The True Story of the Hillside Strangler Will Give You Nightmares

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(Content warning: This communicative contains mentions of sexual assault)

The archetypal assemblage was recovered connected Oct. 18, 1977.

Yolanda Washington, 20, had been raped, strangled, stripped and dumped connected a hillside disconnected the Golden State Freeway, in presumption of some the Warner Bros. batch and the entrance to Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the famed last resting spot of dozens of celebrities. 

Four months later, 18-year-old Cindy Hudspeth—her nude assemblage recovered successful the trunk of her ain Datsun, which had been pushed disconnected the borderline of the Angeles Crest Highway—was identified arsenic the 10th known unfortunate of the serial killer terrorizing Los Angeles dubbed the "Hillside Strangler."

Peacock's caller four-part docuseries The Hillside Strangler: Devil successful Disguise dives into the year-long manhunt, the analyzable transgression proceedings and, possibly astir poignantly, the fearfulness that blanketed the City of Angels while the killers were connected the loose.

Yes, 1 of the much salient points to retrieve is that determination were, successful fact, two killers moving together.

"There was ne'er immoderate uncertainty successful my caput that determination were astatine slightest 2 suspects," retired homicide detective Pete Finnegan recalled successful the series. And erstwhile 1 was arrested, his thought was, "I wonderment wherever the different feline is."

Who were the victims of the Hillside Strangler?

Between October 1977 and February 1978, 10 bodies were recovered astir L.A.—in Burbank, Los Feliz, adjacent Dodger Stadium, by City Hall—like points connected a demented tourer map.


Several of the victims were enactment workers, including Washington and Judith Lynn Miller, a 15-year-old runaway who had dropped retired of Hollywood High School. Kimberly Diane Martin, 17, had started moving for an escort work ("call girl" was the word astatine the time) due to the fact that she was excessively acrophobic to enactment the streets with the Strangler connected the loose—but she was the miss who was dispatched erstwhile the killers called the service. 

Elissa Kastin, 21, worked arsenic a waitress and was a subordinate of the creation troupe the L.A. Knockers.

Dolores "Dolly" Cepeda, 12, and Sonja Marie Johnson, 14, took a abbreviated autobus thrust location from the promenade successful Eagle Rock to Highland Park together—then were recovered by a 9-year-old lad hunting for treasure on a trash heap adjacent Chavez Ravine.

Kristina Weckler, 20, a pupil astatine the ArtCenter College of Design successful Pasadena; aspiring histrion Jane Evelyn King, 28; and Lauren Rae Wagner, 18, a assemblage pupil who lived with her parents successful the San Fernando Valley, were recovered betwixt Nov. 20-29. 


The method was mostly the same: All pistillate victims, each strangled, each showing signs of intersexual battle and torture. 

But different haunting details stood out. Weckler had been injected with Windex and had a portion of a stove's state pipe in her mouth and a integrative container implicit her head.

Wagner, who had pain marks connected her palms, was abducted conscionable crossed the thoroughfare from her family's house. Her parents saw her car doorway hanging unfastened erstwhile they got up the adjacent morning. A neighbour told constabulary she heard idiosyncratic cry, "You won't get distant with this!" that night, and when she looked extracurricular she saw two men. (The pistillate besides told detectives, erstwhile pressed astir wherefore she didn't telephone police, that she herself was a rape unfortunate and had become paralyzed with fearfulness arsenic the memories came flooding back.)

Witnesses aboriginal recalled hearing screams the night of Dec. 14, erstwhile Martin was murdered in a vacant Hollywood flat that the killers had breached into, giving that gathering arsenic their code to the escort service. But arsenic 1 tenant told police, screams successful that gathering weren't unusual.

After truthful overmuch carnage in less than 3 months, and with nary caller murders to statesman 1978, detectives thought possibly the horrendous spree was over. But past Hudspeth was recovered successful February, strangled and dumped connected a hillside—though on with her full car, which was a displacement successful the pattern.

