Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buono and Bianchi, the Hillside Stranglers

Two Killers

Dolores Cepeda
Dolores Cepeda

A few hours later that afternoon, Grogan's partner, Dudley Varney, had been called to investigate two homicides on the other side of that same hilly area. The two dead girls had been found by a nine-year-old boy who had been treasure hunting in a trash heap on the hillside. It was a pretty horrible sight, made all the more grotesque by the decay and army of insects that had taken over the flesh.

Again, there was no indication that the murders had occurred where the bodies were found, nor was their any evidence that the bodies had been dragged there. Small as the young girls were, there was the probability that more than one killer was involved in dumping their bodies on the hillside.

Sonja Johnson
Sonja Johnson

It did not take long to identify the girls as Dolores Cepeda, 12, and Sonja Johnson, 14, both of whom had been missing for about a week from St. Ignatius School. The girls had been last seen getting off a bus and going over to a large two-tone sedan to talk to someone on the passenger side. Information that there was a person on the passenger side corroborated the theory that there were two killers, probably both men.

The next day, the first girl that Bob Grogan investigated was identified as Kristina Weckler, a quiet 20-year-old honors student at the Pasadena Art Center of Design. As he searched her apartment at 809 East Garfield Avenue in Glendale, Grogan was overcome by sadness followed by  rage. Her effects and her diary showed her to be a loving and serious young woman who should have had a bright future ahead of her.

Kristina Weckler
Kristina Weckler

He could not help but think fearfully of his own teenage daughter. When Kristina's devastated parents came from San Francisco to pick up her belongings, Grogan pledged to them that he would find her killer or killers.

On November 23, the day before Thanksgiving, another young woman's body was found, this time near the Los Feliz off ramp of the Golden State Freeway. Her maggot-covered body was estimated to have been there some two weeks. She had been strangled like the others, but it was not certain if she had been raped.

Jane King
Jane King

Some two weeks earlier, the young woman had been a vibrant and attractive blonde with a figure like a model. Jane King was 28 at the time of her death.

The authorities lost no time in creating a task force, initially composed of 30 officers from LAPD, the Sheriff's Department and the Glendale Police Department. Like every other task force formed in a high-profile case, the officers were soon overwhelmed with worthless tips and suggestions from well-meaning citizens.

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