The Mind of a Murderer, Part I
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
As unpleasant as it is to hear, mass murders are on the rise in this country. The Justice Department says that in the last decade there have been at least 30 mass killers...and that each of them murdered at least six people.
These gruesome numbers raise disturbing questions. What sort of man is Charles Manson...or Son of Sam? Are they insane? That's sometimes the defense if they come to trial...and it's one that is increasingly controversial.
Tonight on FRONTLINE, a remarkable event. For the first time, you can journey with psychiatrists as they try to get inside the mind of a mass murderer--Kenneth Bianchi, the man who came to be known as the Hillside Strangler.
Bianchi looked like an all-American boy, but he was involved in the murders of at least ten women in Los Angeles, and two more in Washington State. After his arrest, Bianchi took on the behavior of a multiple personality--and four experts concluded he was insane. But was he?
FRONTLINE has obtained exclusive access to over 60 hours of interviews videotaped after Kenneth Bianchi's arrest. So it is possible for us tonight to see and hear what happened behind the jailhouse doors. To see some of what the experts saw as they made up their minds about this man.
The program is produced and directed by Michael Barnes. And a warning--there are brief but graphic photographs of the victims' bodies--‑as well as some strong language.
KENNETH BIANCHI: Well, I came there hoping to find a better job. I've always wanted to go to California, the sun, the girls, the beaches, you know, the dreams. You don't think of the smog and the crazy city and ...
NARRATOR: Our story begins three years after Kenneth Bianchi's arrival in Los Angeles in September 1977.
RADIO NEWS REPORTS: ...This is KRWB News. Good afternoon everyone. I'm Vince Componez, here's the latest news at noon. Geneva talks on the test ban of nuclear weapons is stalemated by the three major powers, the United States, Britain and Russia. KRWB's Jim Mitchell will report on the discovery of a nude woman's body found in the La Crescenta area and the ongoing investigation...
...Forecast for Los Angeles, it's going to be a beautiful weekend, a high tomorrow of about 77 degrees...
...Glendale police have another apparent murder of a young woman on their hands. KRWB's Cecilia Padrozza has a direct report from Chevy Chase Drive...
...The body of another young woman has been found in the Highland Park area. I repeat, the body of another young woman has been found in the Highland Park area. Since Sunday morning the bodies of three young girls aged 12, 14 and 20 have been found within a few miles of this spot. All of the killings have occurred within the past four weeks, all ten...
...Members of the Hillside Strangler task force are trying to trace the last movements of a young Glendale woman, now listed as the Hillside Strangler's victim...
...Most of the Strangler's victims were found in the hills surrounding Los Angeles often near freeways or in ravines. The victims are mostly teenagers and young women.
DARYL GATES (L.A. Chief of Police): I wish I could come here and give you some good news. Unfortunately, I cannot. Apparently he is very good. He, er, has certainly not left us, er, the kind of evidence that we would need to make a direct connect up. If he had we‑‑we would have him in jail today.
RADIO NEWS REPORT: Identikit pictures have so far failed to produce useful leads. Police psychologists believe he has a compulsion to repeat the crimes and he will kill again.
FRANK SALERNO (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): This city was completely in the grips of the Hillside Stranglers. We spent hour after hour, night after night, right here in Hollywood. Hollywood is not what most people think of it or as it's portrayed in movies. We were talking to people that were loaded, didn't know if it was daylight or dark and because of that we got a lot of false leads and a lot of bad information. We had theorized early in the investigation the possibility of someone that had some police training or background or was familiar with police tactics.
DUDLEY VARNEY (L.A. Police Detective): We were forced to tell our citizenry not to stop for a police officer on a side street; to go to a lighted area, particularly young women, go to a lighted area or drive to a police station. The police would follow them and wait to talk to them at that location, because we felt it was too dangerous with this information in our possession, to allow our citizenry to stop on a side street for our officers.
Perhaps the most appalling in this series of murders was the murder of the two little girls. Dolly Cepeda and Sonja Johnson were 12 and 14 years old. These girls were considered good girls, family girls. They were not girls of the street. When they came here on Sunday afternoon their families expected them to be safe. This shopping center is guarded, and it's in a safe area. We didn't have any idea where they went, where they were killed, who took them.
We had no witnesses, we had no physical evidence and all we had was‑‑eight days later we found the nude, raped bodies of these two young girls on a hillside not far from here.
NARRATOR: All the victims had been raped and strangled to death. They included 19-year‑old Yolanda Washington, 15‑year‑old Judith Miller, 21‑year-old Lisa Kasten and 20‑year‑old Kristina Weckler, 14‑year‑old Sonja Johnson, 12-year‑old Dolly Cepeda, 28-year‑old Jane King, 18‑year‑old Lauren Wagner, 17‑year‑old Kimberley Martin and 20‑year‑old Cindy Hudspeth.
ELIZABETH BARON (California Deputy Attorney General): What was so frightening about the Hillside Strangler was that the picture I had in my mind was of the average, ordinary man. Someone that could be my colleague in the office, someone who could be waiting on my table in a restaurant, taking my tickets at the theater. He was not going to be a monster. He was going to fade into anonymity among all the other people. He was going to be somebody's loving son, loving husband, sweet brother, good neighbor, people were going to be surprised when we found out. And that was really frightening, because you didn't have a way to guard yourself, protect yourself, because it could have been anybody.
