The Tool Box Killers | Lawrence Bittaker & Roy Norris | Partners In Crime Series (Fifth Instalment) Gaphic Content

 (Lawrence Bittaker & Roy Norris. Picture credit: newsweek)

Is there a word that is beyond 'evil'?, I find it hard to describe the two individuals that you see in the picture above. I've written about so many cases over the years and I have to say that some of the details that I've come across these past few weeks whilst writing this series, has been quite hard to take. No case is easy to write about, your heart always goes out to the victims, the survivors and their families. I found myself getting emotional at certain points in my research of this case. The last time I struggled with the details was with Jane King's horrendous sexual assault and murder at the hands of The Hillside Stranglers, which I wrote about in my first instalment in this Partners In Crime series. 

The Tool Box Killers otherwise known as Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, are two of the sickest, most evil and sadistic individuals you will ever read about, Chances are, if you have never heard of this case before, after reading my post you will never forget it or some of the horrible details. This case haunts people and for good reason, it's just too horrendous for words. John Douglas (former FBI Special Agent and pioneering criminal profiler) described Lawrence Bittaker as one of the most disturbing criminals he has ever had the unfortunate opportunity of meeting. These two were monsters and the crimes they were responsible for were so evil and devastating that even the chief investigator on the case ended up taking his own life because the evidence (especially the sickening audiotapes that the evil pair recorded of their crimes) was just too much. The poor man detailed in his suicide note his reasons for his decision and this case was a huge factor.

So as hard as this is, I'm going to delve into it and bring you what has been the result of my studying of this case for the past week and as always, I have to warn you that it is going to be difficult so you're welcome to skip through until the next post which will probably be just as awful as this one (unfortunately, in my true crime posts, the details are always quite hard hitting and disturbing). Hopefully you will be able to stick through with me on this one. So let's grit our teeth and get into it. 

Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were responsible for five known (I always say known in my posts because with these types of serial murderers, you can never really know for sure how many victims they actually have. Some of these monsters can't even remember themselves how many lives they have cruelly taken) murders of teenage girls in California in the late 1970s. This duo were the stuff of nightmares, one being a convicted rapist and the other being a petty thief who was on his way to becoming a full blown murderer. After chaotic childhoods and a portfolio of crimes under each of their belts, they ended up in the same prison where they formed a deadly bond, sharing their sickening fantasies and plans of getting together and making those sick fantasies come true once they were released. Their plan was to abduct teenage girls (one of each teenage year from thirteen to nineteen) and rape and murder them. Roy, being the sadistic pervert and convicted rapist that he was, was more focused on the idea of the sexual attacks. Lawrence on the other hand didn't have a background in sexual violence but told Roy that if he ever did rape a girl, he would have to murder her afterwards to ensure no witnesses could identify him and so the plan to rape and murder was put in place. 

To give you an idea of how these monsters started off from the beginning, their backgrounds and childhood. I'm going to delve briefly into their pasts. Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker was born on the 27th of September 1940 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) and it may come as no surprise that there was problems from the start. The minute he was born he was rejected by his own parents and ended up being adopted by a couple who did the best they could for him. There was a lot of upheaval because his adoptive father, having worked in the aviation industry, was constantly moving the family from one place to the other. Lawrence was a very unsettled child and one can imagine, quite confused with the constant moving around but despite all of this he was quite intelligent and did well at school but something wasn't quite right with him. Lawrence always sensed that he didn't belong, he felt different and rejected, he started going of the rails and began shoplifting when he was twelve years old. 

The stealing became like an addiction for him, he claimed to have done it because it garnered attention for him and gave him a buzz. He would later claim that he didn't get enough love from his adoptive parents either and that was his excuse for his behaviour. Things just went from bad to worse. Instead of this being a passing phase it just grew and grew and soon it escalated into car theft, other types of petty crime and a hit & run. He'd quit school at this point despite having great academic potential and an IQ of 138. He just decided to throw all of that away for a life of crime and his adoptive parents were growing tired of his antics and would eventually just disown him completely. In the years that rolled on towards his fateful meeting with Roy Norris, Lawrence was on a constant merry dance in and out of prison, he'd been diagnosed as being manipulative and a sociopath. More petty crime followed but things were taking a more extreme and deadly turn when he tried to steal a packet of steak from a supermarket and stabbed an employee who confronted him. He ended up back in jail yet again only this time it was the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo and this is where he and Roy Norris began their evil friendship. 

