Some criminals enjoy working alone. Others might join a gang or even form one themselves. Perhaps the most dangerous crooks of them all, however, are the ones who decide to work in pairs. They have twice the resources of a single person, yet their operation is small enough to keep uncomplicated and effective. These are the stories of those extraordinary dangerous duos.
10 Bittaker & Norris
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris terrorized Southern California for four months in 1979. The two fearsome men had met in prison and immediately bonded through their mutual interests of hurting people.
Once out of prison, Bittaker and Norris purchased a van they dubbed “Murder Mac” and started driving around in search of female victims to stalk and abduct. Over the course of their reign of terror, they caught, tortured with an array of tools, sexually abused, and eventually murdered five women. The pair got bolder and bolder, not bothering to hide their actions or even identities—the remains of their fifth victim were discarded in the front lawn of her own home. The two were finally captured when a victim they had abused but not killed was able to identify them.
After they had been caught and sentenced, Norris admitted that the killings had mainly been Bittaker’s doing. Norris himself had only been in it to “have women” and had only taken part in the murders because he was terrified Bittaker would use the contents of his toolbox on him if he objected. Indeed, it seems that Bittaker was the bigger of two evils in this particular partnership—an FBI profiler once stated that this ruthless killer was by far the most frightening individual he had ever met. This is probably why Bittaker was sentenced to death, while Norris lived to tell the tale.
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9 Baker & Crump
There is not a lot of personal information available about Allan Baker and Kevin Crump. Then again, when you look at the nature of their crimes, you’ll probably decide you don’t want to know these two ruthless Australians any better.
In 1973, Baker and Crump were driving around the Australian countryside, when they suddenly decided to murder a complete stranger over USD $20, a pack of cigarettes, and a small amount of gas from his car. Apparently, they found the act of killing very pleasant, because they immediately moved on to even worse things. They started stalking a nearby house and abducted the family’s young mother, Virginia Morse. The poor Morse was bound, blindfolded, and gagged as the two men drove from Collarenebri to Queensland, repeatedly torturing and abusing their victim along the way. In Queensland, Baker and Crump decided to get rid of their victim—by staking her to several trees on a riverbank and shooting her, as she begged them to spare her life.
The men were soon captured and the whole country was shocked by their sadistic behavior. In fact, one of the officers arresting them was so revolted by their actions, he was very close to executing them on the spot. Experts weren’t certain which explanation was scarier—that they were completely insane or that they knew what they were doing all along. In the end, the men were found so dangerous and revolting that Australia actually changed its legislation just so that Baker and Crump would never be released, but this hasn’t stopped Crump from applying for parole. Sleep well.
8 The Krulls
Pennsylvania brothers George and Michael Krull were not nice people. This was particularly evident when they kidnapped a 53-year-old woman from Chattanooga, Tennessee, drove her across the state line to Georgia, and beat and raped her in a federal park. Unfortunately for them—but fortunately for the victim—a park ranger happened on the scene and the two were apprehended.
The state of Georgia took a very harsh view on their crime, because both kidnapping and rape were on a list of capital crimes at the time, and both were sentenced to death. The unrepentant brothers attempted desperately and repeatedly to save their skin. They feigned suicide attempts and appealed to everyone they could, but after President Eisenhower bluntly refused to commute their death sentences, they were finally executed in 1957.
In the end, the Krulls refused to accept responsibility for their actions. Michael insisted that their sentence was just plain old prejudice. According to him, if they’d been born-and-bred Georgians themselves, they’d have been imprisoned for only 10 years or so.
7 Golay & Rutterschmidt
Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt were two sweet old ladies living in California, both well into their seventies. They were also brutal killers who befriended homeless men and manipulated them into giving their personal info to the women before running them over with a car.
Both of their victims, Paul Vados in 1999 and Kenneth McDavid in 2005, were thought to have died mysteriously in hit and run incidents. The ladies raked in money from the multiple life insurance policies they had taken out on the men. By the time authorities got suspicious and captured Golay and Rutterschmidt, they had already made over USD $2.8 million. At the time of their arrest, they were in the process of repeating their scheme with multiple victims that they had met, of all places, in church.
Golay and Rutterschmidt turned out to be old (literally) career criminals, with histories of fraud, pyramid schemes, and petty larceny. Their schemes, though terrifying and deadly, had more than a little touch of comedy. They were so successful at luring McDavid into their lives, he turned their house into a meeting point for his hobo buddies and they eventually had to hire armed guards to stand outside their house. Once, when repeatedly running over one of their victims, their car stalled and they had to call a tow truck.
6 The DeFranciscos
Regina and Margaret DeFrancisco seemed like very ordinary teenage girls, but they were much more dangerous than they looked. In 2000, Regina’s boyfriend Oscar found this out the hard way when they decided to rob him. When he was obviously displeased with this, the girls lured him into their basement and shot him.
