4 – Lawrence Bittaker (36 Years)
While everyone on this list was convicted of a capital crime, Bittaker could be considered the most evil man in this article. Along with his accomplice Roy Norris, Bittaker raped, tortured, and murdered five teenage girls over a period of several months in 1979. Even allowing for the slow-turning wheels of justice, it is remarkable that Bittaker has yet to be executed. Norris received a life sentence in return for testifying against his partner in crime.
The vile nature of their deeds is such that experienced FBI agent John Douglas said Bittaker was the single most disturbing individual he has ever performed a criminal profile on. Steven Kay, a prosecutor in California, said Bittaker was the worst criminal he has ever encountered, with his partner Norris a close second. In his opinion, Bittaker deserves the death penalty more than anyone in the state of California, yet he is still alive.
Both Bittaker and Norris were career criminals; Bittaker served time for attempted murder while Norris was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and within months of his release, he raped a young woman. They met in prison in San Luis Obispo and soon came up with a plan to murder a teenage girl of every year from the ages of 13 to 19. They put their plan into action soon after their respective releases. For a four month period in 1979, they picked up 20 female hitchhikers. They did not assault any of these women; the purpose was to conduct ‘trial’ runs to see how easily they could lure women into their van.
Satisfied with their reconnaissance, they murdered their first victim on June 24, 1979. She was the first of five victims with the final girl murdered on October 31, 1979. They became known as the ‘Tool Box Killers’ because the items they used to torture and kill victims were found in a household toolbox. Although Bittaker apparently has one of the highest IQs of any Death Row inmate in the United States, his partner seemingly does not because Norris bragged about the crimes to an acquaintance named Jimmy Dalton. Dalton reported the information to the police and a young woman named Robin Robeck identified Bittaker and Norris as the two men who raped her on September 30. For some reason, they allowed her to escape in the midst of their murderous spree.
Police arrested both men and found evidence of their crimes. They were found guilty, and Bittaker received the death sentence on March 24, 1981. Norris testified against Bittaker with the guarantee that he would not be executed. He was eligible for parole in 2009, and while it was turned down, he could be released in 2019. To date, Bittaker has filed approximately 40 frivolous lawsuits while in prison; complaining about receiving crushed sandwiches and broken cookies and suggesting they are examples of ‘cruel and unusual punishment. He has also claimed he is afraid of death, and it appears as if he will die in his San Quentin cell as there is no plan to execute him anytime soon.