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Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris

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Real World Bio
L-R
Name Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker
Roy Lewis Norris
Alias The Toolbox Killer
Pliers (Bittaker)
Gender Both male
Birth Date September 27, 1940 (Bittaker)
February 2, 1948 (Norris)
Place of Birth Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Bittaker)
Greeley, Colorado (Norris)
Job Machinist (Bittaker)
Electrician (Norris)
Pathology Serial Killers
Serial Rapists
Killer Team
Modus Operandi Varied (usually strangulation)
Type Organized thrill (both)
No. of Victims 5 killed
1 attempted
Status Both incarcerated

"Make noise there, girl! Go ahead and scream or I'll make you scream!"
-Norris, on one of the pair's recordings

Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker and Roy Lewis Norris, a.k.a. "The Toolbox Killer", were a pair of serial killers and rapists.

BackgroundsEdit

Lawrence Sigmund BittakerEdit

Bittaker was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was put up for adoption as an infant. His adoptive father, George Bittaker, worked at aircraft factories, forcing him and his parents to move around often. He grew up in four different states before his family settled in California. Though he had an IQ of 138 (within the 99th percentile), he dropped out of high school when he was 17, having already been arrested on several occasions for petty crimes. Shortly afterwards, he was sentenced to two years for auto theft, evading arrest, and leaving the scene of a hit-and-run. Just days after finishing the sentence in the California Youth Authority, he was arrested by the FBI in Louisiana for violating the Interstate Motor Vehicle Theft Act. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison to be served at a federal reformatory in Oklahoma, but was transferred to a medical center in Missouri through good behavior. He later claimed to have had his first sexual experience there, but wouldn't give any details other than that it was with a woman there. After serving only one-third of his sentence, he was released. In 1960, he was arrested for robbery in Los Angeles. The next year, he was sentenced to 1-15 years in a state prison. A psychiatric evaluation of him stated that he was paranoid and a borderline psychotic as well as manipulative. In spite of this, he was conditionally released in 1963. Just two months afterwards, he was imprisoned for violating his parole and suspicion of robbery. Over the following 15 years, he was frequently incarcerated for various crimes. One of his last sentences was for attempted murder for stabbing a clerk in the parking lot of a grocery store after attempting to shoplift a steak. While serving a sentence at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, he met Roy Norris.

Roy Lewis NorrisEdit

Norris was born in Greeley, Colorado and joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. Most of his service time was spent in San Diego, California, though he spent four months in Vietnam, but never saw combat. In November of 1969, he was arrested for attempted rape when he attacked a female motorist. Three months later, while out on bail, he was arrested again for breaking and entering into woman's home with the intention to rape her, but was stopped by police. He consequently received an administrative discharge from the Navy on the grounds of "psychological problems" and "severe schizoid personality". In May the next year, while still on bail, he nearly killed a female San Diego State College student by slamming her head into a street after bashing her head with a rock. Because she survived, he was only charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He was placed in the Atascadero State Hospital, a psychiatric institution, as a mentally disordered sex offender and was released after five years when he was deemed as being of "no further danger to others". Only three months later, Norris strangled a woman to the point of unconsciousness and raped her. A month later, he was identified as the assailant and was convicted of forcible rape. While serving his sentence in San Luis Obispo, he met Bittaker, who, he claimed, saved his life twice. When they found that they shared the same sadistic fantasies, they made a plan to start raping and torturing girls together and killing them to make sure they wouldn't be caught. After being paroled, Bittaker got a job as a machinist in Los Angeles. Two months later, Norris was paroled as well, moved in with his mother in Los Angeles and got a job as an electrician. In February, 1979, they made contact with each other and set their plan in motion.

Killings, Arrest and IncarcerationEdit

"We've all heard women scream in horror films ... still, we know that no-one is really screaming. Why? Simply because an actress can't produce some sounds that convince us that something vile and heinous is happening. If you ever heard that tape, there is just no possible way that you'd not begin crying and trembling. I doubt you could listen to more than a full sixty seconds of it."
-Norris, regarding one of the recordings he and Bittaker made

Bittaker bought a 1977 GMC cargo van, which had no side or rear windows and a big door on the passenger side through which the victims could be snatched. They nicknamed it the "Murder Mack" and spent a few months doing trial runs, simply cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway and occasionally stopping at beaches to talk to girls and take their pictures. In June, they abducted their first victim, 16-year-old Cindy Schaeffer, whom they forced into her truck, duct-taped her mouth, and bound her ankles and wrists. After raping, torturing, and killing her at a fire trail in a nearby mountain, they dumped her body in a canyon. The following month, they abducted 18-year-old Andrea Hall, took turns raping her, taunted her by encouraging her to scream, and then killed her. On September 3, they abducted two girls, 15-year-old Jackie Gilliam and 13-year-old Leah Lamp, and held them captive for two days, raping them and recording their captivity the entire them. Then, they murdered both. They then abducted Shirley Sanders on September 30 and raped her, but she managed to escape. She was able to report the assault, but couldn't identify her attackers or remember the car's license plate number, and the matter wasn't pursued any further. On October 30, they abducted and murdered their last victim, Shirley Lynette Bedford, deciding to dump her body on a lawn in Hermosa Beach instead of in the wilderness. Unlike their previous victims, she was raped and tortured while the car was being driven around instead of when it was parked at the duo's usual killing site.

