Serial Killer Leonard Lake was Arrested (June 2, 1985)

Jun 1, 2015



By Michael Thomas Barry 


This week (June 1-7) in crime history – Benedict Arnold was court-martialed (June 1, 1779); Opening statements began in the trial of Scott Peterson (June 1, 2004); Timothy McVeigh was convicted for the Oklahoma City Bombing (June 2, 1997); Serial Killer Leonard Lake was arrested (June 2, 1985); Joran van der Sloot  was arrested for murder in Peru (June 3, 2010); Jonathan Pollard plead guilty to spying for Israel (June 4, 1986); Activist Angela Davis was acquitted of murder and other charges (June 4, 1972); Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot (June 5, 1968); Teenager Melissa Drexler gives birth at her prom then kills the baby (June 6, 1997); Civil Rights activist James Meredith was shot (June 6, 1966); Michael Skakel was convicted of murder (June 7, 2002) 


Highlighted Crime Story of the Week - 


On June 2, 1985, Leonard Lake was arrested near San Francisco, California, ending one of the rare cases of serial killers working together. Lake and Charles Ng were responsible for a series of brutal crimes against young women in California and the Pacific Northwest during the mid-1980s. Lake was a former Marine who had served time in Vietnam. Ng, born in Hong Kong, was educated in England, and attended college in California briefly before being caught with automatic weapons that he had stolen from a military base in Hawaii and sent to Leavenworth federal prison. After his release, Ng hooked up with Lake in California and the two began a series of murders. 


Ng and Lake shared a love of John Fowles’ The Collector, a book in which the protagonist kidnaps a woman solely to keep her in his possession, like the butterflies he collects as a hobby. Creating “Operation Miranda,” named after a character in the book, Ng and Lake began kidnapping young women and bringing them to a cinderblock bunker in a secluded area south of San Francisco. There, they tried to brainwash the women into becoming their willing sex slaves. They also kidnapped a young couple and their infant son in San Francisco while at their home pretending to be interested in some audiovisual equipment the couple was selling and later killed them. 


Lake, who had been arrested in 1985 for his connection to a burglary committed by Ng, ingested a cyanide capsule while in custody, and killed himself. Ng escaped to Canada, where he successfully avoided extradition for almost six years. When he was finally returned to California for trial, he utilized other delaying tactics. By the time he was finally convicted, he had gone through multiple attorneys and judges. It was one of the longest homicide prosecutions in state history. After a four-month trial, the jury convicted Ng and he was sentenced to death in 1999. 


Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.” 


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:


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