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12 Shocking True Stories of America’s Worst Serial Killers
True Murder Cases included in this volume;
William Bonin : one of the most vicious serial killers in US history. The "Freeway Killer" worked with various accomplices to abduct, rape and torture over 20 teenaged boys.
Joseph Edward Duncan III: a sickening pedophile who wiped out an entire family to get to the object of his desire, an 8-year-old girl.
Albert Fish: this frail, grandfatherly old man carried a deadly secret. He was a cannibal and torturer of young children.
Arohn Kee: child rapist and murderer who turned the projects of East Harlem into his personal killing ground.
Gerard Schaefer: a killer cop who used his position to abduct young women and torture them to death.
Kendall Francois: known as "Stinky," and with good reason, too, he had the bodies of eight murdered prostitutes decomposing in his attic.
Robert Lee Yates: Spokane serial killer who, for a time, rivaled the Green River Killer in his body count.
Andrew Urdailes: a lethal Marine who left a trail of death across both California and Illinois.
Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins: dubbed the "Meanest Man in America," Gaskins may have claimed as many as 100 victims.
John Norman Collins: a Ted Bundy prototype, Collins kidnapped, tortured, raped and mutilated his young female victims.
David Spanbauer: career burglar and rapist who practiced serial murder as a deadly sideline.
Leonard Lake & Charles Ng: the tag team from hell. These depraved ex-marines kidnapped and imprisoned several women, using them as sex slaves before torturing and murdering them.
The Freeway Killer
“I couldn't stop killing. It got easier each time.” - William Bonin
During the late seventies and early eighties, a trio of deadly serial killers prowled the highways and bi-ways of Southern California, leaving a trail of mutilated bodies in their wake. Once of these men was a necrophile, dispatching his victims swiftly which a bullet to the head before carrying out his sickening perversions on their dead bodies. The other two were sadists, keeping their victims alive for as long as possible while they inflicted the most inhumane tortures on them. Between them, Patrick Kearney, Randy Kraft and William Bonin were responsible for at least 113 deaths.
William Bonin did not have the best start in life. Born, in January 1947, to parents who were both alcoholics, the boy and his two brothers suffered severe neglect and abuse. His father was a compulsive gambler who once lost the family home to his gambling debts, and William’s bingo-obsessed mother often left her children unfed, filthy and unclothed, their wellbeing reliant on the charity of neighbors. When she tired of even these meager attempts at parenting, she passed the boys off on their grandfather, a convicted pedophile.
It was no surprise, then, that the youngster got into trouble with the law. In 1957, aged just 10, William was arrested for stealing license plates and sent to a reformatory. Here he suffered yet more abuse. Beatings and inhumane punishments (like submersion in freezing water) were common, as were knifepoint rapes by other inmates. By his teens he was back in the dubious care of his mother and had become an abuser himself, preying on neighborhood children and even his own brother.
Bonin graduated high school in 1965 and shortly thereafter joined the U.S. Air Force. He served in Vietnam where he logged 700 hours as an aerial gunner, and was awarded a Good Conduct medal. It was only after his honorable discharge, in October 1968, that the military became aware that Bonin had sexually assaulted two fellow soldiers at gunpoint.
Back in the States, he lived for a short while with his mother in Connecticut before moving to California where he soon alerted the attention of the authorities. In 1969, he was arrested for kidnapping and sexually assaulting five youths, aged between 12 and 18, in Los Angeles County. In each of these cases, Bonin picked up the boys in his van, handcuffed them and then forced them to perform oral sex before he sodomized them.
Bonin pled guilty, but rather than receiving jail time, he was sent to Atascadaro State Hospital where he was examined by a procession of neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists. They found a number of worrying signs, both physical and psychological; suspected damage to the frontal lobe; signs of manic-depression; and several unexplained scars on his head.
Despite this, Bonin secured his release in May 1974, after doctors declared him, “no longer a danger to others.”
Within 16 months, he was in trouble again, this time for the gunpoint rape of a 14-year-old hitchhiker named David McVicker. It earned him 1 to 15 years at the California Men’s Facility in San Luis Obispo.
Released in October 1978, Bonin moved to an apartment complex in Downey, southeast Los Angeles County, where he found employment as a truck driver. Soon after, he became acquainted with a 43-year-old neighbor named Everett Fraser and started attending the frequent parties that Fraser threw. It was at one of these parties that Bonin first met 22-year-old Vernon Butts and 19-year-old, Gregory Miley, soon to be his accomplices in a horrific murder spree.
