The Mind of a Murderer, Part II
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, on FRONTLINE, a compelling analysis of a criminal mind.
The case: Kenneth Bianchi, the Hillside Strangler. Was he insane, a multiple personality or was he faking?
Tonight, the final verdict on the Hillside Strangler... unraveling the mind of a murderer.
Good evening, I'm Judy Woodruff. Tonight, the conclusion of a special two‑part documentary which reveals the terrifying psychology of a killer.
It's the case of Kenneth Bianchi, the Hillside Strangler. He was involved in the murder of at least ten women in Los Angeles terrorizing the city for five months in 1977 and '78. After his arrest, Bianchi was interviewed by a series of psychological experts to determine if he was insane.
His behavior suggested that Bianchi was a multiple personality. A Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde who looked like an all‑American husband and father, but who was at the same time a cold‑blooded murderer.
Four experts believed he was insane. But the police didn't. They thought Bianchi was faking.
Using over 60 hours of videotaped jailhouse interviews with Bianchi, FRONTLINE has recreated this case step by step; it's an unprecedented examination of the mind of a murderer.
The program is produced and directed by Michael Barnes.
And one word of warning: there are brief, but graphic photographs of the victims' bodies and some strong language.
DUDLEY VARNEY: Bianchi is probably as cold a killer as I've met.
KELLI BOYD: The Ken I knew couldn't have ever hurt anybody or killed anybody.
PETER FINNIGAN: Obviously he's a very complex person who's unable to accept the responsibilities for his actions and gets a thrill out of killing young girls.
ANGIE KINNEBERG: He's very sincere, kind and he had a certain magnetism about him that drew all women to him.
FRANK SALERNO: Well, he's a man with a tremendous ego. He's intelligent, he has the ability to do whatever he wants to do, but he is also a multiple murderer.
JOHN WATKINS: After interviewing him intensely for two days I was quite convinced that he was a full‑fledged multiple personality.
ANGIE KINNEBERG: I don't really understand the multiple personality bit, but the person I did at once know couldn't have done it.
NARRATOR: There was no doubt that Kenneth Bianchi was a killer. But was he insane? Was he a genuine multiple personality? Or could he have fooled the experts in a bold attempt to avoid the death penalty?
More than 60 hours of interviews between Bianchi and the experts trying to answer those questions were videotaped after his arrest in 1979. They show Bianchi's two different personalities. First: Ken, the all‑American boy.
KENNETH BIANCHI (Interview): Do you want to get back to why I came to California? Well, I came there hoping to find a better job. I've always wanted to go to California, the sun, the girls, the beaches...
NARRATOR:The other side of Ken's personality, of which he claimed to know nothing, was a violent character called Steve, who later confessed to the killings.
Kenneth Bianchi: You know I tell 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. I killed a couple of these.
NARRATOR: Was Steve another, separate, personality who at times took over Ken's body? Was Steve responsible for the horrible murders which seemed impossible to believe that Ken, the all‑American boy, could have committed? These questions began a probe into Kenneth Bianchi's mind that was to eventually put psychiatry itself on trial.
DUDLEY VARNEY (L.A. Police Detective): The killings progressed from a straight strangulation killing to actually trying to gas one of the girls using gas from the house and a plastic bag.
One of the girls was hooked up to 110 volts, taping the circuit to her hands and plugging her into 110, presumably to watch her jump. One of the girls, in fact the one who was suffocated with gas, was injected with some sort of cleaning solution. We don't know exactly what the solution was, but presumably she went into some sort of convulsions because of that. We got a feeling there was something in progression that became more grotesque, more adventuresome and more hideous really.
NARRATOR: By late 1977, ten young women had been raped and killed in or near Los Angeles, and their bodies dumped on hillsides near the freeways. The city was terrorized for five months.
Then a year later, there was a double murder in Bellingham, a thousand miles to the north in Washington State. Ken Bianchi was arrested.
He was an unlikely suspect‑‑a proud father and member of the Sheriff's Reserve. He denied the charges, saying he had no memory of the killings. And even as evidence against him mounted he refused an insanity defense.
Only when Bianchi was hypnotized did the completely different personality called Steve emerge, and confess not only to the Bellingham murders, but to those in Los Angeles.
Bianchi said he had been involved in the Los Angeles killings with his cousin Angelo Buono. Buono denied that charge. So the police faced a problem. Their case against Buono depended on the testimony of Kenneth Bianchi. And if Bianchi was found to be insane he probably would not be allowed to testify against his cousin.
JOHN WATKINS (Professor of Psychology, University of Montana): After I had examined Bianchi on March 21 and 22, 1979, both in hypnosis and out of hypnosis, I concluded that he was definitely a true multiple personality case, in fact one of the most clear‑cut ones I had seen in working with that type of problem over many years.
NARRATOR: The Bellingham judge appointed his own expert, independent of the defense or prosecution. California psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Allison.
RALPH ALLISON: In my considered professional opinion Ken Bianchi was legally insane at the killings in Bellingham because of having multiple personalities.
NARRATOR: The prosecution pinned its hopes on Dr. Martin Orne, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Before interviewing Bianchi further, he decided to look at the increasingly bizarre findings of police investigations into Bianchi's past.
