Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Obscure Streetwalker Strangler

Ecumenical Taste in Victims

Some of the murders were more heavily publicized than others, particularly during a flurry of hooker homicides in 1987. Police knew they had a serial killer on their hands, and at one point someone ponied up a $1,000 rewardwhich equates to about $77 for each of the 13 victims.

The killer was ecumenical in his tastes. His victims ranged in age from 15 to 36. Nine were white, four black.

Most were garroted with whatever was at handtheir own clothing in several cases, an electrical cord in one, a shoestring in another. The victims had cloth or paper towels stuffed in their mouths, probably to muffle screams.

Most had been sexually assaulted and showed the telltale scratches, cuts and broken fingernails of someone who fought for their lives. Many were naked and missing shoes, and detectives mulled the possibility that a foot fetishist was at work.

Several victims were found downtown, but others were scattered over a wide geographic area in and around the city. Police surmised that most were murdered in one place and dumped in another.

The first three victims: Stacie Swofford, Gwen Kizine, and Margaret Miller, 17.
The first three victims: Stacie Swofford, Gwen Kizine, and Margaret Miller, 17.

The first three victims were wayward teenagers working as novice street prostitutes: Stacie Swofford, 17, killed in April 1977 and dumped in a rubble-strewn lot; Gwen Kizine, at 15 the youngest victim, left dead in an alley in January 1980, and Margaret Miller, 17, found in a vacant lot in May 1982.

The murder of Kizine rated the most attention of the three because she was so young. Relatives said she was a happy-go-lucky kid who had once attended a holy-roller church until she took up with a bad crowd and turned to drugs, the companion crime of prostitution.

A week after Miller was murdered, Lorenzo Gilyard went to prison on a felony conviction, and the serial killings ceased for nearly four years. They resumed with a violent flurry of eight murders that began a few months after he was paroled.

 

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