Oscar’s body was wrapped in a tarp and set on fire in his own car. After a passerby found the burning car and the body within, he called the police, but the girls immediately escaped. Despite becoming nationally known fugitives, they managed to evade capture for almost two years. If their story had not featured the TV crime shows Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted, the police might never have found them. Luckily, the media attention led into an anonymous tip, and within a few months, both girls were found and charged with murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
5 Eppolito & Caracappa
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the New York mafia had some extra help when it came to protecting and controlling their turf. This help came in the form of two of New York’s finest, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. These NYPD officers had long-standing links to the mob—Eppolito was the son of a member of the Gambino crime family—and they didn’t hesitate to use them. Not only did they provide their mafia contacts inside information on police proceedings, they also performed multiple executions of the family’s enemies for money.
Although the men had been suspected—and, in Eppolito’s case, even found guilty—of mob dealings before, they were able to remain in the force until 2004, when a prominent mafia boss switched sides and turned informant. He revealed to the police the many criminal dealings of Eppolito and Caracappa and the two were subsequently arrested. In 2006, these ”most corrupt cops in NYPD history” were sentenced to life in prison. (Plus up to 100 years, because why not?) Each man was also fined more than USD $4 million.
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4 The Carsons
To call Michael and Susan Carson crazy killers is to waste an excellent opportunity to use the word “deranged.” Their path of destruction began in 1981, when they bashed their roommate Keryn Barnes over the head with a frying pan and stabbed her 15 times because they thought she was in league with “the Wicked.” That was a conspiracy of powerful homosexuals and witches that, according to the Carsons, included such luminaries as Ronald Reagan and Johnny Carson.
Next, the pair went on road. In Humboldt County, they encountered another “witch” named Clark Stephens. They cut his body in two and set him on fire. Their final victim was Jon Charles Hillyar, a 30-year-old man who they shot and stabbed. Their violent rampage culminated in a press conference where they confessed their actions. They came to their senses later and tried to recant their confession, but at that point, the police were already on them.
As you can probably guess, the Carsons’ killing spree was largely drug-induced. The two were liberal users of psychoactive narcotics and it appears that a bad trip caused them to have a vision that ordered them to kill “the Wicked.”
3 Thompson & Bywaters
On October 3, 1922, a wealthy English couple named Edith and Percy Thompson were ambushed by a mysterious attacker. After a violent struggle, the stranger managed to mortally wound Percy and escape the scene. A hysterical Edith told the police that the killer was Frederick Bywaters, an 18-year-old man that was boarding at the Thompsons’ house at the time.
So far, it seemed like a simple murder case, but things started to get confusing after Bywaters was arrested. While searching Bywaters’s quarters, they found scores of love letters from Edith. It turned out that the two had been secret lovers, which obviously cast the whole case in a different light. Edith was promptly arrested as well and they were tried as accomplices. Both of them were found guilty and sentenced to hang.
However, the general public was never too sure about Edith’s involvement in the crime. Unlike Bywaters, she never confessed and the only thing that linked her to the crime were the letters she had sent to her young lover. As a result, many suspected—and still do—that she was merely a victim of behaving outside of the norms set by her social class. They believe police and prosecutors found her adulterous behavior so revolting that she deserved death, regardless of her involvement in the actual crime.
2 Draper & Adamcik
On September 22, 2006, high school juniors Brian Draper and Torey Adamcik visited their friend Cassie Jo Stoddart and her boyfriend at her house. Later in the night, Draper and Adamcik returned to the house, masked and holding knives, and stabbed Stoddart multiple times until she was dead.
They were soon arrested and charged with first degree murder, but things soon got complicated as both teens blamed each other for the murder. Draper claimed he was in the room, but denied stabbing Stoddart. Later, he revised his story, claiming he had stabbed her, but only because Adamcik forced him. In the end, the evidence against both kids was overwhelming and they were sentenced to life in prison without possibility for parole. Neither boy thinks this is a fair judgment and they are continuing to fight the verdict, but unsurprisingly, their appeals have been unsuccessful so far.
1 Cole & Roe
Ted Cole and Ralph Roe were no serial killers. They were mere bank robbers from Oklahoma, quietly serving their sentences. However, inside the prison system, the duo was legendary. Both men had already individually escaped from several high security facilities, so as a last resort, these two escape risks were locked in the most inescapable prison of them all—Alcatraz. With hindsight, Alcatraz officials probably shouldn’t have allowed them to be locked in together, because they totally escaped Alcatraz, too.
On December 16, 1937, Cole and Roe were working in the model industries building when a thick fog arose. They had filed their way through the iron bars in the window of their workshop over time, only waiting for the suitable weather to make their escape. The fog clearly fit the bill, and the men immediately removed the bars, climbed through the window, and made their way to the water. Then . . . they disappeared.
Sources disagree on what happened to the two men. Most people assume they were killed in the storm that followed the fog and their bodies were swept out to sea by the strong currents of the San Francisco Bay. Others maintain that it’s entirely possible that they succeeded—after all, the two were accomplished escape geniuses, and their bodies were never found. Whatever their ultimate fate was, their legacy remains. Thanks to these two men, Alcatraz’s reputation as an escape-proof prison was never the same again.