According to author Kelley...Seven children lived in the house, including three foster children the Daniels were planning to adopt. Danny, a rural mailman working out of Lyons, met attractive Kim Lamp and despite the fact that she was a drug addict, living out of her car, he helped her fight off her addiction and they were married. They liked it there, were highly religious and well liked throughout the community. Around four o’clock in the morning, a farmer and his wife were awakened when their dog wouldn’t stop barking. They looked out the window and saw three children walking down the road in their nightgowns. They called police, who arrived within minutes at their Carter Pond House Road.
The three kids, ages 8 to 10, were shivering and abandoned on the side of rural Bacon County Road, some 45 miles from their home on Dasher Street, they were in shock but coherent. They said they had been taken from their Santa Claus home earlier that morning. The oldest girl had been raped and sodomized. The frightened children told the police where they lived and two deputies were dispatched to the ranch-style house, arriving shortly before dawn. As they approached the house deputies reported feeling more cautious then they already were. When they called into the house no one answered. The door was ajar, but no one appeared to be in or around the house.
It was pitch dark inside the house. After several fruitless attempts to arouse somebody, the deputies thought they had better go inside and investigate. They switched on lights, using their flashlights, so as not to disturb any fingerprints, as they cautiously went from room to room, guns at-the-ready. When they reached the master bedroom, the deputies allegedly reeled back horror-struck at the atrocity that lay before them. Forty three-year-old Danny Daniels lay sprawled beside his 33-year old wife. They were drenched in blood. The heavy-caliber murder weapon had done its work with shattering effect.
Down the hall, the law officers found Jessica Daniels; a 16-year-old adopted daughter of Danny from a previous marriage. In life, she was quite beautiful, but in death her appearance was grotesque. Still in her nightgown, she was stretched out on the extensively bloodstained hallway carpet, apparently shot at close range. In an adjoining room, the policemen found 8-year-old Bryant, a natural son of Daniel from a previous marriage. He had been sleeping with his teddy bear in his bedroom when someone shot his face away. After gaining their composure, the deputies carefully checked the victims for the faintest sign of life. They found none. After making sure the perpetrator was not on the premises, the deputies searched the house to make sure there were no more bodies. There were.
Huddled in a closet, trembling like abandoned puppies, they found Corey, 4, and Gabe, 10 months, both foster children. Taking the children with them, the deputies cautiously retraced their steps out of the house, not wishing to disturb any crime scene evidence. The police were extremely shocked about what had happened in their normally peaceful Santa Claus town. Nothing of this magnitude had every occurred before. But because of all the pandemonium and hysteria that would follow, authorities knew it would be a while before they could unsort the melee. Police discovered that the killer gained entrance through an open window at the rear of the house. After killing casually in a way that would defy comprehension, he left without taking any of the Daniels wordily possessions with him. Nor had the tidy house been ransacked.
During that Saturday morning police learned from the surviving children that they were awakened by the bursts of fire, before being taken hostages. He drove them out into the boonies, where he raped the oldest girl, then drove them 45 miles away and turned them loose on Bacon County Road. The children described the kidnapper’s car as a black van with tinted windows. An all-points bulletin flashed across the airwaves, with a precaution that the suspect was to be considered armed and dangerous. As the investigators would soon learn, the marriage seemed placid and ordinary enough, and the Daniel’s were socially popular. Nothing much happened in their lives until an intruder crept into their house and murdered them for no apparent reason.
Toombs County Sheriff Charles Durst was located and notified of the massacre at the Daniels house. He commanded the area sealed off from all unauthorized personal and recognized as an official crime scene. Homicide officers quickly arrived, accompanied by a medical examiner, a crime scene technician, and a deputy district attorney. Each of the had been shot through the head execution-style, and could not have been a threat to the intruder. Danny Daniels appeared to have been shot in the back of the head and probably never knew what hit him. Tissue, blood, bone, and brain matter had been dispersed about the room as a result of the force of the powerful shotgun blast. Blood splattered the walls and ceiling. His younger wife had been shot in the face, resulting in severe disfigurement. It also appeared that she had been awakened by the blast that killed her husband and might have seen the man who killed her.
