Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Adam Ford: The Remorseful Serial Killer

Confessions of Murder

Patricia Anne Tamez, 29, lived a turbulent life. When she wasn't roaming the streets for a quick fix or prostituting herself to support her drug habit, she could often be found in a mental institution or state hospital undergoing drug rehabilitation and psychiatric therapy. Tamez was a far cry from the vivacious college student she once was. Supporting her drug habit had become her sole ambition.

Patricia Anne Tamez, victim
Patricia Anne Tamez, victim.
On October 22, 1998, Tamez spent the early part of the afternoon soliciting sex from truckers at the intersection of 6th and D in Victorville, Calif. After several hours she got her first response when a man in a large, black truck pulled up and propositioned her. Following a brief conversation, Tamez got into the truck and drove off with the man toward the highway. It would be her last trick.

The following evening, two security guards at the California Aqueduct were patrolling the area when one of the men noticed something bobbing in the rolling waters near the pump house. To the guard's horror, he realized that the object was actually the nude body of a woman. The guard immediately called the police.

When the authorities arrived, they fished the woman's body out of the water. To their surprise, they realized that one of the woman's breasts had been cut off. It was obvious that she had been murdered.

An autopsy later revealed that the woman had undergone severe trauma prior to her death. There was evidence that she was bound, raped and hit on the head with a blunt object. Moreover, her attacker had broken her back and severed one her breasts before he strangled her. It was determined that the remains were those of Patricia Anne Tamez, who went missing a day earlier.

During a search of the area upstream from the aqueduct, police found items that were possibly linked with the murder, including a bloodied towel, blouse, pants and a .22 caliber air pistol. Police were not able to locate the victim's missing breast, nor did they have any clue as to the identity of the murderer. However, several weeks later detectives received a big break in the case.

On November 3, 1998, long-haul trucker Wayne Adam Ford, 36, walked into the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department in Eureka, Calif. His brother Rod, who accompanied him, had spent the previous day trying to convince Wayne to turn himself in to police. Shortly after arriving at the department Wayne amazed agents when he tearfully broke down and confessed to murdering four women. His claims were further supported by the contents of a plastic bag found in his pocket during a search. Shockingly, the bag contained a severed breast, which was later linked with Tamez.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept.

Carlton Smith suggested in his book Shadows of Evil, the chances of a serial killer turning himself in and showing remorse for his victims is extraordinarily small. In fact, San Francisco State University Criminologist Mike Rustigan stated in an Associated Press article that Wayne's confessions were "truly an exception in the annals of serial killers." Wayne's apparent shame for his brutal crimes earned him the nickname the "serial killer with a conscience."

Wayne Adam Ford in custody
Wayne Adam Ford in custody.

However, when police investigated the murders to which Wayne confessed they quickly realized that had he even the slightest measure of guilt, he would have never tortured and murdered the women in the first place. It was clear they were dealing with an evil person who had little if any regard for human life. Police also realized that had he not turned himself in, he would have continued to kill. Ford's violent passions were out of control.

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