Serial Killer Survivors: 6 People Who Managed To Escape America's Most Notorious Killers
During their lifetimes, Richard Ramirez, Ted Bundy, Stephen Morin, Gary Ridgway, Dean Corll and “The Zodiac Killer” took hundreds of lives without remorse. Miraculously, a handful of targets were able to escape, fighting off their attackers or surviving after being left for dead. Below we examine six men and women who beat the odds and lived after being brutally attacked by some of America’s most infamous serial killers:
1) Pamela Jackson Survived 11 Days Of Torture And Sexual Assault
Stephen Morin, the notorious serial killer, used his charisma and uncanny ability to transform his appearance to prey on countless victims. Morin was charged with the murder of three females in 1981, but many believe that he could have taken as many as 48 lives. Morin’s three confirmed victims were all young women, Carrie Marie Scott (21-years-old), Janna Bruce (21-years-old) and Sheila Ann Whalen (23-years-old). Unlike other serial killers we have profiled, Morin traveled extensively and is suspected of killing women across at least 9 states. Adding to Morin’s unpredictable nature, he had a long history of drug abuse. Given his dangerous nature and shocking ability to evade authorities, it’s amazing that one of his young victims, 21-year-old Pamela Jackson, survived.
Jackson was a single mother living in Texas when Morin abducted her outside of her ex-husband’s house in 1981. Morin and his accomplice, Sara Bond Clarke, held Jackson captive for 11 days. Morin, violent and heavily drugged, raped and tortured Jackson as the trio skipped from motel to motel to hide from authorities. After nearly two weeks on the run, Morin’s getaway car was spotted by police. Once Morin realized that the cops had found them, he became irate, threading to shoot and kill Jackson. Thankfully, police officers stormed the motel room and rescued Jackson. Shockingly, Jackson was arrested and questioned before police confirmed that she was a victim and not another accomplice to Morin. Although police were able to save Jackson, Morin escaped yet again, sneaking out of a motel bathroom window and continuing to terrorize women across the South West.
2) Whitney Bennett Came Face-To-Face With Satan
Richard Ramirez, nicknamed “The Night Stalker“, was known to leave satanic signs at murder scenes and mutilate his victims. In total Ramirez was convicted of 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault and 14 counts of burglary. While Ramirez terrorized residents across Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid 1980’s, only a handful of victims survived this heartless killer. One of them was 16-year-old Whitney Bennett.
On July 5, 1985, Ramirez broke into Bennett’s home and beat her with a tire iron. He then tried to strangle her with a telephone cord. When sparks flew from the cord, Ramirez, a self-described satanist, believed Jesus Christ was intervening. Ramirez saw Bennett gasp for breath and was so spooked that he fled the scene leaving behind a bloody shoe print on her bed and the tire iron. Bennett shockingly survived, but needed 478 stitches to close the cuts on her scalp.
3) Rhonda Williams’ Survival Led To The Death Of The Pied Piper
Dean Corll was Houston’s worst serial killer, murdering over 28 victims and earning the nicknames “The Candy Man” and “The Pied Piper”. Corll committed his unspeakable crimes with the help of two younger accomplices, David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. One of his conspirators, Henley, helped 15-year-old Rhonda Williams escape an abusive home life. Williams had no idea that her friend was also an accomplice to Corll or that he had had helped lure 29 boys to their death.
When Henley brought Williams to Corll’s house of torture, the killer became enraged. Henley assured Williams that he would help her escape and eventually shot the infamous serial killer to save Williams’ life. Many believed that Williams was party to the trio’s crimes given that she was the only survivor. Perhaps the hardest detail to reconcile is that Williams is still in contact with the friend that took her to the madman’s home.
4) Bryan Hartnell Was Left For Dead By A Hooded Killer
The Zodiac Killer remains at large although many suspects have been named by law enforcement and amateur investigators. A college student, Bryan Hartnell, and his girlfriend, Cecilia Shephard, had the misfortune of meeting the infamous serial killer.
The couple was enjoying a scenic drive near San Francisco. While inside their car, a man wearing a black hood approached the couple and forced them out of the vehicle at gunpoint. After demanding that the pair get on the ground, the assailant stabbed them repeatedly and then fled. Cecilia was able to provide a description of the killer, but died a day later at the hospital. Bryan, on the other hand, survived but was unable to see his attacker’s face. There were no witnesses and no one was arrested.
5) Rebecca Garde Fit The Profile, But Beat The Odds
Gary Ridgway remains one of the most horrific serial killers in history, as many believe he killed over 90 women. Miraculously, Rebecca Garde (sometimes cited as Rebecca Guay) survived her gruesome run-in with the Green River Killer. Garde was walking home from work when a man pulled up beside her and offered her $20 in exchange for sex. Garde figured it was a way to escape a walk home in the rain and afford to buy some marijuana. Ridgway targeted drug-using prostitutes, but only Garde survived.
The pair drove to a wooded area and shortly after leaving the car, Ridgway attacked Garde. Ridgway attempted to strangle Garde, but the young woman fought back. Garde was able to run for help but was too afraid to contact police given her drug use and history of prostitution. Two years after the attack she finally went to the authorities in December 1984.
“I got some guts. I picked him out of a line-up. [The police] needed my information. This stuff has affected me so bad that it was hard for me to sleep at night,” she said in an interview with Seattle PI.
Sadly, Ridgway was not arrested until 2001.
6) Kathy Kleiner Survived 15 Minutes Of Sheer Terror
Ted Bundy attacked victims across the country for over a decade. Few of his characteristically young female victims survived his attacks. Bundy was arrested several times, but was able to break free in 1978. While on the run from authorities, Bundy drove a stolen car to a Florida State University sorority house. Within 15 minutes, Bundy attacked four young women.
Among his victims, Bundy violently assaulted Kathy Kleiner, breaking her jaw and deeply cutting her shoulder. Thirty witnesses were inside the sorority house at the time of the attack, but no one heard anything. Kathy survived but two of her sorority sisters were not so lucky. Bundy was eventually arrested, but not before killing another victim — a 12-year-old girl.