You would assume that any serial killer in Los Angeles would attract the public’s attention. In fact, there have been at least two serial killers in L.A., with over twenty-three killings between them over the past twenty years.
Chester Dewayne Turner was linked in 2004 to the rapes and fatal strangulations of thirteen women via DNA evidence beside a short stretch of the 110 freeway. And now police in Fresno believe they have the “Southland Slayer”, who’s spree apparently began in 1985 with eleven homicides to date, mostly in the Inglewood area.
The answer may be obvious, but why hasn’t the public taken notice?
In what may possibly be the worst example of the ill effect of “missing white women syndrome”, Fox News, CNN, and even local LA media have largely failed to give these cases any attention because the victims have been mostly poor black women, many prostitutes, drug users, or vagrants. But the press shouldn’t be held entirely to blame – we should be. We’re all guilty of this widespread prejudice. While we were discussing the Laci Peterson murder over lunch, a genocide was continuing across our city. And as we continue to watch coverage of missing teen Natalee Holloway on Greta van Susteren, a serial killer is still very likely at large in Los Angeles.
On Monday morning I’ll post the reasons why I’m more than skeptical that the police have the Southland Slayer in custody. In the meantime, I encourage anyone with an interest in the macabre, or more importantly, anyone with an interested in knowing about a serial killer in their backyard, to read up on these two cases.
The LA Weekly does a great job of covering the Southland Slayer in last week’s cover story, The Sex Murder Files. Inside, the Weekly provides a colorful sketch of prime suspect Roger Hausman, now on trial in Fresno for kidnapping two teen girls (h/t Stephen Blackmoore). I strongly believe he isn’t the killer, but the article does gives some decent background on the killings around the southland he may be accused of.
And while Chester Turner appears to be one serial killer now safely behind bars, his case is worth looking at as a very good reason why crime news junkies and the public needs to pay better attention to all serial killings, and not just those involving attractive white women: for nine years police had kept a mentally disabled man in prison for the some of the same crimes. Maybe if we showed more interest in this case sooner, the police would have too. (Additional LA Times coverage here.)
For those who want visuals, I’ve also assembled this map combining details from both serial killers, plus a few more unsolved homicides, based on info from the Los Angeles Times and the LA Weekly.
(big h/t to Travis who responded to a comment I left on Sean’s post about Richard Ramirez’ appeal hearing. I commented that if a serial killer like the Night Stalker were around today it would be huge news – Travis responded with info about Chester Turner and wrote, “Any guesses as to why there’s not much coverage of these crimes?”)