Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Serial Killers Who Surrender

Fetish Killer

Tina Gibbs
Tina Gibbs

It was early in November 1998. The police were surprised in Humboldt County, California, when Wayne Adam Ford walked in. Carlton Smith writes that he told them that God had directed him to confess to a series of murders they were investigating. By some accounts, in his pocket in a plastic bag he carried proof: a severed female breast (other accounts indicate that he turned this over later). Ford insisted he had to be stopped before he killed again, and he was specifically concerned about his former wife, with whom he had a son, only three. He was angry at her over their divorce and his limited visitation rights.

As the story unfolded, it seems that Ford's brother, Rod, had convinced him to turn himself in, although he did not actually realize what Ford had done. It was Ford's idea to come clean once he got there. Ford had been drinking that day and had called Rod to confess to tell him about something "bad" that he'd done. Yet he would only admit that he'd "hurt" some people. Since his emotional turmoil suggested something more serious, Rod feared he might have done something much worse. He urged Wayne to go to the police and tell them. It was there that Rod learned that his brother was a cold-blooded serial killer.

Patricia Anne Tamez
Patricia Anne Tamez

Under arrest, Ford went on to offer startling details. As a long-haul trucker, he traveled state to state to deliver lumber. It was easy to exploit his occupation as a way to find women for aggressive sex, and then to kill them and dispose of their bodies. Glenn Puit for the Las Vegas Review-Journal carries on the story, because one of Ford's victims was from Vegas. Tina Gibbs, 26, had been a prostitute, an easy mark for someone like Ford.

On June 2, 1998, a fisherman found Gibbs' nude body, with ligature marks around her neck, floating in an aqueduct off a state highway in Kern County. Apparently, Ford had picked her up and had bondage-type "rough sex" with her for money. At least, that's what he said. She supposedly died during this activity, so he'd kept her in his truck for several days before dumping her from a bridge. Despite Ford's claim during his confession that he was now a different man, investigators found him nonchalant about the murders.

Nevertheless, he did help police identify the mutilated body of Patricia Anne Tamez, 29, from California, who was missing a breast. She, too, had been found floating in an aqueduct. Ford also described stabbing and dismembering a woman in 1997, and he told police where he had distributed the parts, keeping some in his freezer for a period of time. A forth female, Lanette White, was linked to Ford as well. Apparently he had a breast fetish and was attracted to these women for their large breasts. Ford blamed a failed marriage and alcohol abuse for his behavior, and claimed he wanted to stop hurting people.

Lanette White
Lanette White

His trial was delayed for various reasons, but finally it occurred during the spring of 2006, growing controversial in the media over an unexpected element: a breast-enhancement model began to visit Ford in prison and they developed a relationship. She told media sources that he was full of remorse over what he had done, and she hoped to make a documentary about this serial killer "with a heart."

Part of Ford's defense involved the fact that he had turned himself in, interpreted as a clear indication of remorse. A defense psychiatrist even stated that this kind of behavior was unheard of for a serial killer. In June, the jury ignored this appeal to their mercy and convicted Ford on four counts of murder, recommending death. Several critics write commentaries on how this might affect the chance of other serial killers turning themselves in. If they couldn't get a deal, why bother? But some of them in fact do wish to be executed.

Another well known example of a killer turning himself in is that of the Co-ed Killer of Santa Cruz.

 

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