William George Bonin / California’s Freeway Killer / Hebephiliac Serial Killer

William George Bonin | The Freeway Killer

William George Bonin
William “Billy” George Bonin

William George Bonin

Born: 01-08-1947

An American Serial Killer

Crime Spree: 1979 – 1980

Executed: 02-23-1996


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.

What is a Hebephiliac – Hebephilia is the term used to describe a sexual interest in, and preference for, pubescent individuals rather than adult partners.

The Life Story of William George Bonin

William George Bonin, (a.k.a. “Billy”) was born in 1947 in Willimantic, Connecticut. He was the first born, of three boys, to two abusive, child neglecting, alcoholics. At an extremely early age, William and his two younger brothers were left to fend after themselves, while their parents, Alice Benton and Robert Bonin, tended religiously to their drinking and gambling addictions. Or, worse yet, the boys were left with their grandfather, who was a convicted pedophile and child molester, who was known to have sexually abused all three of the Bonin boys.

The Orphanage

In 1953, William George Bonin and his brothers were placed in an orphanage, where William would remain until he was 9 years old. His mother would do this in order to ‘protect’ her sons from the abuse they were suffering at the hands of their father and grandfather. (Or so her sad story would go.)

But the abuse inside this home could not have been any worse on young William than the abuse of his disgusting parents and grandfather. The punishments for displeasing those in charge consisted of sever beatings, enduring painful stress positions and near drownings.

The sexual assaults, that young William would endure during these years, from the older boys in this home, were relentless and would probably set a major precedence for William’s own means of abusing young boys in the years to come. It was while in this home, William George Bonin would reveal, after being imprisoned for more than 20 murder convictions, that he learned to ask his abuser to tie him up before sexually abusing him.

After being returned to his mother at age 9, William was soon caught stealing vehicle license plates. By age 10, he was caught committing a host a minor crimes and was eventually hauled away to a detention center for juveniles. While housed at this juvenile detention center, he was repeatedly physically and sexually abused by several people, including one of his adult counselors. Likewise however, William was now one of the ‘OLDER BOYS” taking advantage of the younger ones. The tables were slowly beginning to turn and William “Billy” George Bonin now knew it.

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Insta Facts

  • Full Name : William George Bonin
  • A.K.A. : The Freeway Killer
  • Date of Birth : January 8, 1947
  • Zodiac Sign : Capricorn 
  • Place of Birth : Willimantic, Connecticut
  • Parents : Alice Benton | Robert Bonin
  • Siblings : Robert Bonin Jr. | Paul Bonin
  • Education : High School 1965
  • Military : U.S. Air Force – 1965 – 1968
  • Marriage : Private (Divorced)
  • Children ( 0 )
  • Dates of Crimes : 1979 – 1980
  • Number of Victims : 21+   
  • Date of Apprehension : June 11, 1980
  • Place of Incarceration : San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California
  • Sentence Handed Down : Death
  • Date of Execution: Executed by lethal injection on February 23, 1996.
  • William George Bonin was 49 years old at the time of his death.

William Bonin Moves to California

When William Bonin was 14 years old, the family, facing foreclosure on their home in Connecticut, relocated to California in 1961. They settled in to a small house on Angell Street in the city of Downey. Shortly after moving in, William’s father died of cirrhosis of the liver.

It was after moving into this new neighborhood, that William George Bonin began repeatedly molesting, not only his own two little brothers, but also the younger children in the area. Many of these neighborhood children, all younger than himself, were lured into Bonin’s home with the promise of alcohol. In addition to the acts of molestation, William stayed with habits learned in Connecticut continuously committing acts of robbery, petty theft and grand theft throughout his teenage years.

William George Bonin graduated high school in 1965. Shortly after graduating, William became engaged, largely at the behest of his mother who believed the prospect of marriage would quell her son’s obvious sexual preference for young males.

The Armed Forces

That same year, William joined the Air Force. He later served five months of active duty in the Vietnam War as an aerial gunner, logging over 700 hours of combat and patrol time. On one occasion, while under enemy fire, William risked his own life to save the life of a wounded fellow airman. For this act, William George Bonin received a Good Conduct Medal in recognition of his gallantry. 