MARTIN ORNE: Especially in a first degree murder case, I feel I cannot rely on what the defendant says without corroboration. So I insisted on getting all of the police records and comparing this with what he said to all of us, and it led to some very interesting data. For example, there was an interaction between Angelo and Mr. Bianchi, which must have been truly memorable, with an individual that occurred some several years before he was arrested.
NARRATOR: The individual was Tiny Boyles, a 440 lb., six‑foot bodyguard. Some years before Tiny had run across Bianchi and Angelo Buono. His meeting was to become significant in Dr. Orne's investigation because Tiny had discovered that Bianchi was not quite the all‑American boy he seemed.
TINY BOYLES: But do you know that they were running a ring of prostitution and using young girls, exploiting them, mainly for um‑‑the best I could find out in my investigation they were using them for blackmail.
NARRATOR: Tiny learned that while Bianchi and Buono were running their ring of under‑age prostitutes, they had a conflict with one of their clients, a Los Angeles lawyer, which supposedly had escalated to a point where the cousins had threatened to kill the lawyer. The lawyer responded by sending Tiny Boyles and four of his friends over to reason with Bianchi and Buono.
TINY BOYLES: Buono was working on a car, detailing it, and I kept talking to him and he kept ignoring me. So I reached in the window and jerked him out through the window so fast, so hard, he left his shoes in there, and while I had him up in the air I asked him if he don't mind paying attention to me. So while I was dangling him in the air he paid full attention, so I lowered him back down on the ground. And I gave him one of the lawyer's cards and I told him, I said "Don't be offering to kill him no more, 'cause the last thing in the world you want's an instant replay of me."
(Interviewer: So how did Buono react to that?)
Um‑‑he told me there's be no more troubles.
(Interviewer: And what about Bianchi?)
Bianchi's a little snivelling poo‑butt. But he was what you call The Doc. . . the. . . what we call the Perverted Doc. His job was if girls were scared of snakes, he put snakes on 'em. He done that to make sure they brought the money home, he worked on their morbid fears. And he run behind his security door which he already knew who we were, what we were, and hid behind his door, holding the security door, sniveling: "Please don't hurt me, please don't hurt me." Well, we knew they were into something heavy, but we didn't know what. But if I'd 'a known he was killing those little, young girls‑‑one of those girls was‑‑what‑‑13 to 14 years old? If I'd 'a known it‑‑I got four daughters of my own‑‑I'd a snapped their neck like a twig and not had no remorse for it.
NARRATOR: Dr. Orne decided that this encounter was important enough to ask Bianchi if he could remember Tiny and his friends.
Martin Orne: Yeah, but I understand that the‑‑whoever it was‑‑got some five tough big guys to talk with you, reason with you, however it's...
Kenneth Bianchi: No, you've got the wrong person. Angelo.
Martin Orne: Oh?
Kenneth Bianchi: They visited Angelo's shop.
Martin Orne: I see. I see. But they...
Kenneth Bianchi: They were . . . they . . . bikers. They're called bike . . . motorcyclists? From a local bike club? They visited Angelo's shop.
Martin Orne: Yeah, but they came‑‑look, you know, I wasn't there, but I understand they came to see you also, and you kind of got away just as they were coming. Try and think back, because that must have been a very impressive group.
MARTIN ORNE (Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania): Mr. Bianchi's not remembering an event which is very memorable, is very telling. Either he is a‑‑giving me a barefaced lie, and he has been accused of being a pathological liar by many people, or the same thing could be explained by his being a multiple personality and really not knowing, and the problem is to distinguish between these two possibilities‑the behavior could be explained in both ways.
NARRATOR: While Dr. Orne was beginning to probe Kenneth Bianchi's mind, the police continued to look into his past. In Los Angeles, police found a psychologist, Charles Weingarten. He told of meeting a Kenneth Bianchi who claimed to be a psychologist.
CHARLES WEINGARTEN: He wanted to rent office space from me. He said that he was desperate for some space, and I told him we weren't renting, but that I would let him use the office for a couple of weeks until he could find permanent space.
He was very appropriate when he came in. He smiled easily, he talked well about transactional analysis, which is the kind of therapy that he said he used. We talked a little about that.
(Interviewer: How did he present himself?)
He was very well dressed‑‑um . . . he appeared to be intelligent, he sounded that way. He commented on my diplomas and licenses, my business card, the type of practice that I had. He asked appropriate questions.
(Interviewer: So what do you feel in retrospect?)
It was a good con.
FRANK SALERNO (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): The two things that Bianchi was most interested in was one, the business card, and two, was some plaques he had on the wall, permaplaques of his degrees. Well, shortly after Bianchi surfaces up in Bellingham, we discover that Bianchi had such plaques.
Here's photographs of them. Trustees Columbia University confer on Kenneth Alessio Bianchi a Master of Science Degree in Psychology; another one, Certificate of Accomplish, Kenneth A. Bianchi, Intern in Residence, Strong Memorial Hospital in New York, and an interesting one here is an institution of association that doesn't even exist, the National Psychiatric Association of America, Kenneth A. Bianchi, Doctor of Psychiatry.
