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True crime. Casually done.

The Real-Life Harley Quinn

Written by David Baker

It is September 1980, in the town of Walla Walla, Washington State. An attractive but extremely mentally disturbed young woman, aged 24, is visiting her lover in prison. The handsome inmate, the object of the woman’s adoration, discretely passes an old book across the cheap particle-board table. The woman gently takes the book, and, after bidding her lover farewell, she leaves the prison. Hidden in the spine of the book is a large gelatinous sample of the man’s semen. It is wrapped in a plastic glove tied at the end.

A bizarre thing to smuggle out of a prison. But this woman has a very special mission entrusted to her. And it is one she will pursue with the utmost devotion and fanatical zeal.

Downpour of Death

Three years earlier, in October 1977, we find ourselves on the rough side of Los Angeles, California. The long hangover-decade of the 1970s staggers deliriously forward to its seedy conclusion. Two small-time pimps, in the habit of kidnapping naive and vulnerable teenage girls and forcing them to have sex for money, were embarking on a modest investment to expand their business. A young prostitute named Deborah Noble had offered to sell the two pimps the names and contact information of her clientele – local men who enjoy the company of ladies of negotiable virtue. Having a ready-made list of customers would be helpful to these two pimps, since they preferred their customers to come to them, rather than the other way around. It was easier to keep a girl hostage if she could be locked 24/7 in a bedroom for the local Johns to visit and violate, rather than working street corners. This was an important consideration for the men. Two of their previous teenage sex slaves had recently escaped.

Deborah Noble arrived at the men’s apartment, list in hand. She was accompanied by a fellow sex worker, 19 year old Yolanda Washington. Deborah gave the list of clients to the pimps. Money changed hands. After some brief small talk, Deborah Noble and Yolanda Washington departed into the night.

It turned out all the names and contact information on the client list were fake. The two pimps had been swindled. Enraged, the men went out searching for Deborah Noble to enact furious retribution. But she was no spring chicken when it came to “turnin’ tricks and robbin’ fools” in Los Angeles. Deborah had taken the money and skipped town. The two pimps instead spotted her friend Yolanda Washington walking Sunset Boulevard, wooing potential clients with her potential role as courtesan for the evening. 

On October 17th 1977, Yolanda Washington’s naked corpse was found lying on a hillside next to the Ventura Freeway. Rope marks on her arms and legs indicated she had been bound. The two vengeful pimps had murdered her. Yolanda had been vaginally and anally raped, then she had another rope tied around her neck and she was strangled to death. Post-mortem her body was assiduously cleaned of all traces of semen, stray hairs, and carpet fibers, reducing the forensic evidence that could tie her to a specific place or the two men via blood type, hairs, and fibers. The culprits needn’t have worried. Yolanda was a sex worker in LA. In terms of police priorities, she was way down the f*cking list.

https://flic.kr/p/TFNgXG

Two weeks later, on October 31st 1977, Judith Miller was abducted while working as a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard. She weighed approximately 90 pounds or 40 kilograms. Judith was just 15 years old. She was arrested by two men posing as undercover police officers. 

The next day, in the early hours of November 1st, her naked body was found in a middle-class suburban neighbourhood on Alta Terrace Drive. The horrified suburbanite who found Judith covered her body with a tarp so that children would not see her when they were on their way to school. Judith Miller had been bound, and multiple times she had been sexually assaulted, and then she was strangled to death. Regardless of her young age, Judith Miller was a sex worker, and so her murder also went down to the bottom of the police priority list.

After 9pm on November 5th 1977, a mere four days later, 21 year old waitress, Elissa Kastin, was driving home from work at the Healthfaire Restaurant when she was pulled over by two men impersonating police officers. They handcuffed her and abducted her. The next morning, her naked body was found near a country club in Glendale. She had been bound, raped, and strangled to death.

On November 20th 1977, on a hillside between Glendale and Eagle Rock, hikers came across the body of 20 year old Kristina Weckler, a student at the Art Centre College of Design. She had been abducted, bound, vaginally and anally raped, her breasts had been subjected to extreme abuse, and she had been injected with a glass cleaner called “Windex”, which can be used in small doses as a primitive but painful sedative, or in larger doses to induce death. She had been murdered in the early hours of that day. 

A few hours later, a nine year old boy found the bodies of Dolores Cepeda [sep-pay-dah] and Sonja Johnson lying in a trash heap next to Dodger Stadium. Sonja had been just 14 years old, Dolores had only been 12. Both of their bodies were badly decomposed. They had been abducted shortly after getting off a bus on November 13th, one week earlier. They had both been raped and strangled to death. 

By School photographer, 1977. – The Los Angeles Times. November 21, 1977 edition., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93752362

On November 23rd, only three days after the discovery of the previous bodies, the corpse of Evelyn King, an aspiring actress, aged 28, was found lying in the bushes next to an offramp along the Golden State Freeway. She had been abducted and murdered on November 9th, two weeks earlier. Her body was so decomposed that police were not able to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted, but they were able to determine from ligature marks on her neck that she had been strangled.

It was at this point that the LAPD and LA county Sheriff’s office both began to sit up and pay attention. They realised they had a serial killer on their hands. And one who was on a rampage. They did not yet know that two men were involved. Due to the locations where some of the victims had been found, the cops dubbed the unknown perpetrator “The Hillside Strangler.”

Old Habits Die Hard

On the night of November 28th in the San Fernando Valley, a woman looked out her window to see 18 year old business student, Lauren Wagner, being dragged kicking and screaming from her car by two men. She was bundled into a sedan and driven off. Wagner had been abducted across the street from her parents’ house, and she had been coming home before her midnight curfew. The next day Lauren Wagner’s body was found in the San Rafael Hills. She had been bound and strangled, and her hands had been burned indicating torture. It was later revealed the method of torture was electrocution. 

By Family member. – The Californian. December 1, 1977., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93752589

Two weeks later, on the night of December 13th, Kimberly Martin, aged 17, received a call from her agency about a job. Martin had previously worked the streets as a sex worker but due to the rumours of the Hillside Strangler targeting women, she had opted to work for an escort agency as a safer option. The two men had put in a call to the agency from a payphone in the Hollywood Public Library, requesting an escort for the evening, and providing an address for an LA apartment. 

Kimberley Martin accordingly was dispatched by her agency. The two men had broken into a vacant apartment in order to meet the girl. Her body was found the next day at the end of Alvarado Boulevard, showing signs of rape, torture, and strangulation.

On the evening of February 16th 1978, 20 year old Cindy Hudspeth was at an upholstery shop in Los Angeles to have some work done on her car, an old orange Datsun. Cindy Hudspeth spoke about the reupholstering job to the shop’s owner, Angelo Buono [buh-woe-no]. As Cindy was discussing the job, they were joined by the owner’s cousin, Kenneth Bianchi [bee-an-key]. The latter beckoned to Buono to have a conversation in private, during which Cindy Hudspeth was discussed. The next day, flying over Los Angeles, a helicopter pilot observed an old orange Datsun that had evidently driven off a cliff in the San Gabriel Mountains. The pilot radioed the police. When they arrived, they found Cindy Hudspeth’s corpse was in the trunk of the car. She had been bound, raped, tortured, and strangled. 

The death toll now stood at 10 victims. During the five months these murders were carried out, Kenneth Bianchi had been applying to the LAPD to work as a police officer. Police had taken him on several ridealongs while they were on the hunt for the Hillside Strangler. Evidently, Bianchi’s behaviour on these ridealongs was vaguely suspicious, because police began to question him about his whereabouts on the nights the 10 women were murdered. When, in late February 1978, Bianchi told his cousin Angelo Buono about this, Buono became infuriated. He told his cousin that he was an arrogant son of a bitch, that he had put them both at risk of getting caught, and that he had ruined a good thing they had going. Buono threatened to kill Bianchi if the latter did not leave town. 

By Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19446936

Bianchi eventually left Los Angeles three months later in May 1978. Meanwhile, police noted that the Hillside Strangler, whoever he was, had gone quiet.

The investigation into the 10 murders meanwhile was going nowhere fast. LA was a big place with a population of 9 million people, and there were plenty of known predators and sexual sadists who would potentially fit the suspect profile. The forensic psychologists of the LAPD were less than helpful on this one. They described the Hillside Strangler as likely being a white male, in his 20s or 30s. He would be single or divorced. In any case, he would not be living with a woman. He would not have a regular job. He would have a prior rap sheet with police. He would have come from a broken family, with a childhood marred by abuse, particularly at the hands of women. To which LAPD detective Bob Grogan grimly replied, “Gee, thanks, all we gotta do now is find a white male who hates his mother.”

