James Michael Munro
Accomplice To William George Bonin
In the Eyes of a Killer
Crime Spree: June 2nd, 1980
18 year old James Munro was a homeless drifter. He had been evicted from his own family in Michigan in the early 1980’s and was now living on the streets of Hollywood. So, when William George Bonin invited him to move into the apartment he shared with his mother on Downey Street, Munro quickly accepted. James would later describe Bonin as being ‘ a good guy, really normal”. But on the evening of June 1, 1980, James Munro discovered just how strange William Bonin could get. William abruptly informed James that he intended for the two of them to abduct, rape and kill a teenage hitchhiker. Munro thought he was kidding. But, on June 2, 1980, that’s exactly what they did. It was also the night that James Michael Munro learned, firsthand, that he was in fact living with the California Freeway Killer.
James Michael Munro tells the tale of that day in a short, 8 chapter “book” entitled ‘In the Eyes of a Killer’, that he penned from his cell. His intent? To tell the world that he was there but he’s not a killer.
The story of June 2, 1980 by James Munro
In the Eyes of a Killer: The California Freeway Killings
Written By James Michael Munro.
Manson Family Picnic
CHAPTER ONE – THE HISTORY OF WILLIAM BONIN
William George Bonin was born January 8th 1947 to a household ran by his mother Alice Bonin, and two brothers. Bonins’ father, a veteran of the armed forces, was living in a veterans hospital while his mother and brothers continued to live on the quiet street of Angel Street in Downey, California. William Bonin lived with his mother until he was 8 years old. Then he ran away from home. He got picked up in the state of Connecticut, and was placed in a detention center. After the years had passed, Bonin was removed and was sent home to Downey, California to live with his kid brothers, and his mother. She loved Bill very much, but started to see a lot of changes in her son – which she had to live with for the rest of her life. Little did she know that her son would turn out to be the notorious “Freeway Killer” who took California by surprise until the 1980’s had arrived.
As the years were moving on, when Bill was growing up, he was sent to Vietnam. He logged more than 700 hours manning a machine gun. Bonin was assigned to the 205th Assault Support Helicopter unit in Vietnam. Soon after Bonin returned from Vietnam he was arrested, and convicted of sexually assaulting five young men. In each of the cases he would drive the freeways looking for young men to get into his van of death, and torture them as they screamed for their lives – which made this killer even more madder, and ready to kill again. Bonin would strike like a serial killer – hoping the police could not get him. In his eyes, each one got easier each time he would kill.
By the late 1970’s Bonins’ neighbors began to suspect something was horribly wrong. James Hunter, a man who lives on the next street over, remembered Bonin going after his boy. A woman, who lives just behind the Bonin home, remembers one night when sounds came from Bonins’ home. It was frightful to her, and it reminded her of watching a Friday the 13th movie. She could not sleep very well that night, but finally went to sleep like nothing had happened. Little did she know that Bonin was on the prowl, and killing as many as he could before he got caught. There were blood curdling screams coming from that home – which the neighbors would never forget.
Bonin, as he started his killing spree, had to find a job in the daytime to throw the police off his trail of killings – that would put a panic on the streets of California. Parents would escort their kids to church and school, and then pick them up after the day was over – so that the killer would not get their sons. A curfew announcement was placed on TV by the police stating that all kids under 18 must be inside their homes after 6:00pm every night until the killer was caught. Businesses were losing customers, stores were closing, and the Olympics that was scheduled for Los Angeles was canceled, and done in another state because of this killer.
William George Bonin was an American serial killer and twice-paroled sex offender who committed the rape, torture, and murder of a minimum of 21 boys and young men between 1979 and 1980 in southern California, disposing of the bodies alone the expansive California freeways.
CHAPTER TWO – THE WELLS MURDER
It was June 2nd 1980, and William Bonin was at work with his roommate James Munro. The day was ending and they were on their way home when Bonin saw a hitchhiker on the other side of the street trying to get home. Bonin pulled over, Munro opened the side door of the van, Steven Wells got in, and closed the door. Bonin asked him where was he going, and Steve replied, “Oh, I’m on my way home down the street.” So Bonin, Munro, and Wells were on their way. While they were driving down the road Bonin asked Wells, “Hey, what do you think of gays?” Steven Wells replied, “Oh, they’re okay because I’m a bi-sexual.” Bonin replied, “Oh really,” and pulled over.
