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'Tool Box Killer' Dies In Prison 40 Years After Raping And Murdering Five Teenage Girls
Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker and his partner Roy Lewis Norris got their gruesome nickname because of the instruments they used to torture and kill their victims, including a screwdriver, pliers and an ice pick.
One half of the serial killing duo known as the “Tool Box Killers” has died of natural causes in prison, 40 years after he kidnapped, raped and murdered five teenage girls in California.
Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker, 79, died at 4 p.m. Friday in the San Quentin State Prison, where he had been on death row since 1981 for the series of heinous crimes, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Bittaker and his crime partner Roy Lewis Norris, 71, kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered five teenage girls in 1979, beginning with the abduction of 16-year-old Lucinda Lynn Schaefer in June of that year. In the months that followed, the pair killed Andrea Joy Hall, 18; Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 15; Jacqueline Leah Lamp, 13; and Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16.
Investigators never found the bodies of Schaefer or Hall.
The duo earned their chilling nickname because of the tools they used to torture and kill their victims, including a screwdriver, pliers and an ice pick, the Associated Press reports.
Norris eventually turned on his partner, agreeing to plead guilty and testify against Bittaker to avoid the death penalty, according to the Department of Corrections. He received a sentence of 45 years to life and remains incarcerated today at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.
Bittaker was charged with 26 counts related to the slayings, including five counts of murder, five counts of kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, rape, oral copulation, sodomy and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.
He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death on March 22, 1981.
Although California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state has not executed anyone in years. Since 1978, 82 condemned inmates have died of natural causes, 27 have committed suicide and 13 have been executed, state authorities said.
Authorities said Bittaker died of natural causes; however, his official cause of death will be determined by the Marin County Coroner.