California inmate dies awaiting execution for pair of 1981 slayings at UC Santa Cruz

Royal Hayes lured each victim to a remote location on the UC Santa Cruz campus.
(California Dept. of Corrections)

An 81-year-old condemned inmate has died while awaiting execution for two murders he committed 36 years ago, state oficials said Thursday.

Royal Hayes died Tuesday at an outside hospital, authorities said. His cause of death is awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Hayes was sentenced to death in 1986 for the December 1981 slayings of his former girlfriend, Lauren de Laet, and her companion, Donald MacVicar.

Investigators say he separately lured each victim to a remote location on the UC Santa Cruz campus under the pretext of giving them cocaine to repay a debt.


He told the victims they needed to be searched then shot each in the back of the head. Witnesses said he chopped off the victims’ hands and heads to prevent identification and buried the torsos in a shallow grave.

California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006.

Get our Essential California newsletter