Bonin then told Munro to drive the way home. He got in the back of the van with Wells, and started to oral copulate him while Munro was driving to Bonin’s home – which was located at 10282 Angel Street, Downey, California. When they arrived at the Bonin home, all three got out of the van, and went inside. Just then Munro came out, got back in the van, and took off to go to the store. While he was going down the road, a cop stopped him, and asked him what was he doing in the middle of the road. Munro replied, “I dropped some tapes, and I am on the way to the store.” The cop asked me if I had a license, and I told him, “No, I only got a Michigan license.” He told me to take the van home until I had an adult driver. I told him I was 18, and he told me in California I had to be 21.
Well I got back home to Bonin’s and I went inside. Bonin came up to me, and asked me what happened. I told him, and he said that we would go to the store later. Bonin then asked me if I wanted to come in the bedroom, and join in on the fun with Wells. I told him no – that all I wanted to do was watch TV. I went into the living room and watched TV while Bonin was having sex with Wells.
Just then Bonin came into the living room, and told me to follow him. So I did. He went back to Wells, and asked him how would he like to make $200. Wells said, ” Ya how?” Bonin told him that he knew a guy that liked to have sex with guys tied up, and Wells said, “Okay, it could be fun.” Bonin went into the kitchen and got some rope. He came back into the bedroom and tied Wells up. Then he went back into the kitchen, and this time I followed him into the kitchen. I told Bonin, “Hey, you ain’t going to hurt him are you?” He said, “Hey, it’s too late. I already got him tied up. So I’m going to kill him.” I followed him back into the bedroom, and he jumped on the bed and hit Wells in the chest, and told him he was going to do what he said, or he was going to kill him. Wells pleaded for his life.
Then Bonin told me to go get his clothing. I thought that he was going to give back his clothing and let him go. Little did I know that he was serious about killing him. Bonin took Wells t-shirt, put it around Steven Wells neck, and twisted it until he started to jump around. During all this time I was right there freaking out because I never saw anything like this before in my life. Bonin ordered me to hold his feet. I did not know why, because I did not know what the hell I was doing – until Bonin explained it to me after the murder. Then Wells stopped moving around, and Bonin turned him over, and his face was blue.
I asked Bonin why his face was blue, and he told me it was because he was dead. I said, “Dead, what do you mean dead?” He said, “Hey relax. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’ll take the blame if we get caught. Okay, relax.” So I started to relax. He took me into the living room – after he took the body, put it in the van, and covered it up with a tarp. When that was done he told me he was going to wait until it was dark to dump the body, and that he wanted to talk to me. I went into the living room with him and we sat down.
Bonin told me that he was the “Freeway Killer,” that he had other partners out there who helped him kill, and that he killed 45 people. I got scared, and started to cry again. He came up to me and told me to stop crying because he was not going to hurt me unless I ran, or called the police.
So we got in the van, and drove over to the home of Vernon Butts – his other crime partner in Downey. He was 6 feet tall, white, and must have weighed about 140 pounds. As we went up to the door we knocked, and Butts came out dressed in a Darth Vader uniform like the Star Wars movie. We went inside and Bonin told Butts, “This is Jim Munro and he is my new partner.” Butts said, “Hi” and showed me all the people he killed. He showed me a closet containing 21 ID cards of all the victims that he killed. Bonin then told Butts to come look at what we did. So we all went out to the van. Bonin uncovered the body, and Butts replied, “Oh how nice. You got another one.” Then Bonin asked Butts, “Hey do you want to come with us or do you want to stay here and watch the news?” Butts told Bonin that he would stay at the house. Bonin told Butts if he saw anything on the news to call him.