NARRATOR: Bianchi told his girl friend, Kelli Boyd, that he had received a doctor's degree.
KELLI BOYD: I was kind of dumbfounded. I didn't understand how he could have done that and I also wondered why he'd never said anything to me about it at all before. And I asked him about it and he said he hadn't told anybody about this doctorate paper he'd written up because he was afraid it wouldn't be accepted and then he'd be embarrassed about it.
Then he kept it all from his mom, and she didn't know anything about it because of the same reasons and‑‑it first sounded like it could be possible you know, it sounded like a real reason for him, because he wanted everybody to approve of him so much.
PETER FINNIGAN (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): We came across a hand‑written flier that he had been putting under the windshield wipers of cars parked in the neighborhood. He had the date of October/November of '76 on the bottom of this thing, with a copy of his graduation picture presumably. It read: "Dear Neighbor, Hi. First let me introduce myself. My name is Ken Bianchi. I'm a '74 graduate of Columbia University, served an internship at a major New York Hospital, and over two years of private practice." He then goes on to state that for the nominal fee of ten dollars you can mail him five questions or problems and send your question or problem along with your age, sex, first initial and last name, and a check or money order to cover the fee and that he will return an answer as soon as possible. We had a budding neighborhood Dear Abby there in Glendale.
Kenneth Bianchi: There are two‑‑there are several parts to the diploma thing. I was aware that they did exist. However, to me they were just a novelty item. But there was more to it than that.
Don Lunde: Well, what about the counseling service, the office that you‑‑you know I've seen the Log In/Log Out . . . you know, Ken Bianchi, the billing of um . . . what do you remember of that?
Kenneth Bianchi: Now I can remember going there with Kelli.
Don Lunde: If I'd asked you in March could you?
Kenneth Bianchi: I would have looked like a stupid bald‑faced liar.
NARRATOR: It was clear that both the diplomas and the counseling service were phony. But was this the work of Steve? Had he taken over? Was Ken only now beginning to remember Steve's actions? It could be read that way. Dr. Orne went to the Bellingham jail in May 1979 in an attempt to find out if Kenneth Bianchi was a genuine multiple personality or not.
MARTIN ORNE (University of Pennsylvania) I had an unusual opportunity because Mr. Bianchi had worked with two great authorities on multiple personality and Dr. Allison had tried to bring out another personality and failed. This gave me the possibility of doing exactly what Dr. Allison had done in hypnosis where I knew he wasn't going to come out with another personality, there's no reason why he should, but to add one thing. That is, in the wake state, to give him a hint that his interest would be best served if he brought out an extra personality, because every multiple typically has three or more, and if he was malingering or faking, then he'd grab on to that hint and when later hypnotized he was going to bring out one, two or three extra personalities.
NARRATOR: In this videotape Bianchi is not yet hypnotized. Martin Orne will quietly drop the hint that genuine multiples usually have more than two personalities.
Kenneth Bianchi: I was told that there was a possibility that I had what's called a multiple personality, which means that‑‑that there are two separate distinct personalities within the same body, I guess.
Martin Orne: That's pretty rare for there to be two, actually, that's one of the things I'm curious about.
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah. They mentioned only the two. I don't know. I . . . you know . . . I really don' t know that much about the field. It's just as new to me as it is to, you know, a lot of other people.
Martin Orne: All right. As I say one, you will go deeper, you will sink deeper and you'll become aware of it happening. It will not be frightening to you because you know I'm here and you're safe.
NARRATOR: Later that day Dr. Orne put Bianchi to the test. Under hypnosis, Orne asked whether there were any other personalities whom he and the other psychiatrists had not met. Would Bianchi take the hint?
Martin Orne: As I talk to you now, that part of you which has not talked to anyone, that is not Ken, and that is not Steve, may come forth. What is your name?
Kenneth Bianchi: Billy.
Martin Orne: All right, Billy, tell me‑‑what do you know about Ken?
Kenneth Bianchi: Ken, I don't know Ken.
Martin Orne: And what is your last name?
Kenneth Bianchi: I don't know.
Martin Orne: And how about Steve?
Kenneth Bianchi: I know Steve.
Martin Orne: Do you like Steve?
Kenneth Bianchi: He's a bad egg.
NARRATOR: Doctors Watkins and Allison applauded Dr. Orne's success in bringing out this new personality. Had he succeeded where they had failed?
MARTIN ORNE: Well, actually I mimicked the approaches which they took. And if you don't notice the little hint which I gave that every multiple personality typically has three, and you overlook that, then it certainly appears as if I did a better job than they did because the part came out for me and it hadn't for them. But that's because of what I said in the wake state, not what I said in hypnosis.
(Interviewer: So you mean Mr. Bianchi just picked it up because it would make him more credible?)
That's the way I interpreted it, exactly.
(Interviewer: Does this prove that he was faking?)
It certainly makes me more suspicious. However, you can't prove anything with a single item of data. This was one item of data, a compelling one, but there were many others which we looked for and where I tried to find a way in which Mr. Bianchi could demonstrate that he was a real multiple if in fact he was.
