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Serial Killer William Bonin

The Freeway Killer


William Bonin

William Bonin

Mug Shot
William Bonin was a habitual sex offender turned serial killer, suspected of sexually assaulting, torturing and killing at least 21 boys and young men in California.

The Early Years

William Bonin grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and a grandfather who was a convicted child molester. Early on he was a troubled kid which eventually landed him in a juvenile detention center where he was sexually molested. After leaving the center, he too began molesting children.

After high school, Bonin joined the U.S. Air Force and served in the Vietnam War as a gunner. When he returned home, he married, divorced and moved to California.

A Vow to Never Get Caught Again

He was first arrested at age 23 for sexually assaulting young boys and spent five years in jail. After his release he molested a 14-year-old boy and was returned to prison for an additional four years. Vowing never to get caught again, he began killing his young victims.

From 1979 until his arrest in June 1980, Bonin, along with various accomplices, went on a rape and killing spree, often cruising California highways and streets for young male hitchhikers and school children. After his arrest, he confessed to killing 21 young boys and young men. Police suspected him in additional 15 other murders.

Charged with 14 of the 21 killings, Bonin was found guilty and sentenced to death. On February 23, 1996 Bonin was executed by lethal injection, making him the first person to be executed by lethal injection in California history.


  • Vernon Butts - Accused of taking part in six of the murders, but he hanged himself while awaiting trial.

  • Gregory Miley - Plead guilty to participating in one murder. Received a sentence of 25 years to life. He is currently in prison.

  • James Munro - Plead guilty to participating in one murder. Received a sentence of 15 years to life. He is still in prison, but trying to appeal claiming he was tricked into a plea bargain.
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