NARRATOR: And then the murders stopped. Ten women had died in five months. They appeared to be perfect crimes. There were no clues. Almost 150 detectives had conducted the biggest manhunt in the history of Los Angeles. It failed, and the killer or killers remained at large. But as the weeks passed there were no more murders and the city began to relax. Nearly a year later two young women, university students, were reported missing eleven hundred miles north in Bellingham, a small lumber and fishing center just below the Canadian border in the State of Washington. A town with just six detectives.
BELLINGHAM POLICE: ...Go ahead, Sir. Bellingham Police. ... Missing from where?
FRED NOLTE (Bellingham Police): The girl reported missing to us was Karen Mandic. We then contacted her boyfriend and he told us that she had received a job house‑sitting. This would be when a person goes away for some reason and leaves the house vacant.
Security agencies here in the city of Bellingham will have people come to the home and stay in the home for a period of time, like an hour, while they put in security alarm systems, or something of this order. She was to receive $100 for this hour's work. With her at the time she took her roommate, Diane Wilder. We contacted the security agency and the person in charge of this particular house‑sitting told us that he did not know Karen or Diane.
NARRATOR: But the police soon learned that unbeknownst to the agency, one of their own security managers had lured Karen Mandic to the house with the promise of a well‑paid job.
Karen had been working at the Fred Meyers department store. She was last seen driving her car to the house‑sitting job. Eighteen hours later the bodies of Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder were found in their car on this hillside overlooking Bellingham. They had been strangled.
ROBERT KNUDSEN (Bellingham Police): There were no fingerprints in the vehicle. However, there were strangulation marks on the bodies and at this point it was decided to arrest the security guard, and this was a uniformed security guard, so arrangements were made with his boss to call him on the radio and have him dispatched to the south terminal guard shack area and we could arrest him there. As a uniformed security guard he is armed and this would be a much safer area for the police, and everyone else, to make an arrest of this type.
NARRATOR: The man arrested was 27-year‑old Kenneth Bianchi. He had left the Glendale area of Los Angeles a few months earlier and came to live his son and girlfriend, Kelli Boyd.
KELLI BOYD: The Ken I knew couldn't have ever hurt anybody or killed anybody.
(Interviewer: What sort of a person was he?)
Just very thoughtful, and real helpful with the baby and even around the house he was real helpful. He...he just wasn't the kind of person that could have killed somebody.
NARRATOR: His employers and colleagues could not believe it when Kenneth Bianchi was arrested.
RAY FLOCKOI (Security Supervisor): I thought he was very good professional‑wise as far as security officer and err‑I told his employer when he came to me that I would like to have about 15 or 20 more like him, because he handled his job very well, and I had a lot of faith in him and he was dependable. And carried himself very neat, his uniform was very neat.
ANGIE KINNEBERG (Friend of Bianchi): My girlfriend and I went down to the security office here and applied for our jobs and he was the first thing that we saw walk round the corner for our interview and we both went: "Wow! Look at that hunk!" And when we went in for our interview he was talking about his little boy and...just a really nice guy. And then he came out to visit us a few times and helped us take down our tree and sent us flowers for Christmas. Just an all‑round good guy.
NARRATOR: Could Ken Bianchi really be a killer? Even the Chief of Police had his doubts.
TERRY MANGAN (Chief of Bellingham Police): My impression was, and I mentioned it to Bob Knudsen from our department, that whoever did this, this was not the first time round, he's killed before. I think we both felt very strongly about that. On the other hand the suspect‑‑at that time we knew somewhat his background, that he had been a security guard, was considered a good applicant for our own police department, was studying to be a Sheriff's Reserve officer and that didn't really seem to blend with the evidence that this was someone who was not a neophyte killer.
NARRATOR: To the lawyer appointed to defend him, Bianchi presented further peculiarities.
DEAN BRETT: He seemed pretty normal. But there were some things that didn't fit. He indicated he didn't know anything about the homicides and yet he gave a series of increasingly incredible explanations of what he had been doing on the night of the murders. And so I checked out the psychiatric background by calling Don Lunde from Stanford Medical School.
NARRATOR: Dr. Lunde was Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and had been an expert witness in the Patti Hearst trial.
DON LUNDE: The thing that puzzled me was that there were some things he seemed not to remember or had different versions of which had no relation to the crime. And the two that stand out the most in my mind are his descriptions of his mother as a wonderful, saintly kind of woman when I knew from records from childhood and so on, that that was not the case; and secondly the fact that he had no memory, he had a loss of memory‑‑amnesia as we would call it, for various events in his childhood including periods when he was in psychiatric treatment and so I was puzzled by this. But other than that, I say, he seemed like a nice enough fellow.
Kenneth Bianchi: I don't remember. I was just asked that not too long ago.
Interviewer: Can't remember what you ran the hundred in?
Kenneth Bianchi: It couldn't have been very good. (LAUGHS)
Interviewer: Oh, it might have been good.
Kenneth Bianchi: I really don't remember. I‑er...