Little Bryant had also been shot point-blank through the head as he slept, clinging to his teddy bear. The female victim in the hallway had her face almost entirely removed by the force of the murderous weapon. There was so much blood in the bedrooms that authorities couldn’t help but wonder why there weren’t more bloody footprints. They also found several 1100 Remington shotgun shells lying on the floor of each bedroom where the murders occurred. The cartridges lying on the bed beside Daniel and Kim had tissue fragments stuck to them. After the scene was carefully photographed in both color and black and white, then videotaped, crime lab technicians collected blood and other bodily fluid samples, which they cautiously marked according to source and location. Next, they vacuumed for trace evidence of hair and clothing fiber, using divided filter bags for each location, and searched for identifiable latent fingerprints.
When the crime technicians were finished with the bodies at the crime scene, coroner workers placed the corpses inside body bags and removed them one at a time to a waiting unmarked van. As a small gathering of disbelieving neighbors looked on from behind yellow-tape barriers while sheriff’s investigators and crime lab technicians searched for clues and collected evidence at the crime scene over the next few hours, the sheriff and several Toombs County deputies questioned neighbors in search of the killer’s identity. Unknown to them, the three children had already provided information that would later break the case wide open. Toombs County prosecutor Rick Malone told a hastily gathered group of reporters that authorities were still investigating the girl’s statements and released few details. He said they weren’t positive what triggered the vicious midnight attack against the family. “We do not think it was a random attack. We know that he did know them, said Malone. It seems he was a friend of the family, or at least knew them.”
Suddenly the little community named by an entrepreneur to attack tourism was on the map. The little town known for its Christmas-season decorations and communitywide display of lights suddenly came alive with out-of-town curiosity-seekers. Everything pointed to the inconceivable. According to the evidence, police focused on one suspect, a man named Jerry Heidler who allegedly entered the house and started shooting at random for no apparent reason. Maybe something else happened. Only the suspect knew at that point what the something else was. Theories and speculation abounded in the once-happy and serene Georgia City, now unbelievably stunned by the shocking mass murder. It was almost too much to believe. Things like that just didn’t fit into a town called Santa Claus. Most of the notorious crimes occurred closer to Savannah, 70 miles away, or Charleston, on the coast.
It was a frightening thought, but maybe one person had been the primary target and the others were assassinated because they were potential witnesses. But if this were true, why didn’t the killer get rid of the three children he let go, surely he must have known they could identify him. Several theories were taken into consideration by the lawmen, as happens in every case, and each idea was pursued to its limits. During those first critical hours the manhunt for Jerry Scott Heidler shifted into full gear with uniformed patrolmen and plainclothesmen spanning out across Bacon County, where he was last pinpointed, clear to Alma Georgia where his family lived.
As far as murder chases are concerned, the hunt for Jerry Heidler was not very exciting. Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents Jerry Roe and Bill Butler were dispatched to Alma, where Heidler had roots. “Behind the house was a street and there the van sat,” said Bill Butler. Jerry Heidler was walking out the front door as the police car pulled to the front of the house. They made eye contact and Heidler turned and ran back into the house. Agents Rose and Butler radioed for a backup then ran to the back of the house to prevent a possible escape.
At that point, Jerry Heidler’s brother came out and told the officers he was the only one in the house. Bacon County sheriff’s detectives answering the backup call arrived and initiated a search of the house. They found Heidler huddled in a crawl space beneath the home. When Heidler refused to come out, two officers with drawn guns crawled in and dragged him out. They arrested him on an outstanding warrant of probation violation. Heidler’s brother was arrested for obstructing justice and lodged without bail in Bacon County Jail along with his brother.
On Tuesday, December 9, 1997, funeral services for the slain family were held at First United Methodist Church of Lyons after the bodies were released for burial by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Danny Daniels, the mailman who taught Sunday school at Mount Vernon Pentecostal Church lay in a brightly varnished wooden casket at the far left of the church surrounded by flowers. To his right, his wife, Kim, lay in a white casket adorned with white and pink carnations. A third casket held Jessica. Her playmates and school friends passed by solemnly, each in turn placing a kissed red rose on her casket. The tiniest casket at the far end held the body of Bryant.