So we were on our way to Huntington Beach. When we arrived, we pulled into a closed Mobil gas station, dumped the body behind the gas station, and then took off. Then we went on our way home. As we were driving home – we stopped off at McDonalds, went to the drive thru window, and got some hamburgers.
When we got home we sat down . Bonin was eating a burger, looked up in the sky and said, “Thanks Steve,” then looked down and said, “Thanks Steve,” and then looked at me and said, “Where ever you are at,” and started to laugh. Then he told me he was getting tired and wanted to go to bed. We went into his bedroom and he got into his bed, and I got into mine. Then he turned off the lights. I got up and turned the lights back on, and he asked me what was the matter. I told him I did not trust him, and I did not want him to kill me. He got up, came over to me, and told me, “I know a way you can trust me.” I asked him, “How?” He said, “Let me tie you up. So you will know that I will not kill you.” I let him tie me up the same way that he tied up Wells. Then he told me that he could kill me, and that there was nothing I could do. I started to cry, and I pleaded for my life like Wells did.
He started to laugh, and told me that he was not going to kill me. But if I ever ran from him he would kill me, and that if he could not get me – his partners would. I told him okay, and that I would not run. So he untied me. The next morning I went to work with him at the Dependable Drive Away trucking company, waited until he was on a run, and I took off and ran away to Michigan. I was so scared. I did not want Bonin, or his partners, to get me. I could not believe what I had gotten myself into. It was like a murder movie. Like Friday the 13th, and this time it was for real. I could not get it out of my mind. I wanted it to all end, but I did not know how. I finally got back to Michigan, and I stayed low for awhile until June 13th 1980 – when I heard that Bonin was arrested for murder.
CHAPTER THREE – THE ARREST OF WILLIAM BONIN
It was June 13th 1980 when Bonin was arrested. I remember hearing on the news that 32 year old William George Bonin, of Downey, has been arrested for the “Freeway Killings” in southern California.
I was shocked when he was arrested, and it made me panic because I did not want to also be arrested. I waited until June 17th 1980 to talk to the cops – to see if I was also wanted for this crime. I came in the morning, sat down, and talked to a cop named Kirk Millicar of the Los Angeles Robbery Homicide Division. He asked me if I went around cruising with Bonin picking up hitchhikers. I told him, “No! I don’t know anything.” He told me that I could go for now. That night I took off, and I headed for Michigan. When I arrived, 4 days later, I called the LAPD to ask them if they wanted to talk to me again. They told me yes. I told them I would be on the next flight back to California.
Little did they know I was just stalling to get away without being arrested. I stalled the cops for as long as I could – until I got arrested. I remember when Bonin got busted I was hitchhiking and a lady started to yell at me – telling me, “Hey! Are you fucking crazy. The killer is at large.” So I told her, “Shut up bitch! He is caught.” I flipped her off by sticking my middle finger out at her.
I continued on my way to Michigan. I stayed in Michigan until July 31st 1980 – when I also got busted for the murder of Steven Wells. That is when my nightmare began and I would never wake up.
CHAPTER FOUR – THE ARREST OF JAMES MUNRO
It was July 31st 1980, and I was hitchhiking in my home town of Port Huron, Michigan. As I was going down the road I spotted my cousin Cindy Porter, and her husband Jeff passing me. They had spotted me hitchhiking. So they pulled over, and I got in their truck. I could not believe it was my cousin. I was freaked out as much as she was to see me with long blond hair that I had died to fool the cops – so that they would not arrest me. So we went on our way to her apartment.
When we arrived, Cindy called her mom – who was my aunt. She told Cindy that she wanted me to stay at her house, and that Cindy was to take me over to her house later. So I sat down and I was eating a sandwich. I asked Cindy if I could use her phone. She asked, “Is it a local call?” I told her I was going to call collect. I called my old girlfriend in California, Tammy Capps, who also went by the name of Rachel Lundren. She was a prostitute I had met in Hollywood.
