The Week In Serial Killers
While We're Watching Serial Killer Dorothea Puente on Netflix's New "Worst Roommate Ever," Here's What's Happening in the Real World
On March 1, Netflix began entertaining us with its new true-crime series about the "Worst Roommate Ever." The first episode is a doozy, giving us the sordid saga of female serial killer Dorothea Puente, who ran the boarding house from hell and killed her tenants. Meanwhile, here in the real world, there was plenty of serial killer news as well:
Daytona Beach Serial Killer Robert Tyrone Hayes Sentenced to Life in Prison
Florida jurors deliberated for just seven hours before recommending serial killer Robert Tyrone Hayes to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was convicted of the rapes and murders of three women between December 2005 and February 2006. He was twenty-two and a college student while committing these crimes. He is still awaiting trial for the 2016 rape and strangulation murder of thirty-two-year-old Rachel Bey in Palm Beach County.
Hayes' defense tried to lessen his sentence in several ways. They argued that a brain scan showed he had brain damage "in areas that regulate fear and aggression" and evidence of "autistic spectrum disorder." A psychologist and Hayes' family members offered testimony about a childhood of physical and sexual abuse. A few witnesses described him as a good friend and loving father.
These are things that likely saved him from the death penalty. They did not prevent him from receiving three consecutive life sentences.
South African Serial Killer Brian Mudiwayana Claims He Was Possessed by Spiritual Black Magic
In 2016 and 2017, Zimbabwe native Brian Mudiwayana murdered five women and one man. These were not random strangers. This man befriended them, lied to them, and then killed them. His serial murders were finally stopped when he was arrested in 2019 for the rape and murder of forty-seven-year-old teacher Lungelwa Dangatye. He had been on the run for two years.
Most of the victims were lured with the promise of a job, a common ploy among sexually motivated South African serial killers. His first victim, Moleboheng Mafata, left with him on April 8, 2016, after promising her a job at a Cape Town zoo. He promised another position at a local lodge where he said he was working. He had been in a romantic relationship with one of his victims for over two years.
All of the female victims had been sexually assaulted. All of them had been robbed. When finally caught, Mudiwayana stated that he had been under the influence of evil muti and had been powerless to resist it. Muti is a form of traditional medicine commonly practiced in African countries and often involves healing rituals and alternative medicine. Although rare, some of the darker South African traditional cultural practices have involved the murder of someone to cut off and use their body parts in their herbal medicine.
An investigator had a decidedly more modern viewpoint. He testified that Mudyiwayana was motivated by power, control, and excitement and had never shown remorse or empathy towards the victims and their families. The thirty-five-year-old was sentenced to six life terms plus seventeen years in prison. A life term in an indeterminate sentence, typically lasting at least twenty-five years.
Justice Never Forgets: 1980s Oregon Serial Killer Finally Identified
I don't know how to feel when I find out they've finally identified a serial killer – and he's been dead for years. I'm happy the victim's family finally has some answers. And I'm pissed that he never had to pay for what he did.
In this case, there's some consolation; the murderer had been dead for years. After killing three women between 1986 and 1988, he committed suicide less than a month after his last murder. I'd love to think that he offed himself to avoid hurting anyone else, but we'll never know. That sure doesn't square with the "very violent strangulation, sharp force injuries and sexual assault" Bollinger subjected his victims to.
The serial killer's name was John Charles Bolsinger. He was thirty years old when he died. He is suspected of killing Gladys May Hensley, 62, Janice Marie Dickinson, 33, and Geraldine Spencer Toohey, 73.
The heroes in our story are the genetic genealogists who entered DNA left at the crime scenes into a genealogy database and identified a matching relative. They then got to work building a family tree. Pretty quickly, they narrowed down their suspect pool to four men. Their work eventually bore fruit in the form of justice.
Justice Never Forgets: Kaitlyn Arquette Has a Chance to Rest in Peace
It is possible that no one in the world has sought answers to, and justice for, the murder of an eighteen-year-old girl harder and longer than Lois Duncan. In July 1989, her daughter, Kaitlyn Arquette, was shot twice in the head while driving her car. She was headed to her parent's house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her car jumped the median and crashed into a light pole. Kaitlyn died of her injuries the following day.
The first person on the scene of the accident was Paul Apodaca. He would have been around twenty years old.
Duncan did just about everything she could to find her daughter's killer. She conducted her own investigation. She hired a private investigator. She wrote a book about her daughter's death.
Apodaca was questioned because of his proximity to the crime scene, but there was no motive and no evidence tying the two together. The two had never met. So he just became another witness to what had happened. Over time, the case gathered dust. In 2016, Lois Duncan died.
Then something odd happened. In July 2021, after fifty-four-year-old Paul Apodaca was arrested for a parole violation, he confessed to Kaitlyn's murder. He also admitted to the 1988 murders of two other young women; twenty-one-year-old Althea Oakley and thirteen-year-old Stella Gonzalez. He also copped to a slew of rapes.
Twenty-one-year-old Althea Oakley, a college student at the University of New Mexico, was stabbed to death while walking home from an on-campus party. Thirteen-year-old Stella Gonzalez was shot to death while strolling near Tingley Beach with a friend. Apodaca said these were crimes of opportunity; they were young women, unknown to him, who happened to be walking alone. His motive?
He hated women.
Apodaca has since retracted his confession and has pleaded not guilty. In 1995, he was convicted raping his 14-year-old stepsister. Since his July 2021 arrest and confession, he has already been charged with the murders of Oakley and Gonzalez. This week, he was accused of the murder of Arquette.
The Bottom Line
It's rewarding when we see a murderer brought to justice. I'm happy to know that Robert Tyrone Hayes and Brian Mudiwayana won't have the chance to collect more victims. I'm glad that two families, who've grieved and wondered for years, might finally have some answers.
But this week's news is bittersweet, hasn't it? A serial killer is finally identified – and has been dead for years. A mother searches for her daughter's killer for decades – and dies before anyone confesses. Life is indeed not fair.
But it's heartening to know that new crime-solving technology – like genetic genealogy – gives us the chance to solve cases faster and with more certainty. I say bring it on.