During his time in the Air Force William Bonin claimed to have engaged in consensual sexual relations with both males and females in Vietnam. He also added however that he had sexually assaulted two fellow soldiers at gunpoint during those years. William would later state that his experiences in Vietnam had instilled a belief in him that human life is overvalued.

William George Bonin served three years in the U.S. Air Force before receiving an honorable discharge in October of 1968. Upon his discharge, Bonin returned to Downey, California. He married, and quickly divorced, before moving back in with his mother on Angell Street.

The Atascadero State Hospital

On November 17, 1968, William George Bonin, now 21 years old, committed a sexual assault on a youth. He would go on to commit three further sexual assaults on young boys over the next four months. The victims of these four assaults were between the ages of 12 and 18. In each instance, Bonin bound his victim before forcibly engaging in sodomy, oral copulation and torture.

In early 1969, Bonin was arrested as he attempted to restrain a 16-year-old youth, who he had lured into his vehicle. He was indicted on five counts of kidnapping, four counts of sodomy, one count of oral copulation and one count of child molestation against the five youths he had abducted and assaulted.

William Bonin pleaded guilty to molestation and forced oral copulation and was sentenced to the Atascadero State Hospital as a mentally disordered sexual offender (considered amenable to treatment in January 1971.)

While detained at this hospital, Bonin was subjected to a battery of psychiatric examinations. Through these battery of tests, it was discovered that William had an average IQ of 121. He did however display traits of manic depression in addition to damage to the prefrontal cortex of his brain. This damage, it was deduced, would likely reduce William’s ability to restrain any violent impulses he may feel.

His physical examinations also revealed extensive scars on his head and buttocks, which he had likely sustained at the Connecticut juvenile detention center as a child. Bonin claims to have no memory of any such incidents of abuse in his youth.

Two years after his arrival at the Atascadero State Hospital, William George Bonin, due to his “repeated engagements in forceful sexual activities” (rape of male inmates), was finally sent to prison, declared “un-amendable” for further treatment.

On June 11, 1974, William was released from prison after doctors concluded he was “no longer a danger to the health and safety of others.

Criminal Classification

William Bonin

Criminal Classification of William George Bonin : Serial Killer

serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, usually in service of ‘abnormal psychological’ gratification, with the murders taking place over more than a month and including a significant period of time in between them. While most authorities set a threshold of three murders, others extend it to four or lessen it to two.

Psychological gratification is the usual motive for serial killing, and most serial killings involve sexual contact with the victim, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that the motives of serial killers can include anger, thrill-seeking, financial gain, and attention seeking. The murders may be attempted or completed in a similar fashion. The victims may have something in common, for example, demographic profile, appearance, gender or race.

Although a serial killer is a distinct classification that differs from that of a mass murderer, spree killer, or contract killer, there exist conceptual overlaps between them. Some debate exists on the specific criteria for each category, especially with regards to the distinction between spree killers and serial killers.


Four Months Later

On September 8, 1974, William George Bonin picked up 14 year old David Allen McVicker, who was hitchhiking in Garden Grove, California. He was making his way to his parent’s home in Huntington Beach. David quickly accepted William’s offer for a ride in that direction.

Shortly after McVicker had entered Bonin’s vehicle, he was taken aback by Bonin asking him if he was gay. When McVicker asked Bonin to stop the car, William swiftly produced a gun.

After driving the young boy to a deserted field, Bonin ordered him, at gun point, to remove all of his clothes. William then beat him and repeatedly raped him. After beating and assaulting the teenager, Bonin began strangling him with his own tee shirt. When the young man began screaming hysterically, Bonin abruptly stopped the attack. William immediately apologized and ordered David to get dressed.

Bonin then returned the boy to where he’d first picked him up and told him that the two would ‘be meeting again.’

