Bruce Henderson unravels the story of the "Interstate 5" sex-strangler murders drawing on exclusive interviews with key investigators: Vito Bertocchini, the burly ex-street cop who took the killing of a beautiful young woman personally; Kay Maulsby, the rookie homicide detective who helped to unmask the killer; Ray Biondi, who fought severe budget cuts that threatened to derail the investigation; and criminalist Faye Springer, who attempted to tie the suspect to his victims through subtle but persuasive ...
Bruce Henderson unravels the story of the "Interstate 5" sex-strangler murders drawing on exclusive interviews with key investigators: Vito Bertocchini, the burly ex-street cop who took the killing of a beautiful young woman personally; Kay Maulsby, the rookie homicide detective who helped to unmask the killer; Ray Biondi, who fought severe budget cuts that threatened to derail the investigation; and criminalist Faye Springer, who attempted to tie the suspect to his victims through subtle but persuasive microscopic evidence. The killer was unbelievably adept at staying one step ahead of authorities as the body count grew. Even after police finally identified the culprit - when a would-be victim escaped his grasp - they lacked the evidence to charge him with murder. Instead he was convicted of assault and sentenced to a few months in county jail. With the clock ticking, investigators worked desperately to build a first-degree murder case before the killer was set free. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews - including the killer's wife, who never spoke to authorities - Henderson delves into the psychological complexities of his characters with astute sensitivity and eloquence, building a chilling, fascinating portrait of a depraved and unrepentant serial killer whose own brother was a veteran homicide detective in a neighboring county. Trace Evidence, structured with the razorsharp precision of a Hitchcock film, is a powerful commentary about our society's priorities. If investigative resources had been based on need and not on politics, lives might have been saved.
A roadside strangler, meek as a "corner greengrocer," confounds California detectives in this tense and gritty true-crime account from the co-author (with Vincent Bugliosi) of And the Sea Will Tell. In July 1986, when Stephanie Brown's body was discovered in an irrigation ditch off a desolate stretch of Interstate 5, San Joaquin detectives noted that the young woman had been strangled and her blouse had been cut. One month later, a graying, soft-spoken man offered a ride to a female motorist stranded on I-5; when her partially nude, bound body was found 50 miles away, criminalists ignored the numerous scissor cuts in her pink tank top. The signature style of the "I-5 Strangler" would be present at five more "female body dumps": always the young women would be strangled, usually with a nylon cord, and always their clothing would reveal a bizarre pattern termed by one baffled Department of Justice criminalist "non-functional cutting." Convinced that these murders were the work of one "highly organized" serial killer, Lt. Ray Biondi of Sacramento County Homicide repeatedly called for a multi-agency task force to coordinate the cross-jurisdictional detective work, but "ego and politics" prevented such organization. With novelistic urgency, Henderson tells two equally chilling stories here: how a handful of detectives and one trace-evidence expert nabbed the killer despite what Henderson calls an "unbelievably stupid" battle planand how Roger Kibbe, a detective's brother and "somebody's husband," became that killer. (Mar.)
Because of a composite drawing and his assault of a prostitute, Roger Kibbe was the prime suspect in a series of abductions and sex stranglings over several years in the vicinity of Sacramento, California. Without hard evidence, though, the investigation of the "I-5 Killer" dragged on and the murders continued until trace-evidence specialist Faye Springer entered the case. The outwardly mild-mannered Kibbe, brother of a homicide detective, was convicted in 1991 on the basis of microscopic fibers and paint chips linking him to multiple victims. Henderson, coauthor of And the Sea Will Tell (LJ 12/90), has written a solid, compelling account of the capture of that most vicious of criminals, the random serial killer. Recommended for true-crime collections.Gregor A. Preston, formerly with Univ. of California Lib., Davis