Yet, for now, Bonin was still managing to restrain his murderous urges. Less than a year after his release for the McVicker attack, he found himself in custody again, after sexually assaulting a 17-year-old hitchhiker. Bonin was still on probation at this time, and the crime should have sent him back to prison to complete a 15-year stretch. However, an administrative mix-up allowed him to walk free.
Everett Fraser picked Bonin up from the Orange County Jail. He’d later recall that on the drive home, Bonin told him: “No one's going to testify again. This is never going to happen to me again.” Shortly after this conversation, the series of murders by the serial killer who the media dubbed “The Freeway Killer,” began.
The first murder attributed to Bonin was carried out with the aid of his accomplice Vernon Butts, a low-life drifter with a lengthy rap sheet. On the morning of May 28, 1979, 13-year-old Thomas Glen Lundgren left his parents’ home in Reseda in order to visit a friend. The boy was hitchhiking when Bonin and Butts picked him up. His mutilated corpse was found the next day in Agoura. He’d been emasculated, and an autopsy would reveal that he’d been slashed, stabbed, and bludgeoned before being strangled to death.
Two months later, on August 4, 1979, Bonin and Butts abducted 17-year-old Mark Shelton as he walked to a movie theater near Beach Boulevard, Westminster. Shelton was sodomized with foreign objects, which caused his body to go into shock that proved fatal. His was discarded alongside a freeway in San Bernardino County.
Perhaps disappointed with the premature death of their last victim, Bonin and Butts took another teenager the following day. Seventeen-year-old German student, Markus Grabs, was hitchhiking the Pacific Coast Highway when Bonin and Butts offered him a ride. He was bound and taken to Bonin's home where he was sodomized, beaten and stabbed over 70 times. His nude body was discarded in Malibu Canyon.
The unholy duo waited three weeks before striking again. On August 27, the mutilated corpse of 15-year-old Donald Hyden was discovered in a dumpster near the Ventura Freeway. He had last been seen in Santa Monica the previous day. Hyden had been raped and strangled and his throat had been cut. An attempt had also been made to castrate him.
On September 9, 1979, Bonin and Butts encountered 17-year-old David Murillo cycling to a movie theater. They lured Murillo into Bonin's van where he was bound, raped, bludgeoned and strangled before his body was discarded alongside Highway 101. Eight days later, they abducted 18-year-old Robert Wirostek as he cycled to work. His ravaged body was discovered on September 19 beside Interstate 10.
Despite the similarities in these crimes, Orange and Los Angeles County officials continued to deny that they had a serial killer in their midst. And they may have felt vindicated in this belief, as nearly three months passed without another murder. However, by the end of November, the Freeway Killer was back, taking three victims in under a fortnight.
The first victim was an unidentified youth whose savagely beaten body was discovered in Kern County. The following day, Bonin abducted and strangled 17-year-old Frank Fox, leaving his body on a stretch of highway five miles east of San Diego. Ten days later, he murdered a 15-year-old Long Beach youth named John Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick was last seen leaving his parents’ home to meet up with some friends. His body was found alongside a road in a remote area of Rialto.
And on New Year’s Day, 1980, Bonin brutalized and strangled a 16-year-old Rialto youth named Michael Francis McDonald, dumping his body in San Bernardino County, where it was found two days later.
In the last few murders, Bonin had acted alone. On February 3, 1980 he brought in a new accomplice, another sexual psychopath, named Gregory Matthew Miley. The pair picked up 15-year-old Charles Miranda in West Hollywood then drove him to an isolated spot where Bonin sodomized him. When Miley was unable to sustain an erection to do the same, he became frustrated and raped the teen with a blunt object. Bonin then strangled Miranda using the boy’s shirt and a tire iron to form a tourniquet. They dumped the body in an alley, but Bonin immediately announced, “I’m still horny. Let’s do another one.”
A few hours later, they found 12-year-old James McCabe waiting at a bus stop for a bus to Disneyland. The boy accepted a ride, but as Miley drove, Bonin forced McCabe into the back where he beat and raped him. Later Bonin strangled the child by forcing a tire iron down on his throat while Miley jumped repeatedly on the child’s chest. James McCabe’s naked, battered body was found three days later, alongside a dumpster in the city of Walnut. Miley later said that he and Bonin used the $6 found in the boy’s wallet to buy lunch.