Bianchi moved to Bellingham, Washington State, where he found work as a security guard. On January

11th 1979, nearly a year after the last Hillside murder in LA, Bianchi lured two students from Western Washington University into a nearby house he was guarding. Bianchi offered Karen Mandic [man-ditch], aged 22, a part-time house-sitting job for the place, and she had shown up with her roommate Diane Wilder, aged 27. Bianchi raped and strangled both of them to death.

The next day both women were reported missing.  Karen’s regular employer informed police that she had accepted a house-sitting job from a security guard. The cops phoned the security firm to inquire. The security firm in turn contacted Bianchi and asked him if he had breached protocol by getting a university student to watch the house for him. Bianchi denied ever meeting the girls or offering anyone a job. When Bianchi was later questioned by police he provided the alibi that he was at a seminar on first aid at the Sheriff’s Reserve. Police checked and discovered Bianchi was not present at the meeting.

Police also discovered that Bianchi had signed out the company truck on the night of the 11th, and Bianchi said he had taken it in for repair. The local mechanic denied ever seeing Bianchi that night or servicing the vehicle. When police investigated the house Bianchi was guarding, they found nothing amiss. They did, however, talk to a neighbour who claimed that, on the night of the 11th, Bianchi had told her that they were testing a new security alarm at the house he was guarding, so not to come by and accidentally set it off. 

Then police discovered Karen Mandic’s car hidden in a local forest. Inside they found the bodies of Karen and Diane. Police found several pubic hairs on the bodies. More of these same pubic hairs were found in a forensic examination of the home Bianchi had been guarding. The women’s bodies also bore fibers that were matched to carpets in the same home. 

Police immediately pulled in Kenneth Bianchi for questioning. He denied any wrongdoing. After a search of his home, they found several stolen items from the locations he was guarding. This was enough to keep Bianchi incarcerated. Forensic analysts matched the pubic hairs to Bianchi. Police also found items that belonged to several more unidentified women in Bianchi’s home.  

Meanwhile the Bellingham police quite astutely matched the method of the two killings to the M.O. of the Hillside Strangler in LA a year prior. They confirmed that Bianchi was a resident of Los Angeles during the time the Strangler murders were committed. Bellingham police thereupon reached out to the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s office. The LAPD released a photograph of Kenneth Bianchi, asking for any information about the man regarding the Hillside Strangler case. They were contacted by David Wood, a lawyer who had rescued a teenager named Rebecca Spears, whom a year and a half ago had been forced into prostitution by Bianchi and his cousin, the owner of an LA upholstery store, Angelo Buono. 

A Pair of Jokers

Kenneth Alessio Bianchi was born May 22nd 1951 in Rochester, New York. His mother, an alcoholic prostitute, gave the child up for adoption a few weeks after he was born. Kenneth was adopted by Nicholas Bianchi, a shoe factory worker, and his wife Frances.  Kenneth’s mother noted from an early age the boy was a compulsive liar. He also suffered from periodic seizures. Kenneth had an IQ of 116 but did very poorly in school. He was sent to a private Catholic school to improve his grades. Kenneth’s performance got marginally better. When Nicholas Bianchi, his adopted father, died of a heart attack when Kenneth was 13, his mother, Frances, had to go to work to support them. Kenneth was taken out of private school and sent to public school, where he nevertheless retained decent grades and a clean-cut reputation. 

Bianchi was a rather handsome and dashing figure and had no problem getting girls in high school. He usually dated several girls at once. Conversely, Bianchi disapproved of any sort of behaviour on part of his girlfriends or any sort of clothing that he would deem quote-unquote “slutty.” If Bianchi dated a girl, he would demand the utmost devotion and for the girl to stay away from other guys. When Bianchi graduated high school in 1970, he married one of those girlfriends, but the marriage did not last longer than a few months before she left him and the marriage was annulled. Kenneth deeply resented this rejection and it seemed to confirm all of his notions about the waywardness and disloyalty of women.

Kenneth did a stint in college, studying criminology and psychology, before dropping out. He then spent the next few years working as a security guard and stealing things from the buildings he protected.

In 1975, when Kenneth was 24 years old, he left Rochester and went to Los Angeles where he lived with his 41 year old cousin, Angelo Buono. And his cousin, in a nutshell, was a real piece of sh*t.

Angelo Anthony Buono Jr. was born in 1934, also in Rochester, New York. In 1939, when Angelo was 5 years old, his mother and father got divorced. Thereupon Angelo was taken by his mother to live in Los Angeles, California, where she got part-time work in a factory. Angelo was a problem child and was always getting into trouble. He had absolutely no respect for his mother, regularly calling her a “c*nt” and “whore” to her face. While in high school, he was arrested for grand theft auto.  

By Californian law enforcement – http://crime.about.com (which acquired no IP rights), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30364907

Despite not being a classically handsome man, Buono’s machismo seemed to exert a spell over some women. Buono himself was obsessed with sex. He referred to himself as “the Italian Stallion.” In 1955, a 21 year old Buono got a girl pregnant, married her, and left her a week later. Not long after, Buono was arrested for stealing another car. While he was in prison, his estranged wife gave birth to their son, Michael. Buono refused to pay any child support or to permit the child to call him “dad.”  

Upon release from prison in 1956, Buono hooked up with another girl named Mary Castillo. Soon she was pregnant and gave birth to their son Anthony in 1957. Not long after, Buono married Castillo and they went on to have 4 more children over the course of the next 5 years. Buono was verbally and physically abusive to Mary. Although Buono never drank, he beat her regularly and wanted the children to watch. At one point he tied her to the bed and raped her so violently that Mary thought she was going to die. Buono was also physically abusive toward the children, and some accounts go as far as to assert he sexually abused them too. 

In 1964, Mary filed for divorce citing domestic abuse. Buono refused to pay her any child support for their 5 kids, and Mary was forced into poverty. When, out of desperation, Mary tried to reconcile with Buono to get him to support them again, he tied her up, stuck a gun in her stomach and threatened to kill her. When Mary was released, she fled and had limited contact with Buono from that point forward.

In 1965, Angelo Buono moved in with 25 year old Nanette Campina, a single mother of two. Buono and Campina went on to have two more children together between 1965 and 1969, bringing the family total to four. Buono subjected Nanette to verbal and physical abuse and threatened to kill her if she ever left him. In 1971, Buono’s eyes turned toward Nanette’s 14 year old daughter by a previous relationship, and he raped her, saying, and I quote, “she needed to be broken in.” Not long after, Nanette took her four children and fled the state.

For the next few years, Buono spent his time picking up underage teenage girls, spending money on them and plying them with alcohol. Buono’s particular brand of carnalities with these girls clearly marked him out as a textbook sexual sadist. He preyed on the girls’ young age and naivety so he could convince them those sex acts were normal. Buono also frequented prostitutes and treated them quite roughly as well. Buono would solicit the services of a prostitute, engage in some fairly depraved and humiliating acts, and afterward he would impersonate a police officer, flash a badge at the bewildered sex worker, threaten to arrest her, and receive all of his money back and get the sexual services for free.

In 1975, Buono had saved up enough money to purchase his upholstery shop in Los Angeles and he developed a reputation for performing decent work. His cousin, 24 year old Kenneth Bianchi, showed up that same year to live with him. Buono quickly took Bianchi under his wing. On the subject of women, Buono told his younger cousin, quote, “You can’t let a c*nt get the upper hand. Put them in their place.” Bianchi Plays His Hand

Bianchi was short on money, so he and Buono decided to become pimps. They coerced teenage girls into prostitution via threats and acts of violence. This carried on for the better part of two years.

Meanwhile, Bianchi moved into his own apartment. In his building was a young college student named Kristina Weckler, who rejected his sexual advances. A few months later, in November of 1977, she became one of the victims of the Hillside Strangler.

Bianchi pivoted toward a woman named Kelli Boyd. They moved in together. In May 1977 she became pregnant with his child. Bianchi proposed to Kelli, but she hesitated to accept him, since he had a tendency to lie, steal, and be extremely jealous of her around other men to the point of abusiveness. Kelli once caught Bianchi in the act of perpetrating a fraud. Bianchi had given himself false qualifications and set up a bogus therapy business in downtown LA. Nevertheless, Kelli stayed in a romantic relationship with Bianchi, hoping that he would change his ways. He had recently expressed interest in joining the LAPD.

