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Profile: Patrick Kearney

Terror of the 1970s California highway
  • Full Name – Patrick Wayne Kearney
  • Nickname – The Trash Bag Killer, The Freeway Killer
  • Born – 1940
  • Location of Activity – California, U.S.
  • Years of Activity – 1968-1977
  • Number of Kills – 21 - 43
  • Date of Death – n/a
  • Cause of Death – n/a

Yet another murderer to earn the title of “The Freeway Killer,” Patrick Kearney’s killing spree lasted for nearly ten years.  He was originally born in East Los Angeles, living a fairly normal life for the most part.  When he grew older, he moved around a bit, getting married and divorced, and finally returning to his roots in Southern California.  It was here that he made himself a part of the gay scene, perfecting the pick-up skills that would lure his victims to him in later years.

When Kearney began to kill is somewhat in doubt.  It is believed that his first murder took place in 1965, thought the first one confirmed to be linked to him was later, in 1968.  His victims were all men, usually hitchhikers or young men that he picked up from gay bars.  Some were younger, however, the youngest being just five-years-old and others aged 8 and 13.

Being how he was a small and relatively physically unintimidating person, Kearney made sure to kill his victims quickly and with precision.  Usually this would consist of a gunshot to the head while they were in the passenger seat of his car.  Once they were dead, he would drive to a remote area, have sex with their bodies and then dismember them for easy disposal.  He would take the remains and dump them in various places, usually placing the parts in industrial trash bags.

In 1974, his killing spree hit its height.  It is believed he killed someone almost every month during this time.  Finally, in 1977, police narrowed down their investigation to Kearney but he managed to flee.  Later, at the request of his family, he turned himself in.  He admitted to 35 murders and was charged with 21 of them.  Patrick Kearney is currently serving 21 life sentences in prison.