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Serial Killer Index Short List
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Serial Killer Index
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  LEWINGDON Gary James USA ... ... ... 8+
  LEWINGDON Thaddeus Charles  
.22 Caliber Killers
 : ... ... ... ...
Between February and December 1978, residents of Columbus, Ohio, were panicked by a string of random, senseless murders, characterized by nocturnal ambush and home invasions, with victims shot numerous times in the head at close range. Police were stymied in their search for the ".22-caliber Killer," and only a clumsy mistake by one gunman prevented the crimes from continuing indefinitely. On February 12, 1978, a prowler invaded the home of nightclub owner Robert McCann, executing McCann, his mother Dorothy, and live-in girlfriend Christine Herdman with multiple shots to the head. Robbery appeared to be the motive, but police were less certain on April 8, when 77-year-old Jenkin Jones was gunned down in his home, shot six times in the head, with four dogs killed nearby. The same gun was used in both crimes, and ballistics tests matched again, on April 30, when Rev. Gerald Fields was killed in Columbus, while working part-time as a security guard. Three weeks later, on May 21, the gunman cornered 47-year-old Jerry Martin and his wife, 51-year-old Martha, in their home, snuffing both victims with close-range shots to the head. Police played a hunch, dusting off their files on an unsolved shooting from December 1977. Joyce Vermillion and Karen Dodrill had been ambushed on December 10, gunned down after work at a Newark, Ohio, restaurant, and detectives examined the nine rounds retrieved from their bodies. Again, the bullets matched, and that made nine dead, in a little over five months time. The final victim, 56-year-old Joseph Annick, was robbed of his wallet and shot nine times in his own garage, on December 4, 1978. A different .22 was used, but homicide investigators recognized the classic style of over-kill, and none of them had any doubts when Annick joined the victims list as number ten. The case broke on December 9, when 38-year-old Gary Lewingdon presented Annick's stolen credit card to a clerk in a local department store. Arrested on the spot, he was detained on suspicion of murder while detectives examined his rap sheet. Discharged from the air force in 1962, Lewingdon had lived with his mother until 1977, when he married one of victim Robert McCann's nightclub waitresses. Along the way, he had logged arrests for petty larceny, possession of criminal tools, indecent exposure, and carrying a concealed weapon. None of the charges had led to conviction, but this time detectives were sure that they had their man cold. In custody, Lewingdon swiftly confessed his role in the ".22-caliber murders," fingering his brother, Thaddeus, as the other trigger man. Search parties recovered the murder weapons, stolen from a gunshop in November 1977, and the brothers were indicted on December 14, with Gary facing 20 felony counts, while Thaddeus was hit with 17. On February 19, 1979, Thaddeus Lewingdon was convicted of the Vermillion, Dodrill, and Jones homicides. A month later, on March 26, he was convicted of the McCann-Martin murders and sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment. Brother Gary went to trial, for all ten homicides, on May 14; twelve days later, the jury convicted him of eight counts, failing to reach a verdict on two others. His sentence was fixed at eight consecutive life terms, plus a $45,000 fine.
Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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