Born in 1929, Hatcher spent half of his first 30 years in prison, convicted of numerous property crimes such as theft. He seemed to shift gears in 1959, with his arrest and conviction for the attempted abduction of a 16 year-old newsboy in St. Joseph, Missouri, moving on from that point to log convictions for sexual assaults and kidnapping of children in California, Nebraska, and Iowa. The latter charge, involving the March 1982 abduction of a boy at Bettendorf, sent Hatcher to a state mental institution, where psychiatrists pondered his case for two months before setting him free. On July 29, hikers found the nude, ravaged body of 11-year-old Michelle Steele, beaten and strangled to death on a bank of the Missouri River near St. Louis. Hatcher was arrested next day, as he tried to check in at the St. Joseph State Hospital. While awaiting trial, he confessed to fifteen other child-murders dating from 1969. The first victim , 12-year-old William Freeman, had disappeared from Antioch, California, in August of that year, one day before Hatcher was charged with child molestation in nearby San Francisco. In another case, Hatcher penned a crude map that led searchers to the remains of James Churchill, buried on the grounds of the Rock Island Army Arsenal, near Davenport, Iowa. Innocent suspect Melvin Reynolds was already serving life for another of Hatcher's crimes -- the sex-murder of four-year-old Eric Christgen, but Hatcher's confession released him from custody. Convicted of the Christgen homicide in October 1983, Hatcher drew a term of life imprisonment with no parole for at least 50 years. Facing his second Missouri conviction a year later, in the Steele case, Hatcher requested a death sentence but the jury refused, recommending life on December 3, 1984. Four days later, the child-killer hanged himself in his cell, at the state prison in Jefferson City.