Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Serial Killer Groupies

Anything for Love

Cindy Hudspeth, victim
Cindy Hudspeth, victim
The Hillside Stranglers, a pair of cousins, both ended up married after they were convicted of a series of murders, and one of them managed to inspire a groupie to attempt to kill for him. Their murder spree began in the fall of 1977 with a 19-year-old girl. Ted Schwartz, author of The Hillside Strangler, said that the killers' strategy was to pretend to be police officers making an "arrest." Their first three victims were prostitutes, and they would pick them up, have sex with them, kill them, and dump them by the roadside.

After nine murders, they stopped abruptly. Police waited through the holidays, and then on February 17, 1978, a helicopter patrol spotted an orange car crashed off a highway. Locked inside the trunk was victim number 10: Cindy Hudspeth, age 20.

Ken Bianchi
Ken Bianchi
Almost a year later, in Bellingham, Wash., college roommates Diane Wilder and Karen Mandic were reported missing. On January 12, 1979, a security officer said one of them had indicated they were going to do a security job for Ken Bianchi, a good-looking man with a girlfriend and infant son who was a captain at the company.

The girls were found murdered and the evidence against Bianchi was good enough for an arrest. It didn't take long to connect him with his cousin, Angelo Buono, who ran a car upholstery shop in Los Angeles near many of the body dumpsites.

Yet Bianchi pulled a fast one and pretended to have multiple personality disorder. Then he was tricked into revealing his fakery by the prosecution's psychiatrist, so he reluctantly made a deal to turn on his cousin in exchange for life in prison.

Fox and Levin indicate that Bianchi's girlfriend was taken completely by surprise when he was charged. She considered him a gentle person.

In 1982, Buono's trial commenced. An eyewitness took the stand who had seen one abduction. He described the car and Angelo Buono as the driver. Fibers on another victim had come from a chair in Buono's house. They also matched material from Buono's upholstery shop to the fiber on the eyelid of the first victim. Bianchi had said they'd used that material to blindfold her. On Halloween 1983, the jury convicted Buono of nine of the 10 murders and gave him nine life sentences. Bianchi, who had pleaded to five, was given five life sentences on top of the two he had in Washington.

Yet there had been an interesting twist during the trial. Buono's defense attorney had brought to the stand a woman, Veronica Lynn Compton, who testified that she had conspired with Bianchi to kill women in the manner of the Hillside Stranglers and thereby bring reasonable doubt to his case. They had intended to frame Angelo Buono and make him take the heat for everything.

In other words, Bianchi had managed to convince one of his prison groupies to actually go out and kill someone for him. In June 1980, Compton, a playwright and actress, had contacted Bianci in prison, according to Court TV's Mugshots documentary, "The Hillside Strangler." She told him that she identified with him and wanted him to help her with a play she had written about a female serial killer. He used her fascination with him to get her to agree to go around the country and kill women as a way to show that the Hillside Strangler was still at work. That would indicate that the police had imprisoned the wrong man. Bianchi had given her some smuggled semen to use to make it look like a rape/murder.

In his Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, Newton describes how Compton went first to Bellingham. She checked in to the Shangri-la Motel and then spotted a woman who worked in a bar. She thought it would be easy to dispatch with her, so she brought the woman to the motel and tried to strangle her. But the intended victim was too strong and managed to escape.

Veronica was arrested and tried for attempted murder. Her one "acting job" had backfired and she was convicted. Her hope to get Bianchi out of prison and unite with him had separated them permanently. Even more damaging was her testimony on Buono's behalf.

Nevertheless, both men eventually found love in prison. In 1986, Buono married Christina Kizuka, a mother of three, who met him via another inmate. Bianchi married Shirlee Book in 1989 after a three-year correspondence. He was just one of many prisoners to whom she had written, and Bundy, too, had been on her list. She believed that Bianchi would eventually regain his freedom to be with her. Isenberg states that Book had bought her wedding gown and invitations before she had even met Bianchi. Their wedding was quite formal, if not in a church.

Douglas Clark
Douglas Clark
Even Veronica Compton got another romance—this one with another serial killer.

In addition to revealing the kooky plot she'd dreamed up with Bianchi during Buono's trial, she also admitted on the stand that she and serial killer Douglas Clark were planning to purchase a mortuary together so they could have sex with the dead. How she got involved with him is another story.



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