David McVicker immediately informed his mother of the rape. She in turn notified the Garden Grove police. Shortly thereafter, William George Bonin was charged with the rape and forcible oral copulation of a minor, PLUS the attempted abduction of a 15-year-old which had occurred two days after Bonin had assaulted McVicker.

In this second instance, Bonin had sexually propositioned a 15-year-old, who had rejected Bonin’s offer of $35 for sex. In response, William had attempted to run the boy over with his vehicle.

William Bonin pled guilty to all charges and, on December 31, 1975. He was sentenced to 1 to 15 years’ behind bars at the California Men’s Facility in San Luis Obispo.

He was released on October 11, 1978, with 18 months’ supervised probation, serving only 4 years and one month of that sentence.

William George Bonin Returns

Upon his release, William Bonin moved to an apartment complex in Kingswood Village in southeast Los Angeles County, approximately 1 mile from his mother’s home. He found employment as a truck driver for a Montebello delivery firm named Dependable Drive-Away. He found a girlfriend.

William also quickly established a reputation among the teenage boys in his neighborhood. His apartment became a place where they could all socialize and even minors could easily gain access to the bounty of provided alcohol.

While in Kingswood Village, Bonin also became acquainted with a 43-year-old neighbor named Everett Fraser. William became a regular attendee at the frequent parties Fraser held at his apartment. It was through these social gatherings, he became acquainted with a 21-year-old named Vernon Butts and 18-year-old named Gregory Miley. 

Vernon Butts was a porcelain-factory worker and part-time magician who held a fascination with occultism. Butts would later claim to have been both fascinated with and terrified of William Bonin, while freely admitting to taking a great delight in watching Bonin abuse and torture his victims.

Gregory Mathew Miley, an illiterate Texas native (with an IQ of 56) also actively participated in the murders he accompanied William George Bonin on.

The Freeway Killer

“I’d still be killing, I couldn’t stop killing. It got easier each time.”

-William George Bonin-

William George Bonin quickly developed a pattern, selecting his victims from school boys, young hitchhikers and an occasional male prostitute. He would, in some fashion, lure his potential victim into his vehicle, where they would then be subdued, bound, sexually assaulted and tortured.

Bonin’s first murder victim was a thirteen-year-old hitchhiker named Thomas Glen Lundgren. Thomas was last seen leaving his house in Reseda at 10:50 am. on the morning of May 28, 1979.

His body was found later that same day in Agoura, some 16 miles away.

An autopsy revealed that the 13 year old had suffered emasculation and bludgeoning to his face and head. In addition, the youth had been slashed across the throat, extensively stabbed and strangled to death. His underwear, jeans and severed genitals were discovered strewn in a field close to his body.

William Bonin Gets Arrested Again

In mid 1979, William George Bonin was arrested again. This time for molesting a 17 year old boy in the community of Dana Point. This violation of his probation should have landed him back in prison for years. However, that was not to be the case. Due to an administrative error, William Bonin was promptly released back to the streets.

Everett Frazer drove the 25 miles to the Orange County jail to collect William. On the ride home, Frazer would later state, that Bonin had made a statement that he had interpreted as a sign of remorse.

“No one’s going to testify again. This is never going to happen to me again.”

– William George Bonin

Everett Frazer had been sorely mistaken in his assumption of remorse on the part of William Bonin. Quite frankly, he could not have been further from the truth.

Crime Timeline

The Killing Van
  1. Thomas Glen Lundgren – May 28, 1979
  2. Mark Duane Shelton – August 4, 1979
  3. Markus Alexander Grabs – August5, 1979
  4. Donald Ray Hyden – August 27, 1979
  5. David Louis Murillo – September 9, 1979
  6. Robert Christopher Wirostek – Sept. 17, 1979
  7. John Doe – November 1, 1979
  8. Frank Dennis Fox – November 30, 1979
  9. John Fredrick Kilpatrick – December 10, 1979
  10. Michael Francis McDonald – January 1, 1980
  11. Charles Dempster Miranda – February 3, 1980
  12. James Michael Macabe – February 3, 1980
  13. Ronald Craig Gatlin – March 14, 1980
  14. Glenn Norman Baker – March 21, 1980
  15. Russel Duane Rugh – March 21, 1980
  16. Harry Todd Turner – March 24, 1980
  17. Steven John Wood – April 10, 1980
  18. Darin Lee Kendrick – April 29, 1980
  19. Lawrence Eugene Sharp – May 12, 1980
  20. Sean Paige King – May 19, 1980
  21. Steven Jay Wells – June 2, 1980

