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How killer cousins 'The Hillside Stranglers' slaughtered 12 women & girls – as cops used gamble to finally catch them | The Sun

WHEN the naked bodies of women and girls who had been tortured, strangled and sometimes injected with household chemicals began turning up in the hills outside Los Angeles, there was panic.

Cops were left baffled and frustrated as soon they had twelve bodies of young people aged between 12 and 28 found in just over a year as a shadow of fear was case over the City of Angels.

Victims were usually found brutally beaten, covered with bruises with ligature marks around their legs and arms and the cause of death being strangulation.

Many of their bodies left on show naked on the roadside in the hills near Hollywood.

And some of them were found having been injected with household cleaning products such as Windex.

The murders were the work of "The Hillside Stranglers" – a pair of two serial killer cousins with a twisted hatred of women.


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Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr. were convicted for the murders committed between October 1977 and February 1978 and sentenced to life behind bars.

But it was only thanks to a daring gamble by the cops that they managed to net both of the vicious killers.

Police managed to convinced Bianchi to turn on his cousin Buono in a plea deal that meant he dodged the death penalty – but made sure his accomplice also rotted in prison.

It was one of America's most gruesome and horrifying serial killer cases – and was researched extensively by criminologist and author Christopher Berry-Dee.

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He corresponded with Bianchi for a long time and eventually interviewed him face-to-face in Washington State Penitentiary.

Berry-Dee told The Sun Online: "I interviewed him in a small room, unshackled, he sat across the table and looked me in the eyes.

"He wasn’t smiling he was furious.

"He stood up…the guard opened the door and then, full of bravado, he snarled: ‘Don’t ever come near me again or I will rip your f****g head off'.

"I did twice more and the rest is history."

Berry-Dee described the twisted letters sent to him by Bianchi as "pseudo porn" and they are seen in his book Letters from Serial Killers: The Legion of the Damned.

Bianchi, who was one of the main suspects in The Alphabet Murders case moved to Los Angeles, California to live with his cousin Buono.

Those terrible, heartbreaking photos will tell you what Bianchi’s motive was in a heartbeat

At first, the cash-strapped pair came up with the idea of forcing girls into prostitution to earn an income.

They bought a “trick list” from a prostitute named Deborah Noble supposedly of men who frequented prostitutes.

Noble’s friend Yolanda Washington who delivered the list to the pair was going to be their first victim.

The woman’s naked body was found on October 17, 1977, on a hillside near Ventura Freeway.

A post-mortem revealed she had been raped and tied with a rope while her body was cleaned before being dumped. 

The pair continued their killing spree in the area, often posing up as police officers.

Their next victim would be 15-year-old Judith Miller who was raped and sodomized before she was strangled to death.

The former student of Hollywood High School was a runaway and a sex worker.

She was last seen on October 31, talking to a man on Sunset Boulevard.

The duo went on to torture and kill waitress Lissa Kastin,21,- the only of their victims who was not a sex worker or a runaway- Evelyn Jane King, 28, Lauren Rae Wagner, 18, and Kimberely Diane Martin, 17.

Ironically Martin had just joined a call girl agency fearing going on the streets while the Strangler was on the loose.

The bodies of teenagers Dolores Ann "Dolly" Cepeda, 12 and Sonja Marie Johnson, 14, were accidentally found by a nine-year-old boy on a hillside near Dodger Stadium.

Hikers found the body of 20-year-old student Kristina Weckler, on a hillside between Glendale and Eagle Rock. 

It was later revealed that she had been injected with Windex cleaning product.

The two cousins' final victim was discovered in February 1978 by a helicopter pilot who spotted an abandoned orange vehicle on a cliff on the Angeles Crest Highway.

The pilot alerted the authorities who found the body of student and part-time waitress Cindy Lee Hudspeth, 20, in the boot.

Even though Bianchi fled to Bellingham, Washington, he was soon arrested for the rape and murder of another two women he had lured to a home.

Cops were able to link him to the Strangler case and following an extensive investigation, Buono and Bianchi were charged with the murders in January 1979.

Bianchi initially tried to set up an insanity defence but court psychologists found he was faking.

Mr Berry-Dee recalled the painful images he came across when he visited the Los Angeles crime scene where the bodies of the two teens were found.

He said: "Without wishing to seem crass, perhaps one look at the photos of the bodies of Dolly Cepeda and Sonja Johnson laying naked and spreadeagled on a trash tip overlooking ‘The City of Angels’ might tell you all.

"I went to that dread place with former LA homicide detective LeRoy Orozco and my film crew.

"Read Bianchi’s own confessions on what he and Buono did to them.

"Then look at all of the other terrible crime scene photos and ask yourself: 'Why, in God’s name did some halfwit marry him, yet he still courts other wannabe, serial killer groupies, at the same time?'

"Those terrible, heartbreaking photos will tell you what Bianchi’s motive was in a heartbeat."

While Bianchi was never convicted for the Alphabet murders, the grim abduction, rape and strangulation of three little girls, Berry-Dee said he "100 per cent" believes he was involved in the case.

Among other clues that convinced Berry-Dee of Bianchi's guilt was a comment made by his own mum, Francis.

She said that every time Bianchi was rejected by a girl he went out with, he would kill somebody.

Berry-Dee said: "‘Kenneth cannot handle rejection, were her words to that effect and, in hindsight, this was proven to be correct.

"Circa the Alphabet Murders, Bianchi had dated and had been rejected by several more mature lasses, initially attracted by his handsome looks, they soon saw behind the mask until they
could not tolerate his lies and infidelity a day longer.

"This fits with his pathology too. He sought ‘revenge’ on the more vulnerable and he did just that.

"He had access and he knew how to charm children- as he did with the prostitutes in Los Angeles.

“The three girls in Rochester were left in a very similar position as the women in Los Angeles.

"They were stripped and they were thrown at the side of the road or in a ditch- in other words, he just dumped them like rubbish."

Bianchi was born to a prostitute who abandoned him and "passed him on from one family to another."

He was eventually adopted by a couple but remained a troubled child.

Bianchi is currently serving a life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

He has repeatedly appealed the court's decision but he was denied parole in 2010.

He will be eligible for parole in 2025.

And according to Berry-Dee he has become "obsessed" with making a film dedicated to his life to prove his innocence.

Berry-Dee who described him as a "very complex man" concluded: "I still have bad thoughts about that man today".

During the cousin's sentencing presiding judge, Ronald George said: “Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi slowly squeezed out of their victims their last breath of air and their promise for a future life.

"And all for what? The momentary sadistic thrill of enjoying a brief perverted sexual satisfaction and the venting of their hatred for women,”

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“If ever there was a case where the death penalty is appropriate, this is the case.”

Buono died of a heart attack while in prison in California in 2002.

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