Reverend Wood told the teary-eyed and sobbing congregates, “We’ll never again hear Sister Kim sing and play the piano or her family singing in the chorus.” Where the killer was concerned: “You may hate his deed, but you better love his soul.” There were scattered shouts of “amen.” The five children curiously left behind by the killer were in the front pews, protected from the media by police bodyguards. 20 pallbearers took up remaining seats beside them.
Homicide detectives continued to probe the background of the lives of the killer and his victims, trying to determine if some personal motive existed. One silver streak broke through the dark clouds surrounding the case. It wasn’t much of a lead at the outset. A detective chief in charge of the investigation revealed the motive. A relative leaked to the detectives that Jessica had broke off a brief romantic affair she was having with Heidler, and that may have triggered the nightmare. Although many in Santa Claus didn’t believe the growing speculation and increasingly wildness of the rumors, it would explain everything. It wouldn’t be the first time a spurned lover vented his anger on an entire family. “They had a boyfriend-girlfriend affair,” said Sheriff Durst. He refused to elaborate any further.
Many of the mourners had come directly to the church from Heidler’s first court appearance before Toombs County Magistrate Ezra Aaron, who asked the snugly handcuffed suspect if he understood the charges of multiple murder, kidnapping and burglary. In the horror-struck courtroom, Heidler kept his eyes downcast as he answered in sullen, dull monotone, “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir.” When Heidler said he didn’t understand what could happen to him, the judge, without lifting his face from the papers before him, said, “You could be executed.”
A statement as recalled by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, who interrogated Heidler, was a chilling one. Without flinching one iota, Heidler told them, “I killed them all.” One agent, Lee Sweat, said Heidler was not especially emotional about his confession, nor did he show any signs of remorse. “He was quiet,” Sweat said, “but he was responsive from the very beginning. He told me he killed the Daniels family.” While Heidler’s attorneys were feverishly trying to get his confession thrown out as evidence, developing information had gleaned from the surviving children who had sat in their nightgowns untangling a web of mystery for Bacon County sheriffs. Otherwise, the whole horrible story might have been lost in the darkness of history.
The children said they were awakened by ear-splitting gunshots. Then a man who had once dated their sister, Jessica, entered the bedroom and took them with him in a strange van. He took them far from home and they were crying. He put them out on a deserted, dark road, and they were frightened. The girls did not know at the time the extreme grossness of the case. They had no idea a portion of their lives were gone forever. Heidler’s story, as related to GBI agents, was that he used a stepladder in the garden to hoist himself up to the bathroom window and enter the Daniels home. He shot Bryant first, using a loaded shotgun, then Jessica as she ran towards him, apparently while running to alert her parents. He shot Kim and Danny in quick succession.
Special Agent Dean McManus said it all seemed like a dream to Heidler and he wanted him and agent Sweat to “get into his dream with him.” Heidler’s account of what triggered him was that he attended the funeral of a stillborn baby he had fathered to a woman he never saw before. That night, he walked to the home of a friend, where they played pool and watched men playing dominoes. He had two beers then walked to his mother’s home, where he was staying without paying rent. When people in the home began talking about the stillborn baby, Heidler said he ran out of the house, swiped a friend’s van, and then drove U.S. 1 to Santa Claus.
After entering the Daniels home, he took a semi-automatic shotgun from a gun cabinet in Kim and Danny’s bedroom then went looking for Jessica, whom he wanted to kill because she jilted him. He remembered continuously pulling the trigger. He even recalled having to reload and how the kick of the shotgun hurt his shoulder and the sound of the blast hurt his ears. He said he shot Bryant in a trance like dream and was awakened out of it when Jessica called out his name. After the shootings, he ushered the three kids out of the house and into the stolen van.
Continuing with his story, Heidler told the officers that he remembered driving to the Altamaha River Bridge between Appling and Bacon counties, where he took the 10-year-old to a boat ramp, and sexually assaulted her out of sight of the others in the van.
After the rape, the sobbing little victim asked him to get rid of the gun because he was scaring them. So he tossed it in the Altamaha River where it would never be found. He abandoned the girls and drove back to his mother’s house. Sweat said although at times Heidler laughed, or cried, he was relatively unaffected by what he had done. “He understood what he was saying,” said Sweat, “We had all range of emotions. But the gravity of what he’d done, he was indifferent to that.”
