How Did Serial Killers Leonard Lake And Charles Ng Meet?

In July 2022, Yahoo News reported that serial killer Charles Ng will remain on California's death row. Per the New York Post, the 61-year-old Hong Kong native was convicted of 11 counts of murder in 1999. Although California currently has a moratorium on the death penalty and has not executed anyone since 2006, Ng's conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, Fox 5 writes that he did not work alone; Ng had an accomplice named Leonard Lake. Together, the duo kidnapped and tortured their victims in a remote cabin in the Sierra Nevadas between 1984 and 1985.

According to Rare, Ng was a troubled youth who had a pension for shoplifting. At the age of 18, he left Hong Kong to study at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California (via Biography). Instead of attending school, Ng found himself in trouble with the law. He was involved in a hit-and-run accident that resulted in him joining the Marines to avoid charges (per The Lineup). Then in 1980, he was convicted of stealing military weapons and desertion. Ng subsequently spent 18 months in prison for this crime. After his release, Ng moved in with his friend, Lake, and their sadistic activities began.

They were brought together by their similar interests

Per All That's Interesting, it's believed that Ng met Lake when he first began attending the College of Notre Dame. Another article by All That's Interesting explains that Lake placed an ad in a gaming magazine. Ng replied and they became friends of a sort. Lake, however, had a darker background than Ng. Rare writes that early on, Lake displayed a cruel nature. This included killing small animals as a child. In fact, it's believed that prior to meeting Ng, Lake had murdered his younger brother Donald and a friend, Charles Gunnar, at a cabin he was renting from his wife's family. Lake, who was terrified of the possibility of a nuclear war, moved into the cabin to create a bunker.

Rare states that Lake was a sexual deviant who wanted a bunker for his "sexual fantasies" (via All That's Interesting). It's believed that Lake actually placed the ad in the magazine to find a victim to kill. Despite a 15-year age difference, Lake and Ng hit it off; both had a pension for crime and violence. The Lineup states that after Ng moved in with Lake in 1984, the duo raped, tortured, and killed up to 25 people in their cabin. Ng later told a cellmate he used pliers and power drills to torture his victims (via AP News). Additionally, Ng and Lake videotaped their horrific actions. This went on until the pair were caught in 1985.

The killer's downfall

Yahoo! News explains that Ng's shoplifting would be his demise. He stole a vise, a tool that Biography writes that he used to torture his victim, on June 2, 1985. However, Ng was spotted and called Lake to pay for the item. When Lake arrived, police were already on the scene and asked for his ID. Lake gave them the ID of Scott Stapley, a man who had been reported missing (via Rare). When police searched Lake's car, they found a firearm with an illegal silencer and arrested him. When he was left alone, Lake took cyanide pills and died. Ng fled to Canada.

According to All That's Interesting, investigators searched Ng's and Lake's cabin and discovered numerous items belonging to 25 different people. They also found several remains on the property. Another article from All That's Interesting states that Lake disposed of the victim's bodies by dissolving them in chemicals. The snuff films they had filmed along with Lake's diaries were also unearthed. Per The Lineup, Ng was extradited back to the U.S. in 1991 when he was caught stealing a can of salmon from a Canadian store.

The New York Post reports that Ng's trial was delayed until 1998. He denied being involved in the crimes and claimed that he was just an observer. However, the videotapes and diaries proved otherwise (per Yahoo). According to another AP News report, in 1999, he was found guilty of killing six men, three women, and two baby boys. He is currently incarcerated in California's San Quentin prisonĀ (via Biography).