Lisa Rinna Describes Her Mother's Near-Fatal Encounter With An Infamous Serial Killer

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member recounted her mother's terrifying experience with David Carpenter, aka the Trailside Killer.

By Becca van Sambeck
Lisa Rinna

It's normal to get a chill while reading about serial killers, creepy kidnappers, or other monstrous humans. It's an entirely different kind of terror when it's something that directly happened to you or someone you love.

On Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills After Show," Lisa Rinna opened up about a nightmarish experience her mother had with the Trailside Killer, a man who was convicted of murdering seven people and connected to several other rapes and deaths.

It all happened when Rinna's mother, Lois Rinna, accepted a ride from a coworker.

"He had just had a new baby and he said, 'I want you to come and see my new baby.' She knew the wife and you know my mom, she is very trusting and obviously a lot of us are... she works with him so he drove up and she got in the car," Lisa Rinna began.

From there, what followed was a terrifying struggle for her life that only ended when police, suspicious of the car driving down a deserted road at 10 a.m., intervened (see more in the clip above). Lisa Rinna credits both her and her mother's tendencies toward fear and anxiety, especially when it comes to parenting, to this unsettling encounter.

So, who exactly is the Trailside Killer? Well, he's a serial killer named David Carpenter who was active in the 1970s and early '80s, primarily murdering hikers off trails in Northern California.

He was sentenced to prison in 1984 for murdering two 20-year-old women in the Los Angeles area, Heather Scaggs and Ellen Marie Hansen. He also wounded Hansen's boyfriend, Steve Haertle, who managed to survive and put the killer behind bars. He testified that Carpenter had he and Hansen begging for their lives before shooting them, according to a 1988 Los Angeles Times article.

In 1988, he was put on trial for his crimes in Northern California, where he murdered at least five people: Cynthia Moreland, 18, Richard Stowers, 19, Anne Alderson, 26, Diane O'Connell, 22, and Shauna May, 25. He also raped some of his victims, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"From the crimes, detectives concluded that the killer enjoyed making a ritual out of the killings, inflicting psychological torture on the victims, and as Marin County Sheriff Al Howenstein put it, 'putting the victims at some point in a position of pleading for their lives,'" wrote the Los Angeles Times.

In later years, he was linked through DNA to at least one other murder: that of Mary Frances Bennett, who was stabbed to death while she was jogging in 1979, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

He's been suspected of other murders; he was even considered a Zodiac Killer suspect due to the similarities in the way they killed, but was eventually cleared as he was in prison during the time some of the murders occurred, reports UPI.

Carpenter currently still sits on death row at the age of 88. He has long maintained his innocence.

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