For the most inept, cruelest massacre that ever happened in Toombs County history, death penalty specialist Mike Garrett, the most brilliant and sought after attorney in Augusta, and public defender Kathy Palmer of Swainsboro, were brought in for the trial. The plan of operation would be for the defense attorneys to file a notice of intent to present evidence on mental health issues. After talking with Heidler, Garrett told reporters, “He’s physically sick and mentally disturbed.” The defense immediately filed for a change of venue. Garrett said Heidler would be tried far away from the graveyard and the blood-splattered house where people still thought Santa Claus was a symbol of good fellowship and gift sharing.
District Attorney Malone agreed that the gruesome trial should be held somewhere else. He said too many times the Georgia Supreme Court overturned death penalty cases from rural counties where cases were grossly overly publicized. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, July 6, 1999, while awaiting trial, Heidler escaped with tracking dogs and helicopters on his heels. News flashes across Georgia said anyone who crossed paths with the 20-year-old escaped convict were in extreme danger. Jailers searching his cell found 75 homemade weapons he had made from unscrewing wire cages and smoke and fire alarms. They said he routinely threatened to kill jailers and other inmates who preferred to give him a wide berth. He didn’t get very far. He was quickly captured and returned for trial.
The trial opened before a jury of seven men and five women on August 30, 1999 in Judge Walter McMillan’s Walton County Courthouse. Prosecutor Malone said he would seek the death penalty. Heidler’s defense team chose to seek pity from the jurors by using the mental illness defense. In his opening statement, prosecutor Malone painted a bizarre picture of the suspect. He said he was arrested in May for breaking into Taylor’s Treasures and stealing porcelain dolls, Nintendo games, and knives. A young mother testified she had hired Heidler to baby-sit her three children in exchange for a room in her home. She said he was good with her children and she couldn’t have managed without his help. She described him as a quiet person, a regular couch potato who seldom went anywhere and worked on her car.
As for his mental level, she said he was like a teen-ager in a 20-year-old body. “I’ve seen him go out looking for jobs and no one would hire him,” she said, adding, “I can’t believe this is happening.” A neighbor, who lived next to the Heidlers on 12th Street in Alma, said the family lived there for two months. They moved there from a government housing project on Mills Street and had no money. In the days that followed jurors heard from one side or the other about Heidler’s tough life, or his refusal to accept authority. Born June 9, 1977, he became a high school drop out in the 10h grade. He never worked and never owned a car. Any money he ever had was mooched from somebody else.
Despite his unsetting lifestyle, he was never arrested for violent crimes. Aside from burglarizing Taylor Treasures, he stole a Kawasaki four-wheeler from a garage on South Church Street and was currently facing felony counts in Alma. He was newly on probation in both Toombs and Bacon counties for driving while intoxicated. That was the extent of his criminal record. Several of the Daniels neighbors testified about gathering in their yards to watch police cars, media vans with dishes on top, and more strange cars than they had ever seen driving up Dasher Street toward the crime scene. They spoke of the good times they had fishing in Daniels’ fishpond, and picking grapes from his vineyard.
“They were good God-fearing people,” one neighbor told the court. “They were a storybook family. They took children nobody else wanted and gave them a decent home.”
County Sheriff Durst testified that in his talks with Heidler, “his only explanation is that he doesn’t know why he did it.” He said a dive team that searched the 29-foot-deep Altamaha River failed to find the murder weapon that Heidler said he tossed off the bridge from U.S. Highway 1.
A defense witness testified that in Heidler’s hometown of Alma, about 30 miles from the crime scene, he had enhanced his reputation as an “odd ball” from a family who moved from one place to another, like gypsies. He said Heidler, pictured to the left, spent time in foster care homes but eventually had to be placed in a special treatment state school because of his emotional problems. Garrett, however, was unable to sway the jury, who, after wrestling with indecision for a scant 20 minutes, found the mass murderer guilty on Friday, September 3, 1999. The penalty phase took less than two hours and they agreed unanimously on the death penalty.
