William Lester Suff, also known as the Riverside Prostitute Killer and Lake Elsinore Killer, was born in Torrance, California on August 20, 1950. In 1995, he was convicted of the murder of 12 women in California and condemned to death. Currently, he is imprisoned at San Quentin.
In 1974, a Texas jury convicted Suff and his then-wife, Teryl Rose Suff, for beating their 2-month-old daughter to death in their Fort Worth apartment. During the investigation, it was determined that the infant suffered from numerous broken bones and a ruptured liver.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the sentence of Teryl Suff because the evidence did not establish her as either the primary killer or an accomplice in the murder of their child. Suff was sentenced to 70 years in prison, but he was released in 1984 after serving only 10 years.
Murders (June 1989-December 1991)
William Suff raped, tortured, stabbed, strangled, and occasionally mutilated at least 12 women in Riverside County between June 1989 and December 1991. The list of his victims, which includes his infant daughter, consists:
- Janet Suff (2-month-old)
- Michelle Yvette Guttierez (23)
- Charlotte Jean Palmer (24)
- Linda ann Ortega (37)
- Martha Bess Young (27)
- Linda Mae Ruiz (37)
- Kimberely Lyttle (-)
- Judy Lynn Angel (36)
- Christina Tina Leal (23)
- Susan Melissa Sternfeld (27)
- Kathleen Milne (42)
- Cherie Michelle Payseur (24)
- Sherry Ann Latham (37)
- Kelly Hammond (23)
- Catherine McDonald (30)
- Delliah Zamora Wallace (35)
- Eleanore Ojeda Casares (39)
William Suff was regarded as a mild-mannered loner. His brother, Kenneth Suff, described William as non-violent, but with some hidden inner rage.
William worked as a county stock clerk and allegedly delivered the supplies to the task team investigating his killing spree. He prepared chili at business picnics, collected vanity license plates, and was a dedicated county carpool volunteer. Allegedly, he put the breast of one of his victims in his chili, which won the “Riverside County Employee Chili Cookoff.” He allegedly intended to write a book about killer dogs.
How Was William Suff Apprehended?
On January 9, 1992, he was arrested after a routine traffic stop when he made an illegal U-turn. While searching through the car, the police officer discovered a bloodied knife and other items thought to be related to the murders. He was taken to the police station and charged with 12 murder counts and one count of attempted murder.
A Riverside County jury found William Suff guilty of murdering 12 women and attempted to murder another on July 19, 1995. He was suspected of being responsible for up to 22 deaths. Throughout his trial, the prosecutor presented evidence linking William Suff to the 1988 murder of a San Bernardino County prostitute, as well as evidence that he abused and violently shook his 3-month-old daughter Bridgette Suff by his second wife, despite his prior Texas prison sentence for killing his first daughter while he was married.
On August 17, 1995, the jury reached their verdict. William Suff was found guilty on all 12 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after a 10-minute trial. The trial court upheld the jury’s verdict and sentenced Suff to the death penalty on October 26, 1995. William Suff is on death row at San Quentin State Prison, where the California Supreme Court denied his appeal in 2014 and upheld his death sentence.
Aftermath And Suff’s Influence on Media
Suff showed quite exemplary behavior when in prison, which enabled him to have more freedoms than most other death row inmates. As o 2022, he still awaits the death sentence.
Several book authors were inspired by William Suff and his gruesome crimes. Christine Keers and Dennis St Pierre published a book called The Riverside Killer in 1996. Another book called Cat and Mouse – Mind Games with a Serial Killer was published by Dove Books in 1997.
Author Brian Lee Tucker wrote the book “THE CHILLI KING”, in which he examined the whole case through the eyes of William Suff. The TV show Real Detective covered William Suff’s case and its Season 2, Episode 2. The show showed reconstructions of his crimes, as well as interviews with Detective Bob Creed.