Serial Killer Scammed Calif. Justice System Before Killings—For 9-Years Bill Bonin Worked Every Angle & Won Freedom
July 26, 2023
One fascinating section of Without Redemption, a detailed biography of Freeway Killer Bill Bonin, chronicles the nine years he spent in California mental hospitals and prisons (1969-78). Shortly after returning from a combat tour in Vietnam, as a helicopter tail gunner during the Tet Offensive, Bonin was arrested for a series of assaults around the South Bay area of Los Angeles.
Unlike any other books about Bonin, the co-authors possessed extensive files from Atascadero and Vacaville State Mental Hospitals as well as the California Men’s Colony, a medium security state prison. Five years at the first two and four at CMC, with a break in between when Bonin was arrested again, comprise those crucial years when the California justice system failed the citizens.
On the subject of document access, UK crime journalist and author Paul Cheston wrote this in a book review, “It is based on unprecedented access to probation, medical, psychiatric reports, police statements and court documents, and, as an author and journalist, I know how difficult, nay impossible, it is to gain access to such a treasure trove of detail and insight.”
Immediately after his first arrest, in 1969 and facing serious prison time, Bonin began working the system by painting himself as a victim of childhood abuse and the war. This court process is covered extensively along with nearly everything that happened during five years as a patient/inmate in two facilities. Reports from doctors, social workers, psychiatric technicians (which had most exposure to Bonin), administrators, judges, probation officers and nurses track the ups and downs. The circumstances around his ultimate release are fascinating and depressing.
After release, in 1975, Bonin didn’t last too long before violating parole and adding additional charges with further assaults. Trial mistakes and California legislative factors serve to compound previous bureaucratic failures and decisions, a situation which gives Bonin a chance to grind every angle and get himself released from CMC prison in late 1978, at least ten years earlier than anticipated. Confidential prison and court documents allowed the authors to fully explain and analyze this tragic turn of events in Without Redemption: Creation & Deeds of Freeway Killer Bill Bonin, His Five Accomplices & How One Who Escaped Justice.
In less than a year the infamous Bill Bonin
Freeway Killer ten-month murder spree began!