Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lawrence Bittaker & Roy Norris

"Scream, Baby, Scream"

The next month was nerve-wracking for Bittaker and Norris, worried that police might come for them at any moment. Bittaker found a new apartment in Burbank, while Norris remained with his mother. The killers began to relax as the weeks passed without any signs of police attention.

Lynette Ledford, victim
Lynette Ledford,

The pair went hunting again on Halloween night, deviating from their beach routine to prowl the residential streets of the Sunland and Tijunga district in the San Fernando Valley. They spotted 16-year-old Lynette Ledford hitchhiking and offered her a ride. She happily accepted — and within five minutes Norris wrestled her to Murder Mack's floor.

Bittaker chose not to waste time driving to the mountains. They could rape and torture Ledford just as well, he reasoned, while they drove around the suburbs of Los Angeles. Norris took the driver's seat, while Bittaker turned on the tape recorder and went to work on their captive. The tape records him slapping her, demanding, "Say something, girl!"

"What do you want me to say?" she responds.

The slapping continues, interspersed with cries of pain. Frustrated, Bittaker asks Ledford, "You can scream louder than that, can't you?"

Ledford tries to accommodate him, but Bittaker wants more. Soon he goes to work with the vice-grip pliers. "Scream, baby!" he urges.

Murder Mack interior after it was searched
Murder Mack interior after it was

Next, Norris's voice is heard. "Make noise there, girl!" he orders. "Go ahead and scream or I'll make you scream!"

"I'll scream if you stop hitting me," Ledford sobs when Norris starts striking her elbows with a hammer.

Norris swings the hammer 25 times while he chants mindlessly, "Keep it up, girl! Keep it up! Scream till I say stop!"

Bittaker parked the van and prepared for the kill. "I got a section of coat hanger," he later told police, "and wrapped it around her throat and tied it up with the pliers."

Emboldened, they thought it would be amusing to see what happened if they dumped their victim on someone's front lawn. They chose a yard at random in Hermosa Beach, and loaded Ledford's corpse into a bed of ivy. The corpse was discovered the next morning.

The find shocked Los Angeles, since it came only days after the arrest of "Hillside Strangler" Angelo Buono. The police said they were unaware of any other Buono victims. There were missing girls and women on the books, of course, but who could say if they were dead? More to the point, how could police identify the killers in the latest unsolved case?


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