So I called Tammy, and I asked her if the cops were looking for me. She told me no and hung up. She called the cops, told them that she had me on the phone, and that I was calling back. The cops rushed over to her house, and put a tracer on the phone – to find out where I was at. I told her, when I was calling her back, that I was in Michigan. Then she told me that she wanted to rape me, have sex with me, and that she loved me – just to keep me on the line so that the cops could trace the call to find out where I was at. I stayed on the line for about 15 minutes. I did not know that they were tracing the call until it was too late for me.
After I hung up the phone, I was still eating a sandwich when I heard a knock on the door. My cousin, Cindy, opened the door and the police came in. There were cops everywhere. It looked like the president of the United States was here. The cop that had a clipboard asked Cindy her name. Then he asked Jeff his name. Then he asked me my name. Then as he was leaving he looked at the report, and I matched the description that Bonin gave to the cops. So they got me, and took me outside. As I went outside there was reporters, TV cameras, and cops everywhere. They had taped off the entire area, and hundreds of people were watching – as I was being led off by the Michigan State Police and the Detectives of Michigan. When I got in the car my cousin asked me in shock, “What the hell did you do?” I looked at her and I told her, “I didn’t do anything.” She just shook her head in disbelief, and in shock. As my parents were sitting down for their evening meal – they had the news on – like they always did in that house – when the following report came over the news that shocked the state.
BEEP – This is a “News Special” from Channel 7 Action News.
Good evening. We are live in Port Huron – where a 18 year old from St. Clair has been arrested in connection with the California Freeway Killings. 18 year old James Michael Munro, from St. Clair, has been arrested in connection with the California Freeway Killings. 45 young men and boys were murdered, and their nude bodies were dumped along the freeways of southern California. Another man who is currently under arrest is William Bonin, the prime suspect. Robbery homicide detectives, from California, are on their way to Michigan, by jet, to get Munro. James Munro was arrested at 5pm at his cousins home, and we are waiting for the California authorities to arrive. Thank you.
This was the broadcast that aired all over my home state of Michigan. It shocked all my friends and family members. I viewed this tape so that I would remember what was said on TV about me. I can only imagine the horror and shock in my family’s eyes.
CHAPTER FIVE – THE LIST OF VICTIMS
This is the list of Bonin’s victims. He had killed each one of the 45 killings. Vernon Robert Butts had killed the remaining 25 victims. Bonin had been the leader of these killings.
- Thomas Lundgren (14) 28 May 1979
- Mark Shelton (17) 4 August 1979
- Marcus Grabs (17) 6 August 1979
- Donald Hyden (15) 27 August 1979
- David Murillo (17) 7 September 1979
- Robert Wirostek (18) 27 September 1979
- John Doe ? 30 November 1979
- Frank Fox (18) 13 December 1979
- Michael McDonald (16) 1 January 1980
- Charles Maranda (14) 3 February 1980
- James Michael Macabe (12) 5 February 1980
- Ronald Gatlin (18) 14 March 1980
- Russell Pugh (15) 21 March 1980
- Glen Baker (15) 21 March 1980
- Henry Todd Turner(15) 5 April 1980
- Steven Wood (16) 10 April 1980
- Larry Sharp (18) 11 April 1980
- Daren Kendrick (19) 10 May 1980
- Sean King (14) 19 May 1980
- Steven ells (18) 2 June 1980
CHAPTER SIX – THE CONVICTION OF JAMES MUNRO
Los Angeles, California – Monday March 15, 1982 – 11:30am – Upon the above date, the defendant being present in court with counsel, James Goldstein. The people are being represented by Sterling E. Norris, Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County, the following proceedings were held.
THE COURT: The court will call the matter of James M. Munro case number A-361090. The record will indicate the defendant is present with counsel, Mr. James Goldstein. People are present by Sterling Norris. The court has read and considered the probation report. That will be received into evidence for reference in this matter. All right. Do you desire to add anything to the report Mr. Goldstein?
MR. GOLDSTEIN: I have had an opportunity to review the probation report your honor. However, before we get to that – I have noted that Mr. Munro has written a letter to the court requesting that he be allowed to, number one: withdraw his previous plea of guilty, enter a plea of not guilty, and to have me relieved as counsel of record and to proceed to jury trial on the original charges.
