Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Riverside Prostitute Killer

Easy Targets

According to Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, who has authored or co-authored 18 books including Mass Murder: Americas Growing Menace and Overkill: Mass Murder and Serial Killing, the common denominator among the victims of serial killers is vulnerability.  During a June 24, 1998 interview with, Levin stated that prostitutes are the number one victims, Because they will get right into the car with a stranger, can easily be dehumanized in the mind of the killer and are not missed for a very long time by family members.  He also described a serial killer as someone who, murder(s) one victim at a time, at least three or four over a period of weeks, months or years, with a cooling off period between their murders.  The majority of serial killers hunt humans, usually for sexual thrills and will commit the crimes over and over again until they are killed, arrested, or in very rare cases, decide to move on and find another fantasy to pursue.  During a serial killer's cooling off period, he will fantasize about his previous murder and, like a drug, he will be content for a period of time.  However, with the passing of time these fantasies will become less and less appealing and he will have to kill again in order to find the fulfillment he desires.  Often times the killings become more violent than the last and the cooling off period becomes shorter and shorter.  The killer might also become more brazen.  With the passing of each murder they begin to feel God-like and unstoppable.    

Christina Leal
Christina Leal

On December 13, 1989, a month after the discovery of Judy Lynn Angels remains, the body of 23-year-old Christina Leal was found in Quail Valley.   Unlike previous victims, she was fully clothed and did not appear to have suffered serious abuse or mutilation prior to death.  A resident of Perris, California, Tina had previous arrests for drugs and prostitution.  Investigators found tire tracks at the crime scene and made several impressions, which could later be used to compare with a suspects vehicle.  The victims hands were encased in paper bags to preserve anything that might be under the nails.  At the lab, the body would be examined for hairs and fibers. 

Later that day, during the victims autopsy, the county coroner discovered that the victim had been stabbed directly in the heart.   Due to the victims clothing, the wound was not immediately noticeable, which suggested the killer had dressed her after the murder.  The knife wound, while potentially fatal, was not the immediate cause of death.  The victim died as a result of asphyxiation by strangulation.  Several pubic hairs and fibers were removed from the body, which would later be matched to the ones discovered on Kimberly Lyttle.  Then, as the coroner inspected the victims genital area, he made a startling discovery the killer had shoved a light bulb up into the victims womb - something no one present had ever seen done before.

The killers crimes were escalating.   The murders were becoming more perverse and the time between the killings was getting shorter.  There was no doubt that he would strike again, but without a single suspect to pursue it was impossible to know where to look.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'