Why Some People Believe The Hillside Strangler Is Also The Alphabet Killer

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The following article includes references to sexual assault, torture, suicide, and murder.

For a brief but terrifying period in the late 1970s, the people of Los Angeles lived in fear of the Hillside Strangler. By the time investigators made their arrest, 10 female victims from different backgrounds and lines of work had lost their lives. The youngest was only 12-years-old (via Murderpedia). It later came out that not one, but two killers had committed the murders. Cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr. worked together to lure in unsuspecting women and girls, who they then sexually assaulted. They also tortured some of their victims before strangling them to death.

Just a few years before the Hillside Stranglers claimed their first known victim, a string of abductions and murders unfolded in the city of Rochester, New York (per Democrat and Chronicle). The trio of female victims ranged between the ages 10 and 11 and had at least one interesting detail in common: all three — Carmen Colón, Wanda Walkowicz, and Michelle Maenza — had first names that started with the same letter as their last names. The girls were abducted between 1971 and 1973, with each one subjected to sexual assault prior to their murder. Known as the Alphabet Murders (or Double Initial Murders), their cases remain unsolved. But some believe that their killer is actually one of the Hillside Stranglers.

A famed criminologist believes that Bianchi is also the Alphabet Killer

In an exclusive 2022 interview with The Sun, author and criminologist Christopher Berry-Dee asserted that Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, is also the Alphabet Killer. The author of "Talking with Serial Killers" and "Inside the Mind of Jeffrey Dahmer" told the publication that he and Bianchi wrote back and forth for several years before he finally sat down with the convicted murderer in person. Berry-Dee first met Bianchi in the Walla Walla, Washington prison where Bianchi is serving his life sentence. 

Berry-Dee stated in the interview that he began to believe that Bianchi had killed the Rochester victims due to contradictions that came up during their correspondence. He said, "Bianchi's lengthy correspondence to me, his habitual lying which is the bedrock of his sado-sexual psychopathology, combined with his forgetting what he told me one week to say something entirely different soon after, convinced me specifically that he was the killer of the three young Rochester girls." The criminologist also pointed out that Bianchi refused to give a blood sample. He felt that if Bianchi had not committed the murders, he would want to submit a sample to show his innocence. But there is more to this theory than just Bianchi changing his story.

Circumstantial evidence links Bianchi to the case

The facts put Kenneth Bianchi in Rochester at the time of the Alphabet Murders. A native of the city, Bianchi was born there in 1951 (via Biography). His mother, a sex worker with alcohol use disorder, put her infant son up for adoption. According to Biography, Bianchi struggled with relationships with girls throughout his youth, an issue that carried on into adulthood. He lingered in Rochester after high school before heading to California to live with his cousin, Angelo Buono Jr., in 1975.

The Sun reported that Bianchi drove a car that fit the description of the suspect in the Alphabet Murders case. Berry-Dee also pointed out two creepy pieces of information. Bianchi has written of his love of "being with girls as young as 11," the same age as two of the individuals targeted in the Alphabet case. Carmen Colón, Wanda Walkowicz, and Michelle Maenza's bodies were also found in "similar [positions]" to the victims Bianchi claimed across the country several years later. 

Bianchi has steadfastly denied any involvement with the Alphabet Murders. Law enforcement identified multiple possible killers, including more than one sexual predator. Dennis Termini, a Rochester fireman, shot himself following his confrontation by police. A serial rapist, Termini had sexually assaulted as many as a dozen victims. Another suspect, Joseph Naso, was convicted of murdering six women. All That's Interesting detailed that four of his victims had "double initials," but that DNA found at the Walkowicz crime scene eliminated him and Termini as the perpetrator.

An author has a different theory about the Alphabet Murders

Rochester native and "Nightmare in Rochester: The Double-Initial Murders" author Michael Benson believes that Walkowicz and Michelle Maenza shared a killer, but that a different person took the life of Carmen Colón (via A&E). He maintained that because Colon was killed in a slightly different fashion, she may have met her end at the hands of a copycat killer. He pointed out that Walkowicz and Maenza were both strangled from behind, while Colon's killer gripped her while the two faced each other. 

Benson also drew attention to the fact that witnesses to Colon's abduction stated that there were two people in the vehicle believed to have been used by her abductor. In the case of Maenza, only one person was present. Benson also believes that DNA will solve the murders of Walkowicz and Maenza eventually. The author isn't as optimistic about Colon's killer ever being identified.