Steven Pennell, aka “The Corridor Killer”, “The Blue Fiber Killer” and “The Route 40 Killer “, was quite simply, by the age of 34, a monster. And his crimes shocked the state of Delaware.
Not much is known of Steven Pennell’s childhood except, that for the most apart, he appeared to come from a normal and stable upbringing. He had pursued a career in criminology, having completed several semesters at the University of Delaware, but each his applications were rejected for one reason or another and in time he ended up working as an electrician.
Steven Pennell married and settled in New Castle. He was a control freak and life as his mate was rather unpleasant. The couple had no children.
His Spree Began
In November of 1987, Steven Pennell began what was to become the ‘most appalling case of murder’ in the history of Delaware. For the next eleven months, Pennell cruised Interstate 40 and 13 in search of women that he could torture and rape.
He found the perfect victims in the form of prostitutes. Steven Pennell would coerce the unsuspecting women into his van and then drive them to an isolated spot where he would then proceed to subject his latest captive to unspeakable torture and rape.
Inside the van Steven carried a so-called “rape kit” that contained well chosen devices used to torture his victims. Such items included pliers, a whip, handcuffs, needles, knives, and other types of restraints.
Steven Pennell’s methods of murder varied just enough to keep the police off his trail. Sometimes he would simply bind his victim while he raped them. Other times he would, like Arthur Gatter, beat them with a hammer until they were battered and bloody, but still alive, and in other cases he used the pliers to squeeze the victim’s breasts and cut off her nipples. Eventually he would strangle them to death, then bash in their skulls with a blunt object. Finally, the bodies would be dumped along wooded areas next to highways 40 and 13. Hence, the Route 40 Killer.
The Capture of Steven Pennell
Steven Pennell was finally caught when an undercover state police officer, posing as a prostitute on route 40, was able to gather fibers from Pennell’s van and submit them to the FBI laboratory for testing (blue fibers from an automobile had been found on one of the victims). The results were a perfect match and Steven Pennell was soon arrested. Due to the police’s inexperience with serial murder, the FBI had agreed to help, mostly aided by the efforts of special agents John Douglas and Steve Mardigan.
On Halloween of 1991, Steven Brian Pennell was sentenced to die by lethal injection after have been convicted of only two of the five murders he committed. On March 14, 1992, the sentence was carried out. Pennell was 34 years old.
Steven Pennell was the first man in more than 45 years to be executed in Delaware.