Interviewer: Under ten?
Kenneth Bianchi: No, I think it was more like 10.1, something like that.
Interviewer: Good for high school.
Kenneth Bianchi: I, uh, yeah, I was‑‑I was always physically fit through high school, uh‑‑through college. Always. Matter of fact, in college I ran, uh, two to three miles every other day. I ran with a friend.
Interviewer: One of the original joggers.
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah, I just loved it.
NARRATOR: While psychiatrists continued to examine Bianchi, a Bellingham detective began telephone checks in Los Angeles because Bianchi had a California driver's license.
FRANK SALERNO: During a conversation he related the facts of how their case occurred. Our investigator said: "Have you ever heard about the Hillside Strangler?" He said no, that he hadn't. He said I think you've got something there that's awfully close to what we've been working on. He said he would get back to him. Subsequent to that the investigator came to this machine, entered Kenneth Bianchi's name and his birthdate, received this teletype from Department of Motor Vehicles‑‑says Kenneth Alessio Bianchi, 809 East Garfield, Apartment D. Kristina Weckler, one of the victims, lived in Apartment C or E right next door at 809 East Garfield, also Cindy Hudspeth. our last victim, lived across the street at 800 East Garfield. With this teletype we had tied him in to two of the murders right away.
NARRATOR: This looked like the break Los Angeles Police had been waiting for. But could they prove it? They went to Bellingham where Bianchi had been charged with murder. Police there still had no conclusive evidence. Four weeks after Bianchi's arrest, officers Nolte and Knudsen revisited the house where they believed the two women had been killed...not so much by strangling but by hanging.
FRED NOLTE: This staircase here in the city of Bellingham on Edgemoor, after four or five weeks of working this house, is where we finally located the evidence that positively put the suspect with the two girls, and the homicide of the two girls, occurred on this sixth step right here.
ROBERT KNUDSEN: We discussed many times the method by which the girls were hung, and of course in a hanging there's a certain amount of violence, kicking, thrashing, and this residence had absolutely no sign of violence in it. There was no overturned furniture or anything and the only place that it could logically have been done was within this stairwell.
Fred and I came over and decided to start at the bottom of the stairwell and do a search, a careful search for hairs and fibers. We spent four hours searching this stairwell. We started at the bottom with a bright light, on our hands and knees and tweezers, and worked our way up. When we got to the sixth step we found a pubic hair and when we got to approximately the ninth and tenth steps we found long blonde and long dark hair.
These hairs were later identified as belonging to our two victims, and the pubic hair was identified as belonging to Ken Bianchi. These hairs were the final piece of evidence that tied this case together for us. It put the cap on it‑‑it was over‑‑we were ready to go to court.
(Interviewer: That must have been quite a day?)
It was a helluva day.
NARRATOR: But did Bianchi also commit the Los Angeles murders? L. A. detective Dudley Varney had his doubts. The methods of strangulation were different. The Bellingham bodies were clothed, and those in Los Angeles were naked. But Varney did bring back a set of Bianchi's fingerprints from Bellingham to compare with the prints found during the Los Angeles investigation. Still, there was no real reason to believe they would match.
GEORGE HERRERA (L.A. Police Department): This is the palm print of Kenneth Bianchi that was brought in by Dudley Varney. I immediately noticed, however, that he had a pattern in one of his fingers that we had been looking at for probably close to a year. So I immediately examined that one print. Here is an enlargement of the left ring finger of Kenneth Bianchi. The characteristics present in this exemplar matched and from these characteristics I was able to make the identification. The more I began to look the more things began to fall in and before too much longer, I was jumping around here like, like a pingpong ball. I was elated. It was unbelievable. Thirteen months of this kind of work and coming on to identifying a suspect in a case like this was just the greatest thrill of my life.
NARRATOR: The police now felt that Bianchi was the Hillside Strangler and also had murdered the women in Bellingham. But had he acted alone?
DUDLEY VARNEY: We were looking for a co‑conspirator on this series of crimes. We were looking for an associate. In our conversation with Kelli Boyd we came up with one answer. The only person that Kenneth ran with was Angelo Buono.
We said: "Well, who else does he see? Does he go out drinking with the boys at night or stop for a beer, or play games or play baseball or anything?" And she just shook her head and said: "No. The only time he's away from home he's with Angelo. He only has Angelo."
NARRATOR: Angelo Buono was Kenneth Bianchi's cousin with whom he had lived when he first came to Los Angeles. Buono was a hard working well respected car upholsterer who had renovated many antique cars for show business personalities. There was nothing to link him with any of the murders, but the police put him under 24‑hour surveillance. Back in Bellingham, despite the fingerprint evidence, Bianchi continued to insist on his innocence.
KENNETH BIANCHI: Between the publicity and the damage it's done to my family and to myself and to a point where my lawyer and I just couldn't see eye to eye, because I know what I had done and I hadn't killed any girls.
NARRATOR: But police evidence was so strong that Bianchi's lawyers began to investigate whether his failure to remember meant he had serious psychological problems. Investigation now focused not on his guilt, but on his state of mind.
