Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buono and Bianchi, the Hillside Stranglers

Kenny

Ken Bianchi
Ken Bianchi

Kenneth Bianchi was almost six feet tall and was a trim, muscular man. His dark hair was well groomed and he wore a moustache. He lived with a long-time girlfriend, Kelli Boyd, and their infant son. Kelli could not believe that someone as kind and gentle as Kenny could be a suspect in a murder case. Nor could Kenny's employer, who considered him a valuable and responsible member of his staff.

The Bellingham police mounted a first class investigation of all the forensic evidence. They were exceptionally thorough in the handling of every hair and fiber.  Pubic hairs fell from Diane Wilder's body as they lifted it from Karen's car, but the Bellingham police had a white sheet ready to catch any stray, unattached fibers or hairs than could have easily slipped away.

More pubic hairs were found on the steps at the Bayside home. Fibers from the carpets of that home matched the fibers found on the dead girls' shoes and clothes. Would these hairs and fibers conclusively link Kenny to the murdered girls? The answer would take several days to determine.

Meanwhile, the police wanted to keep Kenny under lock and key. This was made easier when they found stolen goods in his home -- items stolen from job sites he had been managing.

Chief Mangan remembered the Hillside Strangler case in Los Angeles. Since Kenny had lived in L.A. before he had come to Bellingham, Mangan had calls placed to the police in L.A. and Glendale and to the L.A. Sheriff's Office.

Detective Frank Salerno responded to the Bellingham police call. Suddenly everything made sense to Salerno. The addresses of Cindy Hudspeth and Kristina Weckler on East Garfield and the client Kimberly Martin visited on Tamarind matched Kenny's places of residence during the times of the murders. He lost no time getting to Bellingham to assist the police there in the investigation. He left his partner, Peter Finnigan, to work with Grogan and others on uncovering Bianchi's activities when he lived in L.A.

Piece by piece, the evidence mounted that Kenny Bianchi was at least one of the Hillside Stranglers. The jewelry that was found in Bianchi's home matched the description of jewelry that was worn by two of the victims: Kimberly Martin's ramshorn necklace and Yolanda Washington's turquoise ring.  And the hair and fiber evidence further substantiated his guilt.

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