Notorious SF: Trailside Killer
On May 15, 1981, David Joseph Carpenter was arrested at 38 Sussex Street in Glen Park, ending the siege of the Trailside Killer. Carpenter's history included a conviction in 1961 at the age of 34 for attacking a woman with a hammer and a knife. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was released after seven years. Carpenter returned to prison on a kidnapping conviction in 1970. Released again in 1977, the severe stutterer and sex addict began his reign as a serial killer beginning with the 1979 murder of Anne Kelly Menjivar, whose body was found in Mt. Tamalpais Park in Marin. As police searched for Menjivar's unknown killer, Mt. Tam became the scene of three more murders. In August, 1979 Edda Kane vanished while hiking. She was found shot in the back of the head, execution style. In March, 1980 Barbara Schwartz, 23, was found dead of stab wounds to the chest. Next, 26-year old Anne Alderson was found shot in the head after she disappeared while jogging. More victims followed: Shawna May, 25, Diane O'Connell, 22, Cynthia Moreland, 18, and Richard Towers, 19. When the last four bodies were discovered in a single day in 1980, extensive media coverage stoked the fears of an anxious public. In March, 1981 the Trailside Killer claimed his next victim, Ellen Hansen, in a park near Santa Cruz. Hansen's boyfriend survived the attack and provided police with a description of a suspect. Witness reports of a small red car in the area during the attack also provided a clue to the killer's identity. Next victim: Heather Scaggs, 20, a co-worker of Carpenter's at a San Francisco print shop who disappeared on May 1, 1981. When police came to Carpenter's home on Sussex Street to question him about Scaggs, they immediately connected him to the composite sketch of the Trailside Killer. Carpenter, who drove a red Fiat, was arrested after Scaggs' body was found in Big Basin State Park. A man admitted selling Carpenter a gun that was used in several of the killings, though the gun was not found. A second gun used in the last two killings was found by investigators and entered into evidence by prosecutors. Carpenter was convicted of the murders of Hansen and Scaggs on July 6, 1984. In a separate trial he was convicted of five murders in Marin County. On Nov. 16, 1984, Trailside Killer David Carpenter was sentenced to death.

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