The Serial Homicide Case of the Day, from "Hunting Humans, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Serial Killers" , by Michael Newton
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York, George R., and Latham, James D.
York, 18, and Latham, 19, were privates in the U.S. Army when they met at Fort Hood, Texas, in the early part of 1959. Something clicked between them, as it has with other lethal soul-mates, and they privately decided on a course of robbery and murder that would carry them -- almost -- from coast to coast.
In May, the friends went AWOL from Fort Hood, making York's home town of Jacksonville, Florida, the first stop on their itinerary. On May 29, in Jacksonville, they met Althea Ottavio and Patricia Hewitt, visiting from Georgia, and strangled both women, stealing their money and car. Their bonus was a loaded pistol, found inside the glove compartment.
On June 7, the pair stopped briefly at Tulahoma, Tennessee, where they murdered elderly John Whittaker, swapping the new victim's car for their hot set of wheels. Whittaker's vehicle brought them to Edwardsville, Illinois, on June 8, where they murdered 35-year-old Albert Reed for the hell of it. Seven miles down the road, they looted a gas station and killed the attendant, Martin Drenovac, age 69.
By June 9, the lethal nomads were cruising through Kansas, pausing at Wallace long enough to murder Otto Ziegler, 62, a roadmaster for the Union Pacific railroad. In Craig, Colorado, they offered 18-year-old Rachel Moyer a ride to California, dumping her corpse in a riverbed outside town, where it would be found on June 11.
By that time, York and Latham were in custody. The FBI had started tracking them for violation of the Dyer Act, prohibiting the transportation of a stolen car across state lines, and federal bulletins kept local law enforcement agencies apprised of the duo's westward progress. On June 10, they were captured by a Utah sheriff, lodged in jail at Salt Lake City for interrogation.
On June 12, after twenty-four hours of stony silence, the prisoners cracked, relating details of their rampage with a kind of twisted pride. They boasted of eight or nine murders, and eight notches had been carved into the handle of their stolen gun, but in fact there were only seven dead. (The FBI reported that two other unnamed victims had survived their wounds.) Convicted of the Ziegler slaying, York and Latham were sentenced to death on December 19, 1962. Addressing the court, they declared, "We killed together, so we expect to die together."
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