‘Tool Box Killer’ who murdered five L.A. County teens in 1979 dies behind bars

Roy Lewis Norris listens as charges are read against him in court in March 1980 in the rape-torture deaths of five teenage girls. Norris pleaded guilty to five counts of murder in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
(Wally Fong / Associated Press)

Roy Lewis Norris, one of the “Tool Box Killers” who preyed on teenage girls in Los Angeles County more than 40 years ago, has died, state corrections officials said Tuesday.

Norris and Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered five girls in 1979. Their nickname came from the tools — including a screwdriver, pliers and an ice pick — that they used on their victims.

Officials said Norris, 72, died of natural causes Monday at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation hospital in Vacaville, where he had been transferred from the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County last week.

The killings began in June 1979, with the death of Lucinda Lynn Schaefer, 16. She was followed by Andrea Joy Hall, 18; Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 15; Jacqueline Leah Lamp, 13; and Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16.


Norris testified against Bittaker after pleading guilty to all charges in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty against him. He was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.

A Los Angeles jury convicted Bittaker of five counts of murder, five counts of kidnapping as well as other charges, including criminal conspiracy, rape and sodomy.

Bittaker, who was sentenced to death in 1981, died of natural causes on Dec. 13, 2019, at San Quentin State Prison. He was 79.

Because of various legal challenges and court decisions, California has not executed anyone in years, and last year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions for as long as he is in office.