Time Line Of Crimes

(2) Mark Shelton (August 4, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

On August 4, 1979, just two months after the murder of Thomas Lundgren, William Bonin and Vernon Butts abducted 17-year-old Mark Shelton shortly after he left his Westminster home to walk to a movie theater near Beach Boulevard. Screams were heard from the vicinity of the Shelton household, leaving a strong possibility that Shelton was abducted by force. The young man was violated with foreign objects including a pool cue, causing him to go into a state of shock which proved fatal. His body was discarded in San Bernardino County.

(3) Marcus Grabs (August 5, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

On August 5, 1979, William Bonin and Vernon Butts kidnapped 17 year old Marcus Grabs from Newport Beach sometime between 6 and 10 p.m. Marcus, a German student on a backpacking tour of the Pacific coast line, was sodomized, beaten and stabbed 77 times. His nude body was found the next morning beside a road in Malibu. An orange nylon cord was loosely wrapped behind his head and a piece of ignition wire was still around one of his ankles

(4) Donald Hyden (August 27, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

On August 27, 1979, William Bonin and his side kick Vernon struck again. This time they abducted a Hollywood youth named Donald Ray Hyden. Hyden was last seen walking along Santa Monica Boulevard around 1:00 am. His body was found three days later by construction workers. His nude body was found in a dumpster near the off ramp of the Ventura Freeway. Donald had been bound and beaten nearly to death. He was sodomized, stabbed repeatedly in the neck and genitals and bludgeoned in the skull. His throat had been slashed.

(5) David Murillo (September 9, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

On September 9, 1979, just two two weeks after the murder of Donald Hyden, William George Bonin was on the prowl again. He and Vernon Butts abducted another 17 year old male. His name was David Louis Murillo. David was cycling to a movie theater when he was somehow lured into Bonin’s van. He, like the others, was bound, repeatedly raped and extensively bludgeoned about the skull with a tire iron. He was then strangled with a ligature. His nude body was thrown over an embankment along highway 101. 

(6) Robert Wirostek (September 17, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

On September 17, 1979, an 18-year-old Newport Beach youth, Robert Christopher Wirostek, was cycling to his job at a nearby grocery store. He did not arrived for his shift. His body was found on September 27 alongside Interstate 10.

(7) John Doe (November 1, 1979)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

Bonin is not known to have killed again until on or about November 1, when he and Vernon Butts abducted and murdered an unidentified young man estimated to be between 19 and 25 years old. This victim was savagely beaten, then strangled to death before his body was discarded in an irrigation ditch alongside State Route 99, south of Bakersfield. Although never identified, Bonin later estimated the age of this victim to be 23, and freely admitted to inserting an ice pick into this victim’s nostrils and ear prior to his murder.

William Bonin

William Bonin Diagnosed

Disorganized Lust | Manic Depressive Disorder | Sociopath | Remorseless | Sexual Predator | Narcissistic Personality Disorder | Homosexual Rapist | Sadist | Brain Damage (in the area of the brain that is thought to restrain violent impulses) | Mentally Disordered Sexual Offender

(8) Frank Fox (November 29, 1979)

– William Bonin –

On or about November 29, 1979, William George Bonin ventured out alone. He was on the prowl and hungry for a kill. He abducted a 17-year-old Bellflower youth named Frank Dennis Fox. His body was found two days later along the Ortega Highway. His shattered corpse revealed extensive blunt force trauma to the face and head, with ligature marks on his wrists and ankles indicating Fox had been bound throughout his ordeal. No clothing or other identifying evidence was discovered at the scene.

