Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larry and Danny Ranes: Serial Killers in the Same Family

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Ranes and Koster repeated their act on August 5, kidnapping eighteen-year-old Patricia Fearnow.  As they were riding around, they saw her hitchhiking on the Western Michigan University campus, a common practice for college students in those days.  They picked her up and used a knife to take her against her will to a wooded area.  Koster tied her up in the back of the van, covered her with a sleeping bag, and then lay next to her as Danny drove.  Over a period of six hours, both of them raped her and when they were finished, they tied her up and took her to another wooded area near a lake.  Koster claimed that while they drank beer, she had a glass of wine, and by the end of the day had finished the bottle.  When they went to a third area, Fearnow started to scream and struggle against her bonds, so Ranes slugged her hard in the stomach.  That failed to subdue her, so Koster placed a plastic bag over her head to suffocate her. 

Ranes left the van, and when Fearnow fell quiet, Koster followed him.  Then Ranes looked inside the van. The woman was dead so they placed her a ways away from the van onto the ground.  Ranes said that he'd seen a police cruiser, so Koster ran away.  Apparently the police stopped to check Ranes' ID and let him go.  He encountered this same patrol officer four times before he returned to the trailer where, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette, he and Koster resided together.  Koster called him later to get a ride home. (Koster was a runaway, so it wasn't clear where he lived during this time.)

They went back the next day to move the body to a more secluded area, at which time Koster found two ropes around the victim's neck.  He recalled placing only one there and believed that Danny had added the second one.

Not long afterward, their relationship ended, and by Labor Day weekend, on September 4, he and Danny were arrested for the double homicide that had occurred in July.  Upon investigating service stations close to where the car had been found, they noted Danny's record: in 1967, he was convicted in another state of pointing a gun at a couple and the following year he had served time for a felony in connection with the abduction of a 17-year-old student.  Investigators learned that Koster often hung out at the service station with Ranes, so they brought both in for questioning.  The police did not yet know about Fearnow.

 

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