Sample Criminology essay on The Hillside Strangler

The Hillside Strangler


The dramatic case study of  The Hillside Strangler is a psychological study of a brutal murderer charged with numerous crimes which include rape and murder among other crimes. These crimes were gruesome secrets unknown to all including the murderer (Schwarz, 2001). The case focuses on Ken Bianchi a handsome, friendly, and gentle father. Bianchi was also depicted as a devoted father and an affiliate of the Sheriff’s Reserve (Schwarz, 2001). The case study also depicts Bianchi as an individual with multiple personality disorders. In one of the instances as an obscure, amoral Billy, he observed while a third personality, the ferocious and rancorous Steve strangled about a dozen of women after numerous sexual assaults on these women (Schwarz, 2001). The main objective of this paper is to answer questions that will provide an in-depth understanding of the book The Hillside Strangler.

Did Ken Bianchi Commit the Murders?

It is true that Bianchi committed the murders. This is related to the fact that he confessed to the crimes and began providing information about different instances of serial killings of about ten women in Los Angeles, California. It is also evident that while working at the California land Title Company Bianchi began staying out all night with Angelo Buono as they embarked on a rampage killing about 10 women ranging between the ages of twelve and twenty-eight (Schwarz, 2001). In his confession before the courts, Bianchi talked of how they could impersonate the police to prey on prostitutes. Other than impersonation, he also befriended and killed women who lived in his locality. The naked and mutilated bodies of the women that were killed were abandoned on the freeway edges as a technique of taunting the authorities. This explains why the media christened the serial murders as the operations of the “Hillside Strangler” (Schwarz, 2001)

In the two murders of Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder, the suspicion that Bianchi was the murderer of that he had conspired to commit murder was largely based on the evidence that was collected and the inconsistencies witnessed in Bianchi’s testimony (Schwarz, 2001). During the investigation of the two murders, Bellingham detectives noticed that there was a link between the murdered woman and Bianchi considering the fact that he had been previously suspected of the murder of 10 women. Some of the critical evidence linking Bianchi to the homicides included the small fresh dent at the bottom of the mercury gas which was found to match some rocks in some bushes at the Catlow home. There was also a witness who had seen a man whose descriptions matched those of Bianchi on the night of the murders driving a security pickup truck (Schwarz, 2001).

The physical evidence that was gathered from different crime scenes including the bodies of the victims and the car had carpet fibers. These were found to match the clothing that Bianchi wore on the night of the murders (Schwarz, 2001). In addition, more evidence that was gathered after a meticulous search of the basement bedroom brought out head hairs that matched those of Wilder. Other than the head hairs, there were also pubic hairs that were found on Bianchi’s clothing which marched those found on Wilder’s body (Newton, 2009). This was reinforced by the fact that the menstrual blood found on Wilder’s underwear was also found to match the traces of blood that those found on the clothing that Bianchi wore on the night of the twin murders (Schwarz, 2001).

Do you feel Ken Bianchi suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder?

Since his earlier days, it was evident that Bianchi had mental health problems that could have led to the problem of multiple personality disorder. Evidence indicated that his mental health problems could color his later life considering that he was a compulsive liar, high tempered and he was also prone to throwing violent tantrums (Schwarz, 2001). Despite depicting attributes of an individual with above-average intelligence, he was a poor performer in academics. During his youth, he was identified as a crowd rouser who took pleasure in the manipulation of his colleagues in school (Schwarz, 2001).

This was not however to prove that Bianchi would develop a personality disorder such as dissociative identity disorder. This form of mental disorder was first reported in the nineteenth century as a mental disorder. Individuals with this type of disorder according to Freudian psychoanalysts were believed to possess multiple personalities which were the result of coping with extreme instances of stress especially in their childhood (Edwards & Jacobs, 2003). Those diagnosed with this type of personality are often women with a history of sexual abuse in their childhood. It is therefore thought that disassociation occurs when a different aspect of a personality emerges to deal with a stressful situation while the other personality remains hidden in the unconscious section of the mind (Edwards & Jacobs, 2003).