When the Hillside Strangler murders began in October of 1977, Bianchi covered up his frequent all-night absences by telling Kelli that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. This was a lie. But it allowed him to spend a lot of time away from her getting what he claimed were “overnight chemotherapy treatments.” Kelli was supportive for the first few months of this process. Meanwhile Bianchi and Buono were out at night brutalising and murdering women just like her.

In early 1978, as the Hillside Strangler was still racking up victims, Kelli Boyd broke up with Bianchi and went home to live with her parents in Bellingham, Washington State. Bianchi wrote her constantly, and in May 1978 he convinced Kelli to give him another shot. Bianchi quickly drove up to Bellingham to join her and got work as a security guard. This was just as well, since back in LA, Buono was threatening to kill Bianchi if he did not leave town. Bianchi had been too arrogant and had attracted the attention of the LAPD by his constant discussion of the Hillside Strangler with cops while Bianchi was on ride-alongs. They had formally interrogated him.

Then in January 1979, Bianchi murdered two university students in Bellingham. He was so incompetent that he left multiple pieces of evidence leading back to him. It is quite clear in the previous Hillside killings, that it was Angelo Buono, the other piece of sh*t, who had been the brains of the operation. 

When Bianchi was arrested for the murder of Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder, he claimed he had amnesia and didn’t remember anything about what happened on the night of the 11th. Several items Bianchi had in his possession were traced back to victims of the Hillside Strangler. At this point, Bianchi crafted the lie that he had multiple personalities. One of these multiple personalities, “Steve”, had committed the murders. Bianchi claimed that Steve had not only killed Karen and Diane in Bellingham, but had also carried out the LA murders with his cousin Angelo Buono. At this point, Bianchi had no problem throwing his cousin under the bus, if it meant Bianchi could skate past life imprisonment with an insanity plea.

Meanwhile the LA Sherrif’s office identified Angelo Buono as one of the men seen forcing 15 year old Judith Miller into a car on Sunset Boulevard the night of her murder. Similarly, the neighbour who had seen the abduction of Lauren Wagner from outside her parent’s house quickly identified both Buono and Bianchi from a photo line-up. Shortly thereafter, rigorous psychological testing revealed that Bianchi was faking his mental illness and was fit to stand trial.

It was at this point that prosecutors threatened Bianchi with the death penalty in Washington State for the murders of Karen and Diane if he did not testify against his cousin, Angelo Buono, for the Hillside killings in LA. If Bianchi cooperated, prosecutors told him they’d push for life in prison instead. Duly convinced, Bianchi flipped on his cousin and gave police the full details of the murders. Both deeply misogynistic, the men had been encouraged by their initial murder of Yolanda Washington, and decided to go on a rampage where they raped and sodomised young women, and experimented with various methods of torture, before killing them and dumping them at various locations across LA.

Angelo Buono was arrested in Los Angeles on October 22nd 1979. Unfortunately, Bianchi began to change his story, claiming that an unknown third man had performed the murders and forced him and his cousin to watch. Bianchi also began to pretend to be insane again. This destroyed Bianchi’s credibility as a witness against Buono. Bianchi’s motivation for doing this was to avoid getting killed in prison for being a snitch.

Without Bianchi’s testimony, the district attorney wanted to throw out the case against Buono. The presiding judge rejected this, blocked the move, and assigned the case to another prosecutor. But authorities were going to have an uphill battle tying Buono to the initial 10 Hillside murders beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Meanwhile, with Buono’s fate uncertain, Bianchi began to think that he could skate free of his own life sentence if the third man he claimed to have actually committed the murders suddenly materialised. If another Hillside murder occurred while Bianchi was in prison and Buono was on trial, then surely that would exculpate them both. 

And it was in carrying out this plan that Kenneth Bianchi found a surprisingly helpful ally.

Meet Veronica Compton

Veronica Lynn Barrera de Campero [bah-rare-ah dee cam-pero] was born in 1956 to a Mexican immigrant father and a US born mother of British descent. Her father was a wealthy businessman with alleged links to Mexican drug cartels. He was abusive to Veronica’s mother and cheated on her constantly. Veronica claims that when she was 5 years old, her father began to molest her. The man also subjected Veronica and her brothers to brutal beatings. Veronica’s miserable upbringing was also exacerbated by her lifelong kidney disorder, which kept her in and out of hospital and trapped on numerous heavy medications. 

In 1966, when Veronica was 10, her mother managed to secure a divorce from her father. Despite the fact he was a Catholic traditionalist, Veronica’s mother won the divorce on the grounds of his many extramarital affairs. Shortly thereafter Veronica’s father left town in disgrace but retained contact with his children. According to Veronica, her older brother became head of the household, and, emulating the example of their father, the physical and emotional abuse of Veronica continued at the hands of her elder sibling.

From this point, Veronica grew up in a chaotic single-parent household where there were very few effective disciplinary controls. Drugs entered the household. And from an early age Veronica used them to cope with her past and present traumas. Veronica’s father had left the family well off, but this may have done more harm than good. As Veronica puts it, quote, “Myself and my brothers were mocked, halfwhite, half-Hispanic, in an upscale white community. Drugs became my life-line. By the time I met Ken [Bianchi], I was entirely drugged, vulnerable, distorted.”

In 1968, when Veronica was just 12 years old, she was date-raped by a 16 year old boy. She was trying to fit in with the older kids in her neighbourhood. The perpetrator was a spoiled local teenager whom Veronica described as rather “slick.” He lured Veronica into a fancy muscle car provided to him by his parents. Then he plied a 12 year old Veronica with drugs and raped her. 

Tired of the abuse and the mounting traumas, Veronica ran away from home the same year. Shortly thereafter she was kidnapped and forced into a prostitution ring. She was held for several months and severely tortured during her captivity. Thanks to the intervention of concerned citizens in the local community, Veronica finally managed to escape. She returned home. By this time, Veronica had become mute, prone to night terrors, and was very sick and weak. But she was alive.

In 1971, at the age of 15, Veronica was diagnosed with both breast cancer and cervical cancer. Doctors advised her to have a hysterectomy and double mastectomies. She refused the surgeries and continued on chemotherapy and radiation treatments alone. Naturally these treatments made her even more ill than her kidney condition, her traumas, and her drug abuse had already rendered her. Fortunately, the treatments were effective in causing her cancers to go into remission. Meanwhile, Veronica had resolved to get pregnant before she was either rendered infertile or the cancers returned and killed her.

In 1974, finishing up with school at age 18, Veronica moved to Los Angeles to live with her father. In the intervening years, he had established himself as a well-connected businessman in the upper echelons of LA society. Veronica lived with him for a while in a luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills. 

It was here, enjoying the flimsy glamour of a predatory 1970s LA, that a rather good-looking, if frail, Veronica became sexually active to a compulsive extent. In this, she was helped along by lecherous older men. As Veronica puts it, “I was just at the age when men begin to look at you like you are a woman. But you’re not. [Nevertheless], I dated dad’s friends.” Her childhood misfortunes had left her thin, petite, but athletic. She had an olive complexion and dark hair, a face with the strikingly defined bone-structure of a beauty queen, contrasted with a slightly large but aristocratically upturned nose. As such, she gained a lot of attention from her father’s merry band of older, famous, degenerate friends. And, it was LA in the 1970s. A culture of exploitative sexual seediness had long since kicked in. 

Combined with Veronica’s own deeply held desire to have a child, it was not long before, at age 19, she met a rather well-known LA boxer and became pregnant. She had a son. Unfortunately, the famous boxer in question was allegedly abusive, and Veronica was repeatedly hospitalised as a result of his severe beatings. One such assault was so viciously brutal that it required partial facial reconstruction. Eventually, with the aid of three of her friends, Veronica and her infant son were able to escape from this sh*tbag boxer and return to her father’s house.  

But Veronica’s father was a Catholic traditionalist and would not countenance having an unwed daughter with a bastard son in full view of his society friends. And so, he gave Veronica a choice. Either get married to a suitable man of his choosing, or else withdraw and hide from all public events. Veronica chose the arranged marriage. Her father chose a well-connected LA chap named “Compton” who was something of a local celebrity for helping out with the NASA Apollo missions to the moon. He was also a wealthy art collector, and he attended numerous society events, and even hosted one or two. According to Veronica, he was also connected to a druglord back in Mexico, which gave her a steady supply of weed, pills, and cocaine to dull her feelings. At this point, coping with what Veronica had already gone through, she found herself totally slammed on coke. The rollercoaster only accelerated from there.

