Forgotten Crimes
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Necrophilia And Trash Bags: Patrick Kearney's Story Revealed

Patrick Kearney is one of history's most disturbed serial killers. His murder spree of at least 35 people in the late 1960s to mid-1970s is enough on its own to put him on any list of the worst serial killers. But his motivation for the killings paints an even darker picture. Patrick was turned on by the thought of death and used the murders as a way to act on his sinister sexual urges. 

A Bullied Child

Patrick was a thin boy growing up. This is enough to bring out the bullies, but to make matters worse, Kearney was also gay. This made him a prime target for the school's worst bullies when he was growing in the much more homophobic time of the 1960s. He was teased for being weak and effeminate. Some of the boys called him hateful slurs because of his sexual orientation. 

When he was 13 years old, his father bought him a .22 caliber rifle so the two could go hunting animals together. In addition to hunting, his father taught him how to kill and slaughter pigs. But animals weren't the only thing Kearney fantasized about killing. While slaughtering the pigs, he'd often fantasize about killing the people who bullied him.

When he finished school, Patrick joined the Air Force. It was while serving in the military that he would meet the man who would become his on-again-off-again boyfriend, David Hill. At the time, David was married, but the two still began an affair. The relationship became more serious after Patrick was discharged from the Air Force. With Patrick free from military life, David left his wife so the two could move to California as a couple.

Living together proved difficult, and they began to argue frequently. Eventually, David had enough and decided to move back with his wife. This sent Patrick into a spiral. He became a regular at gay bars, where he would go on to meet many of his victims.  Later, it would become a pattern that arguments with David set off his darker impulses. Hill returned once more and the two settled in together again. But the arguments continued. 

Frequently, after having an argument with David, Patrick went on the hunt for someone to kill. Many times, these would be men he met at the gay bars.  Other times, the victims were hitchhikers that he picked up alongside the road. Sometimes, his targets were just men who reminded Patrick of someone who bullied him as a child. However he found them, his routine was always the same. Patrick would get the person into his car and begin to drive to a secluded location. He always drove with one hand on the wheel, so he'd be able to shoot the victim with his right hand as soon as he was sure nobody would be around to see or hear the gunshot.

After killing the men and sexually assaulting their dead bodies, Kearney cut them into pieces with a hacksaw to dispose of the bodies. This was a change from his earlier killings as he refined his methodology. He'd then place the cut-up body parts in trash bags and dump them in various locations. He often chose a location near a freeway to make this dump. Because of these actions, Patrick would become known as "The Freeway Killer" or "The Trash Bag Killer."


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Patrick's Downfall

With enough bodies piling up for the killer to have developed a nickname, police were still largely stumped as to who the guilty party might be. They got their big break when they identified the body of a young man name John LaMay. 

John had told his friend that he'd be going to hang out with David Hill in Redondo Beach. When John didn't come home, the friend passed that information to his mother.

When police broke the horrible news, they knew where to look. After a search of Patrick and David's home, investigators found hair samples that matched up with those left in the trash bags dumped on the sides of roads. They filed an arrest warrant for the couple, who briefly went on the run. Kearney would later claim that David knew nothing about the crimes.

The Couple Concedes

After initially fleeing to hide out with David's childhood home in Texas, the two were convinced by Hill's family to turn themselves in to authorities. They returned home to California and went to the Riverside County Sheriff's office. When they walked into the station, they pointed at their wanted poster to identify themselves. Because Patrick insisted that Hill had no knowledge of the killings, he was released. 

After telling police that he only committed his crimes when Hill was away from the home during one of their many fights, Kearney opened up about the rest of the killings. He started by telling them of his first killing, back in 1962. As the months passed, Patrick slowly confessed to more and more murders. He admitted to killing 35 men. Most of the victims were young men, however, a five-year-old boy and an eight-year-old were also among the victim's list. 

Justice Served

At the time of his trial, police were able to prove that he had committed 21 murders. Although he had confessed to more, the evidence did not exist to confirm those murders. Kearney plead guilty on all 21 counts on February 21st, 1978. California would not reinstate the death penalty until later that year, so the maximum sentence that could be levied against him was life in prison. During the sentencing, the judge remarked on the severity of the crimes, "I would only hope that the Community Release Board will never see fit to parole Mr. Kearney because he appears to be an insult to humanity."

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