Dr. John Watkins, Professor of Psychology at the University of Montana, was asked by Bianchi's lawyers to use hypnosis to try to unblock Bianchi's memory. Dr. Watkins' arrival produced a sensational turning point in the case.
JOHN WATKINS: He seemed to be an easy‑going, nice, friendly young man like the boy next door. He was much more concerned about what was happening inside of himself than he was in regards to what the law might do to him. He didn't believe he could possible have done these crimes and refused to allow his attorney to plead an insanity defense and I spent about the first hour getting acquainted with him.
NARRATOR: Dr. Watkins visited Bianchi in the Bellingham jail. It was there that over 60 hours of interviews were eventually videotaped.
INTERVIEW IN BELLINGHAM JAIL:
John Watkins: And we're gonna be tape recording.
Kenneth Bianchi: Uh‑huh.
John Watkins: Just a regular audio recording. And we also have some videotape here which we may use later. And we'll use it only because it could be of help to you.
Kenneth Bianchi: I can't tell you, I'm terrified about this whole thing.
John Watkins: And if you, if you agree to it.
Kenneth Bianchi: No, I don't...I don't mind.
TAPE OF INTERVIEW IN BELLINGHAM JAIL:
Kenneth Bianchi: Something inside of me was just boiling. I don't know why. I'm sorry I just ran out like that.
John Watkins: That's all right, Ken. I understand. You feel okay now?
Kenneth Bianchi: Yes, yes I do.
John Watkins: Well, I'd like to try a little something to help me understand you better, okay?
NARRATOR: Bianchi had agreed to allow Dr. Watkins to hypnotize him in an attempt to restore his memory.
Kenneth Bianchi: Do you want me to sit back in my chair?
John Watkins: Yeah. Why don't you sit back there. Okay. Close your eyes, Ken. Er‑‑you were telling me that you were feeling uncomfortable‑‑I was sort of wondering why that feeling of uncomfortableness.
NARRATOR: Over the next few weeks in a series of interviews that usually, but not always, included hypnosis, something totally unexpected happened. Dr. Watkins began to uncover an astonishing and different side to Kenneth Bianchi.
John Watkins: If I could know a little more of why that uncomfortableness is there...yes.
Kenneth Bianchi: Yes, what? Hi!
John Watkins: Are you Ken?
Kenneth Bianchi: Do I look like Ken?
John Watkins: Well, do you know who I am?
Kenneth Bianchi: Sure I know who you are.
John Watkins: Okay. You're just a bit disturbed at me.
Kenneth Bianchi: So what?
John Watkins: Okay. We just understand each other that way.
Kenneth Bianchi: I don't like you. I don't like you at all.
John Watkins: Why don't you like me? Ah, pardon me, it isn't Ken is it?
Kenneth Bianchi: No, it's not, it's Steve.
John Watkins: Okay. Steve.
JOHN WATKINS: This entity emerged and when I asked him if it was Ken he said: "No, it's Steve." I then talked to Steve about his situation. He kept talking about how he hated "that turkey" meaning Ken, and how he was fooling "that turkey." He also began to talk about the murders, said that he had conducted the murders, that Ken didn't know anything about it, and he laughed very heartily as he described how Ken would lose a tremendous amount of time; he asked me, he said: "How would you feel if you lost more time than a broken clock?" He also began to mention about "killing those girls down in Los Angeles."
NARRATOR: Steve, the other personality, made a momentous confession. He admitted that he was the Hillside Strangler.
Kenneth Bianchi: I killed the first girl.
John Watkins: You killed the first girl? Who was she? Do you know her?
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah, that nigger.
John Watkins: Oh?
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah, that black witch.
John Watkins: I see. How did you happen to decide on her?
Kenneth Bianchi: Well, I didn't see anything wrong with it, it was just‑there. (LAUGHS)
JOHN WATKINS: I must admit that I was quite surprised when this came out because I had been thinking in terms of amnesia, maybe only possible a multiple personality, and only very possibly that he could be connected to the Hillside Strangler crimes.
NARRATOR: Multiple personality is a rare mental disorder made famous in the books Three Faces of Eve and Sybil and the movies which followed. These were true stories of people in whom two or more personalities existed in the same body. The claim that Bianchi, like Eve, had more than one personality, transformed the case.
JOHN WATKINS: In a true multiple personality there are completely separate personalities within the same body. There may be two or three or four or more. Each one has its own identity, each one had its own behaviors, its mannerisms, its speech and when one is "out" it may be completely unaware of the existence of the others.
NARRATOR: In later interviews Steve, Ken's other personality, went on to say that his cousin Angelo was the other killer.
Kenneth Bianchi: You wanna know which ones...you see I got your cake.
John Watkins: Okay.
Kenneth Bianchi: You wanna know which ones Angelo and I did away?
John Watkins: You wanna tell me?
Kenneth Bianchi: You think I'm not gonna tell you, huh?
John Watkins: I don't know whether you're gonna tell me or not.
Kenneth Bianchi: Huh?
John Watkins: I don't know whether you're gonna tell me or not.
Kenneth Bianchi: It's my decision isn't it?
John Watkins: I guess it is. Right. You don't have‑‑you don't have to take credit for any of them if you don't want to.