(During this time, determination were different women whose deaths were suspected to beryllium the enactment of the Hillside Strangler—such arsenic 18-year-old Jill Barcomb, whose assemblage was recovered successful a ravine adjacent the Hollywood motion successful November 1977—but lone these 10 were officially named Strangler victims. Rodney Alcala had already been successful situation for decades erstwhile helium was convicted of Barcomb's execution successful 2010. He died down bars successful 2021.)

How did constabulary drawback the Hillside Strangler?

After Hudspeth, however, the killings attributed to the Strangler did stop—at slightest successful California.

In January 1979, 27-year-old Kenneth Bianchi was arrested successful Bellingham, Wash., connected suspicion of murder. He had strangled 2 Western Washington University students, Karen Mandic, 22, and Diane Wilder, 27, connected Jan. 11, aft luring them into a location wherever helium was moving arsenic a information guard.

Finding a Los Angeles driver's licence connected Bianchi, section constabulary reached retired to the L.A. County Sheriff's Office for a inheritance cheque and, according to Darcy O'Brien's 1987 publication connected the crimes, The Hillside Stranglers, an researcher moving the Hillside Strangler case took the call.


Bianchi's address matching one of the victims was the lone alarm doorbell authorities needed.

His lone known subordinate was his cousin Angelo Buono Jr., an car upholsterer who owned his ain store connected Colorado Boulevard successful Glendale. Questioned by investigators, the 44-year-old divorced begetter of 5 denied knowing thing astir the Hillside Strangler killings.

Bianchi besides initially denied having thing to bash with the L.A. murders. But detectives were trying everything, including hypnosis—which, according to investigators, Bianchi tried to usage to his advantage, pretending to grounds signs of dissociative property disorder. First, portion pretending to beryllium hypnotized, helium laid the blasted for the crimes connected his alter-ego Steve. Several different personalities emerged, including 1 named Billy.

Charged with the murders of Mandic and Wilder successful Washington, Bianchi pleaded not blameworthy by crushed of insanity—which prosecutors pushed backmost against with their ain experts.

Bianchi yet agreed to plead blameworthy to the 2 Bellingham murders and 5 of the L.A. murders (Washington, King, Weckler, Martin and Hudspeth)—and to attest against Buono for all 10—in speech for the decease punishment being taken disconnected the array successful some states.

Buono was arrested connected Oct. 22, 1979, and charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, assault, rape and other related charges.


Who was the "Copycat Strangler"?

In June 1980, Veronica Compton of Los Angeles started penning to Bianchi successful jail, evidently enamored with the suspected serial killer. He yet agreed to spot her if she came to visit.

According to O'Brien's book, Compton talked enthusiastically astir however fantastic it would beryllium if they could perpetrate execution together. Instead, Bianchi suggested to her that if she, perhaps, went up to Washington and strangled idiosyncratic successful a akin manner to however helium killed Mandic and Wilder and permission antithetic DNA astatine the scene, past that could assistance get him freed.

Compton did spell up to Washington and tried to strangle 26-year-old Kim Breed. Dubbed the "Copycat Strangler," Compton ended up sentenced to beingness successful situation for attempted murder.


"She was a bizarre character," authoritative Dave McEachran, who was progressive with some Compton and Bianchi's cases successful Washington, told A&E True Crime in 2019. "It was a precise antithetic case, to accidental the least."

Maintaining she had been nether the equivalent of an evil spell formed by Bianchi, Compton was paroled successful 1996, but swiftly locked up again for parole violation. As different accidental to spell escaped approached successful 1999, she told the Seattle Times, "Rehabilitation is real. Not conscionable for maine but for the different women...We tin change. Here, miracles tin happen." 

She was again granted parole successful 2003 and published a publication called Eating the Ashes: Seeking Rehabilitation wrong the US Penal System. Compton was interviewed for Peacock's The Hillside Strangler: Devil successful Disguise, recalling Bianchi's manipulations. 

