David Carpenter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from David Carpenter (serial killer))
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named David Carpenter, see David Carpenter (disambiguation).
David Carpenter
Born David Joseph Carpenter
(1930-05-06) May 6, 1930 (age 86)
San Francisco, California
Other names The Trailside Killer
Criminal penalty Death
Conviction(s) Attempted murder, attempted rape, kidnapping, murder, rape, robbery
Victims 7–10+
Span of killings
August 19, 1979–May 2, 1981
Country United States
State(s) California
Date apprehended
May 14, 1981

David Joseph Carpenter (born May 6, 1930), a.k.a. the Trailside Killer,[1] is an American serial killer known for stalking and murdering women on hiking trails near San Francisco, California.[2] Carpenter killed at least 10 people, with one attempted victim, Steven Haertle, surviving.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in San Francisco, Carpenter was physically abused as a child by his alcoholic father and domineering mother. As a boy, he suffered a severe stutter and a bed-wetting problem, and he tortured animals. At 13, he was incarcerated for molesting two of his cousins.[3]

He married in 1955, a union that produced three children.


Carpenter attempted murder in 1960, for which he spent seven years in prison. In 1970, he was arrested for kidnapping and spent a further seven years behind bars. After his release, he was a suspect in the notorious Zodiac murders, although he was eventually cleared.

From 1979–1981, Carpenter raped and murdered five women in Santa Cruz and Marin Counties. On May 10, 1988, a San Diego jury convicted Carpenter of five counts of first degree murder in the slayings of Richard Stowers, Cynthia Moreland, Shauna May, Diane O'Connell and Anne Alderson. Carpenter was also pronounced guilty of raping two of the women and attempting to rape a third.[4] He was sentenced to die in the gas chamber, and remains on San Quentin's death row.[5]

Following his conviction in San Diego for the Marin County murders, Carpenter was tried and subsequently convicted by a Santa Cruz jury for the murders of two other women in Santa Cruz county, Ellen Hansen and Heather Scaggs.[6] The same jury also found Carpenter guilty of the attempted murder of Hansen's hiking companion Steven Haertle, the attempted rape of Hansen, and the rape of Scaggs.[7] Hansen, who was a University of California, Davis student, has a memorial scholarship created in honor of her courage during the attack, which allowed Haertle to escape alive.[8] In 1995, the Santa Cruz convictions were overturned due to juror misconduct. The California Supreme Court later reinstated the Santa Cruz convictions.[9]

In December 2009, San Francisco police reexamined evidence from the October 21, 1979, murder of Mary Frances Bennett. Bennett, 23 years old at the time of her murder, had been jogging at Lands End, San Francisco, when she was attacked and stabbed to death. A DNA sample obtained from the evidence was matched to Carpenter through state Department of Justice files. In February 2010, San Francisco police confirmed the match with a recently obtained sample from Carpenter.[10]

Carpenter is still a suspect in the murders of Edna Kane and Barbara Schwartz.[11]

Victims Status
Richard Stowers, 19 Convicted
Cynthia Moreland, 18 Convicted
Shauna May, 25 Convicted
Diane O'Connell, 22 Convicted
Anne Alderson, 26 Convicted
Ellen Marie Hansen, 20 Overturned
Heather Scaggs, 20 Overturned
Edna Kane, 44 Suspected
Barbara Schwartz, 23 Suspected
Mary Frances Bennett, 23 Confirmed

Popular culture[edit]

The Trailside killings provide the context for Joyce Maynard's 2013 novel After Her.[12]


  1. ^ Schechter, p. 102.
  2. ^ Clifford L. Linedecker (1997). Smooth Operator: The True Story of Seductive Serial Killer Glen Rogers. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks. pp. intr. at xi. ISBN 0-312-96400-5. 
  3. ^ Ramsland, Katherine. "The Trailside Killer of San Francisco: The Man Behind the Predator". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  4. ^ http://law.justia.com/cases/california/supreme-court/4th/21/1016.html
  5. ^ "David Carpenter". Serial Killers A-Z. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. 
  6. ^ http://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/people-v-carpenter-30965
  7. ^ http://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/people-v-carpenter-30965
  8. ^ http://wrrc.ucdavis.edu/research/index.html
  9. ^ http://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/re-carpenter-31226
  10. ^ Van Derbeken, Jaxon (February 24, 2010). "DNA ties Trailside Killer to '79 S.F. slaying". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  11. ^ "Boca Raton News - Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  12. ^ Maynard, Joyce (14 Aug 2013). "Echoes of the Savage and Sublime on Mount Tamalpais". The New York Times. 


Further reading[edit]