The Killer's Vault


In This Episode:

Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker were dubbed the “Toolbox Killers” by the media because of their predilection for torturing teenage victims using common household implements: their calling card – a pair of pliers.  In 1979 they began a meticulously planned spree of rape, torture and murder. The crimes they committed were so horrific that, although less famous than other notorious serial killers in this series, they are now considered to be among the most savage and cruel in American history.

Norris’ letters are as remorseless and callous as the crimes he committed. He writes about meeting Bittaker in jail, and how, after he learns they both share similar bizarre and murderous fantasies, they became close friends. Norris writes about the friendship “blossoming” and how that evolved into the planning and subsequent execution of their gruesome and murderous rampage: once freed they would kidnap, torture, and then kill “one girl from each age group”, ages 13 through 19-years old, to which they succeeded. Norris brags prodigiously about being an expert in electronic surveillance, which he had been interested in since early childhood, and how that “expertise” came into play during the commission of their brutal crimes. He reveals when writing about “surveilling, stalking, and catching” his young victims as well as the pleasure he received watching his partner (Bittaker) act out his own homicidal fantasies. Norris also admits to killing Adam Walsh, the child of John Walsh who, after the disappearance of his son, became a crusader against crime and a victim’s advocate by creating the long-running, highly successful television series, “America’s Most Wanted.” Norris also writes of audiotaping his and Bittaker’s victims during the commission of these brutal crimes.

Norris was a prolific painter; much of his artwork, sent to Barbara Dickstein, often depicted his victims before and after they were tortured and murdered. He would paint clues into the artwork, some of which were incriminating and indicative of his crimes. Included in all of these paintings and drawings are his murderous calling card – a pair of pliers – which both men used as a torture device in the killings. In his letters to Barbara, Norris writes that he drew a number of hidden clues, purposely left, but never found by police at one of his crime scenes.



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