There may be a spree killer at work in and around Phoenix, Arizona. So far he’s killed at least four: Noted forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, who consulted in famous cases like the murder of JonBenet Ramsey; a pair of paralegals; psychologist Marshall Levine.
The combination of victims–all apparently shot, two in legal work, two in psychology–suggests a single killer with a grudge. It may be that he’s going down a list. Spree killers, even more than mass murderers (there is a difference) are often working directly from a grievance. With the world, with a profession, with any particular group of people. From AZCentral.com:
Police were still investigating whether Levine’s killing is connected to the other three.
The scene at Levine’s office, Peak Life Solutions, was secured with crime tape shortly before noon Saturday. Multiple police cruisers were parked outside of the office complex. Two cars were parked in the lot behind the tape.
The murder of teacher Rachael DelTondo wasn’t random, it was a “crime of passion.” That’s what investigators say—DelTondo likely knew the killer who pumped six rounds into her chest on May 13. CBS Pittsburgh quoted Beaver County DA David Lozier, who said investigators “could not be taking this more seriously.” Detectives are interviewing neighbors and studying any available surveillance and reportedly trying to crack her cell phone. While Lozier emphasized to the press that police are certain she knew her killer, he said nothing about a suspect.
In 2016 police spoke with DelTondo after finding her with an underage student. Lozier indicated that the incident has been completely mischaracterized and that she shouldn’t have been suspended from her job at Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. He said it was “shameful” that DelTondo “was painted with a police report that had been written that did not result in criminal charges.” He then said she was the victim of “a personal vendetta against her at the time.” Of course, that leaves a huge question dangling over what the public knows about the case so far: Whose vendetta? It would be interesting to know if the fiance who broke up with DelTondo after she was found with the student had any connection to Aliquippa police.
This is strange. A teacher in Aliquippa, PA was shot six times in her driveway Sunday night. Rachael DelTondo had just come home from an ice cream shop, CBS reports, when someone opened fire, six shots to the chest. Here’s why it’s so strange: DelTondo was involved in at least two controversies, including one linked to the Aliquippa Police. In 2017, CBS Pittsburgh reported on a beef she had regarding a wedding dress. She later broke up with her fiance. CBS reports that after the breakup, someone leaked info known only to the Aliquippa PD regarding some kind of past relationship between DelTondo and an (ex?) student. She was suspended from her teaching job and Pennsylvania State Police launched an investigation into Aliquippa police. To state the obvious: no way this was a random homicide.
One was found on Lake Houston. The other close to Calcasieu Lake. Two locations, 150 miles, the heads of two redheaded women. The Houston Chronicle reported they had good teeth and their heads were in plastic bags. Perhaps stranger still, the heads reportedly weren’t far from RV parks. The women were around the same age, as well. One woman’s hair was dyed, as she had dark roots. Forensic examination determined she may have been hispanic. An official said the Louisiana head was “real similar.” Police already have an unknown person of interest: a young man driving a blue-green Chevy Silverado. It’s just too soon to say it’s the beginning of a trail of heads spreading across several states. Perhaps these women were targeted for something unrelated to similar appearance. But it’s still horrific, and strange.
The Golden State Killer—Joseph James DeAngelo—was caught after police matched him to a partial profile on GEDMatch. That’s a site that allows users to voluntarily upload their raw DNA data from sites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe.com. Essentially, some relative of DeAngelo’s was looking for further distant family connections and inadvertently outed him as one of the most vicious serial killers in California history. I am among the many who have had mixed feelings about this. I don’t have any mixed feelings about DeAngelo being put away for life. I enjoy thinking about that, and thinking about him as an old man suffering behind bars. I wish Michelle McNamara was here to see it, too. But I do get the privacy concerns. And I don’t know what to say about it. The part of me that’s been covering crime for years loves the idea that many more cold cases could be solved this way. My inner civil libertarian quails when thinking about how badly police could abuse this method of investigation. Until the public can be assured that police will use this kind of thing wisely, I won’t really know what to say about it. It’s a brave new world kind of thing, and there are always unknown challenges in that world.
Update: The suspect is Joseph James DeAngelo, a one-time cop and Navy vet. A photo of the younger DeAngelo strongly resembles suspect sketches (see above). He’s currently booked in a Sacramento County Jail on murder charges.
Original post: Fox40 reports that the Sacramento County (CA) Sheriff’s Dept. has had a “significant break” regarding the Golden State Killer. A significant break means an arrest, and I’m aware of rumors that the suspect was targeted after a DNA hit. Remember: the Golden State Killer may have killed as many as 12, and committed dozens of rapes and burglaries. I began crime-blogging anew after Michelle McNamara, author of I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK—the definitive book about the case—passed away. We were friends, but really, I was a fan. Michelle did this, in a way. She pulled this terrifying monster’s crimes out of the dark. I wish she were here to see it. More information will be out later in the day, including a press conference at noon Pacific Time.
I grew up about a mile from the location of the Waffle House where Travis Reinking opened fire Saturday night, killing four. Naturally, I’ve paid extremely close attention to the hunt for Reinking. He was captured today by Metro Nashville Police. He was roaming in a semi-rural area a mile or two from the Waffle House. I’ll be writing more about this crime for Real Clear Life Wednesday, but had to say it’s been surreal hearing the name of the community where I lived from birth through age 19 mentioned so often on the news. When I was a kid, Antioch, Tennessee was Nashville’s forgotten outer rim. No one outside the city knew it was there, and Nashvillians, by and large, viewed it as a dangerous, redneck-filled no-go zone. It was where Nashville ended and the countryside began. Right now it’s home to a tragedy with a national profile. It’s very strange, and truly awful.
Before his execution, serial killer Anthony Shore told investigators from the Texas Rangers about crimes he’d committed when he was a teen living near Sacramento in the 1970s—crimes he said were inspired by the rapist and murderer now known as the Golden State Killer. The Houston Chronicle reports Shore “admitted to participating in another serial crime, as a copycat of the East Area Rapist, a Sacramento-area criminal active in the late 70s and early 80s.” He claimed he began with groping women on bike trails. The Rangers report indicated he progressed to truly terrifying assaults. Via the Chronicle, a quote from the Rangers gives some idea of the horrific acts to which Shore confessed. He said he bound a couple, then “made the man ‘watch’ as he sexually assaulted the woman.”
Shore was called the “Tourniquet Killer” and targeted women in and around Houston during the 80s and 90s. He was convicted of killing four. He was put to death on January 18, 2018.
For exactly one month in 1992, the I-70 serial killer calmly walked into businesses all along I-70—from Indiana to Kansas—and shot the lone workers there, often killing with a single shot to the head. He left almost no evidence behind. Read my latest here.