Patrick W. Kearney is the top ranked Californian freeway killer. An exceptionally neat and organized murderer, Pat left his dismembered victims neatly wrapped in trash bags along the Californian highways. Kearney and his live-in lover, David D. Hill, both army veterans, lived in a meticulously clean bachelor pad in Redondo Beach from where they started their homicidal escapades.
On July 13, 1977, the electronic engineer for the Los Angeles Hughes Aircraft Co. was indicted on three counts of murder by a Riverside, California grand jury. Charges against his roommate and best friend, David Hill, were dropped because of lack of evidence. Patrick Kearney was being investigated in connection with at least twenty-eight murders of gay men.
Hill and Kearney turned themselves in on July 1, pointing to a wanted poster with their pictures announcing: "We're them." Most of the information about the murders came from Kearneys statements to police. Bodies of many of the victims were found in plastic garbage bags along highways from south Los Angeles to the border of Mexico, and several of the bodies had been dismembered after being shot. Kearney was indicted for the slayings of three men, aged 21, 24, and 17.
The first victim was found in April 1975, with five more bodies turning up by the end of 1976. All the victims were nude, shot in the head with a small caliber gun, and dumped along the highway. Most were transient young men who frequented the gay crusing areas and hangouts in and around Hollywood and Los Angeles. At Hill and Kearneys Redondo Beach house investigators found a hacksaw with blood stains matching one of the victims, as well as hair and carpet samples that were found on the victims. Kearney and Hill had fled to Mexico, but surrendered when persuaded by relatives.
On December 21, 1977, Kearney plead guilty to three murders and was sentenced to life imprisonment by Superior Court Judge John Hews. On February 21, 1978, Kearney plead guilty before judge Dickran Tevrizzian Jr. to eighteen slayings of men and boys in exchange for a promise from the prosecution that he would not be given the death penalty. Kearney also provided details of the related killings of another eleven gay men, bringing the total to thirty-two victims. Kearney is currently serving his sentence at Calipatria State Prison in California.
The "Trash Bag Murders," as they were known, started in 1975 and ended on July 5, 1977, when the couple walked into the Sheriff's Information Center in Riverside, saw a wanted poster of themselves and surrendered. Hill was subsequently released for lack of evidence. Kearney shouldered the guilt and confessed that killing "excited him and gave him a feeling of dominance."