Tool Box Killer Dies in Prison: Lawrence Bittaker, California’s notorious “tool box killer” died of natural causes on death row according to corrections officials. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Bittaker, who was the ringleader, and an accomplice kidnapped, raped and tortured five teenage girls along the California coast over a span of five months, from June to October 1979. The victims, some of them hitchhikers, ranged from 13 to 18 years old and were from Los Angeles County’s South Bay, Long Beach and San Fernando Valley. Bittaker and the accomplice were tagged as the “tool box killers” because Bittaker would use hand tools such as vice grips, hammers and ice picks to torture the girls before they were killed. He tape-recorded the torture and murder of 16-year-old Lynette Ledford, which he later called “pillow talk.” Jurors cried during the trial when that tape was played. It took only 15 minutes for the jury to return a death sentence, yet Bittaker’s claims against his sentence for these horrific crimes has been languishing in a federal district court for decades. Veteran prosecutor Stephen Kay told reporters “I’m upset that he beat the system. He died a natural death, something that his victims didn’t have a chance for. They had their whole lives ahead of them; they never got to get married, have children or grandchildren.”
Bittaker was convicted in 1981. He was on death row for 38 years. Why was his death sentence never carried out? I find this disgusting. A death sentence should be appealed and if the sentence is held up (it was in this case) the sentence should be carried out within reasonable time (measured in weeks not years).
Because of the sadistic nature and extreme suffering in these murders anything other than a death sentence is not justice. It’s not justice to hold it up for 38 years. It’s more like a travesty of justice.
Also, because of the horrific nature of these murders I believe hanging on the gallows should be considered. Hanging done by an expert delivers death so quickly no pain is ever felt. Walking up the steps to the gallows, having a blindfold affixed and asked if you have any last words has got to be very frightening. It’s no less than a killer such as Bittaker deserves. It’s not as awful as what he did to his victims.