Roy Norris had a rocky start to life too having been born on the 5th of February 1948 (in Greeley, Colorado, USA) out of wedlock which was a big deal back in those days and was frowned upon. His mother had issues with substance misuse and his father was often busy at his job in the scrapyard. Roy felt out of place and unwanted just as Lawrence had felt in his childhood and a period of constant back and forth between his parents house and foster homes followed. Roy often complained about the foster families that he was placed with and went as far as to claim that a Hispanic family that he stayed with had sexually abused him, whether this was a fact or not, nobody can confirm but he claimed it to be the truth and said that this was the reason for some of his racist views later on. 

When he turned sixteen, his behaviour was becoming quite strange, instead of the normal teenage boy going through changes and having crushes on girls and hormones all over the place. Roy was like a rabid dog on heat and seemed to be a ticking timebomb when it came to members of the opposite sex. He fantasied about women but in a very extreme, perverse and violent way. He was beginning to lose control of his urges and when visiting a female relative he appalled her by blurting out a lot of disgusting, sexual remarks. The woman told his father and all hell broke loose. Roy felt ashamed as his father was furious and he felt embarrassed and exposed. The whole incident had such an effect on him that he drove to the rocky mountains and tried to take his own life by attempting to inject air into one of his arteries. The suicide attempt failed and the authorities got involved and classed him as a runaway and swiftly returned him to his parents who decided to tell him and his sister to their faces that they were unwanted children and that they planned to get a divorce once they had gotten to a certain age. Not feeling wanted at home, Roy had a stint in the Navy where he discovered marijuana but didn't actively take part in combat. He was later discharged after one tour due to psychological problems having been diagnosed by a military psychologist as suffering from Schizoid Personality Disorder 

Roy had a horrible string of sexual assaults behind him and his violence towards women was a regular occurrence. He was a predator who could not control himself and after committing yet another horrendous sexual assault, he found himself behind bars and under the same roof as his soon to be accomplice, Lawrence Bittaker.

So these two had similar backgrounds in terms of home lives but not in terms of crimes. Both felt unwanted by their parents and were ultimately abandoned by their parents. Nobody looking into their pasts could say that they were from stable environments. Both constantly moved around and were not able to set down some solid roots but this was no excuse for the evil and sadistic crimes they carried out. It was a recipe for disaster when this pair became acquainted. What started off as a simple friendship was further cemented when Roy had two attempts on his life whilst in prison. On both occasions, Lawrence stepped in and protected him. This created a bond between the pair and they would spend hours talking to each other about their childhoods and realised that they both had quite a few things in common. They became so comfortable with each other to the point where the conversation switched to what their sexual fantasies were. 

Roy, who was forever thinking about sex, rape and torture had no qualms about blurting out what he would like to do and a lot of it he had done previously but his focus was now on teenage girls and the idea of abducting and sexually assaulting as many as possible. He told Lawrence that it was their fear that gave him kicks, he enjoyed making his victims scared and the suffering turned him on. Lawrence who got his kicks from stealing began to come around to Roy's way of thinking. As sick as it was, they thought they could get out of prison and have their fun, do what they wanted and they'd get away with it. 

It's terrifying to think that these two monsters were sitting in a prison cell planning out all of the evil things they were going to do as soon as they were released. Sometimes, in situations like these, you wish that walls could talk and that this pair would be exposed and kept behind bars and off the streets never to see the light of day again but unfortunately Lawrence found himself walking out of those prison gates keeping the promise he made to Roy firmly in the front of his mind. 

On his release, Lawrence was able to find a job as a machinist and was able to earn quite a decent wage. Believe it or not, he was able to paint himself as a pillar of the community. He would involve himself in charity works and donated money to The Salvation Army. He would also give money and food to the homeless. This was quite a turn around in behaviour for a man who enjoyed stealing from others. He was popular with the youth around his local community but that was because he would give them candy, beer and cigarettes. This nice guy routine didn't last thought because just three months after his release, Roy Norris was back on the streets and it was time for their sick plan to be put into action. 

(The Murder Mac van. Picture credit: wikipedia)

They bought a van with a sliding door which they nicknamed 'Murder Mac'. They appreciated the sliding door because they said that would enable them to get closer to their victims and drag them into the van easily. They kitted out the back of the van with a bed with a cooler underneath full of drinks. They also kept a stash of weapons and items such as pliers, sledgehammers, ice picks, duct tape, wire hangers, cassette tapes, a tape recorder and a Polaroid camera. They planned to record their crimes and in order for their plans to be successful they later claimed that they decided to pick up some female hitchhikers (they claimed that they did this 20 times) as a practice to see if they could easily entice a girl into the van and how they would carry things out. They claimed that none of these girls were harmed but later when their van was searched after they were arrested, 100s of photographs of unidentified girls were found, the majority were eventually identified and were, thankfully still alive, but 19 girls were never traced and to this day, nobody knows who they were or what happened to them. Some people believe that they were victims of the evil duo. 