Veronica Compton enjoyed the LA society lifestyle for a couple of years, but ultimately she did not love her husband. The partying and promiscuity also did not help. Fortunately, Veronica’s father found that a divorced mother was more publicly palatable to his society friends than an unwed mother. And so, Veronica was permitted to seek a separation and ultimately secured a divorce.

For the next step of her life, Veronica’s father arranged for her to sit an interview with the esteemed acting studio “The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.” She was accepted into the institute and soon became a protégé of Lee Strasberg himself, one of the world’s foremost acting coaches, who also trained Dustin Hoffman, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro. On the surface, it appeared that Veronica’s life was finally about to turn around.  

Veronica Compton studied with Lee Strasberg for two years. She excelled at acting, writing, and producing plays and musicals. In 1977, the same year the Hillside murders began, a 21 year old Veronica wrote, directed, and performed her first public play and got favourable reviews in the newspapers. In many ways, she was for a time the “hot new thing” in Los Angeles. She was also being cast in lead roles of studio and local theatre productions. Veronica Compton appeared in three movies. She also booked quite a bit of modeling work, becoming the face of Hiram Walker’s “Two Fingers” tequila campaign. Despite her many on-screen talents and physical gifts, it was clear that Veronica’s primary skill was as a screenwriter. Perhaps due to her past trauma. Perhaps due to her snorting bucketfuls of cocaine. Perhaps both. Either way, she worked regularly as a screenwriter for a Beverly Hills production house, as a playwright for the local theatre scene, and she also polished up screenplays for a studio in Hollywood.

In addition to winning over people in showbiz with her talents, Veronica Compton was also extremely likeable as a warm and emotionally sophisticated person, and also as a bit of a party-girl. She made fast friends with almost everyone. She began dating prominent Hollywood producers and directors. She became friends with John Sachs, who was heir to the Rothschild family fortune. She became the disciple of Lawrence Merrick, one time president of the Independent Motion Pictures Producers Guild of America. As her best friend, John Fulton, who was president of the Phillip Morris Talent Agency, said a few years later, quote, “Everyone loved Veronica. What she did was a travesty. But what they’ve done to her is far worse. They took nothing into consideration and we lost a truly great woman.”  

Veronica Compton, the young beautiful actress, model, and screenwriter, eventually became the mistress of Nathan Shapell, an industrial tycoon and a man old enough to be her father. Veronica spent a couple of years trying to convince him to leave his wife for her. Meanwhile, in late 1970s LA, cocaine was in abundance and was deemed socially acceptable at Hollywood parties. At the time, it was not considered as seedy or dangerous because only the wealthy could afford it. Besides, it sure helped Veronica stay awake after all-night parties with her friends, turning to write her scripts on a deadline. The only minor side effect was relentless insomnia, hallucinations, and a spiral into madness. 

It was then in early 1980, when Veronica was just 24 years old, that she began working on a new stage play called “The Mutilated Cutter.” Veronica wanted the play to be about a female serial killer and she wanted the script to plunge deep into such a person’s tortured psyche. Yet Veronica lacked a frame of reference to write the character. She had suffered most of her life as a victim of other people’s crimes and abuses. She did not have much experience as a predator. Particularly one of a pathological, psychotic, and lethal kind. It was then that Veronica got word that Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, was in prison, his testimony looming large over the trial of his accomplice, Angelo Buono.

Hybristophilia [high-brist-o-philia]

Hybristophilia is a deeply delusional, self-destructive, and psychologically embedded “paraphilia” or (heavy air quotes) deviant sexual proclivity where an individual develops a sexual obsession with a person who has committed a crime. Far from merely being a person who happens to be romantically entangled with a criminal, a hybristophiliac becomes aroused at the thought of another person engaging in dishonest or violent activity, and with such thoughts they achieve orgasm during sexual intercourse or masturbation. The object of a hybristophiliac’s affections can either be at large or in prison. They can either know the criminal personally or merely by reputation. The disorder is common enough that many criminals receive quote-unquote “fan mail” from dozens of individuals either declaring feelings of lust or love. In the case of the latter, a hybristophiliac’s romantic investment in a criminal is usually obsessive, frequently leading the hybristophiliac to adopt the criminal’s moral code – or lack thereof. The popular slang for hybristophilia is “Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome”, although it is unclear if Bonnie Parker actually got sexually aroused from committing crimes with Clyde Barrow, or if she was more his incidental romantic partner along for the ride, or whether she was a remorseless sociopath in her own right.

Most hybristophilia is fairly mild and goes as far as writing romantic or pornographic letters to inmates in prison. This category of individual is known as a “prison groupie” in the same sense one may fantasize about an actor or musician. These prison groupies make up the majority of cases. Occasionally, the paraphilia escalates to the point that the hybristophiliac marries the criminal, often in prison, occasionally becoming inseminated with the criminal’s child during conjugal visits. Alternatively, a hybristophiliac may fall into love or lust with a criminal who is still at large, becoming aroused as they witness their lover’s crimes, or even encouraging such activity for their own sexual gratification. A common baseline of these behaviours is when a hybristophiliac will deliberately spark a conflict with an outsider, thus provoking their lover to commit an act of violence on the unwitting victim while the hybristophiliac watches in arousal. In very rare cases, a hybristophiliac may actively assist their lover in carrying out their crimes, or even develop a copy-cat mentality and start compulsively committing crimes of their own. In the case of Veronica Compton, hers was a case of hybristophilia on steroids.

Generally speaking, the sort of criminal who attracts hybristophiliacs is a psychopath or sociopath. Someone who either by birth or by upbringing is extremely narcissistic, brash, ruthless, and lacking all sense of empathy for their fellow man. Thus a serial killer is more likely to attract hybristophiliacs than a tax cheat. Accordingly, the type of criminal is overwhemingly associated with violence, tapping into a raw animalistic set of feelings for the hybristophiliac and signaling a kind of unfettered primordial strength. While a hybristophiliac can be either a man or a woman, the overwhelming majority of diagnosed hybristophiliacs are women. Statistically, women are helped out by the fact that 90% of crimes are committed by men. And men who engage romantically or sexually with criminal women frequently commit crimes of their own, and thus avoid the classification of hybristophilia. 

Furthermore, some psychologists assert there are clear evolutionary reasons why hybristophilia is more common in women. The human species had their sexual instincts forged over millions of years of evolution, and the species Homo sapiens itself is over 300,000 years old. For all but the past 5000 years of this time, most humans lived in small close-knit groups without written laws, police forces, or a formal judicial system. Surveys of human skeletons from the late Paleolithic have indicated that the murder rate was a whopping 10% of the population. In such a world, it actually wasn’t a bad policy to link up with a ruthless, violent male psychopath who was capable of defending his woman and her offspring. 

Assuming, of course, the ruthless psycho didn’t harm his mate or their children, which he often did to some degree, by all manner of abuse, physical or sexual torture, and even homicide. But provided the man wasn’t so murderous that he wiped out all the children, there were valid evolutionary reasons for this mental disorder to continue to exist. And so hybristophilia was born for much the same reasons genetic psychopathy was: it allowed people to survive long enough to reproduce. In a merciless, ugly, Darwinian world, that is all evolution required. And while psychopathy is actually one of the most troublingly common mental disorders, with an estimated 1-5% of the human population having primary or secondary psychopathy, it’s estimated at least an equal number of hybristophiliacs exist. Perhaps more. This massive share of the population is a relic of how effective the dark side of human nature was as a survival and mating strategy for hundreds of thousands, and indeed, millions of years.

As the old saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. And, accordingly, behind every great monster may well be a quiveringly aroused hybristophiliac.

We are all, evolutionarily speaking, still monkeys in shoes. So much of criminal history comes down to the fact that a tremendous number of us are born either monsters or enablers of monsters. And every new generation born into the human species has to bear the terrible burden of that fact.

The Devil’s Embrace

Veronica initiated contact with Kenneth Bianchi by mail. At the time, he was being shipped back and forth between Washington State Penitentiary and a Los Angeles County jail to testify against Buono. She wrote him what she thought was a deeply manipulative letter. She attempted to come off as not only sympathetic to his plight, but understanding and even in favour of the acts he had committed. The idea was to win Bianchi over so he would reveal some useful nuggets for Veronica Compton’s stage play.  

Veronica had no interest in contacting female criminals. First of all, in the serial killer class, they weren’t as in generous a supply. Only a tiny minority of serial killers were women, and the majority of those were baby-killers, which didn’t suit Veronica’s proposed anti-heroine at all. Secondly, Veronica wanted to infuse her female serial killer with the mind and predatory instincts of a man, to make the monstrosity she splashed across the pages all the more bold, raw, and compelling for the audience. As for manipulating Bianchi, Veronica Compton thought that would be easy. The two murders in Bellingham, which he catastrophically f*cked up by leaving copious amounts of evidence and a direct link to him without an appropriate alibi, made him look like an idiot. 

