Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Bonin: The Freeway Killer

"Like a Dope Addict"

Bonin either laid low for several months, or changed his method of operation significantly enough to avoid being suspected of any killings until December 1979 when the body of Frank Fox, 17, was found in similar condition to the previous victims, near Ortega Highway and the I-5 freeway.

Psychiatrists at his Los Angeles trial said Bonin was likely in a manic state when he killed. His violent sexual urges would finally be irresistible.

"He described feeling excited by the prospect of killing someone, of being barely able to wait for sundown so he could begin to cruise to pick up someone for this purpose and obtain some sense of release," wrote one psychiatrist who examined Bonin.

Earl Hanson, a Los Angeles attorney who represented Bonin when he confessed to the murders, compared Bonin's thirst for violence to a dope habit.

"He had to constantly increase the dosage to get the same euphoria," Hanson told the Los Angeles Times.

Matthew Miley
Matthew Miley

On the morning of February 3, 1980 Bonin and another sexual psychopath, Gregory Matthew Miley, were cruising the highways when they saw 15-year-old Charles Miranda in West Hollywood. Picking up the young man, they drove for several blocks and parked the van. Bonin then sodomized Miranda and urged Miley to do the same, but Miley was "unable to sustain an erection," according to official reports. Frustrated with his impotence, Miley raped the teen with a blunt object.

Then Bonin took over again. Sterling E. Norris, the prosecutor who convicted Bonin of 10 murders, said Bonin often goaded and belittled his accomplices into helping with the killing.

"Can you do it?" Bonin asked Miley as he choked 15-year-old Charles Miranda. "Let me show you how to do this."

Bonin strangled Miranda with the boy's shirt, using a tire iron to twist the shirt like a tourniquet around Miranda's neck. Miranda's nude body was found in a Los Angeles alley.

"Bonin loved the killing," said Norris. "He delighted in talking about it."

Driven with blood lust, Bonin and Miley drove around some more after dumping Miranda's corpse. They wanted to kill again. Their next victim was 12-year-old James McCabe who was waiting at a bus stop for a bus to Disneyland. While Miley drove around, Bonin assaulted the youngster and strangled him, again using the boy's shirt and a tire iron.

James McCabe, who was looking for a trip to the Magic Kingdom and met lurking death instead, was found three days later near a dumpster in Walnut City. Bonin and Miley used the $6 they found in his wallet to buy lunch.

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