|“||I would only hope that the Community Release Board will never see fit to parole Mr. Kearney because he appears to be an insult to humanity||”|
— Paul Breckenridge Jr. about Kearney
Patrick Wayne Kearney, a.k.a. "The Trash Bag Killer", is a prolific American necrophiliac, pedophile, hebephile, ephebophile, and serial killer. He is one of the three killers who were believed to be a single serial killer, "The Freeway Killer".
Born in East Los Angeles, California, on September 24, 1939, Kearney was the oldest of three sons and raised in a stable family. However, because of his appearance, he was a victim of bullying at a young age. As a teenager, Kearney started to fantasize about killing people. He lived in Texas for a short time and eventually moved back to California, where he worked as an engineer for the Hughes Aircraft Company. In his personal life, Kearney was a skilled gay pickup artist and fluent in Spanish, attributes that would later help him during his murders. After moving to Redondo Beach, he met with a man named David Hill and they eventually became lovers. Kearney would go out for long solitary drives after having arguments with Hill. During these drives, he would pick up male hitchhikers or homosexual men from gay bars.
Murders, Arrest, and Incarceration
Kearney's first known murder victim was an unidentified 19-year-old man in 1962; he took him to a secluded area on his motorcycle and shot him in the head before engaging in acts of necrophilia with the man's corpse. He proceeded to kill many more victims in the next several years.
Days later, the remains of a victim murdered by Kearney were found and police discovered that he was last seen with Kearney and Hill. Both fled to El Paso, Texas, but were arrested after their families convinced them to turn themselves in. Hill was released after it was deduced that he had no involvement in the murders. Kearney confessed to 38 murders, but was charged with 21 counts of murders. Police believe that he may be responsible for even more murders. Kearney pleaded guilty and subsequently avoided a death sentence. He is now incarcerated at California State Prison.
Kearney would mainly pick up male hitchhikers or homosexual men from gay bars and shoot them, usually in the temple, above the ear, with a .22-caliber derringer. Most of the victims were killed while asleep or distracted. After murdering them, he would take the bodies to a secluded place and engage in acts of necrophilia, then take them home, where they would be sodomized with X-Acto knives. They were then mutilated and dismembered with hacksaws. As a forensic countermeasure, he would sometimes extract the bullets from their heads and then dispose of the bodies in canyons, landfills, and along the freeways, usually in trash bags, earning him his current nickname.
Alternatively, Kearney would take the bodies to the desert to be eaten by animals. He would also drain his victims' blood to eliminate odors and sometimes even bathe the dismembered body parts to minimize the blood and eliminate fingerprint evidence. Kearney would sometimes beat his victims' bodies to get a sensation of power over them and also to suppress his anger. Additionally, some of his victims resembled bullies from his childhood and adolescence. With his younger victims, Kearney smothered them and then dismembered their bodies, just like he did with his older victims.
Other Freeway Killers
Kearney was the first of three "Freeway Killers" active in Calfornia in the 1970s. The other two are:
- Born January 8, 1947
- Killed 14-21 victims
- Targeted boys in their early- to late-teens
- Raped and tortured his victims
- Killed his victims to silence them, by strangulation with their own T-shirts, stabbing, or battering
- Assisted by several acquaintances during the murders
- Started molesting and sexually assaulted boys in his teenage years
- Arrested for molesting a 17-year-old boy during the killings, but was erroneously released
- Suspected after a would-be victim who was released confided in a counselor
- Arrested again on June 11 while sexually assaulting a boy known as "Harold T."
- Found guilty and executed by lethal injection on February 23, 1996, at the age of 49.
- Born March 19, 1945
- Also nicknamed "The Score-Card Killer"
- Killed 16-67 victims
- Targeted males in their late teens to mid-20s
- Usually strangled them to death or killed them with a combination of torture and drugs
- Sometimes also stuffed an object into the victims' rectums
- Took photos of his victims after killing them and kept a record of them
- Arrested after being pulled over for drunken driving and the body of a victim being found in the trunk of his car
- Charged and briefly sentenced to death, but the sentence was downgraded to a life sentence.
- Currently incarcerated at San Quentin.
On Criminal Minds
While Kearney has yet to be directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:
- The Mill Creek Killer and The Hollow Man ("The Last Word") - All are serial killers (Kearney was also a necrophiliac like The Mill Creek Killer) who were active at the same time as other serial killers. Kearney also shot his victims like The Hollow Man.
- Paul Westin ("Broken") - Both are homosexual serial killers who fled from the police with someone they knew (Michael Ruiz in Paul case, David Hill in Kearney's) after they found the remains of one of their victims.
- Mark Tolson ("A Good Husband") - Both are homosexual serial killers who hunted men in California, and had a relationship with another man. They found victims in bars, killed them in their vehicles, and dismembered them.