Veronica thought she was hardly dealing with a criminal mastermind. She was dealing with a stupid animal, an opportunistic rapist, and a sexual sadist. That would be enough grit for her play. A brilliant playwright like her could deconstruct such a person easily, she arrogantly thought. What she overlooked, of course, was her own drug abuse and her own traumatic past and boatloads of mental pathologies that left her vulnerable to a compulsive liar who had practice luring women into situations where he could strike like a viper. Veronica was struggling at the time, raising her son alone, while the boy’s father was in prison on a drug-smuggling charge. She was also filling the role as an unhappy mistress to a rich man, desperately trying to get Nathan Shapell to divorce his wife. And all the while she was fighting a severe cocaine addiction, which was so bad she had started to suffer hallucinations and convulsions. Within a few written replies, Bianchi had already set to work bringing Veronica under his power. In retrospect, Veronica’s defeat in this battle of wits was a foregone conclusion.  

As her best friend, the prosperous talent agent, John Fulton, has said, “At this point, no one knew how much Veronica was involved with drugs or Bianchi. Someone would have helped her.”

Meanwhile, Kenneth Bianchi may well have been remembering the words of his cousin, quote, “You can’t let a c*nt get the upper hand. Put them in their place.”

From the start, there was a perverse personal attachment between Kenneth Bianchi and Veronica Compton. As a young girl, Veronica had suffered many of the outrages Kenneth Bianchi had inflicted on others. Veronica had been molested, raped, beaten, tortured, and at one point forced into prostitution. One would think this would cause Veronica to recoil from a monster like Bianchi. Quite the contrary, the familiar patterns drew her further in. Veronica confided in Bianchi about her cocaine habit, her partying, and her troubled past. Bianchi replied by saying he’d look after her and protect her if he could only be released from prison. Thus the trap was set. And Veronica Compton was immediately ensnared. She was no longer talking to a potential inspiration for a play. She was talking to a man who could, in her mind, quite reasonably assume the place of her provider, protector, and lover. If only he could be free.

As Compton herself once said from behind the bars of a prison cell, quote, “I was stupid to think I could get inside Bianchi’s head. It was grandiose. He ended up inside my own head. You know how these men operate. They charm. They manipulate. They terrorize. That’s why they get away with it, again, and again, and again. Let’s face it. I was crazy. I wasn’t deciphering reality at that point. I honestly wasn’t taking responsibility for what I was doing. I was determined to keep up this façade, to keep Kenneth thinking I was like him, so that he would talk to me.”

Eventually, Bianchi and Compton met face to face. Bianchi was only five years older than Veronica. He was still only 29 years old. He had a strong masculine face, an easy confident swagger, and he projected a subtle sexual vigour. Let’s face it. As far as Veronica Compton was concerned, Bianchi was handsome. He was a dish. And the fact that he was capable of such violence and brutality wasn’t a deal-breaker. Far from it, it was a turn-on. Hybristophilia took hold, and Veronica embarked on several months of conversation, infatuation, masturbation, and delusional fantasies of what the future could be. 

But Bianchi’s seduction wasn’t all flowers and chocolates. Having unearthed all of Veronica’s deepest darkest secrets, he threatened to report her to the police and child services for her drug habit. If Veronica’s troubled mental state and her substance abuse were known, he threatened, then she would have her son taken away from her. So, he said, it was in Veronica’s interests to cooperate. Or else. For her part, Veronica merely accepted this emotional abuse and blackmail. It even escalated to erotic levels. As Veronica herself states, quote, “I can remember letting him punish me over the phone. As if he could reach out and grab me if I didn’t obey. I would self-mutilate, if that’s what he wanted.”  

It was thus by the carrot and the stick, the soothing word and the powerful command, that Bianchi made Veronica Compton his creature. His own personal Harley Quinn. And Veronica, having long since justified and eroticised his crimes in her own mind, thought that obedience was a small price to pay to align herself with such raw and masculine protective power. 

And so, Kenneth Bianchi dictated to Veronica Compton his plan to exculpate himself for the crimes of the Hillside Strangler in LA and his two murders in Bellingham, Washington. 

Bianchi instructed Veronica to kill a woman. And Bianchi told her to do it using the modus operandi of the same man who conducted the killings of 1977, ‘78, and the double murder in Washington in ‘79.

Veronica had to find a woman, bind her, torture her, and strangle her to death. She was also told to leave Bianchi’s semen sample on the corpse. They arranged this by Veronica smuggling her lover’s jizz out of Walla Walla prison, wrapped in a plastic glove, and stuffed into the spine of an old book. Nowadays, DNA testing would show that the semen matched Bianchi – or his evil twin – with a 20 billion to one rate of accuracy. But in 1980, DNA forensics were several years off, and all police would be left with was yet another Hillside-style murder in Bellingham and a semen sample that bore a similar blood type to the other killings. While not the most ingenious or foolproof plan, Bianchi thought this would be enough for him to challenge the charges against him, to dismiss his confessions as brought on by mental illness, to show how his ramblings about a “third man” were accurate, and ultimately have him sprung free from prison. 

After a while, Bianchi would quietly disappear. Then he would start his predations all over again.

To cap this all off was one more brilliant tactic. In addition to murdering a woman and staging it to look like the Hillside Strangler, Veronica would send a pre-taped confession of the murder to the police. This confession would be read by a struggling male actor that Veronica would record under the guise of an audition for one of her plays.

Such, for better or worse, was their plan. And now for the execution.

http://Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-rope-906060/

“Whatever You Say, Mr. K”

On the morning of September 19th 1980, Veronica Compton travelled to Bellingham, Washington State, with the illicit semen sample, some rope, and the false confession tape in her possession. Bellingham was the town where Bianchi had been busted for the murder of two university students in 1979, and his logic was that if a Hillside murder happened in Bellingham it would imply that the police had gotten the wrong man, that the killer still resided in the town, and that Bianchi was merely insane for confessing. All Compton needed to do was to find a woman, any woman, and kill her. 

By this point, Compton was strung out on drugs and entirely under Bianchi’s spell. As Veronica herself puts it, “As I deteriorated, he grew stronger. He knew he had me – someone to do his bidding.”

Compton arrived at the rather sleazy Shangri-La Downtown Motel, settled in, did a few lines of coke, and donned her disguise. Compton covered her dark hair with a blonde wig, and donned a pair of glasses. She also shoved a pillow under her shirt in order to masquerade as being pregnant. Anything to throw off an accurate description of any witnesses who might see her that night. 

She was extremely agitated and went over the plan in her head again and again. Quote, “It was important that I created a pattern killing. Ken had gone over the precise way to tie the rope a hundred times with me. It had to look like the Hillside Strangler had done it, or he wouldn’t go free.”

Compton’s nervousness was about fear of getting caught, paranoia brought on by drug abuse, and above all fear of disappointing her lover. Her agitation had very little to do with the prospect of snuffing out another human life. By this point Compton had been entirely won over to Bianchi’s worldview, which justified the treatment of “lesser women” and “sluts” as mere objects to be tortured and disposed of. Not like Compton, the beautiful screenwriter. She was quality. And given she was a “superior woman” why not join in the fun? 

It would also appear from their communications, that Compton had also indulged to a certain degree in a macabre bloodlust and disturbing sexual fantasies. She revelled, at least in theory, in the suffering and death of others. In short, at this point Compton was a severely messed up human being. As she has said, quote, “It was all my life before that night that allowed me to become so sadistic during that time.”

After a lengthy period of time doing drugs and masturbating in the motel room and psyching herself up for committing murder, Veronica Compton went out on the prowl in search of a suitable target. After a day’s searching, eyeing up every woman she saw, weighing the risks and rewards of making an approach, nothing seemed to feel right. But Veronica wasn’t in a rush. She would stay in Bellingham until the job was done. If it took days or even weeks, she would find a woman and kill her.

At 10pm that night, Compton wound up at a cocktail bar where she laid eyes on 26 year old Kim Breed. She was a maintenance worker at the Bellingham Department of Parks and Recreation and, given she was a single mother with children to support, she did a few evenings waitressing at the bar. Compton took a seat in a booth and quietly observed her.

