The Forgotten Serial Killer Who the Media Ignored
William Lester Suff is a prolific serial killer who killed twelve women who few people have heard of.
The reason Suff was ignored was that he was tried and convicted whilst the OJ Simpson trial was being held. Few media outlets reported his case, as they were to busy following the case of the century. The fact that the victims were all considered prostitutes made the case less attractive to the media.
So who was this hidden serial killer and the victims the media forgot?
William Lester Suff was a forty-one-year-old stock clerk killer from Riverside County. He became known as the Riverside Prostitute Killer or Elsinore Killer.
Little is known about the early life of Suff. Records indicate that he was born on 20th August 1950. He first came to the notice of the police on 25th September 1973, when he was arrested along with his wife for the death of their two-month-old daughter. She had suffered numerous broken bones and a ruptured liver. She died of her injuries.
On 11th April 1974, he was convicted and sentenced to seventy years in prison. His wife, who was arrested alongside him, was released without charge due to a lack of evidence. He served just ten years before he was released on parole on 3rd March 1984.
After this, he moved to Colton, California, where neighbours described him as a friendly nerd who would help anyone. He was hired as a warehouse clerk in October 1986, where he was described as a model worker. He would also be described as a brilliant cook who won awards for his chilli. If only people could work out his secret ingredient.
Discharged from parole
Shortly after finding a job in 1987, he was discharged from parole, although he would still be required to meet once a year. This was when the killing started.
In January 1989, a prostitute Rhonda Jetmore was attacked by an unknown man; Suff would be linked to the attack in 1992.
On 28th June 1986, Suff’s first victim was discovered. Until the 23rd December 1991, a victim would turn up almost once a month.
Suff would abduct the prostitutes from the red light district and put them in his works van. He would then rape and kill them by either strangling them or stabbing them; he would sometimes mutilate them. Once dead, he would dump the bodies in fields, citrus groves and secluded rural roadsides.
As well as being prostitutes, his victims were all drug users, some were married, and several had children. Suff would keep jewellery and clothing as souvenirs; he would even pose some of the victims on death. The only clue that the police had about the serial killer was a set of tire tracks at the crime scene.
Suff would then be arrested in 1991 when he beat his second daughter, causing horrific damage to her; she was three months old. Despite everything, the little girl pulled through and she was placed into foster care; authorities started an investigation into her injuries.
On 9th January 1992, Suff was pulled over under a routine traffic violation. When he was questioned, detectives discovered a bloody knife and other objects related to the murders in the back. Forensics linked the items to two of the victims; he was arrested for murder.
Suff went to trial on 19th July 1995, just as the OJ Simpson trial started. He was charged with murdering thirteen people. However, the jury could only convict on twelve of the murders; the death of a San Bernardino woman could not be linked to him as the body had been dumped during rain; the rain had washed any evidence away. Regardless, the jury took ten minutes to convict him of the twelve murders and sentence him to death.
William Suff was ignored by all.
Suff was a classic pathological personality who manipulated those around him. He could keep up a pretence in his everyday life, keeping his violence to his private life. However, there were times when this secret life came out into the open. This seemed to be with regard to his young children.
So convincing was the act that he portrayed, he visited the task force directed to find him to deliver furniture. It is possible he would have continued killing if not for a routine stop.
With regards to his chilli, it was suggested by several of the jurors that the secret ingredient was the breast of one of the victims.
Suff was a sadistic, violent killer who has largely been ignored because his victims were prostitutes and he was tried at the same time as a retired football player.