Killers sometimes come in twos. And while plenty of serial killer couples are made up of romantic pairs, some platonic serial killer duos have taken lives together too. Whether they were lethal friends, sisters, cousins, or co-workers, these murderers who killed together committed their vicious crimes for a number of different reasons. Some were motivated by financial gain, while others were sadists who enjoyed subjecting innocent victims to depraved acts.
Regardless of whether these killers had a type, or why they were driven to take lives, they became that much more disturbing when they began working in pairs. But their bloody acts couldn't go unnoticed by the authorities. Upon capture, some of these murderers committed suicide, died of natural causes behind bars, or were executed by the authorities. Others are still alive, and a couple of them have actually been released from prison.
Over the course of a few months in 1979, friends Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris kidnapped, raped, tortured, and killed five teenage girls in California. The two men met in a San Luis Obispo correctional facility, where they bonded over their mutual interest in sexual sadism. After they were released from prison, Bittaker and Norris reunited and embarked on their reign of terror.
The duo preyed upon teenage girls who were hitchhiking along Southern California highways, using a toolbox filled with instruments to inflict pain on their victims before strangling them. Authorities apprehended the pair - whom the media eventually dubbed the "Toolbox Killers" - when Norris told one of his friends about the brutal crimes he'd committed with Bittaker.
In 1980, Norris pled guilty and received 45 years to life in prison. In 2009, a parole board denied his request for release; his next parole hearing is scheduled for 2019. Bittaker was tried in 1981. He was convicted on multiple counts and sentenced to death. As of 2018, he is still on death row in California's San Quentin State Prison.
From the 1950s until 1963, sisters Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzalez took the lives of approximately 90 victims in Mexico. The sisters ran a brothel in Guanajuato, and the duo kidnapped local women and forced them to work as prostitutes. Their crimes came to a halt when law enforcement raided the women's brothel and discovered dozens of bodies.
While many of their victims were women, some were clients whom the sisters killed after robbing them of their cash and property. The de Jesus Gonzalez sisters were sentenced to 40 years in prison. One sister died behind bars in 1984; the other was released in the mid-'90s. Their high body count set the Guinness World Record for the "most prolific murder partnership."
Over the course of just four months, cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr. abducted approximately 10 women and girls in and around Los Angeles. They assaulted their victims before strangling them. After the cousins terminated their victims - who ranged in age from 12 to 28 - they disposed of their bodies in remote areas all over Los Angeles, leading the press to attribute the murders to the "Hillside Strangler."
While the media initially thought the crimes had been perpetrated by a single offender, law enforcement knew it was the work of a duo because they found biological evidence from two different people on the victims' bodies. Investigators discovered the cousins' crimes when Bianchi - who had moved north to Washington - fatally attacked two more women. Police connected him to his earlier crimes in Los Angeles.
In order to avoid the death penalty, Bianchi agreed to testify against his cousin and accomplice. Both men received life sentences. In 2002, Buono passed while serving his time in a California prison.
In 1985, police uncovered Leonard Lake and Charles Ng's crimes of torture, rape, and murder when one of the men tried to steal a vise from a San Francisco hardware store. Ng fled the scene, but Lake was taken into custody. He passed shortly after he arrived at the police station, having swallowed a cyanide tablet.
Investigators eventually found the remote cabin the two men had called home in the Sierra Nevada foothills. When officials searched the property, they found evidence of the crimes the deadly duo had committed over the course of two years, later dubbed the “Miranda Murders.”
Together, Lake and Ng targeted families - including infants, men, and women - and buried their bodies on the land surrounding the cabin. In addition to the remains found on the property, authorities discovered several videotapes the men had taken of themselves brutally assaulting their female victims.
Law enforcement eventually captured Ng in Canada, and he was returned to the United States where he was convicted of killing 11 people. He was sentenced to death in 1999. As of 2018, he still remains on death row in California.