Kenneth Bianchi: Uh‑‑me and Angelo took her for a ride in the car.
Martin Orne: Yeah...
NARRATOR: If Bianchi was faking multiple personality, was he also faking hypnosis? This was an important issue for the police. Under California law a witness who has been hypnotized cannot testify in court because hypnosis changes memory. If Kenneth Bianchi really was hypnotized he could not testify against Angelo Buono.
MARTIN ORNE: We've done a lot of work about the faking of hypnosis, and found to our surprise that even the world's outstanding hypnotists could not identify people who were untrained faking hypnosis. After a while we began to develop criteria and we've done a lot of work in finding things which separate people who are faking from those who are not.
I asked him to hallucinate Mr. Brett, his attorney. A good subject would be able to do that with no difficulty and indeed he apparently hallucinates Mr. Brett.
Martin Orne: As you open your eyes there's a chair in front of you, a chair with armrests, where Mr. Brett will be sitting. And you will be able to see him clearly in front of you. Open your eyes and look at Mr. Brett. He wants to talk to you.
Kenneth Bianchi: Hey, Dean. How're you doing? What's new?
Martin Orne: I'll leave you to talk to him for a few moments. I'll be back.
Kenneth Bianchi: O.K. Did your wife have the baby yet? No, not yet? O.K. So what's new? What are we gonna talk about the three of us?
Martin Orne: Well, I want you to describe Dean to me in some detail. Is he shaven?
Kenneth Bianchi: Oh, no. Beard. God, you can see him. You must be able to see him. His hair isn't combed as usual.
MARTIN ORNE: First of all his spontaneously getting up and shaking the hand is something which you never see with deeply hypnotized subjects. I've never seen any subject do this spontaneously because when you shake somebody's hand‑‑that's a tactile hallucination which you have to have‑‑and it makes it much more difficult and people don't volunteer this unless they're asked to do it. Even more striking though is what he does when I ask him to describe Dean Brett. He says: "You see him, you must see him, he's there . . . you must see him!" That's overplaying‑‑Shakespeare would say: "Me thinks he cloth protest too much."
Kenneth Bianchi: You're not talking to some fucking dummy. You understand?
Ralph Allison: You're smarter than he is?
Kenneth Bianchi: That's right...
NARRATOR: Martin Orne also studied what happened when Ken's second personality, Steve, appeared. He examined the videotapes of the other psychiatrists, and was intrigued by Steve's behavior.
Kenneth Bianchi: You think you're so fucking smart.
MARTIN ORNE: At one point Steve comes out and Steve tears the tips off the cigarettes and he smokes the unfiltered part. When Ken comes back he begins to talk and he notices this and he says: "Who would put filter tips here? Why are those filter tips here? How did those filter tips get there?" Now, a subject might ask once how come those filter tips are there, but you know he goes on and on, and he kind of . . . again protests too much. He's rubbing in the fact that he doesn't know how those filter tips got there to demonstrate to either Dr. Allison or Dr. Watkins‑‑he does the trick with both of them, in order to prove to them that he really has had amnesia.
Ralph Allison: And there's, there's the cigarette that you've just finished. I don't smoke.
Kenneth Bianchi: Why is the filter broken off?
Ralph Allison: A hand's broke it off. Do you break off filters?
Kenneth Bianchi: No, I can't smoke a non‑filter cigarette.
Ralph Allison: Well, what happened here? You smoked without the filter on it? That right?
Kenneth Bianchi: That's right.
Ralph Allison: I guess somebody around here smokes without a filter. You never found that before? Where and when?
Kenneth Bianchi: Yeah. At home. Different times, you know, around apartments I've had. I thought maybe it broke when I put it into the ashtray, you know.
Ralph Allison: It doesn't look like that.
Kenneth Bianchi: No, it doesn't.
MARTIN ORNE: He does the same thing with Dr. Watkins. He does it with the rosary for example. The same kind of thing. How did the rosary get here?
Kenneth Bianchi: What's my‑‑what's my rosary doing here?
John Watkins: Huh?
Kenneth Bianchi: What's my rosary doing on the table?
John Watkins: Didn't you put it on the table?
Kenneth Bianchi: No, it's generally hid in my pocket.
John Watkins: I thought you put it on the table. No?
Kenneth Bianchi: No.
MARTIN ORNE: It's as if he thought the experts were all kind of thick and he's gotta really rub it in so they should understand it. By the same token he picks up on cues. When he's asked whether he had ever seen those filter tips around he thinks for a while, then out he comes: "Yes, of course, I saw them and they puzzled me. I didn't know what they were," and he describes this.
The catch is his wife never reports anything of that kind. No one has ever seen anything of that sort. There's absolutely no corroboration. Furthermore, he's seen "Three Faces of Eve," the film which is like an education on how to fake a multiple personality. And a lot of other data which is in the police records and in the interviews convince me that this man is faking a multiple personality and he's faking hypnosis.