Kenneth Bianchi: Hey, man, it doesn't bother me any. I‑‑you know I told you‑‑killing a broad doesn't make any difference to me. Killing any fucking body doesn't make any difference to me.
John Watkins: Yeah, well, maybe you didn't kill any of those. I don't know.
Kenneth Bianchi: Oh, hey no, wrong man, hey I killed a couple of these.
John Watkins: Well, which ones, if you think you did‑‑I don't know.
Kenneth Bianchi: I killed her, Angelo killed her.
John Watkins: You mean the Wagner one Angelo killed.
Kenneth Bianchi: This broad I've never seen before.
John Watkins: Martin.
Kenneth Bianchi: This broad I've never seen before.
John Watkins: Hudspeth? You never saw them at all?
Kenneth Bianchi: Nope.
John Watkins: No.
Kenneth Bianchi: This broad I killed, these two Angelo killed.
John Watkins: Weckler, Johnson and Cepeda. Angelo killed, huh? Wait a minute.
Kenneth Bianchi: This one I've never seen before. This broad I killed.
John Watkins: Barcomb you've never seen before. Miss Kasten is the broad you killed you say.
Kenneth Bianchi: Am I going too fast for you?
John Watkins: You're going so damned fast. I'm not that smart. Okay. I'm not as bright as you are so let's cool it and slow it down a bit.
Kenneth Bianchi: Since, since I...since I enjoy your taste here and your interest that I'm really, you know, very pleased that you take an interest in this, I'm gonna do you a favor. Let me borrow your scrib here, okay?
John Watkins: Yeah, sure.
Kenneth Bianchi: Okay. I'll do you a favor so you don't get lost along the way.
John Watkins: Okay. All right, you do me the favor then.
Kenneth Bianchi: It's real easy. What you understand is‑‑this one is killed, these two I don't know about, this one I don't know about, this one I killed, this was the first one I killed, this one, this one, I remember that cunt. Could she have worn her hair differently or something?
John Watkins: I don't know. How would I know?
Kenneth Bianchi: Angelo...Angelo will be a cross, okay? I'll make it easy for you. He 's my kind of man.
John Watkins: Okay.
Kenneth Bianchi: There should be more people in the world like Angelo.
John Watkins: All right. The ones that Angelo's a cross and which ones are you then?
Kenneth Bianchi: I'm the ex's.
John Watkins: Oh, you're the ex's?
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah, you want me to write that down so you can remember?
John Watkins: Yeah, why don't you?
NARRATOR: Dr. Watkin's investigation had uncovered a violent character, horribly different from the all‑American boy, Kenneth Bianchi, whom everyone had come to know. Meanwhile in Los Angeles Bianchi's cousin Angelo denied any involvement. There was no evidence against him except what Steve had said.
KELLI BOYD: Ken's attorney told me that some interesting things were coming out of the interviews. And he asked me if I'd ever heard of the book Sybil or Three Faces of Eve and I had heard of Sybil, and so I asked him how‑‑what he meant, how that related to Ken, and he said that‑‑under hypnosis that other personality or another part of Ken's personality seemed to come out. It was something that acted like‑‑unlike anything that he had seen so far and wanted‑‑he asked me a lot of questions about what he was like before and tried to find out if I'd ever seen any of that personality that had shown up on tapes in the jail during the interviews. And from what they described I'd never seen that.
NARRATOR: What was the reaction of the Los Angeles police when they saw the video?
DUDLEY VARNEY: I almost threw up. I've seen hypnosis before. I've never seen anything quite like this. From that point on it just looked like a sham.
FRANK SALERNO: I've still got my notebook where, after viewing the first tapes I wrote in there: "This is bullshit" and underlined it three times.
NARRATOR: And what was Ken Bianchi's reaction when he was finally shown the tapes?
KENNETH BIANCHI (In interview with Lunde): Quite frankly, um‑‑a little way through the hypnosis session it scared the hell out of me. I was just, just really surprised. You know, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing and it just really bothered me really bad.
I can't touch on all my feelings that I was having, but it just really bothered me. As a matter of fact I couldn't go any further part way through this one particular tape, and I stopped and Dean talked to me and John talked to me and you know they really helped a lot as far as you, putting some things in perspective and gave me support and things like that, you know, and reinforcing the feelings that I actually had, but I had buried, you know, to...to let these other feelings out when I was...you know, so‑so disturbed by what I saw.
NARRATOR: After viewing these tapes Bianchi still said he could not remember the crimes and knew nothing of the personality called "Steve." But for the first time he did concede that his body must have done the murders.
He entered an insanity defense before the Bellingham court on March 29, 1979. If successful, he could avoid the death penalty and perhaps eventually even win his freedom.
The judge was faced with a dilemma. For seven weeks Bianchi had refused an insanity defense. Now he had changed his mind. A panel of experts was appointed. The question: Was Bianchi truly a multiple personality?
Dr. Ralph Allison, a California psychiatrist and leading authority on multiple personality, was called in to advise the judge. He was independent of both the defense and the prosecution.
RALPH ALLISON: The man was very pleasant, very nice, very courteous, you know, just an ordinary middle class working fellow with a wife and child who had no idea how he got into this jam. Totally baffled by it. And then during the session where he had gone into a trance, out came this monstrous personality that called itself Steve, admitted to the killings and made it quite clear that he didn't give a damn about human life.
