row, a farcical situation.

Videos of Lake and Ng torturing their victims (psychologically) have been uploaded to YouTube, but will not be linked here. The one question to be answered about Lake and Ng is how much did the former’s wife, Cricket, know about their torture chamber and mass murder? Probably a lot, but she was granted immunity, and testified against Ng.

Killer Couples In California - 3

The final serial killer couple on this list may not be quite the most odious, but is certainly the most controversial. Between September 1978 and November 1980, Gerald and Charlene Gallego murdered nine girls, one man, and an unborn baby. The case is so controversial because in return for testifying against her husband, Charlene was sentenced to a mere sixteen years eight months and was released in July 1997. Unlike the later case of Karla Homolka who was freed after a mere twelve years due to the pernicious influence of legal dominance feminism, the plea deal Charlene cut was due more to pragmatism, but it is difficult to understand why the legal authorities would even consider entertaining it. It required only one murder conviction for both of them to be put away for life, and there was copious evidence of their guilt. Gallego was a sexual sadist, and however fearful Charlene may have been of him, at some point people - including women - have to take responsibility for their own actions. Their first two victims were 16 and 17; they were raped repeatedly before being murdered in a field. At what point could she not have broken away from him? She may have been the junior partner in this sick enterprise, but ordinarily if two men break into a house and one pulls a gun on the householder killing him, they can both be convicted of murder. At some point, Charlene was every bit as culpable as Gerald.

Admittedly, Gerald Armond Gallego had a terrible start in life. The son of a prostitute and a man who would later be executed for murder, he would begin his career of crime and degeneracy with the sexual molestation of a six year old girl when he was only thirteen. He was sentenced to death but died from cancer in 2002. Although she took his name, Charlene Williams was not strictly speaking Gallego’s wife because their marriage was bigamous. She would later revert to her maiden name.

In 2013, it was revealed that Charlene Williams had returned to Sacramento where Gallego was born; she was born fifty miles away in Stockton. In an anonymous interview with Maria Medina of CBS13 she continued to play the victim, and also claimed she worked tirelessly for charity to give back. Hal Sowers, the elderly father of one of her victims was not impressed, and neither should you be.

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