RALPH ALLISON: I couldn't see that this was fake, I couldn't see that it was a play act and I really couldn't comprehend his reasoning. I was totally baffled. I said well, if I didn't know I wasn't hypnotizing him, who does? I mean who is to second guess? I mean he wasn't in the room, how is he going to know whether I did or didn't. I mean I was rather‑‑thoroughly confused and said what are the facts behind this opinion?
JOHN WATKINS: I was flabbergasted. I felt totally surprised that after his particular interviews he came out with an exactly opposite conclusion from what I saw in observing his tapes.
(Interviewer: What in particular in his tapes confirmed your diagnosis?)
The behavior of Bianchi in going into hypnosis and coming out. The inductions that were used by Orne were very typical of hypnotized subjects. The personalities that came out showed the same clear‑cut differences that they did when they came out for me.
NARRATOR: How did Bianchi's lawyer respond to Dr. Orne's claim?
DEAN BRETT: Well, Dr. Orne was hired by the Prosecuting Attorney so we expected that he would come back with the conclusion that Ken was not insane. We were dismayed, though, that he didn't set up a diagnosis of his own that took into account the childhood psychiatric records, and we were frankly surprised when he said that Ken was faking hypnosis. Ken had been examined by six court‑appointed psychiatrists, two other psychiatrists, and three psychologists, and only the two appointed by the Prosecuting Attorney said he was faking.
NARRATOR: As the experts continued to disagree, the police evidence mounted against Angelo Buono, Kenneth Bianchi's alleged accomplice. Although Buono still denied any part in the murders, the police searched his house hoping to find some evidence that would link him with the crimes. They found a loaded revolver in his office and a cupboard full of firearms including shotguns and a machine gun. And more importantly they found a wallet bearing the imprint of a badge, which Bianchi had claimed was used to pick up the victims.
MICHAEL NASH (California Deputy Attorney General): What we also have to consider is what was not found at the time of the searches, and I'm referring to things that we know that Angelo Buono possessed that were not there when the police searched his house, specifically there was no police badge found which we knew he owned, there were no handcuffs found which we knew he owned and there was no five foot gas pipe found, which was attached to Angelo Buono's stove and which was used to kill one of the girls by means of asphyxiation‑‑and we knew that he had bought a five‑foot gas pipe and it was not present at the time of the search.
Finally, there were no fingerprints found anywhere in the house, which is kind of unusual in that you'd expect in the house where people lived that there would be some fingerprints found on the walls some place, but there were none found anywhere.
NARRATOR: But this was all circumstantial evidence. Angelo Buono seemed certain to go free if Bianchi was unable to testify against him. At this point, the police investigation focused on a letter written before Bianchi's arrest and found in his clothing after he was jailed. The letter was signed Thomas Steven Walker, and to the defense it was more evidence that Steve was really taking over Ken Bianchi's life.
DEAN BRETT: We found that as something that might verify the existence of Steve Walker, Watkins' multiple personality, Steve Walker.
(Interviewer: Were you excited when that turned up?)
Yes, that was a favorable thing.
NARRATOR: The police saw this very differently. They still did not believe Steve had been taking over Ken's body. And they were curious to know where the name Steve Walker had come from.They visited Valley College in Los Angeles where they came up with an explanation that dramatically changed the picture.
PETER FINNIGAN (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): These university records in the name of Kenneth A. Bianchi retrieved at the time of his arrest in the state of Washington, turned out to be our best piece of evidence against the multiple personality. These indicate that Bianchi attended three universities here in the state of California and ultimately graduating with a master's degree in psychology.
At the time of their discovery we didn't feel that they were authentic due to the education starting in '73, which was a period of time when we knew for a fact he was still living in Rochester, New York. And coming here to Valley College, we gave them to the supervising clerk and she indicated to us upon first glance that they were a forgery due to the date of birth of the actual student being coded into the transcript and not corresponding to the date of birth that Bianchi had put in, being his own.
NARRATOR: If the university records were forged, who did the originals belong to? They were traced to a young psychology graduate, Thomas Walker.
THOMAS WALKER: They immediately showed me a university record which turned out to be one of mine, which I identified. They asked me if I recognized the name that was at the top of the paper. I looked up expecting to see my own name, instead seeing the name of Kenneth A. Bianchi in its place.
(Interviewer: How did it get there? Or how did he get it?)
I had answered an ad in The Los Angeles Times classified for a job requesting copies of transcripts, my university records resume, which I sent. On receipt he took all the records and deleted my name from each of them and substituted his own in its place.
(Interviewer: But why did this become so important in the case?)
My middle name is Steven and‑‑leads to Steven Walker, which is the name of the alter ego Kenneth Bianchi used.
NARRATOR: Ken Bianchi had adopted Steven Walker as the name of his supposed second personality. He had taken the university records and replaced Steven Walker's name with his own. He continued to forge Walker's signature to get further records as he had done in the original letter.
FRANK SALERNO (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): ...the impact was that it broke the multiple personality defense. We were able to prove, to document the fact that Steven Thomas‑‑Thomas Steven Walker‑‑really did exist and was not an alter ego of Kenneth Bianchi and because of that Bianchi subsequently changed his plea.