Sickly, scrawny, Heidler sniffled and wiped his nose on his shirt as the four death sentences were pronounced. Judge Walter McMillan handed him an additional two life sentences plus 110 years on three counts of kidnapping the three Daniels children and three counts of sodomy and child molestation and one burglary. The remaining Daniels children have been placed with relatives.
There they found "how-to" books on homemade weapons and mass destruction as well as books on the occult, several guns, bottles with different concentrations of ant poison, a range of insecticides and rodent killers; and castor beans, from which the almost untraceable poison, ricin, can be obtained. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to five-years' jail for aggravated battery because none of his colleagues had died from the poisonings. "I don't think he intended to kill them," said Judge Dennis Cashman. "I think he wanted to take them to the edge of death. They were like a lab experiment."
While he was serving his sentence, investigators combed the Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, where Swango had been a medical intern. Nurses told investigators that they had become suspicious because he was seen in several patients' rooms right before they died unexpectedly. "I do not think the evidence was clear one way or the other. I am glad he is not here," said Ohio State University's Larry Carey. Swango was paroled in 1987 after serving two-and-a-half years of his five-year sentence. Curiously, after leaving prison he continued his career in the health care business with increasingly lethal results. He hopped from job to job and was fired at least three times after he was suspected of wrongdoing or someone learned about his past.
In the early 1990s Swango landed a job at a State University of New York hospital. There, Federal of Bureau Investigation agents investigated 147 patients Swango treated and died. Autopsies were performed on several former patients, but the results were inconclusive. By 1993 -- as police started piecing together his poisenous path -- he disappeared to re-emerge in Zimbabwe. There he worked at a rural hospital where he was suspended after five patients under his care died in suspicious circumstances. After his suspension he traveled to South Africa, the modern Mecca for serial killings, where he contacted Saudi Arabian health authorities, who offered him a job. Finally in July, 1997, Swango was arrested when he re-entered the United States to pick up a visa en route to his job as a physician in Saudi Arabia. Though he has been arrested for relatively minor fraud charges and illegally prescribing narcotics to patients, authorities hope to uncover enough evidence to expose him as a vicious serial killer.
He was finally indicted on federal murder charges in New York in 2000 for three murders that occurred at the VA Hospital. Later in September of 2000 he pled guilty and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
The victims were a white female and her two daughters. The slashings were so similar to his first known kill that the FBI was called in to profile a serial killer. They failed to finger a 15-year-old black male as their suspect. It took an observant detective who noticed Craig with a big cut on his hand to crack the case. He admitted to committing the murders without any persuasion and, according to the FBI, goes down in history as the youngest serial killer in US history. His sentence for murder having been served, he is now doing 2 additional years for contempt.
Not a model prisoner Craig now faced an additional twenty years in prison for crimes committed while incarcerated. The lethal teenager is also a suspect in other unsolved homicides around RI. The FBI and local authorities believe it is only a matter of time that Craig will start killing again.
Pruett killed three people in a weeklong streak of terror that led him to dub himself a "mad-dog killer." Earlier in 1981, Pruett had killed his wife in New Mexico, and a Mississippi bank loan officer. He clobbered his wife, Pamela Sue Barker, with a ball peen hammer and set her body afire. Four days after killing the first convenience store clerk, Pruett killed two other store workers in Colorado. He received life sentences for the four killings outside Arkansas, but got the death sentence for his conviction in the state. Pruett, who robbed the convenience stores before killing their clerks, said at his New Mexico trial that he was driven by a $4,000 a week cocaine habit.
A federal judge set aside Pruett's Arkansas conviction in 1997, saying pretrial publicity prevented him from receiving a fair trial. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction and death sentence in 1998, saying Pruett helped generate some of the publicity by implicating himself in various crimes and giving himself his "mad-dog" nickname.
A footprint from the Palatine case shows the killer wore a size 12 1/2-14 shoe. Reid wears a 12 1/2. Police also said their suspect was between 6 feet and 6-foot-6. Reid is 6-foot-3. The workers there were herded into a cooler and shot in the head at point-blank range. The workers at McDonald's and Captain D's were taken to the back of the restaurant and shot in the head. Reid was fired from his job as a cook at a Shoney's restaurant on Feb. 15. The next day, a Captain D's manager and co-worker were found shot to death in an apparent robbery. Captain D's is a fast-food fish chain owned by Shoney's and located a few miles from the restaurant where Reid worked.