KENNETH BIANCHI (In interview with Allison): Angelo went and picked her up. I was waiting on the street. He drove 'round to where I was. I got in the car. We got on the freeway. I fucked her and killed her. We dumped her body off. And that was it. Nothing to it.
RALPH ALLISON: The only thing I had to go on in any of this was matching him off against what I had come to know about the patients that I had treated myself. And there are three basic areas. One is the history, and one is his appearance right there in front of me, and the third is certain psychological tests that you might apply. And certainly you had a good deal of history from him, psychological work‑ups in his youth, and doctors' reports, and it showed a tremendous amount of pathology and difficulty in the family‑‑and all this, you know, he was considered a very disturbed child.
DEAN BRETT: We collected the psychiatric records of Ken Bianchi. To give you an example, he was trotted from doctor to doctor with a series of physical ailments. His eyes rolled, he had tics, he fell down, he had what they thought were petit mal seizures and the doctors said: "See a psychiatrist."
His mother took him to the De Paul Clinic and these are quotes from their report: Quote: "Dr. Dowling reported that Kenneth is a deeply hostile boy who has extremely dependent needs which his mother fufills. He depends upon his mother for his very survival and spends a great deal of energy keeping his hostility under control and under cover. There seems some basic confusion about his own identity. He tries very hard to placate his mother, but she always seems dissatisfied. To sum up, Dr. Dowling said that he is a severely repressed boy who is very anxious and very lonely."
Now I then contacted the psychologist who wrote that report when he was eleven years old. He responded: "In my opinion the psychological test data from 1962"‑‑when he was 11‑‑"are quite consistent with a subsequent condition of multiple personality."
FRANK SALERNO: During our interview with the people that knew Bianchi, his co‑workers, his friends, relatives, kids that he'd grown up with...at no time were able to come up with a personality change or a mood change.
DUDLEY VARNEY: He's a very, very smart man. And I believe to him this is a challenge. I believe that he is playing a role and playing a part. I think it's part of his ego. I think he feeds his ego with it, and he's having a ball.
DEAN BRETT: We didn't rely just on the records. We found, for example, in his basement this statue. This was traced to a high school sculpture class. Now remember, the psychologist reported that he told them fun for him was playing games, scary games in which he was the monster. This is the product of his sculpture.
RALPH ALLISON: The mother had been recommended for therapy. The child had been recommended for therapy. Neither one had gone so we knew no resolution had occurred. So then I did the hypnosis and tried to carry him back in time to see what kind of specific difficulties occurred between him and his mother.
Ralph Allison: When I stop at a certain age I want you to feel as you were at that age. Not as you think you should have been or what you hoped you might have been, but as you really were and being able then to talk to me about whatever kind of problems occurred to you at that age. As if you're going through those problems very recently but are now able to express them to me as if I was a counselor there for you at that time.
I'll just count backwards slowly and allow your mind to gear into those age states as you get younger. Twenty‑seven, go down to 26, 25, ten, and nine. Going to talk to the nine‑year‑old Ken in any way that is comfortable for you, being nine years old, being aware of me, not being bothered by anything else, not being upset about what's in the surroundings. I'd like you to be the nine‑year‑old Ken telling me about what kind of important things that are going on with you in recent days. What's been going on Ken?
Kenneth Bianchi: I've been playing. There've been a lot of fights between my Mom and Dad. My Mom hits me a lot.
Ralph Allison: Your Mom hits you?
RALPH ALLISON: And he was a very lonely child. He felt that his mother kept his playmates away. He was the victim of her anger at her husband who was going out to the race tracks and losing the family paycheck. So she took it out on her son because her husband wasn't there.
Kenneth Bianchi: I don't want to get hit. When I do what I wanna do I get hit. I don't wanna get hit anymore. She hits my dad. She hits me.
Ralph Allison: Where are you living now?
Kenneth Bianchi: Big grey house.
Ralph Allison: On what street?
Kenneth Bianchi: Villa Street.
Ralph Allison: What town?
Kenneth Bianchi: Rochester, New York.
Ralph Allison: How old are you?
Kenneth Bianchi: Just turning nine.
Ralph Allison: How d'you celebrate your ninth birthday?
Kenneth Bianchi: I thought I'd have a cake and a lot of friends over and ...mom got mad at me. I didn't have any of my friends over. I was going to have a party and there was no party.
Ralph Allison: Where did you hide?
Kenneth Bianchi: Under my bed, in my closet, behind the house. The bed's the best place.
Ralph Allison: Do you ever hide inside your own head?
Kenneth Bianchi: Sometimes, just to get away.
Ralph Allison: And what do you do in there?
Kenneth Bianchi: Talk.
Ralph Allison: Anybody else in there to talk to?
Kenneth Bianchi: My friend.
Ralph Allison: Who's that?
Kenneth Bianchi: Stevie...my second best buddy.
Ralph Allison: Does he have a last name?
Kenneth Bianchi: He did have a last name.
Ralph Allison: What was it?
Kenneth Bianchi: I can't remember...Walker.