NEWSREEL: This morning a sensational break in the Hillside Strangler case. Bianchi entered the Whatcom County Superior Court amid tight security. Sitting in the packed court room was Bianchi's common‑law wife, Kelli Boyd.
NARRATOR: Faced with the compelling police evidence on Steven Walker, and with Dr. Orne's investigation that cast grave doubts on the psychiatric evidence, Kenneth Bianchi withdrew his plea of "Not guilty by reason of insanity." In a plea bargain, the state of Washington dropped its demand for the death penalty in exchange for an agreement from Bianchi to plead guilty to the Bellingham murders and to testify against Angelo Buono in Los Angeles.
Reporter: Bianchi, who had wept openly during much of the hour‑long proceeding, was asked if he had anything to say before the sentence was passed.
Kenneth Bianchi: Your Honor, I can't find the words to express the sorrow I feel for what I've done. In no way can I take away the pain that I have given others, and in no way can I expect forgiveness from anybody (SNIFF). To even begin to try and live with myself I have to take responsibility for what I have done and I have to do everything I can to get Angelo Buono, and to devote my entire life to do everything I possibly can, to give my life, so that nobody else will hopefully follow in my . . . will hopefully won't follow in my footsteps (SNIFF).
NARRATOR: But Ken Bianchi's story was not over. He still faced charges for the ten killings in Los Angeles. There remained doubts on his reliability as a witness. No court had yet ruled on his state of mind.
Was he really insane? Certainly, his behavior was disturbing.
ROBERT KNUDSEN (Bellingham Police): Within three minutes of leaving the courtroom, myself, Detective Nolte and another officer had contact with Mr. Bianchi. And when we contacted him he was sitting at a desk‑‑at a table‑‑feet up on the table, crossed, laid back in the chair smoking a cigarette and laughing, and in the courtroom three minutes prior tears had been rolling like crazy and he was a real sad case in the courtroom.
NEWSREEL: After the hearing Bianchi was flown to Los Angeles to be arraigned with the Hillside Strangler murders. Although formally charged with the same ten deaths as Angelo Buono, he will plead guilty to five of them and receive life sentences in both states. The deal is that Kenneth Bianchi will be spared the death penalty on condition that he testifies against his cousin, Angelo Buono...
...Buono was taken into custody earlier yesterday after being arrested at his home in Glendale. Prosecutors now have some evidence linking 45‑year‑old Angelo Buono into the Hillside Strangler murders, but they do not think this evidence is enough without the testimony of his cousin. The fate of Angelo Buono now rests on the credibility of Kenneth Bianchi as a witness.
NARRATOR: Kenneth Bianchi's state of mind became the central legal question in Los Angeles. No court had yet ruled on his sanity, or whether he had truly been hypnotized. If he was insane, or if he had been hypnotized, he would be unable to testify against Angelo Buono. An alleged mass murderer might go free.
As court hearings on Bianchi's sanity approached, Dr. Orne consulted Margaret Singer, a professor of psychology at the University of California in Berkeley.
MARGARET SINGER: From childhood on Mr. Bianchi's history is that of a typical psychopath. Even his own mother said that he "lied, lied, lied," and he has a history of lifelong, almost pointless lying, which is the mark of a psychopathic kind of habitual lying, and it's easier to lie than to tell the truth. And the lying is done usually just to try to persuade a person or to make the psychopath feel better at the moment.
NARRATOR: While Bianchi was in jail he sent almost 50 love letters to a young woman he had known in Bellingham. Dr. Singer saw these letters as evidence of the lies and manipulative charm of a psychopath. They were addressed to hairdresser Angie Kinneberg.
ANGIE KINNEBERG: He seemed interested in what I was doing with myself. And he was honest with me, concerned, and very convincing even in his writing. I believed anything he said to me and he told me he was innocent. He once said that he wished it would be like a Perry Mason movie where in the end somebody would stand up and say they were with him on the night in question.
And in the meantime after he got arrested I received some letters, like on February 2, it says: "If I can't account for the time between 8:10 and 9:50 I'm probably going to die in the gas chamber because of what someone else did. If only I had come over to see you I would have an alibi that would save my life."
On February 8, it says: "I wish there was someone who was with me that January 11 night from around 8 to almost 10 P.M., someone who can give a statement to that effect and swear to it."
And on February 25, "Dean came in this morning and said that if you don't come forward before February 28, you can never come forward on my behalf. I told him you feared for your life. He said without your testimony I was sunk."
(Interviewer: What did you make of this?)
I read between the lines and I decided that he wanted me to write an alibi for him, which I did, and I sent it to him in jail.
(Interviewer: What was going through your mind?)
Well, at first I thought why‑‑how could this person do anything wrong. I figured if he could get out of jail he could prove himself. But I wrote to him saying where we were, what I was wearing and all these things, and after I sent it to him a couple of days later I decided I can't do this, this is all wrong. So I decided to tell him just to get rid of them.
Then a couple of days later his lawyer called me and asked to have a talk with me. So I went and spoke to him and said that if I went along with it I would be an accessory to the fact. I already told him, though, that I told Ken to get rid of the letter.
(Interviewer: How did Ken take it?)
The last time I got to see him was to tell him that I decided not to do it and he said: "Whatever you feel is best."
