The Toolbox Killers: Irrefutable Evidence (Part 3)

Marked explicit for graphic details of sexual assault and the murders.

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Shirley Lynette Ledford

❖Born March 4, 1963 in California

❖She worked part time at a restaurant

❖There’s hardly any information out there about her

❖I saw one source that mentioned her having an adoptive father but that’s it

❖Everything else I could find out there is about what happened to her


October 31, 1979

❖Shirley went to a Halloween party in a suburb of LA

❖Because it’s 1979, she was hitchhiking home from the party

❖It was a little after 10:30 and she was standing outside a gas station when none other than Norris and Bittaker saw her

❖They offered her a ride and she accepted

❖Norris then offered her marijuana and she refused

❖We know what happened over the next few hours because the men recorded it


2 Hours of Hell

❖Bittaker drove the van to a secluded street and Norris pulled out a knife before binding and gagging her

❖The men then swapped places and Norris drove around while Bittaker removed the tape and began torturing Shirley

❖Norris later said that he heard “screams… constant screams” during the torture

❖The men then swapped places again and Norris started his torture telling Shirley to “go ahead and scream or I’ll make you scream”

This whole thing lasted two hours


A Disturbing Scene

❖Norris then killed Shirley by strangling her with a wire coat hanger (1)

❖They left her body on a random lawn (2)

❖A jogger found her body the next morning

❖An autopsy was done and in addition to the strangulation they saw the sheer amount of torture she went through

➢Again, without going into too much detail they found injuries to her face, head, breasts, right elbow, left hand, a finger on her right hand, and that’s not even getting into what they did to her genitalia


They Get Cocky

❖Norris started talking to a friend he had met while imprisoned at the CA Men’s Colony named Joseph Jackson

❖He was feeling pretty proud of himself and confided in Joseph about what he and Bittaker had been up to

❖Joseph had a sense of decency and went straight to his attorney

❖A detective named Paul Bynum was assigned to investigate the claims

❖There had been an incident filed on Sept. 30 by Robin Robeck

❖Robin’s report lined up with one of the ones included in Joseph’s statement so he sent an investigator to go over mugshots with her

❖Norris was placed under surveillance

❖Within days (Nov 20) he was arrested for a parole violation and Bittaker was arrested for the rape of Robin Robeck


It’s Not Over Yet

❖The men were placed in a line up and unfortunately Robin was unable to positively ID them

❖Since Norris had been dealing and Bittaker was in possession of marijuana when they were arrested, police were able to hold them on the parole violations

❖During this time, they searched the men’s rooms

❖In Bittaker’s room they found several Polaroids of Andrea and Jackie as well as several bottles of various acidic chemicals

❖In Norris’ they found a bracelet of Shirley’s and more Polaroids

➢Almost 500 of teenage girls and young women

➢Most were taken at Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach with some from Burbank HS

➢Most were taken w/o knowledge or consent


The More They Find the Worse it Gets

❖Next they searched the van

❖They took the tape recording to Shirley’s mother where she had to listen to it to identify her daughter

❖She positively ID’ed the voice as Shirley’s

❖The other two voice were positively ID’ed as Bittaker and Norris


❖Initially Norris denied everything, but when confronted with the evidence he quickly conceded

❖In his confession he started out by pointing the finger at Bittaker for everything

❖Norris agreed to lead police to the San Gabriel Mountains to show them where the bodies of the remaining girls were

❖It was announced on Feb 7, 1980 the LA County sheriff announced that they were going to charge both men with first degree murder

❖Norris received a bail of $10,000

❖Within a month, he accepted a plea bargain

❖On May 7, 1980, Norris was sentenced to 45 years to life imprisonment, with eligibility for parole in 2010

❖He died of natural causes February 24, 2020 at the California Medical Facility after being transferred there from the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility



❖After the charges were announced, Bittaker was denied bail

❖April 24, 1980

❖When asked how he pleaded, he refused to answer causing an automatic plea of not guilty which meant a trial

❖Trial began on January 19, 1981

➢Norris was the star witness

➢Several witnesses testified that he had shown them the Polaroid’s he’d taken with the victims

➢Then there was the audiotape

❖The blame game was played again


The Trial’s Conclusion

❖In closing arguments the Deputy DA apologized to the audience for only asking for the death penalty; he wished the law would allow him to request the same suffering be inflicted upon Bittaker that he had inflicted on those girls. “If the death penalty is not appropriate in this case, then when will it ever be?”

❖The jury deliberated for three days before returning a verdict of guilty. Guilty of five counts of first-degree murder, one charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, five charges of kidnapping, nine charges of rape, two charges of forcible oral copulation, one charge of sodomy, and three charges of unlawful possession of a firearm.



❖The jury deliberated for only 90 minutes. Bittaker was sentenced to death for the five counts of first-degree murder

❖Bittaker showed no emotion as this was announced

❖The formal sentencing happened on March 24, 1981 where he was formally sentenced to death. This sentence was backed up with an alternative sentence, should the death penalty ever be overturned and reverted to life imprisonment. This sentence would be 199 years, and 4 months

After Sentencing

❖Bittaker appealed his conviction and sentencing, claiming procedural errors

❖The appeal was dismissed on June 22, 1989 with the court ruling that any procedural errors were minor, and in view of the overwhelming evidence against him, the errors did not affect the verdict

❖He was scheduled for execution December 29, 1989

❖He appealed again and while the sentence was upheld, the execution was pushed to July 23, 1991

❖He appealed again and was granted a stay of execution on July 9

❖He died of natural causes Dec 13, 2019 while sitting on death row but not before giving several interviews and as we know participating in the documentary released on Peacock


The Aftermath

❖Paul Bynum, the detective who worked the case committed suicide in December 1987 at the age of 39

❖In a ten-page suicide note, he specifically referred to the Toolbox Murders, the crimes committed by Bittaker and Norris, as haunting him

❖He was afraid they would be released from prison

❖The audio tape recording of Shirley Ledford’s rape and torture remains in possession of the FBI Academy and is used in training and desensitizing future FBI agents to the harsh reality of torture and murder




Accessed September, 2022. The Toolbox Killer on Peacock

Accessed September, 2022. Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris

Accessed September, 2022. IQ Percentile Calculator

Accessed September, 2022. Antisocial Personality Disorder,care%20for%20other%20people’s%20feelings.


Accessed September, 2022. Lucinda Lynn “Cindy” Schaefer

Accessed September, 2022. NamUs

Accessed September, 2022. Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris

Accessed September, 2022.

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