Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buono and Bianchi, the Hillside Stranglers


Angelo Buono
Angelo Buono

Angelo Buono was an ugly man physically, emotionally and intellectually. He was coarse, vulgar, selfish, ignorant and sadistic. He was also a big hit with the ladies and called himself the "Italian Stallion." He had been married several times and had a number of children, all of whom he abused at least physically and sometimes sexually. At the time the detectives interviewed him, Angelo was in his forties with dyed black hair, poor teeth and a nose that dominated his face.

He was born in Rochester, New York, on October 5, 1934. When his mother and father were divorced, he moved with Jenny, his mother and his older sister, Cecilia, to the south part of Glendale, California, in 1939. His mother supported the family by doing piecework in a shoe factory. Angelo was brought up Catholic, but neither his religion nor his public education had much impact on him. He remained uneducated throughout his life, spiritually, morally and academically.

Despite his need for sex and the practicality of occasionally being decent to a woman in order to get as much sex as he needed, he has a deep loathing for women and a desire to humiliate and injure them. He called his mother a "whore" and worse to her face, but was emotionally tied to her until her death in 1978. Even as a 14-year-old, he boasted to his friends about raping and sodomizing girls.

It's not surprising that Angelo got in trouble with the law. He was sent to the Paso Robles School for Boys after he was convicted for grand theft auto. His proclaimed hero and role model was the notorious rapist, Caryl Chessman. "Chessman had demonstrated the possibilities of a police ruse. The red light he had attached to his car enabled him to con lovers parked in the hills of Los Angeles into opening their car windows and doors to him. They took him for a policeman. Showing a .45, Chessman would force the girl into his car, drive her to another secluded spot, and usually, make her perform oral sex…To Angelo he was a heroic combination of guts and brains." (O'Brien).

Angelo impregnated a girl from his high school girl in 1955 and married her. He left her less than a week later. Geraldine Vinal gave birth to Michael Lee Buono in 1956. Angelo refused to give her a cent for his support and refused to let the boy call him Dad. Angelo was in jail again for car theft when Michael was born.

At the end of 1956, Angelo had sired another son, Angelo Anthony Buono III. In 1957, he married the mother, Mary Castillo, who then gave birth every year or two: Peter Buono in1957; Danny Buono in 1958; Louis Buono in 1960; Grace Buono in 1962.

In 1964, Mary filed for divorce because of his violence and perverse sexual needs, plus she got tired of a steady torrent of insulting verbal abuse. Darcy O'Brien recounts a night in their first year together when Angelo tied Mary spread-eagled to the bedposts and raped her so violently she was afraid that he was going to kill her. "…her pain seemed to give him his greatest pleasure, and when she failed to respond to his pinches and slaps and pile-driver poundings, he would tell her she was a 'dead piece of ass.' Nor did she share his passion for anal intercourse. But Angelo was not a man to be denied. Although he never drank, he beat and kicked her when she failed to please him, and far from caring whether the children witnessed the beatings, he seemed to want them to watch."

Angelo again successfully avoided paying any child support and Mary went on welfare to feed the children. She went to see Angelo about reconciliation, but he handcuffed her, shoved a gun to her stomach and threatened to kill her. That was the last time she thought about reconciliation with Angelo.

In 1965, Angelo started to live with a 25-year-old mother of two children named Nanette Campina. With Nanette, he had Tony in 1967 and Sam in 1969. She was treated just as well as Mary was, but she stayed with him because he made it clear that he would kill her if she didn't. By 1971, Nanette decided to risk everything to get away from Angelo, who had begun to abuse her 14-year-old daughter. "She needs breaking in," Angelo said. Angelo bragged to his friends that he'd raped his stepdaughter and then turned her over to his sons for their pleasure. True or not, Nanette took her children and left the state for good.

In 1972, Angelo married Deborah Taylor on a whim, but they never lived together and never got around to getting a divorce.

By 1975, Angelo had built himself a reasonable reputation as an auto upholsterer. He bought a place at 703 East Colorado Street for his residence and his upholstery shop. He had no use for employees, so the new place gave him the privacy to do any horrible thing he wanted.

Through some streak of perversity,  young girls were attracted to Angelo. He was cocky, independent, direct and very, very much in-charge. He became a magnet for teenage girls in the neighborhood. They were usually naïve and had no idea about sex, so he had not trouble convincing them that his outrageous demands were normal. 

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