Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Alternate meaning Hillside Strangler (Illinois)
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 twelve to twenty-eight years old during a four-month period from late 1977 to early 1978 in the hills above Los Angeles.
On the morning of November 1, 1977, police were called to a neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. The body of a woman, wrapped in tarp, had been found at a curb in a small residential area. There were insects feeding on her flesh. Bruises on her neck indicated strangulation. The body had been dumped, meaning she was killed somewhere else. The woman was teenager, about 16 years old, weighing 90 pounds, and had medium length, red-brown hair. She went unidentified at first. After hours of unsatisfying tips, the woman was finally identified as Judy Miller, a 16-year-old destitute who disappeared the night before.
A week later on November 6, 1977, the nude body of another woman was found near the Glendale Country Club. Similar to Judy Miller, the killer strangled her with ligature and dumped her body. Within minutes, the woman was identified as 21-year-old Lissa Kastin, a local waitress. Lissa was last seen leaving work on the night she was killed.
On November 13, 1977, two school girls, Dolores Capeda and Sonja Johnson, boarded their bus and headed home. They got off at their bus stop but were never seen again until found dead. On November 20, a young boy cleaning up trash found 2 bodies. Both girls had been strangled and raped. They were identified as Capeda and Johnson.
On November 20, 1977, hikers found the nude, dead, sexually-assaulted body of Kristina Weckler on a hillside near Glendale, California. That same day, two more female bodies were found on the other side of the same hilly area, and over the next four months, police discovered ten more victims. The law enforcement task force—LAPD, LA Sherriff's Department and Glendale Police Department —always assumed more than one person was responsible for the slayings, even though the media continued to use the singular, Hillside Strangler.
Just before Thanksgiving there was a 7th murder. On November 23, the badly decomposed body of 28-year-old Jane King was found off an exit ramp near the Golden State freeway. The killers would soon be known as the Hillside Stranglers. A 30 police officer task force formed, but the killers took the weekend off for the holiday. On November 29, the killings continued. On a hillside outside of Mount Washington, police found the body of 18-year-old Lauren Wagner. She too was strangled with a ligature. There were also burn marks on her hands indicating she was also tortured. She was victim number 8.
The killings stopped for 2 weeks. A 9th murder took place. On December 13, 1977, police found the body of 17-year-old Kimberly Martin. Her body was pointing toward city hall. There were no more victims in December or in January.
The final killing took place in Los Angeles. On February 16, 1978, a helicopter spotted an orange Datsun off a cliff in the Angeles Crest. In the trunk police found the body of 20-year-old Cindy Hudspeth.
After intensive investigation, police charged cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr. with the brutal crimes.
Bianchi had fled to Washington State, where he was soon arrested for raping and murdering two women he'd lured to his home there. After first claiming he committed his atrocities in an altered, unconscious state as one of his multiple personalities, Steve Bianchi eventually agreed to testify against his cousin. Bianchi is serving a life sentence in Washington. Buono died on September 21, 2002, in Calipatria State Prison where he was serving a life sentence.
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