Why did the case against Angelo Buono almost autumn apart?

The preliminary proceeding to find whether determination was capable grounds to put Buono connected proceedings for the Hillside Strangler murders lasted 10 months.

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In November 1980, Buono's location successful Glendale—where authorities believed astir of the killings took place—had been bulldozed to the ground after Buono signed implicit the deed to a adjacent solid shop. His shop, successful a refurbished store adjacent to the house, remained standing.

Dozens of witnesses were called to attest astir the cousins' behavior, but it wasn't until an LAPD criminalist matched a fibre recovered connected unfortunate No. 2 Judy Miller's eyelid to worldly recovered at the upholstery store that they had carnal evidence. 

A justice ruled successful March 1981 that the lawsuit could spell forward, mounting proceedings for September.


But erstwhile Bianchi was successful L.A. to testify, helium started to write letters to his psychiatrist and a woman person from jailhouse saying that helium really didn't retrieve sidesplitting anybody and helium didn't truly cognize if Buono had thing to bash with the murders. He simply told authoritative Roger Kelly that helium had agreed to a plea woody to prevention his ain life.

He became truthful unhelpful, the L.A. County District Attorney's Office moved to driblet each 10 execution charges against Buono successful July 1981, explaining to the justice that they didn't deliberation they could convict him beyond a tenable uncertainty without his cousin's testimony.

In what was considered a precise arguable ineligible move, L.A. Superior Court Judge Ronald M. George denied the motion. With section prosecutors unwilling to support going, the lawsuit ended up successful the hands of the California Attorney General's Office, past headed up by George Deukmejian (who went connected to be elected politician successful 1983), and assemblage enactment yet got underway connected Nov. 16, 1981.

It lone took three-and-a-half months to spot a jury.

What was learned astir Bianchi and Buono astatine trial?

Start to finish, Buono's execution proceedings lasted more than 23 months, making it the longest transgression proceedings successful California history. The assemblage heard 56,000 pages' worthy of testimony from 400 witnesses and were shown 2,000 exhibits. And Bianchi did end up taking the basal successful bid to sphere his deal.

Bianchi had moved from his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., to L.A. successful 1976. Buono fto him enactment successful a spare bedroom and Bianchi—who fancied his relative a existent ladies' man—promised he'd determination retired arsenic soon arsenic helium was settled with a job. 

At 1 constituent Bianchi tried to articulation the Glendale Police Department, but couldn't walk the exams. He recovered a occupation with the California Land Title Company and moved into his ain place—an flat successful Pasadena successful the aforesaid gathering arsenic creation pupil Kristina Weckler. He didn't person overmuch occupation gathering women, but Weckler shunned his advances, according to O'Brien's book, telling a person helium reminded her of a utilized car salesman.

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But Buono, already acquainted with hiring prostitutes, decided they should effort their hand at being pimps. In October 1977 he purchased a database of imaginable clients from a enactment idiosyncratic he knew named Deborah Noble, who aboriginal testified astatine his preliminary proceeding that connected the nighttime she delivered the list, she brought respective colleagues with her to Buono's shop, including Yolanda Washington.

Bianchi testified that their past victim, Cindy Hudspeth, was a spur-of-the-moment decision. She visited Buono's store successful February 1978 to spot astir getting immoderate level mats for her caller orangish Datsun. When Bianchi showed up astir closing time, they rapidly consulted and decided to termination her. They flipped a coin to spot who'd get to strangle her, Bianchi said, and helium won.

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Did Bianchi and Buono get starstruck?

The murderous duo did person an intended unfortunate who got away. In 1979, Bianchi told constabulary that 1 nighttime in late October oregon aboriginal November of 1977, helium and Buono stopped a young pistillate connected the thoroughfare successful Hollywood. They flashed the fake constabulary badges they often utilized to con victims into reasoning they were cops, and asked for her identification.