(9) John Kilpatrick (December 8, 1979)

– William Bonin –

On or about December 8, 1979, ten days after the murder of Frank Fox, a 15-year-old Long Beach youth named John Fredrick Kilpatrick disappeared after leaving his parents’ home to socialize with friends. Kilpatrick obviously suffered the same torturous fates as the others who had fallen victim to William George Bonin. He was strangled to death before his body was discarded in a remote area of Rialto. His body was found on December 13th, but remained a John Doe until August 5, 1980.

(10) Michael McDonald (January 1, 1980)

– William Bonin –

On January 1, 1980, William George Bonin tortured, raped and mutilated a 16-year-old Ontario youth named Michael Francis McDonald before strangling him to death. Two days later, his, oddly enough, fully clothed body was found alongside Highway 71 in western San Bernardino County. Although he was found quickly enough, he remained a John Doe until March 24.

(11) Charles Miranda (February 3, 1980)

– William Bonin and Gregory Miley –

On February 3, 1980, William Bonin and Gregory Miley drove to Hollywood with the sole intent on committing murder. The pair encountered 15-year-old Charles Miranda hitchhiking along the Santa Monica Boulevard. According to Miley, Bonin and young man engaged in consensual sex in the rear of the van as he drove. Suddenly Bonin whispered “Kid’s going to die.” Miranda was then overpowered and bound by Bonin, who then asked the youth how much money he had in his possession. When Miranda responded he had “about $6”, Bonin ordered Miley to take the youth’s wallet, before violently raping him. Miley also attempted to rape the youth, but was unable to sustain an erection. In frustration, Miley assaulted Miranda with various sharp objects, before assisting Bonin in beating the boy. Bonin then strangled Miranda to death with a T-shirt and a tire iron as Miley repeatedly jumped on Miranda’s chest. His nude corpse was then dumped in an alleyway along East Second Street in Los Angeles.

(12) James Macabe (February 3, 1980)

– William Bonin and Gregory Miley –

Within minutes of having discarded the body of Charles Miranda, William George Bonin made an abrupt announcement. “I’m horny again,:” he stated. “Let’s go and do another one.” 

A few hours later, while cruising Huntington Beach, William Bonin and Greg Miley encountered a 12-year-old named James Macabe. James was sitting at a bus stop because he intended to get himself to Disneyland via the next departure. Young James was lured into Bonin’s van on the promise of arriving at Disneyland by way of their vehicle.

According to Greg Miley, the boy entered the rear of the van voluntarily.

Bonin drove to a grocery store parking lot, parked the van and entered the rear of the vehicle. Miley took the wheel and drove aimlessly while Bonin raped and tortured his latest victim. Greg found a place to park the van and joined Bonin in beating the child as he begged for his life. It was of course in vain. Bonin crushed the child’s neck with a tire iron simply because he “felt like doing so”. Bonin then strangled James Macabe to death with his own T-shirt. The pair re-dressed the child and discarded his dead body beside a dumpster in the city of Walnut. The little boy’s corpse was discovered three days later.

On February 4, 1980, William George Bonin was arrested for violating the conditions of his parole. He was remanded in custody at the Orange County Jail. They released him again on March 4th.

(13) Ronald Gaitlin (March 14, 1980)

– William Bonin –

On March 14th, ten days after William George Bonin was released from custody, he abducted and killed an 18-year-old Van Nuys youth named Ronald Gatlin. Gatlin was abducted shortly after he had left a friend’s home. He was beaten, sodomized and suffered several deep, perforating ice pick wounds to the ear and neck before being strangled to death with a ligature. Gatlin’s body, bound hand and foot, was found the following day in the city of Duarte.

(14) Glenn Baker (March 21, 1980)

– William Bonin –

One week later, on March 21st, William Bonin lured a 14-year-old named Glenn Barker into his van. Barker was raped, sodomized with an ice pick, beaten extensively and finally strangled to death with a ligature. His body also bore evidence of numerous burns to the neck which had been inflicted with a lit cigarette. Barker had also been violated with foreign objects that had extensively distended his rectum. 

