Is Sacramento A Serial Killer Friendly Place?

Location, location, location…

I’m often asked why I chose to set my crime fiction in Sacramento, California, instead of one of the more well known west coast crime magnets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Fresno. Michael Connelly and Robert Crais have L.A. locked down with their Harry Bosch and Joe Pike series. But, Sacramento is an untapped resource of criminal historical treasure, rich enough to fuel any crime fiction writer’s imagination.

Fun fact: Sacramento has seen over a dozen serial killers and hosts 15% of the nation’s serial murderers. (Great Job River City!) While I don’t know how the city ranks nationally on a killer per capita ratio, because publicizing serial killing friendly cities doesn’t seem to be something that the local Chamber of Commerce wants to endorse and Buzz Feed doesn’t have a Facebook quiz for this one either–go figure.

Sacramento Leads the Pack
Image by

Serial killers who’ve made Sacramento their home base include: Herman Hobbs (the murder of five young girls are attributed to him), Gerald Gallego and his wife (as many as 13 victims were allegedly kidnapped and murdered by the couple), Richard Trenton Chase (he killed six people and drank their blood, earning the nickname, The Vampire of Sacramento), Morris Solomon (who killed six prostitutes and buried them in his backyard. While in prison he tried to solicit female pen-pals, calling himself a romantic). The I-5 Strangler, Joseph Ferguson, Nicoli Soltys, Richard Brewer, Arturo Suarez, Xao Xiong, Eric Leonard, The Speed Freak Killers, and even Ted Kazinski, of Uni-Bomber fame struck Sacramento. Juan Corona killed at least 25 migrant farm workers in Yuba City (technically not Sacramento–but commutable). And we can’t forget the little old lady, Dorothea Puente who was charged with nine murders after the bodies of seven tenants from her F Street boarding house were unearthed in her backyard. (I’m putting together a post on the Puente murders following the recent meeting of my Mystery Writers of America chapter at the F Street house. Really interesting stuff uncovered there–see what I did there?–uncovered)

Richard Trenton Chase- the Vampire of Sacramento                                          image courtesy of historical mysteries

Dorothea M. Puente inmate photo

George and Charlene Gallegos at a court appearance

Sacramento is home to the East Area Rapist who terrorized more then 50 victims before DNA tied him to a string of murders in Southern California. Manson devotee Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme committed her assassination attempt of President Gerald Ford in the city. Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army even made a tour through the capitol city.

Church vandalism and bombings, the sex trade, human trafficking, hostage dramas and drug manufacturing are, unfortunately, all too common here.

Then there’ the arguably more vile and costly crime that occurs under the capitol dome. Influence peddling, arms trading (yes–as is guns) and extortion have deep roots in the hollowed halls of state politics.

So, when it’s all said and done, the question changes from “Why do you write about Sacramento crime?” But, “Why wouldn’t you?”


  1. Awesome. I’ll be linking to this post. Nicely done, Jim.

    1. Thanks so much, Sue!

  2. Delores · · Reply

    I’ve been seriously considering leaving “the golden state”….this helps to confirm my reasoning.

    1. The state does seem to have more than its share of weirdness, for sure.

  3. Poor old Sacramento! I’ve known some strange people from there but no serial killers.

    1. Maybe because I’ve been around Sacramento for a while, but the place does have a full plate of both strange and serial…

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  5. Sacramento, California is the perfect example of a city and state taken over by pure evil!

  6. […] mentioned previously that the Sacramento region has spawned 15% of the nations serial killers. Let that sink in for a moment. A significant number of serial killers have gravitated to our city […]

  7. […] 72 years of age, he might not live long enough to see death row, but he will join the roster of infamous Sacramento serial killers that, for some strange reason call the region […]

  8. […] and sometimes gruesome history of serial killers in the Sacramento region. I posted a summary of Sacramento Serial Killers in a previous edition, but when I talk with people about the subject, there is a fascination with […]

  9. […] Sacramento has proven to be a magnet for serial killers over the years. From Juan Corona, to Dorothea Puente, and The I-5 Strangler in between, the Golden State’s capitol city attracts more than it’s share of serial killers. […]

  10. […] is all around us. Sacramento’s long list of serial killers have reached out and claimed victims from all walks of life, some random, a few by means of […]

  11. […] the past few months, I’ve shared the stories and investigative details behind some of the Sacramento region’s most notorious serial killers. This Northern California community has suffered more than its share of violence inflicted by a […]

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