RE: Kennith Bianchi & Angelo Buono
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 Strangler was a Hollywood prostitute, 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. It was discovered that the victim had been raped.
On November 1, 1977, police were called to a La Crescenta, Los Angeles, California neighborhood, north east of downtown Los Angeles, where the body of a teenage girl was found naked, face up on a parkway in a residential area. The then homeowner covered her with a tarp to protect the neighborhood children from viewing her on their way to school. Bruises on her neck indicated strangulation. The body had been dumped, indicating she was killed elsewhere. The girl was eventually identified as Judith Lynn Miller, a runaway prostitute who was barely 15 years old. This event caused the homeowner to relocate his family out of state for their protection. The coroner's report further detailed her being bound much like the first victim, Yolanda Washington.
Five days later, on November 6, 1977, the nude body of another woman was discovered near the Chevy Chase Country Club. Similar to Judith Lynn 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. Whereas some of the other victims were prostitutes, Lissa Kastin was a characteristically "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.
Two girls, Dolores Cepeda, 12, and Sonja Johnson,14 boarded a school bus and headed home on November 13, 1977, The last time they were seen was getting off this bus and approaching a car. Inside the car were reportedly two men. A young boy, cleaning up a trash-strewn hillside near Dodger Stadium found two bodies, six days later, November 20. 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.
Some time in 1977, the two men gave a ride to Catharine Lorre with the intent of killing her as well. However, when they discovered that Catharine was the daughter of Hungarian actor Peter Lorre, famous for his role as a child murderer in Fritz Lang's masterpiece film M, they let her go without incident. She didn't realize who the men were until they were arrested.
After intensive investigation, police charged cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr. with the crimes. Bianchi had fled to Washington where he was soon arrested for raping and murdering two women he had lured to a home for a house-sitting job. Bianchi attempted to set up an insanity defense, claiming he had a personality disorder, and a separate personality from himself committed the murders. Court psychologists, notably Dr. Martin Orne, observed Bianchi and found that he was faking the illness, so Bianchi agreed to plead guilty and testify against Buono in exchange for leniency.
At the conclusion of Buono's trial in 1983, presiding judge Ronald M. George, who would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, said he would impose the death penalty without a second thought if the jury had allowed it.
Bianchi is serving a life sentence in the Washington State Penitentiary of the Washington State Department of Corrections in Walla Walla, Washington. Buono died of a heart attack on September 21, 2002, in Calipatria State Prison of the California Department of Corrections, where he was serving a life sentence.
In 1980, Bianchi began a relationship with Veronica Compton. During his trial, she testified for the defense. She was later convicted and imprisoned for attempting to strangle a woman she had lured to a motel in an attempt to have authorities believe that the Hillside Strangler was still on the loose and the wrong man was imprisoned. Bianchi had given her some smuggled semen to use to make it look like a rape/murder committed by the Hillside Strangler. She was released in 2003.