Hillside Strangler – 1977-1979

By | January 3, 2017

“None of us are perfect”


The body of Cindy Lee Hudspeth was found in this car


Black single mother and prostitute Yolanda Washington, 19, became the first victim of the Hillside Strangler on 18 October 1977. Thirteen days later, the body of 15-year-old prostitute Judith Ann Miller was discovered in a flowerbed at 2844 Alta Terrace Drive, La Crescenta in California.

On 6 November Lissa Teresa Kastin, 21, a dancer and waitress, was found near Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale. Like the previous two victims, she had been raped and strangled. Four days later prostitute Jill Barcomb, 18, was found nude and strangled at Franklin Canyon Drive and Mullholland Drive. On 17 November prostitute Kathleen Robinson, 17, was found dead. On 20 November the bodies of Sonja Johnson, 14, and Dolores Cepeda were found at Landa Street and Stadium Way. Later that same day, Kristina Weckler was found naked and strangled at Ranons Avenue and Wawona Street. On 23 November the decomposing body of scientologist and model Jane King, 28, was discovered near the Golden State Freeway.

Six days later, the body of Lauren Wagner, 18, was found at 1200 Cliff Drive, strangled and with marks suggesting that she had been tortured. At the end of the month police decided that they were, in fact, seeking two perpetrators for the killings attributed to the man who had been dubbed “the Hillside Strangler”. On 13 December police found the body of 17-year-old prostitute Kimberly Diane Martin. The last victim in Los Angeles was Cindy Lee Hudspeth, 20, a part-time waitress, who was found on 16 February 1978. The killings stopped as quickly as they had begun.

At 7pm on 11 January 1979 student Karen Mandic, 22, and her friend Diane Wilder, 27, arrived to house-sit at the home of an acquaintance, Kenneth Bianchi in Bellingham, Washington. At 11pm Karen’s friend, Steve Hardwick, was concerned that she had not contacted him and rang the police. They interviewed Bianchi and then went to the house the women shared. Just after 4.30pm on 12 January the strangled corpses of the two women were found in Karen’s car. Later that day, Bianchi was arrested. He insisted that the police had made a mistake but they charged him with two murders.


Glendale, California; Bellingham, Washington, USA


Tuesday 18 October 1977—Thursday 11 January 1979


On 21 March 1979, as he was being prepared for trial, Bianchi was hypnotized and became “Steve” a foul mouthed braggart who boasted of the LA and Bellingham murders. He also claimed that he had a partner in crime, his cousin Angelo Buono, a petty criminal with an oversized ego.

Bianchi had said, “[Angelo] may have been a criminal years ago… None of us are perfect.” In October 1979 Bianchi pleaded guilty to the Bellingham killings. He was taken to Los Angeles where he pleaded guilty to five more murders. Meanwhile Buono was arrested and charged with ten murders. The trial began on 16 November 1981 and lasted 345 days, involving 392 witnesses and 56,000 pages of testimony. On 4 January 1984 they were both sentenced to life. On 21 September 2002 Buono died in prison of a heart attack.

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