Ralph Allison: Walker. Where 'd he get that name? D'you know his parents?
Kenneth Bianchi: He didn't have any parents. Stevie was alone.
RALPH ALLISON: This is characteristic of multiple personalities because they just cannot run away physically, so they run away inside their minds. They create somebody who does the escape or handles it.
It would seem that Ken coped with this by a process of denying that problems really occurred, denying that his mother was being so hard on him. She was, in his mind, a very loving person and he manufactured this fantasy. Of course that didn't follow through.
Then he would repress his feelings of anger towards her, bury them in his mind somewhere and this then would be walled off from the rest of his mind as a sewer. That's what would later erupt. But at the time he was a child he would put more and more of his hostility, resentment toward her into this portion of his mind where he could store it up. Eventually it would erupt and when it erupted these women got killed. They were raped and then killed.
So I wrote a report to the judge stating my opinion. This is what I said to him: that he is a dual personality and he had been since the age of nine. At that time he created an alter personality which took the name of Steve Walker. This was while he was hiding under the bed in his bedroom trying to escape his mother's vicious tongue and punishing hand. As time elapsed Steve Walker became more and more independent in action and was able to take over the body of Kenneth Bianchi and caused a great deal of trouble in the family and later in the world outside the family.
Then I concluded that Ken Bianchi is able to understand what he is charged with, but he has amnesia for the actual incidences during which his body was under the control of Steve Walker. Therefore he has not been able to discuss his whereabouts, actions and all this with his attorney since all of that time is completely unknown to him. Steve Walker, on the other hand, does not consider Mr. Brett to be his attorney.
Therefore, at the present time, I would not consider Ken Bianchi or Steve Walker competent to stand trial for the crimes charged. And that's what I reported to the judge.
NARRATOR: But the Bellingham investigators were not impressed by the videotaped interviews and even less impressed by Dr. Allison.
ROBERT KNUDSEN: When he first came here and we were waiting 'round to start a session, we were standing around outside the area talking and he indicated that it was very important to him to establish this multiple personality because he was close to a world record number of finds of multiple personalities and he was writing a book, or had a book going, on this topic and I felt that it was more important to him that the multiple personality be found than‑‑in my mind‑‑the facts of the case be brought forth.
NARRATOR: The Los Angeles Police never had the opportunity to talk to the Steve personality. So they decided to take Ken back to Los Angeles to the streets from which the victims had been abducted. To retrace the steps of each crime. While they were doing this, Bianchi began to remember more about the murders than he had so far admitted to the doctors.
FRANK SALERNO: A couple of things that he told us about became very important in the case. One of the incidents was an incident involving Kathy Lorre. Kathy Lorre is the young daughter of Peter Lorre, a very famous Hollywood actor.
Bianchi told us of this incident where they had stopped her on the streets of Hollywood a short distance from here, around the time of the Judy Miller abduction, and using police badges they had stopped her and told her that they were police officers. After asking her for identification, she presented a wallet. In the wallet along with her identification was a photograph of her as a youngster on her father's knee, and anybody that's grown up in this area, familiar with the movies, recognized Peter Lorre. Discretion, the better part of velour, they decided they'd back off this one and let her go.
PETER FINNIGAN (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): She subsequently ended up taking us to the locations where the incident that Bianchi related to us had occurred and she described it exactly the way Bianchi described it.
RALPH ALLISON INTERVIEW:
Ralph Allison: As far as I know they were laughing at us behind our backs. They thought Bianchi was just putting on a real great show for us and leading us down the primrose path. They didn't understand how we could be fooled so easily, I think.
Interviewer: But you feel that it's a difficult condition to understand?
Ralph Allison: Very difficult. I mean we were trying to find out how the different sections of his mind were operating and in the process there has to be leakage from one to the other. We could not help that. And when there's a leakage then there's a change in status. That part that didn't know about things now knew about things.
Interviewer: So that means he can change from month to month?
Ralph Allison: That means he can change from day to day, and there was at least one point where he had a major change where one night a lot of awareness of the crimes suddenly came into his mind. He became acutely suicidal. He called for his lawyer. They had a meeting and he calmed down. From then on he had no doubt he had done the crime, and he certainly was a great deal different to an examiner because he didn't deny it any more.
NARRATOR: In July 1979, six months after his arrest, Ken Bianchi, as Ken, began to remember the Los Angeles murders. Without hypnosis he described them to Dr. Lunde.
Kenneth Bianchi: And then they were brought into‑‑all the killings occurred in the spare room, next to the bathroom.
Don Lunde: Wait a minute, we skipped the sex here, where...
Kenneth Bianchi: Oh, we' re not there yet.
Don Lunde: Hands are tied and they're taken to...
Kenneth Bianchi: Hands are tied and they're taken into the spare room next to the bathroom. Um‑‑that's when um‑‑there was sex with‑‑with the girls. Um, after that they were um, they were untied, allowed to dress themselves, but tied up again and err‑they sat back on the bed and um‑‑meanwhile the‑‑everything was made ready. They were then...
Don Lunde: What did that involve‑‑other than getting ready?
Kenneth Bianchi: Getting the rope to kill them with.