Modus Operandi


Bonin’s victims were young male hitchhikers, schoolboys, and male prostitutes. They were either enticed or forced into his camper van. Once inside, they were overpowered and bound hand and foot with handcuffs, wire, or cord. They were then raped, tortured, and killed by a variety of ways, mostly by a signature “windlass” strangulation method. After killing them, their bodies were dumped alongside freeways in southern California. He was also assisted by Butts, Munro, Pugh, and Miley in a minimum total of twelve murders.


(15) Russell Rugh (March 21, 1980)

– William Bonin –

At 4 p.m. the same day, March 21st, just hours after the murder of Glenn Baker, Bonin abducted a 15-year-old named Russell Rugh from a bus stop in Garden Grove. Rugh was bound, beaten and strangled to death after an estimated eight hours of captivity. His body was discarded, along side that of Glenn Barker in Cleveland National Forest. The youths’ nude bodies were found on March 23.

(16) Harry Turner (March 24, 1980)

– William Bonin and William Pugh –

On March 24, Bonin and Pugh abducted a 15-year-old runaway named Harry Todd Turner from a Los Angeles street. Turner had absconded from a boys’ home in the desert community of Lancaster four days prior to his meeting Bonin and Pugh. Pugh was to later testify that he and Bonin lured Turner into Bonin’s van with an offer of $20 for sex. After binding, sodomizing and biting the youth, Bonin ordered Pugh to “beat him (Turner) up.” After Pugh had bludgeoned and beat Turner about the head and body for several minutes, Bonin strangled the youth to death with his own T-shirt before discarding his body at the rear delivery door to a Los Angeles business. Turner’s autopsy subsequently revealed the youth’s genitals had been mutilated, and he had received a total of eight fractures to the skull inflicted by a blunt instrument before he had been strangled.

(17) Steven Wood (April 10, 1980)

– William Bonin –

On the afternoon of April 10, Bonin abducted a 16-year-old Bellflower youth named Steven John Wood as the boy walked to school, having attended a dental appointment that morning; his nude, extensively beaten body was discarded in an alleyway in Long Beach, close to the Pacific Coast Highway. No clothing or other identifying evidence was discovered at the scene. Wood’s autopsy revealed the youth had been killed by ligature strangulation.

(18) Darin Kendrick (April 29, 1980)

– William Bonin and Vernon Butts –

Three weeks later, on April 29, while parked in the grounds of a Stanton supermarket, Bonin and Butts lured a 19-year-old employee named Darin Kendrick into Bonin’s van on the pretext of selling the youth drugs. Kendrick was driven to Butts’ apartment, where he was overpowered and bound by both men. In addition to enduring sodomy and partial ligature strangulation, Kendrick was forced to drink hydrochloric acid by Bonin, causing caustic chemical burns to his mouth, chin, stomach and chest. Butts then drove an ice pick into Kendrick’s ear, causing a fatal wound to the youth’s cervical spinal cord. His body was discarded behind a warehouse close to the Artesia Freeway, with the ice pick Butts had driven into his skull still protruding from his ear.

Book about William Bonin

Available on Amazon

(19) Larry Sharp (May 12, 1980)

– William Bonin –

On May 12, Bonin abducted and murdered a 17-year-old acquaintance of his whom he later stated he had decided to kill when he had awoken that morning because he was “tired of having him around”. The body of this acquaintance, Lawrence Sharp, was discarded behind a Westminster gas station. His body was found on May 18, and his autopsy revealed that in addition to being bound and sodomized, Sharp had been extensively beaten about the face and body, then strangled with a ligature.

(20) Sean King (May 19, 1980)

– William Bonin –

One week after the murder of Sharp, on May 19, Bonin asked Butts to accompany him on a killing. On this particular occasion, however, Butts refused to accompany him. Operating alone, William Bonin abducted a 14-year-old South Gate youth named Sean King from a bus stop in Downey, killed him, then discarded his body in Live Oak Canyon, Yucaipa. Bonin then visited Butts’ residence and bragged of the killing to his accomplice.

