It’s been brought to my attention that every serial killer so far mentioned has been white. While statistically most serial killers are white males, I do agree that there has been a lack of diversity and representation. On that note, this week I will be introducing you all to Chester Turner, one of the “most prolific serial killers in [Los Angeles’] history.”
Everyone has a Backstory
Born in Warren Arkansas in 1966, Chester Turner had a family that, very early in his life, fell apart. When he was five, his parents separated, and his mother brought him to Los Angeles, California with her when she moved out. As a teen, he attended public school, but dropped out of high school, never receiving his degree. He then worked as a delivery boy for Domino’s Pizza, and continued to live with his mother until she moved to Utah. Left on his own, Turner bounced around between the many homeless shelters and missions in L.A.. He got into a lot of trouble with the law between 1995 and 2002, going to jail seven times– once under an assault charge.
A Reign of Terror
In March of 1987, at the age of 21, Turner took the life of his first victim. Diane Johnson, 21, was found West of the Harbor Freeway in a construction zone, partially naked and strangled to death. Seven months later, he strangled Annette Earnest, 26, to death and left her partially naked by the side of the road, just as he had done to Johnson. Anita Fishman, 31, was found in the same condition in an alleyway in January of 1989. His fourth victim, Regina Washington, was a special case– a double homicide. An expecting mother, she was found partially naked and strangled just as the others had been. The violence against her lead to the death of her unborn child due to oxygen deprivation. The next six victims were killed and found in the same ways/conditions:
- Andrea Tripplett
- Desarae Jones
- Natalie Price
- Mildred Beasley
- Paula Vance
- Brenda Bries
Turner wasn’t connected to the above eleven murders until he was required to give a DNA sample for the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) during a jail sentence for the sexual assault and death threat of a forty-seven year old woman. The attacks already described were left unsolved for several years until this DNA evidence was used to convict Turner of the women’s murders.
David Jones, You Are… NOT the Killer
During the time of Chester Turner’s killing spree, another three murders took place. Tammie Christmas, Debra Williams, and Mary Edwards’ bodies were all found strangled around or within 97th Street Elementary School in L.A.. The deaths of these three women were originally blamed on a mentally challenged and nearly illiterate janitor from the school, David Allen Jones. His conviction stemmed from police questioning without the presence of an attorney, and from his admittance of drug use near where the bodies were found during said questioning. However, when the evidence was reexamined from a scientific viewpoint, it was found that the murders of Debra Williams and Mary Edwards were really the work of Chester Turner. Though police couldn’t use the DNA evidence to solve the murder of Tammie Christmas, it is strongly believed that Turner was also responsible in this case as well. David Jones, who had spent the past eleven years in prison for a false conviction, was released in 2004, and received a compensation sum of $720,000 from his lawsuit against Los Angeles.
A Conviction (or Two)
During his murder of Paula Vance, someone in a neighboring trailer park witnessed Turner taking the life of his victim, and reported it to the police. This report combined with his death threat against his 47 year old sexual assault victim and the DNA evidence compiled against him was enough to convict Chester Turner for 11 counts of murder. This conviction earned him a spot on death row in 2003. However, eleven years later, in 2014, Turner was convicted of another 4 counts of murder, earning him another death sentence. He is still, to this day, a convict on death row with two death sentences against him.
A Diagnosis of Sorts
Under the “umbrella” of serial killer type, Chester Turner can be considered an organized killer. All of his victims were killed in the same way, and eleven of the fifteen were killed within several blocks of each other. Under the “umbrella” of psychology, I would classify Turner as a sociopath– his murders weren’t very careful, as seen in the fact that he was witnessed committing the crime. I also believe that Turner’s motives were ones of sexual desire and a hunger for power. He overtook women most likely under the pretense that women are weak and could be easily overpowered. In this victim classification, he had the opportunity to use his victims for sexual stimulation before murdering them. Due to these motives, being a woman in L.A. in the late 80’s and early 90’s was dangerous– especially if you like Domino’s Pizza.