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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:

They selected young men 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 his victims after drugging them.

Kearney killed a total 28 young boys and men. Bonin Killed 20 young boys and men police suspect he was the cause for 15 other deaths. Kraft killing the most out of all three serial killers, took 67 lives.

Kearney was very thin as a child, and often sick he was bullied by schoolmates and at home, he often thought about killing people as a young boy. His first murder was a hitchhiker he had picked up, tortured and killed. Kearney’s lover, David Hill helped him with his sick hobby. Kearney fell into the habit of luring his victims from gay bars, or picking up hitchhikers. He would sometimes shoot the men, and then slowly rip them apart, limb by limb. He would usually wrap the bodies in a trash bag and dump them next to a freeway. Kearney’s final murder was at his home. John LaMay went over Kearney’s house to visit David Hill, while waiting for Hill, Kearney shot LaMay in the back of the head. Kearney and Hill ran from the cops for a few weeks, but eventually turned themselves in. Hill was free to go after the investigation. Kearney confessed to the murders of 28 boys and men and pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty; he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.

Bonin had a bad childhood; his father was an alcoholic, addicted to gambling. His mother was always out of the house, leaving Bonin with his grandfather who was a convicted child molester. Committing minor crimes, forced into a Juvenile detention center, older boys would molest him. Back home again, Bonin started molesting boys also.
After high school and joining the U.S Air Force, Bonin was in and out of prison for assaulting and raping young boys. Bonin claimed he had “no intention of going back to prison; not because he was going to give up preying o youngsters, but because he had no intention of leaving witnesses”.
Bonin’s first victim was a 14-year-old boy who was hitchhiking. Bonin and his partner, Vernon Butts picked the young boy up, strangled and killed him. Most of his victims would be young boys who were hitchhiking, or gay prostitutes. Bonin’s roommate, James Munro helped with his last victim, Steven Wells another teenage boy. Police suspected Bonin for the murder and kept him under surveillance. Not too long after, Bonin was arrested for assaulting a teenage boy.
Bonin confessed to the killings of 21 boys and young men, he was given the death sentence by lethal injection. He claimed “I couldn’t stop killing, it got easier each time”. His most used accomplice, Butts killed himself during his own trial; the rest of Bonin’s partners served jail time.

Kraft was enrolled in the U.S Air Force, but was released after confessing to his family that he was gay. He had to return to his first career, bar-tending at a local gay bar. Joseph Dukette was considered Kraft's first victim, Dukette was also a gay bartender; his body was found by a highway his clothes or belongings were never found. All of Kraft's victims were boys or men, some were castrated, burned, drugged, most had high levels of alcohol and tranquilizers in their blood systems.

The cause of death varied from being strangled, shot in the head, drug overdose, or just from being tortured so badly. The victims were from the U.S Military, teenage boys running from home, hitch hikers, or men Kraft picked up in gay bars. Kraft came very close to being arrested for the murder of Keith Crotwell, he was last seen with Kraft. Police questioned Kraft about his encounter with Crotwell. Kraft confessed being with Crotwell but claimed to have dropped him off at an all-night cafe.
In 1983 Kraft was pulled over for driving erratically. The Sargent discovered a body in the passenger seat, blood of other victims, alcohol, and tranquilizers. At his house, belongings and clothes found from the victims and pictures of dead or unconscious victims. Kraft is currently on Death Row.

The trio of killers claimed at least 110 victims between them. None of them knew each other during their crime sprees, although Bonin and Kraft became acquainted while on Death Row.


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