Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Chester Turner - Serial Killer

Chester Turner.  Not a household name in the annals of serial murder, yet with fourteen victims, he shows that he is as ruthless as they come.  Turner is currently on Death Row, with two death sentences passed on him.  He had his own killing field, a four block zone in Los Angeles, but it was DNA that finally put paid to him, once and for all.  Turner came from Warren in Arkansas, and was born on November 5th 1966.  He and his mother moved to Los Angeles when he was 5 years old, but never completed school.  He simply dropped out.  He did various jobs such as a pizza chef and deliveryman but eventually, his mother moved on to Utah and Turner spent considerable time living in homeless shelters, hostels and missions.  He began his killing spree in 1987, and it was generally centred around Figueroa Street, stretching from Gage Avenue to 108th Street.

     His first victim was 21 year old Diane Johnson, whose partially nude body was found on a construction site near Harbor Freeway.  She had been strangled.  Then, over an eleven year period, the death toll mounted.  Annette Ernest, 26, was found strangled and partially nude on a road side in October 1987.  Next victim was Anita Fishman, 31.  She was strangled and left partially nude by a garage in an alley of Figueroa Street in January 1989.  Regina Washington, 27, found strangled and partially nude, inside a garage of Figueroa Street in September 1989.  She was also six months pregnant.  The cops ruled the death of her foetus as a homicide, judging by how far her pregnancy was.  Andrea Trippett, 29, found strangled and partially nude behind an empty building on Figueroa Street in April 1993.  Desarae Jones, 29, was found strangled  by an empty apartment building in May 1993.  The next victim was Natalie Price, 31, again, strangled and partially nude, found dumped next to an empty apartment block.  Then it was the turn of 45 year old Mildred Beasley, strangled and partially nude, dumped by bushes alongside Freeway 110 in November 1996.

    Then the murders switched to Los Angeles County, and the murder of 28 year old Paula Vance in her place of work, Olympia Tool, in Asuza, in February 1998.  However, the killer had a problem; the murder was witnessed by a person living at a trailer park, next to the store.  Then in April 1998, Brenda Bries, 39, was found murdered in a portable toilet in the Little Tokyo area.  The Police did not have a name to put to this killer, and Turner was still operating below the radar.  He was jailed a number of times for petty offences, between 1995 & 2002.  His most serious crime was for assaulting an officer and animal cruelty.  But it was in March 2002, that he committed a very serious crime that led him to Death Row.  He viciously sexually assaulted a woman of 47, and repeatedly threatened to kill her if she ever spoke about it.  She went straight to the Police.  He was convicted and jailed for eight years.  Going into prison for a serious offence meant a DNA sample was taken and entered into the CODIS database.  It threw up a DNA match to the Paula Vance &  Mildred Beasley murders.

    Detectives now started examining other unsolved murders and comparing DNA results.  There was a match in nearly all the murders.  He was charged with the killings, plus an additional four.  He was convicted in April 2007 of ten murders and sentenced to death.  Then in June 2014, he was convicted of the other four murders, and received a second death sentence.  The DNA analysis proved the innocence of a mentally impaired man, convicted of three murders that happened in Turner`s killing field.  28 year old Janitor David Jones, who was not a literate man, and questioned without a lawyer, admitted to cops that he did drugs with the victims.  Jones was jailed for a rape in 2000, but now DNA proved he was innocent of two murders.  The other was the death of Tammie Christmas in September 1992, found dead at 97th Street Elementary School.  The D.A. now believed that Jones was probably innocent of the death of Tammie and that Turner was responsible.  He was released in 2004 and filed a lawsuit against authorities.  He received compensation of $720,000.

    Turner had a number of traits.  He stuck mainly to a small specific area.  He was a strangler.  He left most of his victims partially nude.  What was his motive?  Did he need one?  Considering the time lapses between killings, I believe it was simply a case of "today, I want to kill!"  No fancy theories, no bollocks about "disenfranchised and marginalised people" just a guy who decided to sexually assault women, then kill them if he felt like it.  At least he is now out of the way.