THE COURT: All right. All those motions will be denied. All of them are ridiculous. There is absolutely no bases for them. So they will simply be denied.
MR. GOLDSTEIN: In reference to the probation report – I think the probation officer has summarized, with quite a bit of accuracy, the facts to this court. Only, by way of emphasis, I would indicate to the court that I do feel that Mr. Munro, although not being guilt free, has also been a victim of Bonin, as well as others, in Bonin’s crimes. By way of emphasis, I remind the court that Mr. Munro also, at one point in time, came very close to being a victim – in the sense that he too was tied up, and that his life was almost taken by Bonin. Mr. Munro has stated this to the probation officer, and he has also maintained with some consistency, that the only reason he participated in the acts that he did was out of fear of Bonin. I would just like to bring that to the courts attention – by way of emphasis.
THE COURT: All right. The court understands that, but the court finds no excuse at all for the type of conduct that this defendant has participated in. I think he should, every few seconds, say a prayer that he is not going to the gas chamber with Bonin. For what he has done – I would have no problem sending him there. So I think he is very fortunate.
These were the statements by the Los Angeles County Superior Court. As you read them, to this date, I still am hoping to get the trial I never got in this matter. I am not guilty of murder. I was forced to plead guilty, and threatened with death by the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office – that if I did not go into court and plead guilty I would be killed.
CHAPTER SEVEN – A STATEMENT TO ALL PARENTS OF THE VICTIMS OF THE FREEWAY KILLER
Hello. I know by now, that you have read my book about the case. I hope that everyone who reads this will sit back, think about it, and look in to their hearts to see if they can forgive me for my actions in this case. I hope Mr. and Mrs. Wells are able to get on with their lives – now that Bonin has been executed. Mr. and Mrs. Wells, I am asking you to please forgive me for my actions. I know that I should not have helped Bonin kill your son Steven Wells. But honestly, I did not kill him, Bonin did. Yes by law I am just as guilty. In fact I feel very very bad for what has happened to all these kids in this case. I hope to God that some day you will be able to look into your hearts to forgive me for my actions. If not, I will understand that also. But please, believe me, I did not kill your son. Thank You for this time.
CHAPTER EIGHT – CLOSING STATEMENTS
Since 1980, I have sat in prison wondering if some day I will get out, or would I spend the rest of my life in prison. I do understand, after years in prison, what I did was wrong. But do you all out there honestly say – he is guilty of murder, or was I in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ya I was, and I for some reason got caught up in this case. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what has happened, and how sorry I am for my actions.
If anyone out there cares, or could see your way to look into this case – please do. See if you can help me get free, because I am not guilty of murder. All I want is my life back.
My address is:
James Michael Munro #C-44535 P.O. Box 409000
Mule Creek State Prison
Ione, CA 95640
When you write – if your choose to – please send stamps so I can write you back. May God be with all of you out there. I hope that someone out there can forgive me, stand up, and demand my release.
Bonin: The Untold Story
by James Munro
In His Words
The year, 1980, one night it was a quiet evening when neighbors remember the screams from Bonin’s home and how he tried to coax neighborhood kids into his home. Bonin had been showing x-rated movies and giving beer to the boys on Angel Street, just to get them drunk so he could lure them into his home so he could kill them.
Bonin lived with his mother Alice Bonin and his 2 brothers in the 1950’s track homes where Bonin preyed upon everyone and anything that moved at night. At times Bonin cared about the sick but it was a front to make people think he was no killer. One night Bonin brought a young man home and to have sex with him then kill him. He would subdue his victims and then kill them. Bonin strangle a boy named Miranda with the boys own t-shirt and used a tire iron to twist the death hold on him, as he was killing him he told him with a smile ‘You’re going to die.’ Then he was dead
Bonin was born on January 8th 1947, to a house hold ran by a violent alcoholic father who gambled so much that he once lost the family home. His mother kicked Bonin out of his home when he was 8 years old and he was placed in a detention center. At that center an older boy approached bonin for homosexual contact and Bonin was tied up then he had sex with Bonin, according to Bonin he learned to tie his victims up after that. Bonins father sexually raped Bonin when he was very young and contributed to Bonin snapping and started killing people. Bonin confessed to one of his victims James Munro who Bonin tied up and tryed to kill, but Munro got away and because Munro did not call the police he was charged with aiding and abetting and was given a 15 years to life sentence in which Munro is still appealing his conviction. James Munro states he will never give up on appealing but seeks help from a attorney who would be willing to help him with his appeal.
