Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buono and Bianchi, the Hillside Stranglers

A Co-Operative Effort

The relationship between the LAPD and the LA Sheriff's Department had been notoriously bad for many, many years. Petty squabbles, jealousies, jurisdictional and territorial issues limited cooperation among the members of these two key law enforcement agencies, creating a boon to criminals who took advantage of that situation. However, in this particular case, the two key investigators -- Frank Salerno of the Sheriff's department and Bob Grogan of LAPD -- worked well together and made a point of ensuring that information was shared between both large law enforcement organizations.

Despite this harmony, the investigation was going nowhere. The few clues they had produced no good suspects. They knew the kind of person they were looking for, but that wasn't much help in a huge metropolitan area. Darcy O'Brien in his excellent book, Two of a Kind, summarizes what the forensic psychiatrists had to say: "The Strangler was white, in his late twenties or early thirties, and single, separated, or divorced -- in any case not living with a woman. He was of average intelligence, unemployed or existing on odd jobs, not one to stay with a job too long. He had probably been in trouble with the law before. He was passive, cold, and manipulative -- all at once. He was the product of a broken family whose childhood was marked by cruelty and brutality, particularly at the hands of women." Armed with that useful profile, Grogan said: "Gee, all we got to do now is find a white male who hates his mother."

One unusual twist to the investigation was the arrival in L.A. of a psychic from Berlin. Grogan was polite, but unenthusiastic, when the psychic wrote in German what they should be looking for:

Two Italians


Aged about thirty-five

Months passed and the Hillside Strangler seemed to have retired. The activities of the task force wound down and detectives began to work on other cases.

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