The case of Bianchi in relation to dissociative identity personality can be said to be untrue even when linked to his childhood. Inasmuch as he may have been throwing tantrums as a child, studies have proved that this form of dissociative identity disorder is often related to those with a history of sexual abuse in their childhood (Schwarz, 2001). This was not the case in Bianchi’s situation since he is depicted as a child who grew up as a bully to others. When he was in prison, his lawyer brought in a psychiatrist to perform some examinations on him to prove the allegations about his mental disorders (Schwarz, 2001). The psychiatrist, Dr. Watkins put him under hypnosis where he got to confess to several murder accusations and implicated his cousin. This led to the declaration that he had been killed by Steve walker and thus he was not competent enough to attend a murder trial (Schwarz, 2001). These assumptions were affirmed by three other experts who were convinced that Bianchi suffered from a dissociative identity disorder.  Dr. Martin Orne, a psychiatrist hired by the investigators proved otherwise. This is because Dr. Orne found out that Steve Walker was a college student from whom the suspect had stolen transcripts to enable an easy setup of fake psychiatric practice. The investigations by Dr. One also proved that Bianchi had enough knowledge of psychology that enhanced his ability to forge his personality disorder (Schwarz, 2001).

To prove that Bianchi was faking a personality disorder, Dr. Orne used a trick in which he suggested to Bianchi that most people with personality dissociative identity personality had more than two personalities. It was not long before Billy, another individual, emerged as a personality (Newton, 2009). During this investigation, Bianchi pretended to touch someone who was not in the room. The results of the test asserted that hallucination was not a symptom of individuals with multiple personality disorder.  Through this investigation, the prosecution realized that Bianchi was faking a mental disorder. He was then pressurized and he admitted to the fraud (Newton, 2009).

What evidence is contrary to your position and how do you counter this contrary evidence?

The evidence by the psychiatrist hired by the defense team which purported to suggest that Bianchi was a victim of dissociative identity disorder and could not be held responsible for the crimes that were alleged was misplaced. According to the defense team, mental disorder that Bianchi had more than one alternative personality that controlled the behavior of the individual under their control (Edwards & Jacobs, 2003). In the case of Bianchi, the alter personalities of Steve walker and Billy were claimed to occur spontaneously and in an involuntary nature. When they occurred, they functioned more or less as independent entities. Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that had been presented by the prosecution team linking Bianchi with a series of murders, the defense team through the lawyers and doctors argued that at the time when he was committing these murders, he was under the control of different personalities and that was the reason why Bianchi could not recall committing some of the crimes (Schwarz, 2001).

According to existing studies, dissociative identity disorder affects memory and other aspects of consciousness. It is however important to note that these personality disorders arise from memories repressed by instances of childhood sexual abuse (Edwards & Jacobs, 2003). A study of Bianchi’s childhood experiences does not provide any instances of childhood sexual assault, instead, it documents the unwarranted behavior exhibited by the accused. In addition, Bianchi is exposed as a childhood bully and this is not enough evidence to prove his dissociative identity disorder and does not provide sufficient evidence to acquaint him with his criminal charges (Schwarz, 2001). If anything then the violent behavior witnessed in his youthful days could only provide more reasons to accuse him of the murders.

During an investigation by Dr. Orne, Bianchi was able to identify the other personality identities proving that he was faking the disorder. This is based on the fact that mental personality disorders affect the consciousness of an individual and this means that there is a possibility that the said individual will not recall all the events that transpired while in the unconscious state. Bianchi is sufficiently able to recall the events and that Steve Walker and other personality identity Billy were involved in different homicide cases which he is alleged to have orchestrated (Newton, 2009).

One can also argue that the claims by Bianchi and his lawyers that the accused was suffering from dissociative identity disorder can be said to be questionable considering that during an investigation by Bellingham police detectives on the killing of Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder, a piece of paper was found lodged between the front seats of the car. This paper had writings stating, “334 Bayside 7 pm ken” (Schwarz, 2001) It is a fact that these women had enjoyed some form of relationship with Kenneth Bianchi and on the day of their murder, they had scheduled a meeting with the accused. In addition, the carefully collected forensic evidence from the car and the Bayside home that the women were supposed to meet were matched and it is, therefore, possible that Bianchi participated in the murders or he was part of a conspiracy to commit the two homicides. These are some of the most crucial pieces of evidence that denies dissociative identity disorder (Schwarz, 2001)


Edwards, D., & Jacobs, M. (2003). Conscious and unconscious. Maidenhead, Buckshire:

Open University Press.

Newton, M. (2009). The encyclopaedia of unsolved crimes. New York: Facts on File.

Schwarz, T. (2001). The Hillside Strangler: A murderer’s mind: the three faces of America’s

most savage rapist and murderer and the shocking revelations from the sensational Los Angeles trial. S.l.: Peabody.