Bonin was in Vietnam and that Bonin began to show the preference for violence and sex. In the 205th Assualt Support Helicopter Unit, Bonin logged more then 700 hours manning a machine guy. He won a metal and a honorable discharge. But it wasn’t discovered that Bonin assaulted a man at gunpoint under his command. When Bonin returned from Vietnam in 1969 he settled with his mother in Downey at the residence of 10282 Angel Street. Soon after his return Bonin was convicted of sexually assualting 5 boys. In each case his method was the same, cruise for boys pick them up, handcuff them, then rape them. But in the late 1970’s Bonin’s Downey neighbors began to suspect something was terribly wrong. A neighbor who lives on the next street said his young son came home one day and told him Bonin had invited him inside. The boy went home instead. Another neighbor who lives just behind the bonin home remembers a frightful sound coming from Bonin’s home one night. She wrote it off as neighbors kids at play but little did she know Bonin was at work killing one right after another. Then in late 1979 Bonin got a job at dependable Drive-away Trucking company in Montebello. At night he cruised the streets for boys and he began his long long string for killing and he became The Freeway Killer.
On August 5th Marcus Grabs, 17, was raped and stabbed 77 times. On August 27th, Donald Hyden, 15, was strangled and raped. On September 9th, David Murillo, 17, was strangled and raped, and his head was bashed in with a tire iron. Bonins youngest Victim was 12 year old Jimmy McCabe who was on his way to Disneyland. Bonins oldest victim was 19 year old Steven J. Wells of Downey. Then came James Munro, 19, of St.Clair Michigan. Munro came to California and Bonin tied Munro up and raped him and told him if he ran or called the police he would kill im. Munro got away and ran back to Michigan untill he was picked up and charged in the death of 19 year old Steven Wells.
In a relaxed voice Bonin told detectives that he had killed more than 21 murders and that he was The Freeway Killer and that if it wasn’t for Munro running away Bonin would be still on the streets killing people. When Munro got away Bonin was mad and got so mad he took his anger out on another victim, but he got caught because he tried to kill by himself. Bonin stated to reporters if Munro would have stayed with me, they would have never got me, and yes, I would have killed Munro, but in my time. Bonin was finally executed in 1996 in San Quentin, and James Munro sits in prison hoping someone out in the free world will understand him and share their concern.
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From the woman that was hired to keep Los Angeles serial killers alive – Vonda L. Peltro, phD.
Without Remorse traces Vonda Peltro’s surreal experience as she balanced a family life while spending her days with such notorious killers as Kenneth Bianchi (Hillside Strangler) and William Bonin (Freeway Killer) among others. During those years she developed personal relationships with these men and recorded her observations. (Amazon Excerpt)
* James Michael Munro was one of Vonda’s daily visits. After the execution of William George Bonin, Peltro stepped forward with her concerns about parole for Munro. Their talks together, although private, gave her concern that he intended to use his freedom to continue in the ways of The California Freeway Killer. He wanted to buy a van and pick up where Bonin had left off.
After the suicide of one of The Freeway Killer’s accomplices, (Vernon Butts), the Los Angeles Mental Health Department was determined to keep the Los Angles Serial Killers alive in order to be delivered to their just and rightful punishment. (Killing themselves was not one of those preferred avenues.) So they hired a young lady to help make that happen.
Vonda L. Pelto, a psychologist on the rise, was selected for the task. Vonda’s assignment? To meet with the serial killers on a daily basis and let them talk. Someone to be there for them. Someone to keep them from harming themselves.
William George Bonin, James Michael Munro and Gregory Miley were all in her program.