Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Leonard Lake (July 20, 1946 - June 6, 1985) was an alleged US serial killer. The crimes he committed together with Charles Ng came to light when Lake committed suicide by taking a cyanide pill shortly after being arrested for a firearms offence.
Lake was born in San Francisco in 1946. He was a bright child but in youth he developed an obsession with pornography that stemmed from his hobby of photography, which included taking nude photos of his sisters, apparently with the encouragement of his mother. It was also alleged that Lake extorted sexual favors from his sisters, in return for protecting them from their younger delinquent brother, Donald.
When he was twenty, Lake joined the US Marines and served in the Vietnam War, albeit in a non-combat role as a radar operator. Diagnosed as mentally unbalanced, Lake was eventually given a medical discharge and underwent psychiatric treatment. Back in civilian life he got married, but his wife divorced him when she found that he was making (and starring in) amateur, pornographic movies involving bondage.
In 1980 Lake was given a years probation for theft. He married again, his new wife soon leaving him after she got tired of her husband's increasingly erratic behavior and his insistence that she star in kinky pornographic movies. Lake was arrested in 1982 for a firearms violation, but he skipped bail and settled into a remote ranch in Wilseyville , Calaveras County. He was eventually joined by Charles Ng (pronounced 'Ing'), a young Hong Kong-born man who Lake had met a few years previously.
On June 2, 1985, an Asian man later identified as Charles Ng was seen shoplifting in San Francisco. He fled by the time police arrived, but Leonard Lake, who was with him, was arrested when his car was searched and found to contain a pistol that was illegally equipped with a silencer.
He gave his name as Robin Stapley, and had a driving license in that name. However, the police were suspicious because, according to the driving license, Robin Stapley was a 26, whilst the man they had in custody was clearly in his late-thirties. At the police station, whilst he was being interviewed, Lake asked for a glass of water. He used it to wash down a cyanide pill he had secretly stashed in a lapel of his shirt. He collapsed and was rushed to hospital where he died four days later without regaining consciousness.
By then, police had finally confirmed that the true identity of their suspect was Leonard Lake. Furthermore, the man whose identity Lake had taken, Robin Stapley, had been missing for several weeks. Lake's car was found to belong to Paul Cosner, 39, who had gone missing eight-months previously in November 1984.
The police searched Lake's ranch in Wilseyville. It was clear Lake was a survivalist, his ranch fitted with a bunker and a stash of weapons. In a diary, Lake had written how he was convinced there was going to be a global nuclear war, and he planned on surviving in his bunker and rebuilding the human race with a collection of female slaves. The police also found a stash of grisly videos showing Lake and Ng torturing and raping women.
The grounds of the ranch were dug up and twelve corpses were uncovered in shallow graves. Amongst these victims were two entire families; Harvey Dubs and his wife and baby son, and Lonnie and Brenda O'Conner and their baby son. The women had been abused and killed after their husbands and infants were disposed of. Five of the bodies were of men lured to the ranch to be robbed and killed—including Robin Stapley and Paul Cosner—and the twelfth was identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, who knew Ng because her boyfriend had once been his cellmate in prison. As well as these complete remains, police found many charred fragments of human bones, but they were unable to determine the identity of the victims they had come from, or how many there had been.
Lake's younger brother Donald had vanished in 1983, as had Charles Gunnar, a friend of Lake's from his army days. Both men are believed to have been murdered, although their bodies have never been found.
The authorities concluded that Lake and Ng had murdered as many as twenty-five people.
The police were frustrated after these grisly discoveries because, although they had identified the suspects, they had no-one to charge; Lake had committed suicide whilst Ng was nowhere to be seen. In fact, after Lake's arrest, 24-year-old Ng had fled to Canada. He was arrested there a month later, on July 6, 1985, for shoplifting. He had shot and injured a security guard who had attempted to apprehend him. Ng was convicted and sentenced to four-and-a-half-years imprisonment. An extradition battle took place between the US and Canada, with the latter reluctant to extradite Ng because he could face the death penalty in California. The Canadian Supreme Court finally handed Ng over to the Californian authorities in 1991.
After the defendant delayed legal proceedings by repeatedly hiring and firing many lawyers, Ng's trial finally opened in October 1998. He was formally charged with twelve murders, with the most shocking evidence being the home videos of Ng and Lake torturing and abusing the female victims.
Ng pleaded Not Guilty, claiming that he thought the victims consented to the abuse, and that Lake murdered them without his knowledge. The jury did not believe him, and they found Ng guilty of eleven murders (he was acquitted of the twelfth count.) The jury recommended the Death Penalty, and the judge agreed and sentenced Ng to be executed.
Charles Ng is currently on California's overcrowded Death Row whilst his appeals go through the courts.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details