May 7, 2012
Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker
Repeated psychiatric evaluations conducted by various prison doctors showed that Lawrence Bittaker was a psychopath who should not be paroled. Yet he was paroled time and time again before being convicted of brutally raping, torturing and murdering five teenage girls over a four-month period in 1979.
by Mark Pulham
The San Fernando Valley is a familiar sight for moviegoers. The Valley is the home to Universal Studios, and is filled with beautiful homes, and is a destination point for visitors from all over the world. It’s the setting for such films as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and the Back To The Future series. Less wholesome is the fact that it’s also the porn center for the United States, with 90 percent of legally distributed porn films that are made in the U.S. being made by companies based in the Valley.
Despite the less than respectable industry that is based there, the Valley is a great place to live.
But at the end of 1979, the Valley got an unwelcome shock.
For the previous couple of years, Los Angeles had been terrorized by a series of murders committed by the Hillside Strangler, a singular name given to two killers, cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, with some of the victims connected to the Valley.
There was relief when Angelo Buono was arrested on October 22, to join his cousin in custody, maybe the city could relax.
But the relief was short lived.
It was Halloween night in the San Fernando Valley, and a young girl was hitchhiking in the Sunland-Tujunga residential district. It was late, and when the GMC van drew alongside her, she was grateful for the ride. But, appropriately for Halloween, her night turned into one of terror.
For the residents of one house in Hermosa Beach, the fictional horrors of the night before turned into a real one the next morning. Displayed on their lawn, like a discarded Halloween prop, was the naked and tortured body of the young girl.
The police and the community were stunned by the discovery. Ten days had passed since the arrest of the second Hillside Strangler, could there have been a third that no one knew about? But it was plainly obvious that this was not a strangler victim, this was something much worse. The community was horrified, they had just ended one serial killer spree, and now they were facing another.
But this young girl was not the first victim, she was the last, and unknown to the residents of the city, this was a team that had been working for months.