(21) Steven Wells (June 2, 1980)

– William Bonin and James Munro –

On June 2, the same day as police surveillance began, Bonin, accompanied by James Munro, encountered an 18-year-old print shop worker named Steven Jay Wells standing at a bus stop on El Segundo Boulevard. Bonin and Munro enticed the youth into the van. Upon learning Wells was bisexual, Bonin persuaded the youth to accompany him to his apartment on the promise he would be paid $200 if he allowed himself to be bound prior to engaging in sex.

At Bonin’s apartment, Wells was bound, raped, beaten about the face and torso, then informed he was to be murdered before he was strangled to death with his own T-shirt. Bonin then placed Wells’ body inside a cardboard box which he and Munro then carried to his van.

The pair then drove to the residence of Vernon Butts, whom Bonin first invited to view Wells’ body with the enticement: “We got it in the van; it’s a good one. Come on out and see it.”

According to Munro, upon viewing the body, Butts replied, “Oh, you got another one!” before Bonin asked for advice as to how to dispose of it. At Bonin’s subsequent trial, Munro recalled Butts’ response: “‘Try a gas station like’ or ‘where’ – I don’t know which – ‘we dumped the last one.'” Munro also later testified that Butts had actively dissuaded Bonin from discarding the youth’s body in the nearby canyons due to the late hour. Wells’ body was instead discarded behind a disused Huntington Beach gas station, where it was found five hours later.

Accomplice of William Bonin

William George Bonin accomplice

July 25, 1980, Vernon Butts (22) was arrested as accomplice in six of the “freeway murders”.

He was charged on October 29, 1980 with the murders of Mark Shelton, Robert Wirostek and Darin Lee Kendrick plus 17 felony counts including conspiracy, kidnapping, robbery, sodomy, oral sex and sexual perversion.

On January 11, 1981, Vernon Butts succeeds in his 5th suicide attempt, successfully hanging himself in his cell at LA Co. Jail while awaiting trial.

Surveillance of William George Bonin

By early 1980, the murders committed by the “Freeway Killer” were receiving considerable media attention. A reward totaling $50,000 for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators had been offered by leading gay rights activists. 

Having by this stage determined a definitive link between many of the murders committed within the previous year, investigators from the various jurisdictions where victims had been abducted or discovered had themselves begun sharing information in their collective hunt for the perpetrator.

Six officers from three of the jurisdictions in which the Freeway Killer had most regularly either abducted or deposited the bodies of his victims formed a task force dedicated to the apprehension of the suspect or suspects who, as one of the officers on the force later recalled, was striking at an average rate of once every two weeks in the spring of 1980.

By May of 1980, Pugh had been arrested for auto theft, and was housed at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Courthouse. On May 29, Pugh overheard the details of the ongoing murders on a local radio broadcast and confided to a counselor his recognition of the perpetrator’s modus operandi as being that described to him by Bonin two months previous. 

This counselor reported Pugh’s suspicions to the police, who in turn relayed the information to an LAPD homicide sergeant. Upon hearing the confidential tip from the counselor, the sergeant conducted an extensive interview with Pugh.

Although Pugh withheld the fact that he had actually accompanied Bonin on one of his murders, the information he provided led the sergeant to deduce that William George Bonin may have indeed been the Freeway Killer.

McVicker had also contacted authorities by this time to report his suspicions that William Bonin may be the perpetrator.

A police investigation into Bonin’s background revealed his extensive history of convictions for sexually assaulting teenage boys. Detective St. John assigned a surveillance team to monitor Bonin’s movements.

The surveillance of William George Bonin began on the evening of June 2, 1980.

Accomplice of William Bonin

William George Bonin accomplice James Munro

July 31, 1980, James Michael Munro (19) was arrested in Michigan for the murder of Stephen Wells.

Munro aided William Bonin in the murders of Dennis Franklin Fox on November 30, 1979, and Steven Wells on June 2, 1980.

