“Trash bag murders”
The killings began in 1965 and became known as the “trash bag murders” because the victims were often found in trash bags. Texan Patrick Wayne Kearney was 25 years old when he committed his first killing, a hitchhiker he murdered in Orange, California. Two years later, after more killings, Kearney relocated to Redondo Beach, near Los Angeles with his new boyfriend David Douglas Hill, whom he had met five years earlier. The pair had a tempestuous relationship and after an argument Kearney would get in his car and find a man to kill.
His victims, primarily gay, would be collected from gay bars or would be hitchhikers Kearney saw on the roadside. Kearney shot his victims without warning and then had sex with their corpses. The case officially began on 13 April 1975 when the body of 21-year-old Alberto Rivera was found near San Luis Capistrano.
In the next seven months six more bodies were discovered in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Orange counties. All the victims were gay and all had been shot in the head and were found nude. The murders came to a conclusion on 13 March 1977. At 5.30pm that day 17-year-old John LaMay told his neighbour that he was going to Redondo Beach to meet “Dave”, a man he had met at the gym. He arrived at Kearney’s home and was invited in. Kearney shot LaMay in the back of the head and then hid the corpse in the desert. LaMay’s mother called the police but they did not take the report seriously. Five days later, LaMay’s dismembered corpse was found south of Corona. He had been drained of blood, washed and put into five industrial trash bags and then into an empty oil drum.
1965-Sunday 13 March 1977
“Dave” was soon identified as David Hill and he and Kearney fled. They surrendered on 1 July 1977. Hill was cleared of involvement in his boyfriend’s crimes and was released on 14 July. That day Kearney was charged with two murders and the next day he confessed to 28 more. On 21 December he was sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to three murders. In February 1978 he was charged with 18 more murders and pleaded guilty on 21 February. Kearney is in jail at California State Prison, Mule Creek.