While we know who the cast is now, we certainly don’t know the case/cases Mr. Pizzolatto will base the season on. As a man that does much research before his work, it’s safe to say that he’s been studying several cases of solved and unsolved murders along the highways of California. We’re going to do the same in hopes of touching upon some material that may prove prominent in season two. But before we embark on a mission of murder-sleuthing, let these facts sink in:
During the past four decades, at least 459 people may have died at the hands of highway serial killers, FBI statistics show. Investigators do not know how many people may be responsible for the killings but at least one such case — of murder, attempted murder or unidentified human remains — has been reported in 48 states, along roads as far north as Alaska and as far south as Key West. They believe the killers find their victims and dispose of the bodies along highways, sometimes near quiet roadside rest areas or at bustling truck stops.
Currently, Texas has the most unsolved serial murders with a total of 38. Second to them? California, with 37. Follow me as we venture down the highways of west coast death…
The Barstow Head
On Feb. 10, 2010, a man walking around Barstow, California, picking up trash found a schoolbag with something wrapped in trash bags inside. The contents: the head of a white or Hispanic girl. To this day, police have no leads on the identity of the girl (see police rendering above) or the killer who tossed the decapitated head. From USA Today:
The teenage girl likely had been killed days earlier, Barstow police say. Her head lay a few hundred yards from a truck stop just off Interstate 15, not far from I-40. To authorities, the proximity to the truck stop and the interstates suggests that the slaying might have been the work of a distinctive type of criminal: a serial killer operating along the nation’s highways.
William George Bonin
Number of victims: 21-36 young males
Accomplices: Vernon Butts, Gregory Matthews Miley, William Pugh, James Munro
Status: Bonin — Executed, Butts — Death by suicide, Miley — 25 to life, eligible for parole in 2014, Munro — 15 to life with parole denied.
Bonin’s modus operandi was to pick up young boys, anywhere from the ages of 12-19, and drive them to secluded areas along the California Interstates. All of his victims were murdered between 1979-1980. His favorite method was bludgeoning followed by strangulation, usually with the victims own shirt, although — in several instances — he didn’t mind using ice picks or other sharp instruments. Before his execution, he was able to make a statement to a local radio station, “They feel that my death will bring closure. But that’s not the case. They’re going to find out.”
Patrick Wayne Kearney
Number of victims: 40+
Status: Incarcerated — 21 life sentences
PWK first started killing in 1968, but it would take some time before he truly refined his skills as a murderer. In 1974, Kearney began killing on a regular basis, sweeping young men from gay bars and killing them while still driving, usually with a gunshot to the temple. After finding a place to lay their corpses, Kearny would sexually assault the victims before dismembering and scattering the remains in the canyons. His necrophiliac killing spree lasted until 1979, when he turned himself in and confessed to the murders at the urging of family members. He is still in prison.