Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buono and Bianchi, the Hillside Stranglers

The Rampage Begins

It takes more than a few homicides to get the attention of the people in a city the size of Los Angeles. Murders are a daily occurrence, particularly when one involves a person living a high-risk lifestyle, like a prostitute. So when three women were found strangled and dumped naked on hillsides northeast of the city between October and early November of 1977, very few people lost sleep over it. Only a couple sharp homicide detectives became nervous that this was just the beginning.

Everything changed Thanksgiving week when five young women and girls were found on hillsides in the Glendale-Highland Park area. These five young women – one of which was 12, another only 14 – were not prostitutes, but "nice girls" who had been abducted from their middle-class neighborhoods.

Newspapers and television stations talked of rape, torture, abduction and murder. The collective consciousness of a populace numbed by violence was suddenly and unpleasantly engaged. The city went into a panic.


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