So now that they had their 'Murder Mac' all set up and felt confident, they went in search of their first victim which was reported to have been 16 year old Lucinda Lynn Schaefer. Lucinda was a petite and pretty blonde girl who had just attended a church meeting, as she walked along the sidewalk on her way home, Lawrence and Roy spotted her. At first they tried to talk to her, offering her marijuana and a lift home but to no avail. They were determined and came up with another plan to abduct Lucinda. They decided to drive further along the street and Roy got out of the van and opened the back door, trying to make out that he was busy looking for something, as Lucinda walked by he distracted her and quick as a flash, he pulled her into the van and shut the door. Lawrence put the volume up on the radio as Roy bound and gagged Lucinda and proceeded to drive to the San Gabriel mountains to a fire road where they had broken into and changed the locks previously whilst putting their plans together. 

Lawrence had written his memoirs before his trial and claimed that Lucinda was screaming a lot when they first abducted her but then there seemed to be this calmness that came over her, like an acceptance of what was happening to her. The pair sexually assaulted Lucinda and the terrified girl tried her best to get through the ordeal and do what they wanted but she knew they were going to kill her, as devastating as that was, and she begged them to let her pray before they took her life. They denied her that moment to pray and after the pair argued over who was going to kill her, Roy grabbed Lucinda and tried to strangle her with his bare hands. Seeing the reaction as Lucinda was choking and her eyes rolling backwards scared Roy and he stopped what he was doing and ran to the front of the van to throw up. Lawrence then took over and after a failed attempt at taking her life with his hands, he used a wire coat hanger which he twisted tightly with pliers.

They disposed of Lucinda's body by wrapping it up in a shower curtain and throwing her off of a cliff. Norris became paranoid that somebody might find Lucinda's remains to which Lawrence reassured him that there would be nothing left of Lucinda's remains after the animals had found her. 

The next reported victim was said to be 18 year old Andrea Joy Hall who was abducted on the 8th of July 1979. Andrea had been hitchhiking when the evil pair spotted her. They attempted to give her a ride but she ended up getting into another vehicle which they followed. When Andrea stopped at her chosen destination, which was Redondo Beach, Norris decided to hide in the back of the van to make it look like Lawrence was on his own. Lawrence managed to get Andrea's attention and had a brief chat with her before offering her a drink. She accepted his offer and he told her just to go and grab a soda from the cooler in the back of the van. 

When Andrea went to take a drink from the cooler she was pounced on by Roy who had been hiding behind a bedsheet. She tried to wrestle herself free but he pushed her arm behind her back and then forcefully taped her mouth, wrists and ankles before the same routine of turning up the radio loud and driving off to the San Gabriel mountains where the terrifying ordeal continued.

Andrea was raped several times by both of them and forced to pose for pornographic style pictures before Lawrence decided to play another sick game on the poor girl by making her beg for her life. He told her to give him examples of why he should let her life. He told Roy that it didn't matter what her answers were going to be because he planned to kill her anyway and did so in such a horrific manner. The heartless monster grabbed an ice pick and forcefully shoved it into Andrea's ear as far as it would go and then pulled it out with force and plunged it into the other ear to which he stomped on the end of it with his foot causing it to break off. As poor Andrea was still alive during all of this hell, he became frustrated and strangled her. Once she was deceased, they threw her body off of a cliff. 

They decided to abduct two girls together that they had spotted on the 3rd of September 1979. Jackie Gilliam and her friend Jacqueline Lamp had been hitchhiking and decided to have a rest at a bus stop, this is where Lawrence and Roy spotted the pair and approached them. 

Jackie was 15 and Jacqueline was 13 and when the evil pair offered them a lift and some marijuana, the young girls accepted the ride. Once inside the van, all seemed well until the girls noticed that Lawrence and Roy were driving in a completely different direction to where they promised they would take them. Panic set in and Jacqueline made an attempt to open the van door to which Roy grabbed a bag full of led weights and violently struck Jacqueline over the head knocking her out cold for a few minutes. Jackie tried her best too to get out of the situation and struggled with Roy. Roy was trying to keep control of both of the girls in the back of the van whilst Lawrence drove. Lawrence could see that Roy was struggling with the girls so he stopped the van and went to help him. Jacqueline woke up and tried to make an escape again but Roy grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back whilst Lawrence punched Jackie in the face. 

