Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Riverside Prostitute Killer

A Killer's Past

Back at Riverside police headquarters, homicide Detective Christina Keers and John Davis began questioning the suspect.  The interrogation lasted for hours and Lane says that Suff repeatedly denied any involvement in the prostitution murders.  Investigators were going to need evidence to gain a conviction and without a confession their job became even harder.  Police collected blood and hair samples from the suspect and arrested him for suspicion of multiple murders. 

Bill Suff with his daughter
Bill Suff with his daughter
 

As investigators scrambled to find evidence, members of the media began digging into Suffs past.   While his family remained tight-lipped and details of his early life remain vague, they were able to obtain several bits of information from public records.  According to Keers and Lane, William Lester Suff was born on August 20, 1950, in Torrance, California.  Unfortunately, when it comes to early childhood events - invariably, the most interesting pieces of the puzzle - very little is known.  In regard to his siblings, Suffs brothers were also troubled, one by drugs, the other by a nagging predilection for pedophilia. 

Bill Suff mugshot, 1974
Bill Suff mugshot, 1974
 

According to school classmates, Suff was a friendly person and skillful musician, who graduated 87th in a class of 144.   The image of the friendly personality disintegrated with the 1974 report that Suff, then 24, and his former wife were arrested and later convicted of beating their two-year-old daughter to death.  Suff was sentenced to 70 years in prison, but earned his parole in March 1984, after serving only 10 years.  His wife served a mere 20 months before having her conviction overturned. 

In 1986, Suff began working as a stock clerk for the county and, ironically enough, had delivered furniture to the Riverside task force headquarters midway through the killing spree.   Friends of Suff described him as a mild-mannered man, who kept to himself and spent his free time writing stories and cookbooks.  On at least one occasion his chili recipes won him first prize at a local cook-off.   

Bill Suff when he won chili cook-off contest
Bill Suff when he won chili cook-off contest
    

On February 28, 1992, Suff was arraigned before Judge Becky Dugan in Division 22 of the Riverside Municipal Courthouse.  Suffs attorney, Floyd Zagorsky, entered a plea of innocent on two of the 19 deaths to which his client was charged.  After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Dugan ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to trial.

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