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The Freeway Killer was a nickname given by the media—and later police forces—to what they believed was a single serial killer claiming victims in California, USA, during the 1970s and often dumping the victims along the freeways. However, there turned out to be three Freeway Killers who operated independently of each other, but just happened to select similar victims from similar locations. Initially, police did not believe these were the product of any serial killer, insisting the murders were isolated incidents.
The three killers were:
- Patrick Kearney, age 37 when captured in 1977
- William Bonin and several accomplices, age 33 when captured in 1980
- Randy Steven Kraft, age 38 when captured in 1983
All three Freeway Killers selected young males as victims, often picking them up from roadside bars or hitch-hiking along the freeways. Their methods did vary; Bonin sexually assaulted the victims then killed them to prevent witnesses, Kearney shot his victims quickly then indulged in dismemberment and necrophilia, whilst Kraft was a sadist who tortured many of his victims after drugging them.
The trio of killers claimed at least 110 victims among them. None of them knew each other during their crime sprees, although Bonin and Kraft became acquainted while on death row.