Vonda Pelto, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Author of Without Remorse
& Co-Author of the just released Without Redemption
Vonda Pelto, Ph.D. was born and raised in the small town of Needles, California, in the barren desert. Brought up in a strict Southern Baptist household, her sheltered childhood and family life meant Vonda was in for a rude awakening when she was hired for a unique job. After the unexpected January 1981 jailhouse suicide of Freeway Killer Vernon Butts, the Los Angeles County Mental Health & Sheriff’s Departments needed a new strategy to prevent this from happening with any other high-profile inmates awaiting or standing trial.
In August 1981, fresh from earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and waiting for a state license, Vonda was hired to fill a job position which had never existed before—assigned to meet, talk with and generally monitor the emotional and mental health of serial killers, murderers and sexual predators in Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail.
Her office was a converted cell adjacent to extremely dangerous men, and those five years altered her life emotionally, physically and spiritually. Akin to her own kind of PTSD, Vonda Pelto emerged from the experience a more coarsened, more suspicious and indeed a more bawdy women than the innocent one who entered the jail.
For twenty years, every time she tried to write the first book, detailing all her jailhouse experiences, the nightmares returned and she would quit. Finally, she slayed the demons and in 2007 Without Remorse: The Story of the Woman Who Kept Los Angeles’ Serial Killers Alive was released.
First, it is the most detailed historical biography ever written about Bill Bonin, the notorious Freeway Killer responsible for murdering 22 teenage boys over ten-months in 1979-80.
Second, it is a psychological roadmap which charts the evolution of Bonin’s personality from abused child to sexual predator to serial killer. This is accomplished using documents from his childhood, war service, multiple California government mental health and penal institutions, witness testimony and the expertise of Vonda Pelto, Ph.D., who had many sessions with Bonin and two of his accomplises while working in Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail.
Third, it is a narrative which, using long hidden documents, reveals the inner workings of Bonin’s mind, showing how he thought, felt, planned and viewed the world. The narrative displays Bonin, an abused high school dropout, cleverly manipulating lawyers, judges, doctors, social workers, friends, family, probabtion officers, government bureaucrats, detectives, journalists, and, most tragically, the innocent victims of his rage.
Fourth, Without Redemption reveals the complex story of what happened after Bonin’s final arrest, when so much was in flux and so many moving parts were swirling about. Archived investigative documents, collected from a variety of sources, brings to light a number of surprising, shocking, sad and even funny events from those ten tumultuous months from June 1980 to March 1981.
Finally, it is book which solves two murder mysteries and unlocks how one day of crossroads and coincidences, in the midst of the murder spree, profoundly impacted many lives and future events.