Kenneth Bianchi: Angie Kinneberg still writes me now and again‑‑and she has this fantasy love affair going with me even though there's never been anything between us. Not even a real good friendship. Um . . . this has just started since I've been in jail.
Don Lunde: How do you account for that? I mean, did you ever‑‑well, let's back up...
Kenneth Bianchi: Did I ever lead on or give her any reason to...
Don Lunde: Yeah.
Kenneth Bianchi: No.
Don Lunde: Did you ever sleep with her?
Kenneth Bianchi: No. Never.
Don Lunde: Never.
Kenneth Bianchi: Never slept with her, never dated with her, never kissed her, never held her hand.
Don Lunde: Actually you sent her flowers didn't you?
Kenneth Bianchi: Her and Kathy. And the reason for...
Don Lunde: Well for something. I mean, that impresses some girls a lot. I mean maybe it was that kind of thing, huh?
Kenneth Bianchi: It was . . . I . . . they had come into my office crying.
Don Lunde: Yeah, I remember that . . . trying to think . . . I'm saying that maybe that was it.
Kenneth Bianchi: She thought, she thought that that was the most thoughtful thing that anybody's ever done to her . . . before and this is . . . it . . . it . . . has been something that has grown and grown, I mean‑‑I'll let you read some‑‑I don't have all the letters I've destroyed a lot of them 'cause they were just... But I mean it's just grown‑‑it's just such a fantastic one‑sided love affair. She's just madly in love. She signs her letters now: "I love you very much."
MARGARET SINGER: Angie was only one.There were 12 other alibis. Psychopaths never quit.
For example he had asked his mother to type an alibi letter for him with rubber gloves on so there'd be no fingerprints on it, and would she fly to Seattle, Washington, still with rubber gloves, and mail it so that that would establish an alibi.
He also tried to blame the murders up in Washington on Greg, a dead motorcyclist whom he knew was dead.
He also tried to get a copy cat killer, namely a woman that he induced to go and attempt to duplicate the murders to be an alibi for him.
He convinced another woman to confess for him.
Psychopaths just don't stop. They don't give up. They continue the same style.
(Interviewer: Is he sane?)
Yes, he's sane. He knew the difference between right and wrong, he was able to form the intent for the murders and they were highly planned and organized murders both before and afterwards. He is sane in the eyes of the law. The general public may think that this is crazy behavior. It is outrageous behavior, but in the eyes of the law it is sane.
NARRATOR: Margaret Singer got unexpected support for her opinion. The night before he was to be cross‑examined in Bianchi's sanity hearing, Dr. Ralph Allison, who had left private practice to become a prison psychiatrist, said he had changed his mind about Bianchi. Experience in prison opened his eyes.
RALPH ALLISON: Well, I quickly learned, working here with inmates, that I had no reason to believe anything they said. That was a shock to me because I had been used to believing what my patients told me and working from that; but here I would meet a man as he was trying to go on parole and I'd find out that he's told one story when he got arrested to the police, another story to his own attorney, a third story when he got into court, a fourth story to his parole officer and a fifth story to me when I got him here, and now he wants to go on parole and he's got a sixth story. And there's no way, you know, that you can tell what's the truth when you have that kind of changing history.
JOHN WATKINS: When I examined Bianchi myself, I constantly had in mind: are we dealing with a real multiple personality? This is a question that I always have in mind when I am called in on such cases.
And I also studied Dr. Orne's tapes over a number of times, and Dr. Allison's over a number of times, and the more I studied them the more it became evident to me that we really were dealing with a true multiple personality.
NARRATOR: So despite Dr. Allison's change of mind, four experts still believed Bianchi was insane.
Was he really smart enough to fake both hypnosis and a complex disorder like multiple personality? The police believed he was.
DUDLEY VARNEY (L.A. Police Detective): After learning about Kenneth Bianchi's psychological defense we happened to be in his home serving a search warrant in Bellingham when we discovered these books in the home. Some of the books were found in the upstairs in the bookshelf, and some of them were found in the basement in boxes. Among these books were a Dictionary of Behavioral Science, Psychoanalysis of Behavioral Therapy, Psychology, Behavioral Therapy, Modern Clinical Psychology, Diagnostic Psychological Testing, Hypnotic Techniques, Elements of Psychology, Supervision of Police Personnel, Infant Psychiatry, Criminal Procedure Law, and Juvenile Delinquency.
(Interviewer: So what did all this suggest to you?)
Well, as a layman, finding these books in Kenneth Bianchi's home, I had to believe that he had either some background or knowledge in psychology or behavioral sciences.
FRANK SALERNO (L.A. Sheriff's Detective): He's a "wanna be" doctor, or a "wanna be" psychologist and he had that background, and I think when he got stuck in a corner up there and it looked like he was gonna fry, he went back to the thing he probably knew the best, and that was the psychiatric thing.
NARRATOR:The hearings to decide if Bianchi faked were held before Judge Ronald George of the Los Angeles Superior Court. The judge personally viewed over 60 hours of video‑tape, heard the experts cross‑examined and delivered his judgment on November 3, 1981.