Of course, Compton’s M.O. couldn’t follow the Hillside Strangler to the letter. Bianchi and Buono had usually impersonated police officers and staged a phony arrest, or merely grabbed a woman on the street and dragged her into their car. Veronica Compton was alone and not assured of the same strength that would allow her to overpower another woman. Instead, Veronica smiled at Kim Breed and struck up a conversation with her, using the typical charm that had won over so many people in LA. This was according to Bianchi’s direct instructions to Compton, quote, “Ken told me to be as approachable as possible. I refer to those days in reference to Ken Bianchi as the days of my ‘Master.’ Neither [Kim nor I] were virgins, but she was nevertheless innocent, naïve.”

Veronica Compton’s charisma worked. Kim Breed fell into a long chat with her amid waiting other tables. Compton told Kim that her name was “Karen.” Apparently because it was 1980, Kim did not think it was terribly odd or irresponsible that a pregnant woman was in a bar at 10 o’clock at night drinking. Compton nursed her beverage and lingered in the bar, eventually convincing Kim to come partying with her after work. She offered the inducements of good company and hard drugs. After an hour, Kim’s shift ended, and the two headed off into the night.

The two women took Kim’s car. Their first stop was a grocery store. Kim needed to by some food for her kids. They also picked up some booze. Their next stop was at Kim’s home so she could drop off the groceries. Her children were already asleep. Then Kim and Veronica drove around for a bit, taking slugs from a bottle of booze as they did, and snorted a bit of cocaine off the dashboard. Then the two women repaired to a local dance club where they spent a few hours dancing with some of Kim’s other friends. By the time Kim and Veronica left the dance club both of them were heavily intoxicated. 

At this point, Veronica convinced Kim Breed to come with her to the Shangri-La Motel, where she was staying, in order to do some more drugs and keep the party going. Once they arrived back at the hotel, more cocaine and booze flowed and they chatted and cackled semi-coherently. It was at this point that Compton convinced Kim to pose for some quote-unquote “joke bondage photos.” Kim apparently thought this was hilarious. Veronica retrieved some rope and tied up Kim on the bed. It was at this point that Compton sat on Kim’s back and pulled another length of rope around Kim’s neck and began to strangle her as Bianchi had trained her to do. Kim struggled, but Compton kept her grip firm. 

To quote Compton’s account of that moment, “I still can’t believe it was me, tightening that rope. It wasn’t me in every way except physically. No. That’s not it exactly. Mentally, this monster is just what I had become. I had her. Straddled. I could have done it. But my heart wouldn’t allow it.”

Veronica Compton panicked, released her grip on the rope, and fell off Kim Breed. In Compton’s drug and alcohol induced haze she had only partially bound the 26 year old. Kim began to untie her bindings, and began screaming at Veronica for taking the joke too far. Compton became upset, curled up on the motel room floor, and began sobbing uncontrollably. It was at this point that Kim’s anger turned to concern. Compton was on the floor in hysterics. Kim asked her would-be murderer if she was OK. Compton said she’d be fine and waved her away. At this point Kim Breed left the motel room. Several minutes later, Veronica Compton stopped crying, staggered out the door of her room, went on an aimless bleary-eyed hunt for Kim Breed to finish the job, before passing out in some nearby bushes.

Meanwhile, Kim Breed, who was also shit-faced on booze and coke, went and got her boyfriend, and they returned to the Shangri-La Motel, possibly for Kim’s boyfriend to beat Veronica up. They re-entered Compton’s room and, finding it abandoned, had sex on the same bed that, moments before, Kim had nearly been murdered. A little while later, some other motel guests found Veronica Compton lying in the bushes, woke her up, and asked her which room she was staying in. The kind strangers then escorted the disoriented woman back there, so she could sleep off whatever she had taken that night. There Compton found Kim and her boyfriend f*cking on her bed. They desisted and Kim, still outraged at Compton taking a joke too far, refused to look at her. Kim and her boyfriend left soon after.

Compton passed out on her bed and woke up several hours later, in the late morning of September 20th, feeling awful. Kim Breed, meanwhile, not fully being aware what had transpired the night before did not report the attempted murder to the police.

Veronica Compton lingered in bed for a few hours, and did another few rails of cocaine to give her a burst of energy for the day, overcoming her withdrawal symptoms and massive hangover. She was nevertheless numb and not altogether conscious of what she was doing. Compton went to the airport and bought a ticket to San Francisco. At the San Francisco airport, Veronica mailed the false confession tape to the Bellingham police, despite the fact that no murder had taken place. There upon Veronica Compton started walking up to strangers and babbling about how the Hillside Strangler was on the loose. She was so disoriented and aggressive that security had to be called to calm the woman down. When Compton was held by security, they took a photograph of her. Veronica was released and spent the next 24 hours sleeping off her drug-induced haze in a San Francisco hotel room. Thereupon she caught another flight to Los Angeles, returning to her residence, and being reunited with her son.

A few days later, Bellingham police received the bogus confession tape in the mail. The man on the tape said that Kenneth Bianchi was an innocent man, and indicated that the recent strangling of a woman in Bellingham proved that he, the Hillside Strangler, was still alive and at large. The man on the tape described the murder of the unnamed young woman as her being bound, raped, tortured, and strangled. Yet there had been no murder in Bellingham recently. 

Police sent out a call to the public, seeking information on what they presumed was Kenneth Bianchi’s accomplice. They also released the details of the supposed murder on the tape. Kim Breed heard the announcement. The M.O. the police described sounded vaguely familiar to what Veronica Compton had attempted to do at the Shangri-La. Suddenly, Kim realised it wasn’t just a joke that had gone too far. She was nearly murdered by a coked-up crazy person. She contacted the police.

Bellingham police interviewed Kim Breed, who described Compton as a dark haired woman whose wig had fallen off during the struggle, and who appeared to be faking a pregnancy. Bellingham quickly linked Compton’s real description to the photograph of a woman who had caused a scene at the San Francisco airport days before, rambling about the return of the Hillside Strangler. Kim Breed later identified Compton from this photograph.

On October 2nd 1980, Veronica Compton was arrested at her residence in Los Angeles for attempted murder. It was not, to say the least, a well-executed crime. Even if Compton had not committed the murder and let Kim Breed escape, it was only her mailing the tape and freaking out at the airport that led her to police attention. Without Veronica being a drugged up idiot, Kim Breed would never have reported the incident and Compton would not have been arrested. I daresay that Veronica Compton is responsible for creating a few new “rules for criminals” for our growing list…

Blood-Soaked Breasts

Veronica Compton’s bail was set at $500,000 or 1.8 million dollars, adjusting for inflation. Despite her father’s affluence and her personal success in showbiz, there was no way she could afford this bond. Instead, Compton was kept at Sybil Brand Jail, the same woman’s facility that had previously housed the Manson women. While Compton was at Sybil Brand, she was kept in cell down the hall from Carol Bundy, a female serial killer and fellow hybristophiliac who had aided the murders of Douglas Clark. The so-called “Sunset Strip Killers” murdered over 6 women and had sex with their corpses. Carol Bundy and Compton shouted to each other, swapping stories. Compton recalls, “[Bundy] was terrifying. I’ll never forget the way she described her crimes. Her voice from down this dark hall. Decapitations, dressing up faces, having sex with dead bodies. All I could think was, what the hell have I done? This isn’t me.”  

This account is somewhat contradicted by testimony that Compton was actually intrigued by necrophilia at the time, having later written, “I never met a dead person I didn’t like.” Although now in prison, her mind was still fairly addled and disturbed. By this time, she was shockingly similar in behaviour to Harley Quinn. And this wasn’t the last friendly contact Compton would have with the “Sunset Strip Killers.”  

In 1981, Veronica Compton was convicted of attempted murder and given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after twelve years. She began serving her sentence at Gig Harbour prison in Washington State. At the trial, Veronica appeared as a rather confused and demented figure. The prosecution referred to Compton as “extremely dangerous because she is bizarre.” The judge said she was so vile that she deserved to spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Meanwhile Kenneth Bianchi, his plans foiled, stayed in prison in Walla Walla. For the murder of 12 women, he had initially received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. But in exchange for testifying against Angelo Buono, he later received the faint possibility of parole after 30 years should he no longer be deemed a threat to society.

Meanwhile, the trial of Angelo Buono became one of the longest and most tortuous in American history, lasting two years from November 1981 to November 1983. Initially, Buono’s lawyers managed to separate the trial for the murders from the trial for multiple counts of rape, assault and forced prostitution, so the jury on the murder trial would not hear Buono’s long history of abusing women. The judge allowed this so that Buono could not use the claim of a prejudiced jury to appeal his murder convictions later on. The prosecution initially relied on Bianchi’s testimony, but when he took the stand he appeared so insane and unreliable that the defense immediately moved to have the case thrown out, taking their appeals all the way to the California Supreme Court. These appeals took over a year.