The pistillate said her wallet had been stolen, but she had papers identifying her arsenic Catharine Lorre and aged pictures of her with the German histrion Peter Lorre fell retired of her purse. The prima of M and The Maltese Falcon was her father.

She told them she was connected her mode to an assignment and her thrust was waiting for her, and she was capable to locomotion disconnected into the nighttime without incident. Lorre aboriginal testified successful tribunal that she had nary thought until they were arrested that she'd had a run-in with serial killers.


Bianchi and Buono's adjacent brushwood with personage would beryllium erstwhile Billy Zane and Dennis Farina played them, respectively, successful the 1989 TV movie The Case of the Hillside Stranglers. C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Turturro also portrayed the duo successful the 2004 indie production The Hillside Strangler. The New York Times called it a "relentlessly unpleasant film."

Tartan Usa/Kobal/Shutterstock

Was Angelo Buono Jr. recovered blameworthy of each 10 murders?

Buono was first convicted connected Oct. 31, 1983, of the execution of Lauren Wagner, after which the jury—sequestered for the deliberations—went backmost to sermon the different 9 counts. Bianchi testified that they had tried to electrocute the teen astatine Buono's house, accounting for the pain marks connected her hands, but failing to termination her that mode they strangled her similar the others.

Prosecutor Roger Boren acknowledged astatine the clip that Wagner's execution was their strongest case, truthful they were heartened by the verdict.

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On Nov. 4, Buono was found not guilty of the execution of Washington, the alleged archetypal unfortunate of the Hillside Strangler. 

"I was hoping for 10 convictions but I'm not surprised," Boren told reporters aft the verdict, noting that they had the "weakest evidence" successful that case. "I deliberation the assemblage is moving precise diligently close now."

Washington's mother, Catherine Campbell, seemingly took the verdict calmly, telling UPI, "He volition get immoderate condemnation helium deserves eventually. We each person to scope a Judgment Day, and you don't get distant with nothing."

Ultimately Buono was recovered blameworthy of 9 murders and—against the proposal of prosecutors Boren and Michael Nash—was sentenced to beingness successful prison without the anticipation of parole.

"Not to enforce the decease punishment simply cheapens the lives of these girls," Boren told the assemblage earlier they deliberated connected the penalty. Detailing the assorted beingness milestones denied to Buono's victims, the lawman lawyer wide added, "The astir due punishment successful this case, the lone happening that's close successful this case, is putting him to decease for the acheronian deeds of nighttime helium committed."

Defense lawyer Gerald Chalef argued that Buono shouldn't get a harsher punishment than Bianchi.

"The authorities made a woody with the devil," helium said, "and Mr. Buono was the devil's due."

Where are Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi now?

In 1986, Buono married Christine Kizuka, a parent of 3 helium met when her erstwhile hubby spent 5 months successful a compartment adjacent to his while serving a word for battle with a deadly weapon. A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections told the Associated Press that Buono was not allowed conjugal visits, nor was helium ever apt to be, "due to the quality of his crimes against women."

Buono, who had bosom trouble, died successful his cell at Calpatria State Prison of earthy causes connected Sept. 21, 2002. He was 67.

In January 2007, Christopher Buono, one of the killer's grandchildren, changeable his grandma Mary Castillo successful the caput and past fatally turned the weapon connected himself. Castillo survived. 

A neighbour who knew of her past told the Orange County Register, "People should permission her alone, oregon attraction astir her due to the fact that she's Mary, not due to the fact that she utilized to beryllium joined to that man."

Meanwhile, Bianchi married Shirlee Joyce Book, who started disconnected arsenic a pen pal, in 1989, gathering her successful idiosyncratic for the archetypal clip the time earlier their wedding. Now 71, helium remains locked up successful Washington State Penitentiary successful Walla Walla. He was denied parole connected his archetypal attempt, successful 2010, and helium tin effort again successful 2025.

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