LAWRENCE BITTAKER / ROY NORRIS
THE TOOLBOX KILLERS
Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker, who became known as the toolbox killers because their murder weapons of choice were everyday tools from a common toolbox, met while they were both in prison in 1977.
They became close buds during their stay. Their bond was tightened through their common fascination with rape and murder and their hatred for girls was a mutual emotion that sealed their friendship.
THE RELEASE OF TWO MAD MEN
In 1979, Bittaker, then 38, and Norris, 31, were both released from prison. But they did not part ways. Instead, they purchased a GM cargo van and set out to seal the fate of 5 young women and girls.
At the time, Los Angeles was a plenty with beautiful California girls partying on the beaches and hitchhiking rides along the coast. The pickings were easy for the two losers and they set themselves up like animals stalking their prey.
Using their van, that they had dubbed the “Murder Mack,” the partners spent a bit of time perfecting their scheme. They spent their days partying and taking photos of the young girls that surrounded them. They would pick up several girls at a time and take pictures, party with them and then let the young ladies leave unharmed, none any the wiser about what the two soon-to-be-murderers were really all about.
The duo also spent their energies on ‘scoping out’ the area for a suitable dumping ground for the dead bodies they planned to accumulate. They chose an isolated road in the San Gabriel Mountains.
THE KILLINGS BEGIN – CINDY SCHAEFFER
On June 24, 1979, Bittaker and Norris selected their first kill. Her name was Cindy Schaeffer and she was just 16 years old. She had been at her church for an evening meeting and was seen by the two idiots as she attempted to gain a ride to her grandmother’s house. When the van pulled up beside her and Bittaker offered her a lift, she declined and walked on. But, refusing their offer was not enough to detour the men and, at first opportunity, they jumped her, forced her into the van and headed toward the mountains.
Over the next several hours both men tortured and repeatedly raped the young girl. Afterwards each tried to strangle the life from her body but neither were able to accomplish that feat. They resorted to strangling her with wire hanger before dumping her lifeless body over a cliff.
Unlike Cindy, 18 year old Andrea Hall, the duo’s next victim, was a much easier kill. She was lured with a ride and a drink and thus willingly crawled into the ‘murder mack’ on July 8th. Now, not unlike Cindy, Andrea too spent her last hours being tortured and raped over and over again. After a day of dishing out all of the hell he could expend on the young lady, Lawrence Bittaker jammed an ice pick into each of her ears.
JACQUELINE AND JACKIE
On Labor Day, Jacqueline Lamp, 13, and Jackie Gilliam, 15, were headed to the beach for an afternoon of sun and surf. When Bittaker and Norris offered them a ride, they happily hopped aboard. When the girls finally realized that the van was heading in the wrong direction, they tried to escape. But to no avail. Two days later, they were both dead. And this time the rapes and tortures were all caught on photographs.
On Halloween the serial killers struck again. This time it was 16 year old Shirley Ledford. Shirley was hitchhiking home from a party in a Los Angeles suburb when the ‘murder mack’ cruised up beside her.
Most of the sledgehammer beatings, the rapes, and the torture she received with a pair of pliers was recorded as trophies for the villainous duo. Her horrifying screams could be heard vividly through the audio recording they had made. Like Cindy, a wire hanger was used to strangle her to death. This time, however, they did not take the time to drive the body to the dumping ground in the mountains. They simply threw her corpse onto a lawn in the Los Angels suburb and politely drove away.
SECRETS ARE BEST LEFT UN-SHARED
The boys were on a roll. ‘Livin’ the dream,’ sorta speak. But when you are happy you have to tell somebody or what is it all worth? And that’s just where the shit hit the fan. Norris decided to do a bit of bragging to a one-time convict that he’d met while in prison and he spilled the beans about he and Bittaker’s wicked little past-time. The recipient of this data headed straight to the law and regurgitated the tale all over the place.
On November 20th, both Bittaker and Norris were sitting behind bars. Among the key evidence were hundreds of horrifying Polaroids and a very disturbing, 17-minute long tape of Shirley Ledford’s spine chilling screams.
NORRIS TURNS ON LAWRENCE BITTAKER
Norris quickly confessed to the abductions and rapes, but insisted that he took no part in any murder. He blamed those on Bittaker. He told the authorities were the bodies could be found and made a plea deal, agreeing to testify against his partner.
In the end, Larry Bittaker was convicted of murder and rape. In less than an hour of deliberation, he was sentenced to death.
The year was 1981. As of September 2015, Lawrence Bittaker was now 75 years old, occupying himself with arts and crafts from his cell on death row.
credit – ny daily new