Meanwhile, due to the fame (or rather infamy) of the Hillside Stranglers, it took three and a half months to select an impartial jury. Fortunately, the prosecution succeeded in getting the charges of rape, assault, and forced prostitution to be included again in the same trial, so all Buono’s misdeeds could be heard and the Hillside murders could be placed in their proper context. Buono was a piece of sh*t who had tormented women his entire life. So determined were the prosecution to not let Buono slip the net, that the trial included over a thousand evidence exhibits, and over 250 witnesses testified.

One of these witnesses to take the stand for the defense was Veronica Compton. She proceeded to tell a deranged story where Kenneth Bianchi and her had conspired to frame Buono for murder. The court was shocked. One observer commented, “The logic and sequence of this conspiracy were impossible to follow, and her manner, that of a starlet courting recognition on a television talk show – coquettish, then dramatic, tearful, giggly, self-caressing – was far more arresting than her conspiracy story.”

When the prosecutor cross examined Veronica Compton, she gleefully announced to the court that she was considering opening a mortuary when she got out of prison so she could have sex with the corpses. Veronica went on to list a variety of sex acts she was into, involving both self-mutilation and harm done to others, and arousal at all things macabre. The only other thing the prosecution managed to drag out of her was that she was angry with Bianchi for convincing her to try and strangle Kim Breed.

Ultimately, after two weeks of deliberations, the jury found Angelo Buono guilty of the murder of Evelyn King, aged 28, Elissa Kastin, 21, Kristina Weckler and Cindy Hudspeth, both aged 20, Lauren Wagner, 18, Kimberly Martin, 17, Judith Miller, 15, Sonja Johnson, 14, and Dolores Cepeda, aged only 12. 

Due to a lack of evidence, Buono was found not guilty of the murder of Yolanda Washington, aged 19, the revenge-fueled murder of an innocent bystander, all because the killers could not find her friend Deborah Noble. Yolanda’s murder had kicked off Bianchi and Buono’s reign of terror.  

Angelo Buono was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

As for Veronica Compton’s relationship with Kenneth Bianchi, there are two conflicting accounts. Compton herself has said that as soon as she failed to kill Kim Breed and exonerate him, Bianchi immediately dropped Compton like a hot potato. She was no longer of use to him. Another account claims that Bianchi continued to write Compton in prison for a time, but Compton had lost interest in Bianchi because she had meanwhile fallen in love with another serial killer.

In 1982, Douglas Clark, the husband of Carol Bundy whom Compton met in Sybil Brand jail, and one of the “Sunset Strip Killers” wrote a letter to Veronica Compton. Again, we have two conflicting accounts of what transpired.

According to Veronica’s account, given to a sympathetic true crime author while Compton was behind bars, Clark impersonated a law student, expressing interest in Veronica’s case and concern for her plight. In the same account, Compton said that Clark soon changed his story claiming that he was a wrongfully convicted man on death row. In order for their communication to continue, their letters were sent to an intermediary: the house of one of Clark’s friends in LA. Clark would address his letters to the house, and these would in turn be forwarded along to Veronica, and vice versa. According to Veronica Compton, the letters entirely discussed the facts of her case and were, quote, “quite academic and loveless.” Then, to Veronica’s shock and dismay, Clark turned around and announced publicly that he had been corresponding with Compton and he claimed that the two were in love. 

The other account of Clark and Compton’s correspondence, largely touted and upheld by journalists, goes somewhat differently. There was no deception. Clarke wrote Compton and the two quickly began to engage in a harlequin romance, pun very much intended. On Valentine’s Day, Clark sent her a letter with the photo of a decapitated female corpse. In one extract from their correspondence (which I could not verify as authentic), Veronica wrote to Clark, quote, “I take out my straight razor and with one quick stroke I slit the veins in the crook of your arm. Your blood spurts out and spills atop my swelled breasts. Then later that night we cuddle in each other’s arms before the fireplace and dress each other’s wounds with kisses and loving caresses.” At one point it was rumoured that Compton and Clark were engaged to be married.

The latter account accords with Compton’s performance in court because when she announced wanting to buy a mortuary in order to have sex with the corpses, she didn’t want to do it alone. She announced that she wanted to run the mortuary with Doug Clark. Also, the kinky and macabre sex acts Compton described on the stand she claimed she wanted to perform with Clark. According to the “less flattering” account of their correspondence, the two continued to write each other until sometime in 1988, a year after Compton had begun corresponding with yet another man.

The favourable account of these events given by Compton were written at a time when she was still seeking parole, so that would explain her intention to whitewash history if she was being untruthful. Her story also replaces Bianchi’s semen sample with a rope he had made. The account involving headless valentines and blood-soaked boobs, if true, would indicate that Compton’s tendency toward hybristophilia extended far beyond Kenneth Bianchi. One cannot even blame such madness on the abuse of cocaine. In prison, Compton had no choice but to get clean. Yet according to the latter account, Compton continued to correspond with a sick and twisted serial killer and necrophiliac for several years. At time of writing, Douglas Clark is still alive, aged 74, and is still on death row awaiting execution.

Pornographic Murals for Toddlers

In 1988, Veronica Compton was still in prison. Her parole opportunities would not begin until 1994. For the entire 7 years that Compton had been in prison she had heard nothing from her son, who was now 13 years old. Veronica constantly mailed her son letters and care packages on a weekly basis, but Veronica’s father, who had custody of the boy, refused to let Veronica have any contact with him. Veronica’s father even went so far as to change the family phone number. Then in 1988, Veronica was told by one of the prison counsellors that her son had run away from home. He had been arrested and sent to juvenile detention. Allegedly this was in response to physical abuse from Veronica’s father. Veronica was then told that her son wanted to speak to her on the phone. 

During the conversation, her son broke into tears, telling Veronica that he wanted her to come home. Veronica told her son to sit tight and that she’d think of something.

Not long afterward, Veronica Compton somehow escaped from Gig Harbour prison. She arrived in California and phoned her son’s girlfriend. But the FBI had already picked up her son and placed him into “protective custody” and were staking out his girlfriend’s house. Veronica got a message to her son that she would meet him at a location in Arizona the following week. Veronica’s plan was to obtain false IDs, run across the border into Mexico, and live there with her son until he was 21. Then, at least according to Veronica’s version of events, she would selflessly turn herself back over to the authorities.

The FBI intercepted the message detailing the Arizona rendezvous and arrested Compton. She was returned to Gig Harbour prison and given two additional years on her sentence for the escape. She would not be eligible for parole until 1996, when her son would indeed be 21 years old. One silver lining was, unlike the previous 7 years, Compton was henceforth allowed to communicate with her son.

As Veronica Compton languished in prison, she began researching the US legal system, particularly in relation to female offenders. Like so many inmates she became a jailhouse lawyer and legal activist. In 1987, Compton listened to a lecture on crime and punishment delivered by Professor James Wallace of Eastern Washington University. Wallace was a legal expert who sometimes travelled to prisons to educate the inmates. Shortly after his visit in 1987, Compton wrote Professor Wallace a letter, requesting more information about the topics discussed in his lecture. Compton was still young and hot, Wallace was old, married, and horny. Things quickly blossomed into a romance.

After Veronica’s botched escape attempt, Wallace began advising Compton on how to clean up her act in anticipation of her eligibility for parole in 1996. It was around this time that Compton is rumoured to have cut off her correspondence with serial killer and necrophiliac Douglas Clark.

It is quite clear from Compton’s later writings that she adopted the academic language of the humanities, probably learning this style of writing from Wallace. She also began to behave like a model prisoner, getting involved in volunteer work and various advocacy programs to better the lives of female inmates. She also began an amateur sociological study of the lives of women in the US prison system from her firsthand perspective, providing James Wallace with anecdotes. Compton tutored her fellow inmates in English. At Wallace’s insistence, she also converted to Christianity.

Compton certainly knew what notes to play with the parole board, once writing, “Rehabilitation is real. I needed to be here to know myself. To understand the demons driving me so close to evil. To Kenneth, to drugs. I had to come to understand how I could be so self-defeating despite topical successes. Who I became originated in early sexual and physical trauma. But one does heal.”  

Thus, Compton simultaneously praised the effectiveness of the US prison system, implied that she was fully rehabilitated in advance of her parole hearings, while at the same time laying the majority of the blame for her actions on Kenneth Bianchi, her troubled childhood, and the drugs. Such was the impressiveness of Compton’s redemption that the Seattle Times once referred to her as “an angel.”  

