By the News & Review's count, the Sacramento area has hosted 15% of the country's serial killers, a high rate for the U.S.'s 20th-largest metropolitan area. (Caveat: the SNR counts 9 serial killers between 1971 and 1992, and three more since then, but adds in non-Sacto killers like Juan Corona, Leonard Lake, and Cary Stayner.)
In February 2005, convicted rapist Herman Lee Hobbs pleaded no contest to raping and murdering 13-year-old Sacramento girl Terri Maree Pata on January 21, 1975. Pata's body was found "stuffed into a pipe in a North Highlands drainage ditch, just off Long Tree Road, a mile west of El Centro near Elverta Road." Hobbs is already in prison for the rape of a 15-year-old Yuba County girl in 2000. Police used DNA evidence to convict Hobbs for the 1975 murder. Homicide investigators also suspect Hobbs was responsible for four other murders of young girls of similar age found murdered in the vicinity of North Highlands during the 1970s. Additionally, Hobbs was investigated for other unsolved murders of girls and women in nearby counties.
In November 1980, Gerald Gallego (and his wife?) kidnapped Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers at gunpoint from the Arden Fair mall, and murdered them. In April 1980 Gallego abducted Stacey Redican and Karen Twiggs from the Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, then killed them with a hammer. He was also tied to the 1978 Country Club Plaza killings of Kippi Vaught and Rhonda Scheffler in Sacramento (beaten with a tire iron, then shot), and may have also killed: 6 teenage girls, a young betrothed couple, a Yolo County mother of 2, and a pregnant hitchhiker in Oregon.
On November 11, 1988, Sacramento police investigators found 7 bodies buried in the yard of Dorothea Puente's rooming house at 1426 F Street, an "elegant, two-story Victorian house, well-maintained and beautifully landscaped." The "little old lady" was eventually charged with nine counts of murder. One of the detectives involved in the case wrote a book about it. Puente writes recipes from prison.
In 1987, on "the other side of town," Morris Solomon was arrested for murdering seven prostitutes and burying their bodies behind his Oak Park house. From death row, Solomon has posted an ad for correspondence on a personal ad Web site, describing himself as "romantic, and loves to meet people." He does not mention the 6 women he was convicted of murdering (he was apparently not convicted for the seventh woman).
In January 1978, Richard Trenton Chase, the "Vampire of Sacramento," killed six people and drank their blood and/or ate them. In 1980, he was found dead from an antidepressant overdose in his Vacaville prison cell.
"before that the only case to compare was in the early 60s when a young man killed some boys down by the river" - same jumbled text site as above
During the late 1970s, more than fifty women in the Sacramento area were assaulted by the East Area Rapist, who later also terrorized Contra Costa County, and has been linked through DNA to ten serial killings in Southern California between 1979 and 1986. The case was featured in an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" on Lifetime TV.
And, back in September of 1941, the "Mad Killer of Sacramento" killed at least eight people in a month, and was never caught.
" 'We've had more than our share of serial killers,' Lt. Ray Biondi in the Sacramento County sheriff's department told me. He'd just come back from testifying at the trial of Roger Kibbe, the suspect in the I-5 strangler case, involving seven killings, circa 1985. Biondi has worked all nine of the county's serial killer cases; the other two were the city's. Why so many, I asked? 'Sacramento is a crossroads,' he explained. 'It's where I-5 and I-80 intersect. It's also a melting pot and still growing' " - same jumbled text site as above
"the discovery of unidentifiable bodies is becoming commonplace often reported only on the back page of the local newspapers the murders are happening everywhere including the most affluent neighborhoods " - same jumbled site as above, possibly hyperbolic comments
It took people a while to get suspicious, but eventually Jack Barron was accused of murdering his entire family. The Bee headline was "Man testifies he didn't kill family."
"A self-described good husband, father and son held fast to his story this week that he didn't kill his wife, two children and mother"
IRENE BARRON (34) - found dead in bed, 1992
JEREMY BARRON (4) - found dead in bed, 1993
ASHLEY BARRON (3) - found dead in bed, 1994
ROBERTA BUTLER (52) - found dead in bed, 1995
Though I personally wouldn't count Yuba City as a suburb of Sacramento, at least not 30 years, ago, in 1971 Juan Corona was tried for killing 25 migrant farmworkers near there. My sources tell me the police just stopped digging after a while, so there could be more.
Lastly, no roundup of serial killings in Sacramento would be complete without mentioning the UNAbomber. From the Sacramento Bee:
Dec. 11, 1985, Sacramento, Calif.
RenTech owner Hugh C. Scrutton stops on his way to lunch to remove what looks to be a road hazard in the parking lot behind his Howe Avenue computer rental store. The object, actually a bomb filled with nail fragments, explodes. It rips Scrutton's chest open and penetrates his heart with shrapnel.
April 24, 1995, Sacramento, Calif.
A package mailed to the California Forestry Association, too difficult for the office receptionist to open, is handed over to Gilbert B. Murray, the timber lobbying group's president. The parcel explodes when opened, killling Murray with a force so great it pushes nails from the walls of other offices in the same building. The package is addressed to Murray's predecessor, William Dennison, and bears the return address of Closet Dimensions, a custom furniture company in Oakland, Calif.
On April 4, 1991, three Vietnamese-American brothers stormed into a Good Guys electronics store in Sacramento, held 41 people hostage at gunpoint, and demanded a helicopter to take them back to Southeast Asia to fight the Viet Cong. After over eight hours the siege ended, six people were dead, and the lone surviving gunman is now in Corcoran State Prison serving 49 consecutive life terms.
On February 19, 1991, Eric Royce Leonard killed three people in a Round Table Pizza on Watt Avenue, and got the nickname of "pizza thrill killer." One week earlier, Leonard killed 3 people at a Quik Stop on Auburn Boulevard, taking only beef jerky from the crime scene. h says "the day after the Round Table Pizza killings, he came into the writing center at American River College and did some work. The police later confiscated his folder. The Writing Center gave him a no-credit."