Eventually they managed to get both of the girls tied up and gagged before continuing to drive towards the San Gabriel Mountains. 

Once they arrived the girls were subjected to repeated rapes, tortures and beatings over a two day period. They were forced to pose for photographs and their attacks were recorded on tape. On one occasion, Lawrence ordered Jackie to pretend that she was his cousin as he recorded himself sexually assaulting her. They wanted the girls to scream as much as possible and to cause them horrendous pain, the more pain the girls endured, the more Lawrence and Roy got their kicks. Jackie was also put through the excruciating pain of having her breasts stabbed constantly with an ice pick and pliers were used to tear off part of her nipple. It was beyond horrendous what these girls went through and the nightmarish pain they suffered. With Lawrence and Roy there was no mercy, their hearts were black and cold. 

After the two days of constant hell, Lawrence and Roy had decided that they'd had enough of the girls and wanted to get rid of them, again inflicting the most evil and horrendous pain imaginable, Lawrence grabbed Jackie and forced an ice pick into each of her ears before strangling her to death. Jacqueline was bludgeoned to death as an attempt to strangle her failed. Both these young girls were treated as disposable and thrown off of a cliff. 

Their last known victim was reportedly Shirley Lynette Ledford who was only 16 years old and travelling back home from a Halloween party on the 31st of October, 1979. Just like the other girls, she was offered a ride home and some marijuana which she politely refused. Shirley worked as a waitress in a restaurant that Lawrence had frequented so investigators believe that she may have thought it was safe to get into the van as she'd seen him quite a few times before at her work. 

Once in the van, everything seemed pleasant at first until Lawrence decided to pull down a side street and suddenly stopped the van to which Roy grabbed Shirley and threatened her with a knife. Shirley then had her mouth, wrists and ankles taped and was dragged into the back of the van. Lawrence told Roy that he wanted him to drive so the pair switched places and Roy drove about for about an hour. As Roy drove the van, Lawrence was in the back with Shirley, torturing her and attacking her. There was constant screaming, begging, pleading and crying with Lawrence demanding that she scream louder. The whole thing was being recorded on audiotape. Shirley's hell at the back of that van is the stuff of nightmares and this tape of these horrendous moments still exists to this day, the FBI use it as part of their training. Anyone who has heard this tape or the other tapes that were found, struggled deeply because of them. As I mentioned earlier, a chief investigator on the case couldn't cope after hearing it and having to deal with all of the other evidence and knowing everything that happened to those poor girls, it was just too much to have in his mind and he took his own life. 

Lawrence began attacking Shirley with a sledgehammer before Roy took over and he then proceeded to sexually assault and torture her whilst the tape continued to record. She was attacked again with the sledgehammer, the constant nightmare was said to have lasted two hours before Roy strangled Shirley with a wire hanger which was tightened with a pair of pliers. Instead of their usual routine of disposing of remains by throwing them from cliffs, they decided this time they wanted to leave Shirley's body on someone's lawn in an attempt to shock the community and have the press involved. When an autopsy was conducted on Shirley's body, some of her ordeal was evidenced from the horrific tears to her vagina and rectum to the trauma to the other parts of her body. There was also evidence that a pair of pliers had been forced inside of her which contributed to the vaginal trauma. 

What these girls went through is just too unbelievable. In regards to the tape of Shirley's horrific ordeal and murder it's been known for quite a while now that when the actor Scott Glenn was doing some research for his role in The Silence of The Lambs as Special Agent Jack Crawford, he visited the Behavioural Science Unit of the FBI and met with the famous John Douglas whom his character was based on. John showed him some crime scene photographs as well as had him listen to some audiotapes, the tape of Shirley's murder was amongst those tapes.

As Scott Glenn listened, he got emotional and was very disturbed by it. He couldn't believe that such evil existed in the world, that some people could be capable of such evil things. Apparently he was opposed to the death penalty before he stepped foot in John's office but after hearing that tape he believed that individuals such as Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris should face the chair or the injection for what they did. 

The pair were caught the same year of their crimes as a duo, 1979, both were arrested on the 20th of November and this was due to Roy's big mouth. He'd become acquainted with an old friend and couldn't resist bragging about what he and Lawrence had done. The man was so horrified that he told his lawyer who then passed the information on to the police. A previous victim of Roy and Lawrence's who'd been sexually assaulted but managed to escape was questioned by the police again was able to identify that these were the guys who attacked her. Both of them blamed each other for the crimes and Roy agreed to testify against Lawrence in exchange for being let off of the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to four counts of first degree murder as well as two counts of rape and one of robbery. He was sentenced to 45 years behind bars with the possibility of parole but luckily he never saw the light of day in that regard. He passed away of natural causes on the 24th of February 2020. 

