|Also known as:||The Freeway Killer|
|Born:||1940 (age 69–70)
Texas, United States
|Number of victims:||28|
|Span of killings:||1965–March 13, 1977|
|Date apprehended:||July 1, 1977|
Patrick Kearney (born 1940) is an American serial killer who preyed on young men in California during the 1970s. He is sometimes referred to as "The Freeway Killer", a nickname he shares with two other separate serial killers, William Bonin and Randy Steven Kraft.
He was the youngest of three sons and was raised in a reasonably stable family. His early life was not without some trauma, however; a thin and sickly child, he became a target for bullies at school. In his teens, he became withdrawn and fantasized about killing people.
Originally from Texas, Kearney moved to California after a brief marriage ended in divorce, and eventually worked as an engineer for Hughes Aircraft. He claimed to have killed his first victim around 1965, a hitch-hiker he picked up and murdered in Orange, California. He claimed several more victims before moving to Redondo Beach, near Los Angeles, in 1967 with a younger man named David Hill, who became his lover.
The pair would frequently argue, and Kearney would go out for long drives on his own. It was then that he would pick up young male hitch-hikers or young men from gay bars and kill them. He was primarily a necrophile, shooting his victims without warning then taking the bodies off to dismember and mutilate. Eventually, Kearney would dump the victim along the freeway or in the desert, usually wrapped in garbage bags.
Kearney's final victim was a young man named John LaMay, whom he killed on March 13, 1977. LaMay came to Kearney's house looking for Hill, who wasn't home, and Kearney invited him to watch television. Without provocation, Kearney then shot LaMay in the back of the head and later dumped the remains in the desert.
LaMay's remains were found on May 18, 1977. As LaMay had told someone he was going to see Hill, police soon turned up at Kearney and Hill's home and questioned them. Although they co-operated, the two fled as soon as the detectives left. After a few weeks on the run, they gave themselves up on July 1, 1977.
Hill, 36 years old at the time, was eventually cleared of any involvement in his partner's crimes and was released.
Kearney, on the other hand, made a full confession to his crimes, admitting to a total of 28 murders. In order to avoid the death penalty, he agreed to plead guilty. Kearney was charged with 21 counts of murder, and as agreed, he pleaded guilty and was given twenty-one life sentences. Police are certain that Kearney was responsible for the other seven murders he had admitted, but they did not have the physical evidence to charge him. Kearney is incarcerated at California State Prison, Mule Creek as of 2009.