For years an elusive serial killer sought his prey along lonely highways of the West. By abducting, sexually assaulting, and strangling his victims in one jurisdiction and dumping their bodies in another, he created an investigative nightmare for detectives throughout northern California.
In a gripping true-crime drama that reads like a haunting suspense novel, Bruce Henderson, coauthor of the #1 New York Times hardcover bestseller And the Sea Will Tell, unravels the story of the “Interstate 5” sex-strangler murders drawing on exclusive interviews with key investigators: Vito Bertocchini, the burly ex-street cop who took the killing of a beautiful young woman personally; Kay Maulsby, the rookie homicide detective who helped to unmask the killer; Ray Biondi, the homicide bureau lieutenant, who fought severe budget cuts that threatened to derail the investigation; and criminalist Faye Springer, who attempted to connect the suspect to his victims through subtle but persuasive microscopic evidence.
The killer was unbelievably adept at staying one step ahead of authorities as the body count grew. Even after police finally identified the culprit — when a would-be victim escaped his grasp — they lacked the evidence to charge him with murder. Instead he was convicted of assault and sentenced to a few months in county jail. With the clock ticking, investigators worked desperately to build a first-degree murder case before the killer was set free.
Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews — including the killer’s wife, who never spoke to authorities — Henderson delves into the psychological complexities of his characters with astute sensitivity and eloquence, building a chilling, fascinating portrait of a depraved and unrepentant serial killer whose own brother was a veteran homicide detective in a neighboring county.
Trace Evidence, structured with the razor-sharp precision of a Hitchcock film, is a powerful commentary about our society’s priorities. If investigative resources had been based on need and not on politics, lives might have been saved.
Knowing that this is a true story and the characters are real people will haunt you for days.