A serial killer convicted in Los Angeles County of murdering, kidnapping and raping five teenage girls has died of natural causes while on death row, prison officials announced Monday.
Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker, 79, was pronounced dead at San Quentin State Prison around 4 p.m. Friday, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Marin County coroner will determine the exact cause of death.
Bittaker and his crime partner, 71-year-old Roy Lewis Norris – known together as the “Tool Box Killers” – kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed five teens over a five-month period in 1979.
The two were convicted in the brutal deaths of Lucinda Lynn Schaefer, 16; Andrea Joy Hall, 18; Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 15; Jacqueline Leah Lamp, 13; and Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16.
Investigators never located the bodies of Schaefer and Hall.
Norris avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty to all charges against him. He received 45 years to life in prison after cooperating with prosecutors and testifying against Bittaker, according to officials.
Bittaker was convicted on 26 total counts, including five counts each of murder and kidnapping, as well as conspiracy, rape, oral copulation and sodomy, the statement said.
He was sentenced to death on March 22, 1981, and admitted to California’s death row eight days later, according to officials.