The Arrest

LAPD get their man

Bianchi’s previous residence in LA was quickly established, and a liaison with the LAPD soon flagged up the similarity in MO to the Hillside Strangler killings. A search of his Bellingham home also produced jewellery belonging to a couple of the LA victims, tying him conclusively to those as well. Forensic evidence eventually tied Bianchi to five of the LA killings, and he was charged with these murders in June 1979.Bianchi did everything possible to avoid prosecution, at first feigning multiple personalities to support an insanity plea. He convinced a number of mental health experts, but was thwarted by a shrewd prosecution psychiatrist, who tricked him into inventing even more personae, exposing the ruse.

Police were already aware of Angelo Buono through their investigation of Bianchi’s background, and the proximity of his car upholstery business to a number of the body dumpsites, but could not tie him conclusively to the killings. Determined to avoid the death penalty, which was certain in Washington State, but not in California, Bianchi agreed to testify against his cousin in exchange for prosecution in LA. Bianchi gave a detailed statement about the LA murders, implicating Buono, and pleading guilty to five counts of homicide in LA. Buono was arrested on 22 October 1979, and he was indicted on ten counts of first-degree murder.With the trial now looming Bianchi, always the charmer, and desperate to escape the charges, convinced a female admirer, Veronica Compton, to commit a murder on his behalf. The plan was that she would kill a stranger, mimicking his MO to prove that a “Hillside” murder had taken place while he was incarcerated: he even smuggled a semen sample out of his prison cell so that she could plant it on the murder victim. Although willing to proceed, Compton bungled the murder attempt on 16 September 1980, and she was arrested on 3 October for attempted murder.Following this disaster, Bianchi began to contemplate his own treatment in prison, once it was realised that he had turned informer on his cousin to save himself, and he again tried to influence judicial proceedings by issuing contradictory statements about his pre-trial testimony in July 1981, in the hope that the case would be thrown out of court. The prosecution, knowing how important Bianchi was to any prosecution of Buono, began to waver, but the judge insisted that the case proceed as planned, in November 1981.