James Munro received a 15-to-life sentence for his second-degree murder plea. He was eligible for parole in 2000, but the parents of Steven Wells have made it a point to make sure he serves the maximum.

Munro was last denied parole in 2014. His next chance will be in 2029.

Pic Credit : OC Register

James Munro wrote a short ‘book’ about the Freeway Killer, William Bonin and his account of the night Stephen Wells was murdered. It’s short and to the point and what he wanted the world to know about ‘his role’ in that evening’s events. I recommend the three minute read.

Click Here


June 2, 1980

On June 2nd, William George Bonin abducted an 18 year old hitchhiker, Steven Wells, who he murdered and then, after packing the corpse in a box, dumped it behind a Huntington Beach gas station. It was discovered hours later.

Surveillance tightened and nine days later, on June 11th, Bonin was observed attempting to lure young boys into his van.

Bonin finally got lucky, luring a 17-year-old Orange County runaway named Harold Eugene Tate into his vehicle. The undercover police officers who had been following him were about to get lucky too.

Bonin drove to an isolated parking lot and proceeded to carry on with his next kill. The officers, who had made their way up to the van, could hear the screams coming from inside the vehicle and forced their way inside. There, they caught William George Bonin in the act of sodomizing the young man, who had been beaten, hand cuffed and bound.

He was arrested and charged with the rape of a minor and was held under suspicion of other crimes of rape and murder. His bond was set at $250,000. When the police searched his van, the gig was up. Everything that the Freeway Killer had used on his victims was there, including the bloodstained interior and scrapbook of every newspaper article about all of the killings Bonin had collected.

William George Bonin eventually confessed to killing over 21 young men and boys and was sentenced to death. He expressed no remorse, stating that he would have continued to rape and murder. “I’d still be killing,” he said. “I couldn’t stop killing. It got easier with each one we did.” 

Although Williams was found guilty of 21 murders, the authorities believe they can link as many as 15 more to his spree. He was, by unanimous vote, given the death penalty. He spent the next 14 years, exhausting his appeals and drawing closer by the day to the gas chamber.

But William got one last lucky hit. The gas chamber was ruled cruel and unusual punishment and his means of being put down was changed to lethal injection. Therefore, it would be The Freeway Killer, William George Bonin, who would have the dubious honor of being the first man to be executed by lethal injection inside the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison in 1996 and the very first person executed by lethal injection in the state of California.

Accomplice of William Bonin

William George Bonin accomplice

August 22, 1980, Gregory M. Miley was arrested in Texas for murdering Charles Miranda and James McCabe, plus two counts of robbery and one count of sodomy.

He was charged on October 29, 1980 with an Orange County murder and seven related felony counts.

Gregory M. Miley was sentenced to a 25-to-life term for 1st Degree murder.

In May of 2016, after being behind bars for over 35 years, Gregory Miley, now 54 years old, was beaten to death by another inmate in California’s Mule Creek State Prison.

Pic Credit : OC Weekly

The Execution Of William George Bonin

William Bonin was executed on February 23, 1996 in the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison. Bonin was the first California inmate to be executed by lethal injection. Warden Arthur Calderon gave the order to begin the execution at 12:09 a.m. and William George Bonin was pronounced dead at 12:13 a.m.

William Bonin spent his last day visiting with friends. At about 6 p.m., he was escorted into the death watch cell. He was given a fresh change of clothes. For his last meal, Bonin requested two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of regular Coca Cola.

During the evening, Bonin was visited by the warden and the Catholic chaplain. At 11:30 p.m. he spoke these final words:

“That I feel the death penalty is not an answer to the problems at hand. That I feel it sends the wrong message to the youth of the country. Young people act as they see other people acting instead of as people tell them to act. And I would suggest that when a person has a thought of doing anything serious against the law, that before they did, that they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously.”

-William George Bonin-

Sources:: Murderpedia | Wikipedia | nydailynews | OCWeekly | clarkprosecutor.org | OC Register | cdcr.ca.gov

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