Don Lunde: Okay.
Kenneth Bianchi: Or whatever.
Don Lunde: Okay.
Kenneth Bianchi: I can't believe I'm talking about this. I've come a long way, Dr. Lunde.
NARRATOR: Four experts now agreed Bianchi was insane. And the county prosecutor feared he could go free.
DAVID MCEACHRAN (County Prosecutor): I was very concerned. I spoke to the defense attorney and he is a person I've worked with on many occasions and he's a very straight-forward attorney, and he was absolutely convinced that Mr. Bianchi was a multiple personality and felt that he could actually convince me of that, and he believed that he would be acquitted by reason of insanity. That concerned me a great deal because that meant he would be out on the streets if he could just convince a number of psychiatrists that he was cured of his problem, which I felt he could easily do.
(Interviewer: So how did you handle this?)
We sought an expert in hypnosis and in fact we obtained an world‑wide recognized expert, Dr. Orne.
NARRATOR: Dr. Martin Orne is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Could he shed new light on Kenneth Bianchi?
MARTIN ORNE: He seemed like a pleasant, cooperative individual, but whenever I see an individual in a forensic situation, somebody accused of premeditated murder facing a death penalty, I always ask myself‑‑is this individual telling me how he really feels or is he malingering or faking, because after all there is a tremendous motivation to appear insane and that way not be responsible for the things he did. And so that before you can make a diagnosis‑‑well, I have to decide whether he is for real.
Martin Orne: I've met Ken, but I haven't met Steve yet. So I'd like to meet Steve for a bit.
Kenneth Bianchi: What do you want?
Martin Orne: I'd like to talk to you.
Kenneth Bianchi: I wanna fucking cigarette.
Martin Orne: I don't have a cigarette.
Kenneth Bianchi: Give me a cigarette.
NARRATOR: During hypnosis Steve appeared for Dr. Orne as he had for Doctors Watkins and Allison. But this time, there was a new surprise. Other personalities also appeared.
RALPH ALLISON: I knew that he had been appointed by the prosecuting attorney and the hopes were that he would demolish the insanity defense by showing no evidence of a multiple personality, and here I saw the personalities laid out. I mean Ken was there and clearly Steve came out, and then we had this little boy that was a scared little kid. And I thought, my goodness, Dr. Orne is now on the side of truth and justice. You know, he will now be able to testify that he's gotten the multiple personalities. So I was very happy with it. I thought it was a very good presentation.
NARRATOR: But Dr. Orne thought there was another possibility. Bianchi could be faking. Orne asked Bianchi directly.
Martin Orne: You have to recognize, given your ability and your motivation the possibility of your using a multiple personality and perhaps even using some of the psychiatrists, psychologists who saw you, to your own ends, has to be considered‑‑very seriously.
Kenneth Bianchi: Sure, absolutely.
Martin Orne: And, I don't think it has been considered thus far. How do I know that you didn't kinda cook this?
NARRATOR Is Dr. Orne right? Did Bianchi cook it? The other psychiatrists were convinced he was insane. The police were equally convinced that Bianchi had fooled the experts. They feared that two mass murderers, Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, could go free.
But can the police prove their case? Does Dr. Orne know more? Is Kenneth Bianchi insane or is he a cold‑blooded killer faking insanity?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next week, we'll bring you part two of "The Mind of A Murderer."
Dr. Martin Orne, the psychiatrist brought in by the prosecution, continues his study of Kenneth Bianchi. Dr. Orne pulls a dramatic surprise‑‑he replays key sections of the interview tapes, retests Bianchi and submits a startling diagnosis. Kenneth Bianchi is a street‑wise and dangerous psychopath who brilliantly fooled four psychological experts.
Who is right? Dr. Orne or the other experts? The surprising conclusion to "The Mind of A Murderer"‑‑next week, on FRONTLINE.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
PRODUCTION CREDITS: The Mind of a Murderer, Part I
Directed and Produced by MICHAEL BARNES
Research DAVID BOARDMAN
Program Consultant NEVILLE FRANKEL
FRONTLINE Wishes to Thank
INSTITUTE OF PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL
INSTITUTE FOR EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHIATRY, BOSTON
LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Narrator WILL LYMAN
Dubbing Mixer KEN MAINS
Graphic Designer BOB CUMMINS
Film Editor CLARK DOUGLAS
Videotape Research VALERIE PATTEN
FOR FRONTLINE ‑
Anchor JUDY WOODRUFF
Studio Producer JOANNA LU
Studio Director GEORGE RIVERA
Associate Producer ELIZABETH ARLEDGE
Assistant Director JUDY BANKS
Production Assistant MICKI GRIFFIN
Lighting Director CHAS NORTON
Stage Manager RANDALL GRAY
Switcher JAY COLLIER
Technical Production JOHN L. SULLIVAN
Audio MARGO GARRISON
Video DAN JONES
Videotape Recordist FRANCIS X. COAKLEY
Scenic Design CLINT HEITMAN
Graphic Design JACK FOLEY
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Make‑Up ELLIE EPSTEIN
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Senior Researcher MARRIE CAMPBELL
Series Editor WILLIAM GRANT
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Executive Editor LOUIS WILEY
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