Throughout the time prior to his trial Rolling had trouble keeping his mouth shut and many inmates made contact with the investigating team to relate stories of Rolling's "confessions," which fluctuated between penitent admissions of sin to bragging, depending on his mood. He formed a friendship with inmate Bobby Lewis, known as the only man to have escaped from Florida's death row. Rolling knew that escape was the only way he would ever get out of prison. Even if he wasn't convicted for the Gainesville murders, Rolling knew that Lewis could prove a helpful friend. In time Rolling told Lewis all about the murders in explicit detail. He admitted that he had decided to kill while he was in prison during the eighties, long before he came to Gainesville.
He acknowledged that he had a bad side, which he couldn't always control but blamed his father's abuse and neglect, sexual abuse he experienced in prison and his ex-wife for this. Together Rolling and Lewis planned for Rolling to fake suicide in order to stay in the same ward, and then later escape.
His escape never took place and on January 31, 1993, Rolling informed the Gainesville investigators that he wished to confess, through Bobby Lewis. During the three-hour confession, Rolling did not answer any of the investigators questions directly but confirmed the answers given by Lewis on his behalf. Through Lewis, Rolling effectively confessed to planning and committing the five murders in Gainesville. He also told them that he had originally planned to kill eight people while in prison and that he would "...clear up the Shreveport homicides... after the Gainesville murders [trial]..." Rolling also shifted all responsibility for the murders onto an evil side of his personality that he called "Gemini."
While happy with Rolling's confession, the investigators didn't buy the "evil Gemini" aspect of his story, as they knew from their investigations that Rolling had watched the movie Exorcist Part III during the week of the Gainesville murders. The killer in this movie, known as Gemini, had decapitated and disemboweled a female victim. An attempt to recover the murder weapon in the location that Rolling had described, through Lewis, during his confession was unsuccessful.
Soon after the confession Lewis was moved from the ward, causing Rolling to feel betrayed by Lewis. In Rusty Binstead, Rolling found a new confidante but this time instead of only telling Binstead the details he wrote them down in a letter. He gave the original to Binstead with instructions to take a copy and then return it to him. Instead, when Binstead returned to his cell he told the man in the next cell to wait five minutes then call out "Shakedown." When he did, Binstead flushed his toilet to make Rolling believe that he had flushed the letter down the toilet.
Three weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, Rolling asked for a meeting with his attorney, Public Defender C. Richard Parker. During this meeting Rolling expressed his desire to plead guilty. Parker attempted to convince his client that although there was a great deal of primary evidence against him and his videotaped confession had damaged his case, there was still a strong case for mitigating factors against a death sentence. If Rolling would maintain his not-guilty plea Parker would attempt to use Rolling's life story of abuse and the many psychiatric evaluations which established Rolling's mental illness. By pleading guilty, Parker warned, the likelihood of receiving a death sentence was much stronger, and it would leave no opportunity to have a conviction overturned in an appeal. He would only be able to appeal the sentence.
Despite the warnings, Rolling was determined to go ahead with the change, admitting that much of the reason was that he didn't want the crime scene photographs to be shown. Parker asked Rolling to take the three weeks before the trial date to think about it. The week before the trial, Rolling signed a three-page plea-form at the Florida State Prison, which effectively made his new guilty plea official. Just in case, Parker met with Judge Stanley R. Morris to inform him of his client's plea and request that it not be announced until February 15th when jury selection began. The only person to be informed of Rolling's decision was prosecutor Rod Smith.
A week and a half later he clobbered to death an 80-year-old widow and mutilated her genitalia with a butcher knife. Four days later a third woman was bound and stabbed fourteen times. He attacked his fifth victim in her home on September 11. Neighbors heard her screams and called the police. After a wild chase through the streets of Memphis George was caught smeared in the blood of his last victim. He was found guilty of all his crimes and given the death penalty. When the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, George was handed a 497-year sentence. Always the good sport, George chuckled when the judge read him the sentence.
