Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Riverside Prostitute Killer

Breeding Ground

Serial killers are not uncommon in California, and investigators working the prostitute murders were all too familiar with the names: William Bonin, Leonard Lake, Charles Ng, and the infamous Zodiac.   They were also aware that a serial killer has an unquenchable thirst for murder and that the only way to end his murderous cycle would be get him off the streets.

The Riverside Killer
The Riverside Killer
 

According to The Riverside Killer by Christine Keers, a task force was quickly formed and headed by Riverside Police Chief Linford L. Richardson, Sheriff's Lt. Al Hearn, Captain Bill Reynolds, Lt. William H. Caldwell, and Sheriff Cois Byrd among others.  Under their supervision were 14 detectives, the largest enforcement effort ever assembled in the county.

Apparently aware of the efforts police officials were taking to find him, the killer either stopped killing or found another dumping ground, which remains undiscovered to this day.   Regardless, by 1989, two years since his last known murder, the killer struck again.  On January 27, 1989, the body of 37-year-old Linda Mae Ruiz, a known prostitute, was discovered on the beach of Lake Elsinore.  The victims head was buried in the sand and an autopsy later revealed large quantities of alcohol in the blood.  Sand was found in the victims throat and cause of death was listed as acute asphyxiation. 

Kimberly Lyttle
Kimberly Lyttle
 

Nearly six months later, on June 28, 1989, the body of 28-year-old Kimberly Lyttle was discovered in Cottonwood Canyon.   A police query on the victim revealed that she was a known prostitute and drug user.  Her bruised and battered corpse was taken to the county coroners office, where an autopsy revealed the presence of alcohol and drugs.  The official cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.  While another murder did not sit well with the task force, they were excited to learn that several pubic hairs and fibers, unrelated to the victim herself, were discovered on her body.  This evidence alone told them very little about the killer, but if a suspect were to emerge, the samples could play a major role in identifying him.

Following the murder of Kimberly Lyttle, local newspapers began to look into the murders and within weeks out-of-town reporters began arriving in Riverside.   The killer was soon dubbed   The Riverside Prostitute Killer or The Lake Elsinore Killer.  Capt. Bill Reynolds held several press conferences and tried to calm the public, assuring them that all efforts were being made to find the killer.

Judy Lynn Angel
Judy Lynn Angel
 

On November 11, 1989, a local resident discovered the bludgeoned and mutilated body of 36-year-old Judy Lynn Angel near Temescal Canyon Road, just northwest of Lake Elsinore.  Angel had a long rap sheet, which included arrests for prostitution and possession of drugs.  During the autopsy, the coroner discovered several deep gashes on the victims hands.  The injuries appeared to be defensive wounds, which meant she had tried to fend off her attacker.  The victim also suffered several blows to the face, which ultimately crushed her cranium.

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