As for Veronica’s romance with James Wallace, at the time they began their correspondence, Veronica was 31 years old and was by all accounts still a beautiful woman. Pictures taken of her in the prison gym sometime in the 1990s show her in good shape with bleach blonde hair and a rather glamourous face adorned with make-up she had somehow obtained. 

James Wallace, on the other hand, was 57 years old in 1987 and had been married to the same woman for 36 years. Wallace later asserted to the media that he did not leave his wife for Veronica Compton, quote, “My own marriage had just plain dissipated, as they do sometimes. We had just grown apart.”  

Professor Wallace nevertheless remained dissipatedly married to his wife for a further two years before, in 1989, he divorced her and immediately married Compton. Some people have accused Wallace of being a rare male with a case of hybristophilia, in the ultimate irony of Veronica Compton’s story. The simpler explanation might be that a nearly 60 year old Wallace had his head turned by a good-looking woman in her early thirties who expressed an interest in him, causing Wallace to abandon a stale marriage to a woman he’d been with since 1951. He wouldn’t be the first man to have a mid-life crisis and run off with a much younger woman, and he won’t be the last. But usually most such men run off with women who aren’t in prison for attempted murder, who don’t fall in love with serial killers multiple times, and who don’t publicly declare that they want to f*ck dead bodies.

Professor Wallace defended Compton in the media, quote, “You’re not dealing with a monster. She’s done a monstrous thing, but she’s not a monster. People change. If she had been that way when I first met her, I would have had nothing to do with her at all. She has made a different person of herself.”

On the question of Wallace suffering from his own case of hybristophilia, or being merely desperate to hook up with a younger woman, as well as accusations that Veronica was just using him, Wallace said, quote, “I’m not besotted with Veronica. I love my wife. Veronica attracts a lot of men. She could easily have had someone younger and with more money. She chose me because of my character, and I chose Veronica for hers.”

I’ll simply submit those words without comment and allow the audience to judge what they are worth. 

Wallace made weekly trips to Gig Harbor prison to visit Veronica. After a series of conjugal visits, in 1993 Veronica Compton-Wallace gave birth to a daughter. Professor Wallace made weekend trips to the prison so the infant girl could bond with her mother. Veronica stockpiled her breast milk through the week so she could feed it to her daughter on the weekends. When James Wallace went on a restrictive diet to deal with heart trouble, Veronica cooked a week’s worth of meals for him in the prison kitchen, which he carried back home in a big ice chest. Professor Wallace bleated triumphantly to the press, “Since then, my cholesterol level has gone down 50 points. That’s not a monster. That’s not a monster.”

Three years later, in 1996, at age 40, Veronica Compton-Wallace received parole and left Gig Harbour prison to live with James Wallace and their daughter in the town of Cheney, Washington State. During her parole, Veronica was supposed to go to regular mental health counselling, which she failed to attend. After two weeks out of prison, police officers and a social worker went to Veronica and James’ house to check on the welfare of their three year old daughter. According to police, Veronica answered the door naked. She may or may not have been under the influence of narcotics. When police and the social worker entered the home, they saw that Veronica had painted several pornographic murals on the walls, which were inappropriate for a child to see. Police also found among the documents in the house that Veronica had written several articles about necrophilia and other sexual paraphilias. 

Thus after only two weeks, Veronica Compton-Wallace was packed back off to prison. 

Professor James Wallace disputed what had happened that day. He claimed that Veronica didn’t answer the door naked, but was wearing a peach-coloured robe. He claimed that Veronica’s writings about necrophilia were a joke. Wallace also disputed that the murals on the walls were pornographic and declared he was going to hire a child development expert to tell him if the images would be bad for his daughter’s development. Wallace said to the media, quote, “She’s been lynched! In this case, the parole board was both investigator, prosecutor and judge.”

At Veronica’s parole violation hearing, Chairwoman Kathryn Bail noted that prior to Veronica’s release, she had repeatedly told prison guards that she had married Professor Wallace and had a child simply to get out of prison, and that she had no intention of staying with either of them. Upon questioning at the hearing, Veronica did not deny making these remarks. James Wallace, for his part, denied their significance and reasserted that Veronica was very much devoted to her family.

Three years later, in 1999, Veronica Compton-Wallace was denied parole, with the board claiming that she was still mentally unstable and still represented a threat to society. That same year, at Professor Wallace’s encouragement, Veronica began a research project on women in the US prison system, where she interviewed her fellow inmates, and compiled a lot of outside data and legal theory. The resulting book published in 2002, Eating the Ashes: Seeking Rehabilitation within the US Penal System stays completely away with discussing Veronica’s own story and focuses entirely on discussing female rehabilitation in abstract. 

But the subtext of the book is easy to read. It conveniently concludes, among other things, that most women turn to crime because they had an abusive male somewhere in their past. While that certainly is true for a lot of female criminals, and it is certainly true for Veronica, it is perhaps a little too convenient that the arguments Veronica put forward release her of any responsibility for her actions, and lay the blame squarely on her father, her brother, Kenneth Bianchi, Douglas Clark, and numerous other men. Regular viewers of the Casual Criminalist will already know the overwhelming majority of psychopaths and serial killers have some sort of abusive childhood. John Wayne Gacy doesn’t get a free pass for his abusive childhood. He still raped, tortured, and murdered over 30 young men. He was still held accountable for his crimes. The traumas of our past do not completely erase our crimes in the present.

The book’s message is entirely consistent with Veronica’s earlier writings about herself, entirely refusing to take responsibility for the attempted murder of Kim Breed, and claiming that she was merely quoteunquote “crazy” at the time and had ceased to be herself. It is worth noting that in 1981, Veronica Compton did not plead not guilty by reason of insanity. When Veronica does discuss her past, she describes the action of attempted murder as heinous – but she regularly disassociates that action from herself mentally or spiritually. It was as if Kim Breed was merely struck by lightning. 

In 2003, shortly after the publication of Eating the Ashes, Veronica Compton-Wallace was paroled and has since then managed to stay out of prison. Available sources indicate that she stayed married to James Wallace for roughly a decade before online resources go quiet. Given he was born in 1930, he is quite possibly dead now. Veronica, now aged 66, has kept a fairly low profile, occasionally posting pictures of her paintings online, putting out music on the internet (which quite frankly sounds f*cking awful by the way) and dabbling in various forms of social media. She used to run a Twitter account and a regularly updated page on Facebook before stopping both and taking the Facebook page down in 2018. 

Since then, the real-life Harley Quinn has disappeared into obscurity. Which is probably for the best.

Dismembered Appendices

  1. Angelo Buono spent the rest of his life behind bars. Despite this, in 1986, the self-professed Italian Stallion married a civil servant and single-mother of three who contacted him while he was in prison. No word on hybristophilia. Buono died of a heart attack on September 21st 2002. In 2005, a young man named Christopher, Buono’s grandson by way of one of his former abused wives, Mary Castillo, found out his late grandfather’s true identity. Two years later in 2007, Christopher shot Mary Castillo in the head before committing suicide. 
  2. Kenneth Bianchi is alive and well, still imprisoned at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, now aged 70. As part of his deal to testify against Buono, he was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Bianchi was denied parole in 2010. He will next be eligible for parole in 2025.
  3. In 2013, a New Orleans-based artist named Nina Schwanse [shh-wan-zee] launched an art exhibit called “Hold It Against Me: The Veronica Compton Archive”. In this exhibit, Schwanse pretends to be Veronica Compton, to whom she bears a striking physical resemblance, and faked a bunch of risque photos, letters to Kenneth Bianchi, and even wrote a mock version of the play “The Mutilated Cutter.” Jen should be warned a lot of google search photos of Compton are actually of Schwanse. Her fictionalised version of Compton is largely portrayed as an unrepentant and sickminded sociopath. Schwanse gave an interview to the now defunct art review website ”Pelican Bomb.” Three years later, in 2016, the real Veronica Compton-Wallace reached out to Pelican Bomb to tell her side of the story. In the last public interview Veronica ever conducted, she recounts her abusive childhood, discusses her newest paintings and songs, and reiterates how she was completely crazy when she attempted to murder Kim Breed. In this particular version of events, she blames her actions entirely on the drugs she was doing. 
  4. As far as available sources show, since her release from prison in 2003, despite her declarations at the trial of Angelo Buono, Veronica Compton-Wallace never became the owner of a mortuary. May this forever be the case.

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