The press nicknamed them "The Toolbox Killer", since they were believed to be a single perpetrator. In October, Norris bragged about his and Bittaker's murders to Jimmy Dalton, a friend of theirs from prison, who initially thought the stories were lies. However, when Ledford's body was discovered, he reported Norris to his lawyer, who passed the information on to the Los Angeles Police Department. Two police detectives began staking out Norris and arrested him for marijuana possession and parole violation when he was spotted dealing it on the street shortly before Thanksgiving that year. Bittaker was also arrested for abducting and raping Shirley Sanders. After a long interrogation, Norris confessed to being involved in the murders, but insisted that he was mainly an accomplice and had been high on drugs during the murders, beginning to pin the murders on Bittaker. He was allowed to plea-bargain, enabling him to place all of the blame on Bittaker; Norris also helped investigators find the bodies of Jackie Gilliam and Leah Lamp. Both men were charged on several counts of kidnapping, rape, robbery, deviant sexual assault, criminal conspiracy, and murder, each blaming the other. When the audio recordings they made of their murders turned up, Norris was revealed to have been an active participant. Ultimately, likely due to his assistance in the investigation, Norris was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison. In 2010, he applied for parole and was denied, being ineligible for another ten years. Bittaker was sentenced to death and is still (June 2014) on death row.

Modus OperandiEdit

Bittaker and Norris targeted girls in their teens, most of them with dark blonde hair. Their goal was to kill one victim of each teenage year, i.e. one 13-year-old, one 14-year-old, one 15-year-old, etc. Striking roughly once a month, they would pick up their victims while driving around in the "Murder Mack" and approach them with a simple ruse, either trick them into hitchhiking with them or snatch them from the side door of the car and drive them to a secluded fire trail on San Gabriel Mountains. Once they had privacy, the victims would be tied up, sometimes gagged, raped by both and tortured with hand tools. They were typically killed either by being strangled with a straightened wire coat hanger tightened around their necks with a pair of vise-grip pliers or by having ice picks stabbed through their ears and into their brains and being finished off by strangulation. They would also sometimes record the rape and torture with a Polaroid camera or a tape recorder. The bodies were then dumped in the wilderness, with the exception of Shirley Lynette Ledford, whose body was dumped on the lawn of a private residence.

Known VictimsEdit

Bittaker and Norris' victims

Bittaker and Norris' victims

Separate CrimesEdit

The following were crimes committed by Lawrence and Bittaker separately

  • Unspecified date in 1957: An unspecified hit-and-run caused by Bittaker
  • November 1969: Unnamed female motorist (Norris assaulted and attempted to rape her)
  • February 1970: Unnamed woman (Norris intended to rape her)
  • 1971:
    • May: Unnamed female college student (attempted; Norris bashed her head with a rock and slammed her head into a street)
    • August: Unnamed woman (was strangled to the point of unconsciousness and raped by Norris)
  • Unspecified date in 1975: Unnamed clerk (attempted; was stabbed by Bittaker)

Mutual CrimesEdit

The following were the murders committed by Lawrence and Bittaker together

  • 1979:
    • June 24: Cindy Schaeffer, 16 (strangled with a wire coat hanger)
    • July 8: Andrea Hall, 18 (stabbed in both ears with icepicks and strangled)
    • September 3-5: Jackie Gilliam and Leah Lamp (both were raped and held captive for two days)
      • Jackie Gilliam, 15 (stabbed in both ears with icepicks and strangled)
      • Leah Lamp, 13 (strangled and hit on the head with a sledgehammer)
    • September 30: Shirley Sanders (attempted; maced and raped by both, but escaped)
    • October 31: Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16 (struck on the elbows with a hammer and strangled with a wire coat hanger)

On Criminal MindsEdit

Bittaker and Norris were mentioned in Extreme Aggressor and Lo-Fi as an example of killing teams. They were also mentioned by Reid in A Real Rain when the BAU discover that the unsub kills his victims by driving sharp instruments (later mentioned to be flint knives) through the ears of his victims into their brains to kill them. He compares it to Bittaker and Norris's habit of thrusting ice picks into their victims' ears. Additionally, the scene from The Perfect Storm where the unsubs abduct one of their victims by asking her for directions and then pulling her into their van through the side door is similar to how Bittaker and Norris would snatch their victims. The duo was also mentioned in Roadkill when the BAU mention how serial killers have special relationships to their cars, referring to their "Murder Mack".

SourcesEdit

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