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Sunday, July 12, 2009

A&E Biography - Hillside Stranglers

Link of the day - Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects

The Hillside Strangler is the media epithet for two men, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, cousins, who were convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing, and killing girls and women ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old during a four-month period from late 1977 to early 1978. They committed their crimes in the hills above Los Angeles, California.

The first victim of the Hillside Stranglers was a Hollywood prostitute identified as Yolanda Washington, whose body was found near the Forest Lawn Cemetery on October 18, 1977. The corpse was cleaned and faint marks were visible around the neck, wrists, and ankles where a rope had been used. She had been viciously raped.

On November 1, 1977, police were called to an Eagle Rock neighborhood, north of downtown Los Angeles, where the body of a teenage girl, wrapped in a tarp, had been found on a curb in a residential area. Bruises on her neck indicated strangulation. The body had been dumped, indicating she was killed elsewhere. The girl was eventually identified as Judith Miller, a part time prostitute who was barely 15 years old.

On November 6, 1977, the nude body of another woman was found near the Glendale Country Club. Similar to Judy Miller, she had been strangled with a ligature. The woman was identified as 21 year old Lissa Teresa Kastin, a waitress, and was last seen leaving work the night before she was discovered. While some of the other victims were prostitutes, Lissa Kastin was a "good girl" who had also worked part time for her father's real estate and construction business. A ballet student, she was saving money to continue her training and hoped to become a professional dancer.

On November 13, 1977, two school girls, Dolores Cepeda, 12, and Sonja Johnson, 14, boarded a bus and headed home. They were last seen getting off a bus and approaching a car. Inside the car reportedly were two men. On November 20, a young boy cleaning up a trash-strewn hillside near Dodger Stadium found two bodies. Both girls had been strangled and raped, and were identified as Cepeda and Johnson.

Later that same day, November 20, 1977, hikers found the nude, sexually assaulted body of Kristina Weckler, 20, on a hillside near Glendale. Unlike previous victims, there were signs of torture, indicated by oozing injection marks.

On November 23, 1977, the badly decomposed body of Jane King, 28, an actress, was found near an off ramp of the Golden State freeway. She had gone missing around November 9. With the continued discovery of bodies in hilly areas, a task force was formed to catch the predator, dubbed the "Hillside Strangler."

On November 29, 1977, police found the body of Lauren Wagner, 18. She also had been strangled with a ligature. There were also burn marks on her hands indicating she was tortured. The law enforcement task force — Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Glendale Police Department — began to assume that more than one person was responsible for the murders, even though the media continued to use the singular, Hillside Strangler.

On December 13, 1977, police found the body of 17-year-old prostitute Kimberly Martin on a hillside.

The final victim in Los Angeles was discovered on February 16, 1978, when a helicopter spotted an orange Datsun abandoned off a cliff in the Angeles Crest area. Police responded to the scene and found the body of the car's owner, 20-year-old Cindy Hudspeth, in the trunk.

The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers

Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiles of the World's Most Barbaric Criminals


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