(5) Suspected serial killer Daniel Conahan is accused of killing six people in Charlotte and Sarasota County, Florida. Conahan has been convicted for one of the murders, a man by the name of Richard Montgomery. The authorities claim that Conahan used a "murder kit" to kill his victims. The kit contained a knife, rope, tarp, gloves, and a Polaroid camera. He was accused of picking up men on the street and taking them into the woods to take nude bondage photos of them. However, once the person was tied up to a tree, Conahan could easily murder his victim. After the death, Conahan would commit various mutilations on the bodies.
The police had Conahan under surveillance for fifty days. Then, an undercover police officer was taken by Conahan into the woods for photos. At this time, the officer left the area, and reported back with his details. Police became aware of many unsolved homicides in the Chicago area prior to 1993, where Conahan previously lived. Police arrested him on July 3, 1996. The trial against him for the murder of Richard Montgomery in December of 1999. He was sentenced to death; however, he is now appealing the case, claiming he never murdered anyone.
(5) On June 22, 1999, Juan Chavez, 35, was handed five consecutive life sentences for killing five gay men between 1986 and 1989 in Los Angeles CA. Strangely Chavez said he killed the men in an attempt to stop the spread of AIDS. The crusading killer agreed to the life sentence under a plea bargain that saved him from the death penalty. Prosecutor Mike Duarte said Chavez allowed himself to be picked up at locations frequented by gay Hispanic men and used the promise of sex to lure the men to their homes. Then, he tied them up forced them to disclose their ATM access codes, strangled them with exercise ropes, neckties and electrical cords, and stole their vehicles. Prosecutors believe Chavez may have killed other gay men.
The killing spree began in July 1986 when 46-year-old Alfred Rowswell was found strangled in his Los Angeles apartment. Rowswell's car was found later that year in Utah, but fingerprints on the windows initially proved inconclusive. Then in 1989, Chavez killed four men in two months: 57-year-old Ruben Panis, 48-year-old Donald Kleeman, 46-year-old Michael Allen Cates and 52-year-old Leo Hildebrand. Los Angeles police detectives found a photo of a man using one of the victims' ATM cards and circulated it at local gay bars. But without more evidence the cases went nowhere. Detectives got a lucky break in 1994, when they finally matched a fingerprint on Rowswell's car to a prisoner in Washington State. The inmate said he got the car from Chavez. Detectives tracked down Chavez who was in prison for an unrelated 1996 kidnapping and obtained a confession from him.
(5) Confessed Illinois serial killer Lorenzo Fayne who is already serving a life sentence for the beating death of a 6-year-old boy in East St. Louis, Illinois, also pleaded guilty to killing four girls in the East St. Louis area between 1992 and 1994.
Upon learning that Fayne had finally been convicted of murdering the girls, Milwaukee Police Chief Arthur Jones said that he would ask his investigators if Fayne warrants another look. According to Illinois State Police, Fayne regularly traveled between Milwaukee and East St. Louis between 1989 and 1993. Fayne's attorney said his client has never confessed to any other killings except the five to which he pleaded guilty.
(5) On August 14, 1998, suspected serial killer Gary Evans died when he kicked out the window of a police van and jumped -- with his hands and feet shackled -- into the Hudson River while on his way to a court appearance. Evans, 43, was being transported from Troy by U.S. Marshals to a federal court appearance in Albany. Evans, a convicted antiques thief, was accused of killing five men, including three accomplices. Police said Evans had confessed to the murders and led them to three of the bodies this summer while he was jailed on unrelated theft charge.
(5) In 1978, Larry Ralston received four life sentences for killing four young Ohio women. One conviction was overturned, but in 1984 he received another life sentence for murder. Somewhere between Chicago and Batavia, in the back seat of a police car, Larry Ralston freed his conscience. "He just started crying, and he said, "I didn't mean to kill any of them,' " recalled Robert Stout, a sheriff's investigator assigned in November 1977 to transport Mr. Ralston to Clermont County Ohio, where he faced charges of raping three 15-year-old girls.