There was no stopping Bonin now. He was obsessed with murder, addicted to it. He would later tell a court appointed psychiatrist that he became excited at the prospect of killing someone. He could barely wait for sundown so he could go cruising to pick up his next victim.
A rapid spree of murders followed. Ronald Gatlin, 18, disappeared from North Hollywood on March 14, 1980. His body was discovered the next day in Duarte, beaten strangled and stabbed with an ice pick. Harry Todd Turner, 14, disappeared from Hollywood on March 20, 1980. Discovered five days later near the Santa Monica Freeway, his body marked with bites and cigarette burns. (Bonin was assisted in this murder by an accomplice named William Pugh) Glen Norman Barker, 14, of Huntington Beach was sexually assaulted and strangled, his body found March 22, 1980, beside the Ortega Highway with another body in close proximity, that of 15-year-old Russell Duane Rugh, 15, who had disappeared while waiting for a bus to work.
And still the killings continued. Steven Wood, 16, went missing on his way to school on April 10, 1980. His body was found the next day. The same day, Lawrence Eugene Sharp, 18, of Long Beach disappeared. His body showed up on May 18, 1980, in a trash bin behind a Westminster service station.
On April 29, 1980. Bonin and Butts abducted Darin Lee Kendrick, 19, from a Stanton store where he worked. In a particularly brutal murder, even by their standards, Kendrick was forced to swallow hydrochloric acid and an ice pick was forced through his ear causing a fatal wound to the upper cervical spinal cord. His body was found the next morning.
On May 19, Bonin asked Butts to go out with him on another killing. When Butts declined he went out alone and abducted 14-year-old Sean King from a bus stop in Downey. The boy’s raped and strangled body was discarded in Yucaipa.
Not long after this latest murder Bonin invited a 19-year-old, homeless drifter by the name of James Munro to stay with him. Soon he’d persuaded Munro to accompany him on his next murder run. Unbeknownst to Bonin, his rampage was about to come to an abrupt end.
On May 29, 1980, William Pugh, who had assisted Bonin in the murder of Harry Todd Turner, was picked up on an auto theft charge. Once in custody, Pugh confided to a counselor that he believed William Bonin to be behind the “Freeway Killings.” The counselor passed this information on to LAPD homicide detective John St. John who did a background check on Bonin and picked up his string of convictions for sexually assaulting teenage boys. St. John then arranged for Bonin to be put under surveillance, which began on June 2, 1980.
Unfortunately, the surveillance began just to late to save Bonin’s next victim. On the morning of June 2, 1980, Bonin and James Munro picked up 19-year-old Steven Wells. They lured the youth back to Bonin’s apartment and after Bonin and Wells had sex Bonin offered $200 if Wells would allow himself to be tied up. Wells agreed, but as soon as he was bound, Bonin began assaulting him. According to Munro he went into another room and watched TV, although Bonin disputes this and says Munro participated in the murder.
Once Wells was dead, Bonin and Munro loaded his body in the van and drove to Vernon Butts’ apartment. Bonin asked for Butts’ advice in disposing of the body and was told, “Try a gas station - like where we dumped the last one.”
By June 11, Bonin had been under surveillance for nine days, with no sign of criminality on his part. However, on that day, Bonin went cruising again. The surveillance team watched him try to pick up five separate teenage boys, before succeed in luring a youth into his van. The police followed him as he drove to a deserted beach parking lot. By the time they approached the van and threw the doors open, Bonin had the boy bound and was in the process of sodomizing him. The Freeway Killer was caught at last.
Once in custody, Bonin confessed to 21 murders, naming Vernon Butts as his primary accomplice and describing each crime in horrifying detail. Butts was arrested on July 25, and the arrests of James Munro and Gregory Miley followed soon after. Police also learned that William Pugh, who’d led them to Bonin, was far from innocent himself, and had participated in the murder of Harry Todd Turner.
Bonin’s trial began on November 5, 1981 and lasted until January 5, 1982. The jury deliberated for six days before delivering a guilty verdict in 10 of the murders, and recommending the death penalty.
However, it would be 14 years before that sentence was eventually carried out. On February 23, 1996, William Bonin became the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the state of California.
Of Bonin’s accomplices, Vernon Butts committed suicide in custody three months after his arrest. Miley, Munro and Pugh all agreed to testify against Bonin to avoid the death penalty. Miley and Munro received life terms. Pugh got six years on a reduced charge of manslaughter.
American Monsters Volume Six includes 11 more riveting stories of America's worst serial killers