Strangely enough, Lawrence Bittaker, who was sentenced to death after being held to account for everything, passed away on the 13th of December 2019. So even when it came to death, these two monsters were always quite close to each other in the way their lives panned out. 

Also, when investigators were searching the van, their homes as well as a motel room where acid was found. Apparently they had planned to use acid on their next victim, horrendous thought. Items such as necklaces that had belonged to the victims were found along with numerous photographs and some of the murder weapons. 500 photographs were said to have been found, with some unidentified girls who have never been named, pictured. Other girls were identified and there was the pictures of the victims which were devastating. When the search on the San Gabriel Mountains was conducted, Lucinda and Andrea's remains couldn't be located. Jackie and Jacqueline's skeletal remains were found and horrifically the ice pick was still lodged in Jackie's skull. 

(Roy Norris. Picture credit: cbsnews)

As you can imagine, the trial was very difficult, the evidence was just too much to bare. Members of the jury often broke down in tears as did members of the public who had to walk out at various points because they could not bare to hear any more. The judge himself got emotional on two occasions. It really was one of the worst cases anyone had ever seen or heard about and people still feel that way about it today. It was absolute hell on earth and it's really hard to try and find the words to describe it. I know they were both put behind bars and Lawrence got the death penalty but they both died and neither of them faced capital punishment. They never showed remorse and this was further demonstrated by Lawrence who insisted that people call him 'Pliers' as a nickname. He was popular in prison and would sign autographs for fellow convicts with the signature 'Pliers'. Lawrence would try and cause trouble during his sentence and tried to get compensation because one of his cookies was broken in half, it was just ridiculous. 

In the late 1980s, Lawrence was part of a bridge club called ''The San Quentin Bridge Club'', he along with fellow murderers, Randy Kraft, William Bonin, and Douglas Clark would all get together and play bridge on a regular basis, They cancelled the club when William was executed. 

(Lawrence Bittaker. Picture credit: cbsnews)

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, it was going to be a really tough one and if you've made it through to this part, then I thank you and I appreciate you getting through it. I know it's not an easy read but I do hope that you come away from this post with more knowledge about the case than you had before. As always I'm open to further discussion about it anywhere on my platforms if you don't feel comfortable commenting here in the section below. I'm also happy to respond to any emails (

Let us take a moment to remember the beautiful young girls who had their lives taken in such a horrendous way. I also want to think of the unidentified victims there may be out there, the survivors and the families of all who were affected by these evil people. 

Lucinda Lynn Schaefer

Andrea Joy Hall

Jackie Doris Gilliam

Jacqueline Leah Lamp

Shirley Lynette Ledford

(From top right: Jackie Gilliam, Leah Lamp. Bottom right: Andrea Hall, Shirley Ledford. Cindy Schaefer. Picture credit: dailymail)

May they rest in peace.

Further Reading & Resources

Journey Into Darkness | Book by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers | Book by Michael Newton

Lawrence Bittaker & Roy Morris | Wikipedia

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI Elite Serial Crime Unit | Book by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Lawrence Bittaker | Murderpedia

The Killer Book of Serial Killers | Book by Tom & Michael Philbin

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood & Rebecca Lo

Tool Box Killers: Article | The Independent

Lawrence Bittaker | NBC News Footage Clip

Lawrence Bittaker | Court Footage

Thank you for joining me in this fifth instalment. I will be back with my sixth instalment of my Partners In Crime series and hope you will join me for that. 

Thank you x


  1. Jo, I just read your fifth instalment and I’m obviously looking foward to read your sixth instalment.

    Your True Crime “Partners in crimes” series is masterpiece.

    This is one of the most disturbing cases that I’ve read. I knew a little bit about “The Tool Box Killers” but not as much as the previous 4 instalment from your series.

    To read all the gruesome details of what Lawrence Bittaker & Roy Norris has done to these women, I’m mortified. They created chaos and destroyed the life of so many people. They have made so many collateral victims with their vicious horrendous and disgusting actions.

    These two evil and cruel individuals are monsters. They would have deserved the capital punishment !!!

    RIP to all the victims.

    Thank your for your masterful work Jo Xx

  2. Amazing writing and investigation Jo. You always detail the facts while employing such a sincere and personal touch. Such style and integrity.