The words sent a jolt of electricity through the detective: No one had accused Mr. Ralston of any killings. In a second, Mr. Stout's role had changed from rookie detective to lead investigator and sole interrogator in a string of serial killings. Grueling interrogations over two weeks yielded confessions to five slayings that had stymied police for more than two years. Those admissions landed Larry Ralston in prison with four life sentences. When police caught up with him, Mr. Ralston was a 28-year-old unemployed dropout of Norwood High School. He had held jobs before at the Hamilton County morgue and a state mental hospital, but at that time, he was living at home or with a short list of friends.
Mr. Ralston's father told reporters he had warned his son that his irresponsible lifestyle - sleeping all day, staying out all-night and running around with young girls - would bring only trouble. His mother called him a "likable boy" who had a knack for talking to anybody, even if he didn't know them.
The killings began Sept. 3, 1975, with Mrs. Porter's 17-year-old daughter, Linda Kay Harmon. She disappeared while waiting for a bus at Wolfangle Road and Beechmont Avenue, about three blocks from home. It was to be Miss Harmon's first day at Withrow High School after moving from Finneytown. She never made it. Miss Harmon's body parts were found scattered in a wooded area in Felicity 34 days later, after two dogs dragged pieces of her arms to their owner's porch.
A year later, the nude remains of other young women were discovered in shallow graves. Nancy Grigsby, 23, of Withamsville, a disabled woman who frequented bars in Clifton, Madisonville and Mount Lookout, disappeared May 4, 1976, on the way to meet her boyfriend in Fairfax. Hunters discovered her body Nov. 15, 1976, on Moore-Marathon Road in Clermont County's Jackson Township. Elaina Marie Bear, 15, of Northside was found Feb. 28, 1977, in a creekbed off Katy's Lane near Wilmington in Clinton County. Diana Sue McCrobie, 16, of Springfield Township was found Oct. 22, 1977, covered with brush at East Fork Lake State Park in Clermont County. Police said she dated Mr. Ralston.
Hamilton County authorities would later convict Mr. Ralston in the death of Mary Ruth Hopkins, 21, of Cincinnati's East End. Her naked body with a T-shirt wrapped around the neck was discovered June 30, 1976, off Five Mile Road in Anderson Township. In taped confessions, played in court, Mr. Ralston told Mr. Stout how he picked up his hitchhiking victims, drove them around drinking wine and smoking marijuana and that he strangled them when they rejected him sexually. "After every murder he did, he would go to (a friend's) house and he said he would turn on the song, "Fly Like An Eagle.' It just put him in a trance, made him feel better about what he did," Mr. Stout said.
Watching people die was a subject Larry Ralston seemed to enjoy talking about, Mr. Stout said. "When he worked at Longview Hospital, one of the things he really got off on was the fact that he had missed his lunch hour, for maybe three or four days, for a week, in order to watch a person die," he recalled from the interviews with Mr. Ralston in November 1977. "He would be taking care of these people, just people in his area. He would know they were dying. He would go watch."
(5) On Jan. 7, 1977, Alabama ex-convict Walter Hill fatally shot Willie Mae Hammock, 60, who refused to allow him to marry her 13-year-old daughter, Toni; Miss Hammock's stepbrother, John Tatum Jr., 36, and his wife, Lois Jean Tatum, 34. The three of them were shot in the head. No the friendliest type, in 1961 Walt was freed from prison after serving 10 years for second-degree murder. He later was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 14 years. While serving time in Atlanta, he was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate. He was released again in 1975. Two years later he committed the triple murder. On February 1980 he was sentenced to death. On May 2, 1997, Hill was executed in the Alabama electric chair after being in death row for more than 17 years.
(5) Jerome Brudos was better known as the “The Shoe Fetish Slayer.” Born in South Dakota during January 1939, Brudos moved to California with his family, as a child. He grew up with a deep, abiding hatred for his domineering mother and a strange, precocious lust for women's shoes. Discovering a pair of high-heels at the local dump, he brought them home, where they were confiscated and burned by his mother. By the time he entered first grade, Brudos was stealing shoes from his sister; at age sixteen, now living in Oregon, he branched out into burglary, making off with shoes from neighboring homes, sometimes snatching women's undergarments from clothes lines.