Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were a pair of serial killers who were known as the Tool Box Killers and to be honest the best part of their story is that they are both dead. The Tool Box Killers who were responsible for five murders of teenage girls in 1979. Even though the number of murders that they are responsible for are much lower than other notorious serial killers it is the brutality of their crimes that have made them infamous. In this article we are going to take a closer look at Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris the Tool Box Killers.
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris Early Years
Lawrence Bittaker was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on September 27, 1940 to a couple who immediately put him up for adoption. Lawrence Bittaker criminal history would start at twelve for a series of thefts. Lawrence Bittaker had a high IQ (138) but did poorly in school and soon would find himself incarcerated at the California Youth Authority. When he was finally released from the CYA Lawrence Bittaker would find out his adopted parents disowned and completely cut him out of their lives.
Roy Norris was born in Greeley Colorado on February 5 1948 out of wedlock. His parents would marry but it was a disaster from the beginning. Roy Norris was in and out of the foster care system for most of his young life. Eventually Roy Norris would join the Navy where he would serve one tour before being honorably discharged
Lawrence Bittaker Criminal History
Soon after Lawrence Bittaker was discharged from the California Youth Authority he would steal a vehicle and drive across State lines which would result in an eighteen month sentence in the Oklahoma State Reformatory. When he was finally released he would return to California where he would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
However he would only serve 2 years before he was released. Bittaker would soon break his parole and would be sent back to prison. In 1967 he would be released from prison again on parole even though the prison psychiatrist diagnosed him as a psychopath. Again Lawrence Bittaker would be arrested for leaving the scene of an accident and received an additional 5 years in prison. Lawrence would spend the next three years in prison before being released yet again.
When Lawrence Bittaker was released from prison in 1974 and soon after he would be arrested for stabbing a grocery store employee after he was confronted for stealing food. Once again Lawrence Bittaker would be sent back to prison
Roy Nelson Criminal History
Roy Nelson after being discharged from the Navy would soon be arrested after he forced his way into a car and attempted to sexually assault a woman. Roy Nelson would attempt to force his way into a woman’s home who thankfully was able to call police.
While out on bail Roy Nelson would attack a College student who was struck repeatedly with a rock. Roy Nelson would be sentenced to five years in prison at the Atascadero State Hospital where he was classified as a mentally disorganized sex offender. Some reason the team of doctors would declare him no longer a threat to society and released him in 1975.
Soon after his release Roy Nelson would sexually assault a woman and would be sent back to prison where he would meet Lawrence Bittaker
Lawrence Bittaker And Roy Nelson: Tool Box Killer Murders
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson would meet at the California Men’s Colony where they struck up a friendship after finding out that they shared the same interests when it came to women. Soon after they were released the two would meet up again and California was not ready for what was about to begin.
Over a time period Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson would pick up a series of female hitchhikers in what they would later call training runs in which they perfected their ruses and secluded locations which would be used in the Tool Box Killer murders.
The first murder was sixteen year old Lucinda Lynn Schaefer who was abducted on June 24 1979 when she was leaving a church meeting. Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson would grab her off the street and force her into the van. Once inside of the van Lucinda Lynn Schaefer was bound with duct tape and driven to a remote location. Lucinda Lynn Schaefer would ultimately be strangled, wrapped in a plastic shower curtain and thrown off a cliff.
The second murder took place took place two weeks later when Andrea Joy Hall, 18 years old, who was picked up while hitchhiking. Andrea Joy Hill would be bound and brought to a remote location where she was repeatedly raped before Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson drove to yet another location where she was killed when an ice pick was slammed into her brain, she was then strangled and thrown off a cliff.
The third and fourth murder were a pair of girls who were sitting on a bus bench. Jackie Doris Gilliam and Jacqueline Leah Lamp who were aged fifteen and thirteen years respectively. The two girls would be lured into the van and soon after the young teens would realise they had made a huge mistake. The two girls were tortured and sexually assaulted for two days before they were murdered.
The fifth murder was sixteen year old Shirley Lynette Ledford on October 31 1979. Shirley Lynette Ledford would be picked up hitchhiking. Soon after Shirley Lynette Ledford would be tortured, which the sounds of it were recorded by a small tape recorder, for two hours before she was strangled with a clothes hanger. In this last murder Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson would dispose of the body in public as they wanted a reaction from the public.
Lawrence Bittaker And Roy Nelson Aftermath
Roy Nelson would meet a man he knew from prison and would tell him about what he and Lawrence Bittaker were up to over the last few months and would provide details about the Shirley Lynette Ledford murder, the only murder made public at the time. Needless to say the police would find out and soon Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson were in custody on a variety of charges.
Roy Nelson would make a full confession to police about the five murders in exchange for prosecutors to take the death penalty off the table. Roy Nelson would ultimately be sentenced to life in prison and would die behind bars in February 2020
Lawrence Bittaker would go on trial for the five murders and attempted to blame everything on Roy Nelson. Needless to say it did not work as he was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to death. Lawrence Bittaker would die from natural causes on California death row in December 2019.
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Nelson Videos
Lawrence Bittaker Death
Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker, one of the “Tool Box Killers” who preyed on teenage girls in Southern California 40 years ago, has died of natural causes, state corrections officials said Monday.
Bittaker and accomplice Roy Lewis North kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered five girls in 1979. Their nickname came from the tools like a screwdriver, pliers and an ice pick that they used to torture and kill their victims.
Bittaker, 79, died Friday in San Quentin State Prison, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. The cause of death will be determined by the Marin County coroner.
The killings began that June, with the death of Lucinda Lynn Schaefer, 16. She was followed by Andrea Joy Hall, 18; Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 15; Jacqueline Leah Lamp, 13, and Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16.
Norris testified against Bittaker after pleading guilty to all charges in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty against him.
A Los Angeles County jury convicted Bittaker of five counts of murder, five counts of kidnapping as well as other charges including criminal conspiracy, rape, oral copulation, sodomy and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to death on March 22, 1981.
Norris was sentenced to a term of 45 years to life and remains in prison.
Due to various legal challenges and court decisions, California has not executed anyone in years, and earlier this year Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions for as long as he is in office.
According to corrections statistics, 82 condemned California inmates have died from natural causes since 1978, when capital punishment was reinstated after a period in which the state Supreme Court ruled it to be cruel and unusual punishment.
In that span, another 27 inmates have died by suicide, 13 have been executed in California, two have been executed in other states, and 14 have died from other causes. Determinations of the causes of death for four others are pending.
There are now 729 inmates on the state’s death row.
Roy Norris Death
Roy Lewis Norris passed away from natural causes Monday at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was 72.
His death came a little more than two months after his partner in the crimes, Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker, died on death row at San Quentin State Prison at the age of 79.
The men were known as the Tool Box Killers because the items they used to torture and murder the girls – such as pliers and ice picks – could be found in a toolbox, according to CBS San Francisco.
Between June and November of 1979, Norris and Whittaker kidnapped, raped and murdered five teen girls: 16-year-old Lucinda Lynn Schaefer, 18-year-old Andrea Joy Hall, 15-year-old Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 13-year-old Jacqueline Leah Lamp and 16-year-old Shirley Lynette Ledford.
The bodies of Schaefer and Hall were never found, CDCR reports.
As part of a deal with prosecutors that allowed him to avoid the death penalty, Norris plead guilty to five counts of murder, two counts of forcible rape and robbery, the CDCR reports.
Norris testified against Bittaker, who in 1981 was found guilty by a Los Angeles County jury of 26 counts of murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, rape, oral copulation, sodomy and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to death.