JUDGE RONALD GEORGE: My judgment was that Bianchi faked both the hypnosis and the multiple personality, and I came to that conclusion based on the circumstantial evidence acquired by the police, the contradictory testimony of Bianchi with regard to his mental status and the opinions voiced by the psychiatrists who examined him.
Now the circumstantial evidence of course involved the feigned Steve Walker personality, the books on hypnosis, psychiatry and psychology, the psychology counseling service, and the lack of any history of course of amnesia, multiple personality and so forth, and the viewing of it. "Sybil" and "Three Faces of Eve" and the reading of the book in that regard.
Now the physicians had very different techniques. I was impressed by Dr. Orne's credentials and methodology. He relied on logic and on the circumstantial evidence on the history of Bianchi and did not ask us to accept his opinion merely on the basis of authority.
On the contrary Dr. Watkins, I thought, was incredibly naive in making certain assumptions that Mr. Bianchi would not malinger and that he was in fact telling the truth on all occasions.
(Interviewer: The judge in his summing up, said you were, and I quote, "Incredibly naive." Why do you think he said that?)
Well, it's very difficult for judges and lawyers to believe in the‑reality of multiple personality, especially when many psychologists and psychiatrists themselves don't believe in that reality, and judges do tend to be "incredibly naive" psychologically, even as I am very naive in legal matters.
(Interviewer: But he seems to be saying you've ignored a lot of factual evidence.)
I had all the evidence that was given by all the examinations, and I didn't see the evidence as being factual at all. They simply reported that this body known as Bianchi did certain things at certain times, but in no way could they show whether it was Steve or Ken that was the executive personality at that time.
NARRATOR: In November 1981, Angelo Buono was finally put on trial for murder. The star witness was his cousin, Kenneth Bianchi.
During 80 days on the stand, Bianchi constantly changed his story. One day he said he was responsible for a murder. The next day he said Angelo did it.
But the prosecution did not have to rely on Bianchi alone. The lengthy evaluation of fibers found in Buono's shop was now complete. Those fibers matched fibers found on the eyelids of one of the victims. Fibers found on this chair matched those found on the wrists of another victim, Lauren Wagner, who had been tortured with electric shocks before she was strangled.
On January 9, 1984, the longest criminal trial in American history came to an end. Kenneth Bianchi had already escaped the death penalty by agreeing to testify against his cousin. Apparently, the jury felt it unfair to request the death penalty for Angelo Buono. He was given life without possibility of parole.
JUDGE RONALD GEORGE (L.A. Superior Court): If ever there was a case where the death penalty was appropriate this is that case. Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi terrorized this city for several months, haunting the community like the ultimate in evil spirits as they abducted children and young women, torturing, raping and sodomizing them and finally depriving their families and friends of them forever as Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi slowly squeezed out of their victims their last breath of air and their promise of a future life.
And all for what? The momentary sadistic thrill of enjoying a brief sexual satisfaction and the venting of their hatred of women. Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi subjected various murder victims to the administration of lethal gas, electrocution, strangulation by rope and lethal hypodermic injection.
NARRATOR: And the judge had this to say about Kenneth Bianchi.
JUDGE RONALD GEORGE: Mr. Bianchi had faked memory loss, he had faked hypnosis, and he had faked multiple personalities. This action by Mr. Bianchi caused confusion and delay in the proceedings. In this Mr. Bianchi was unwittingly aided and abetted by most of the psychiatrists who naively swallowed Nr. Bianchi's story, hook, line and sinker, almost confounding the criminal justice system.
I'm sure, Mr. Buono and Mr. Bianchi, that you will both probably only get your thrills reliving over and over again the tortures and murders of your victims, being incapable, as I believe you to be, of ever feeling any remorse.
Now I wish, finally, to place on record my firm belief that neither Mr. Buono nor Mr. Bianchi should ever see the outside of prison walls once delivered there.
NARRATOR: Ken Bianchi was sentenced to life imprisonment‑‑although technically eligible for parole no one believes it will ever be granted. And the final diagnosis on Kenneth Bianchi?
MARTIN ORNE: Mr. Bianchi is a sexual psychopath. What is wrong is that the sexual impulse becomes twisted and fused with violence so that the individual derives sexual satisfaction from the violence around a murder.
NARRATOR: And what creates such a psychopath?
MARGARET SINGER: Science really doesn't know. There may be genetic and environmental influences intermingling. We don't really know for sure. He may simply be evil.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Many believe this case puts psychiatry itself on trial. Are courts and lawyers placing too much emphasis on what is clearly an imperfect science?
After John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty of trying to assassinate President Reagan because a jury was convinced he was insane, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association called for a more carefully defined use of psychiatric evidence in the courtroom. But even in cases where insanity is not the defense, juries frequently hear testimony from psychiatrists. Charles Manson, Patty Hearst, Jean Harris, none was declared insane. But each of their trials featured the opinions of experts, trying to prove what probably can't be proved: the state of mind and motivations of the accused.
You have had a unique opportunity tonight to look over the shoulders of the experts. And today, months after the case of Kenneth Bianchi has been closed, those experts still disagree.
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