Gerald Armond GALLEGO
A.K.A.: "Sex Slave Killer"
Classification: Serial killer
Number of victims: 10
Date of murders: 1978 - 1980
Date of arrest: November 17, 1980
Date of birth: July 17, 1946
Victim profile: Rhonda Scheffler, 17, and Kippi Vaught, 16 / Brenda Judd, 14, and Sandra Colley, 13 / Stacey Redican and Karen Chipman Twiggs / Linda Aguilar, 21, and unborn child / Virginia Mochel, 34 / Craig Miller, 22, and his fiancée Mary Elizabeth Sowers, 21
Method of murder: Shooting - Beating - Ligature strangulation
Location: California/Oregon/Nevada, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in Nevada and California. Died of rectal cancer on July 18, 2002 at the Nevada prison system's medical center
Gerald Armond (July 17, 1946 – July 18, 2002) and Charlene Adelle Gallego (b. October 10, 1956) are two American serial killers who terrorized Sacramento, California between 1978 and 1980. They killed a total of 10 victims, mostly teenagers, whom they kept as sex slaves before killing them.
Rhonda Scheffler and Kippi Vaught
Scheffler and Vaught, aged 17 and 16 respectively, were shopping at Sacramento's Country Club Plaza on September 10, 1978. Charlene picked them up and put them in the back of the couple's van.
Gerald repeatedly raped the two victims throughout the night in Baxter, California. The next day, the Gallegos drove to Sloughhouse, where Gerald got Rhonda and Kippi out of the van. He then made them walk out in the field to a ditch where he hit Kippi first with a tire iron then swung around and hit Rhonda. Finally, he shot each girl in the head with a 25-caliber pistol. As Gerald was walking back he saw one of the victims move (later revealed as Kippi Vaught) because the bullet had only grazed her skull. He returned and shot her three more times in the head, killing her.
Brenda Judd and Sandra Colley
Judd (age 14) and Colley (age 13) were lured into the Gallegos' van at the Washoe County Fair in Nevada on June 24, 1979 on the promise of making some money delivering leaflets. Charlene drove the van northeast out of Reno on I-80. At the back of the van, Gerald repeatedly raped the two young girls while Charlene watched in the rearview mirror. Charlene then parked their van in a desolate area known as Humboldt Sink.
In the next couple of hours, Gerald rested and watched Charlene force the girls to perform sexual acts on each other. Gerald then took a shovel from under the seat of their van and pulled Colley out of the vehicle, marching her toward a dry creek bed. He then stepped behind Colley and swung the shovel. Charlene would later recall the sound, describing it as "a loud splat like a flat rock hitting mud, and the girl sank to her knees and slowly toppled over on her face." Gerald then beat Judd to death and dug a deep hole, folding the naked bodies of the two girls into it and placing a rock over the grave. Their remains were not discovered until November 1999 by a tractor operator.
The teenagers were listed as runaways for four years until Charlene confessed to their murders during the 1982 trial.
Stacey Redican and Karen Chipman Twiggs
On April 24, 1980 the Gallegos kidnapped Redican and Twiggs from Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, a bedroom community north of Sacramento. As with their other victims, husband and wife sexually abused and killed them.
Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers
In the early morning hours of November 2, 1980, Gerald saw a young couple, twenty-two-year-old Craig Miller, and his fiancée, twenty-one-year-old Mary Elizabeth Sowers, standing on the side of the street. In his most brazen attempt yet, Gerald got out of the car, walked right up to them, pulled out a .25 caliber Beretta, pointed it in the couples face, and ordered them into the car.
Unfortunately for Gerald, friends of the young couple saw them get into the vehicle and wrote down the license plate number. After driving to a secluded area, Gerald commanded Craig out of the car, as the young man turned to walk towards the front of the vehicle, Gerald aimed his pistol and shot the boy at point-blank range in the back of the head while his fiancée looked on in horror. Gerald then fired two more shots into Craig’s head, as he lay lifeless on the ground. Gerald got back into the vehicle and ordered Charlene to drive to their apartment. Once back at the apartment, Gerald took his new sex slave into the bedroom and raped her for hours on end. After he was satisfied, he ordered Charlene to drive to a rural area. Once there, Gerald ordered Mary out of the car. He then shot her three times at point blank range.
In 1984, Gerald Gallego was tried for murder in both California and Nevada. In both instances, Charlene testified against him. In exchange for her testimony, Charlene was not charged in California and she agreed to plead guilty to murder and receive a sentence of sixteen years and eight months in Nevada. Gerald was convicted in both states and was sentenced to death in both states. His death sentence in Nevada was overturned in 1999 and he won the right to a new sentencing hearing, but the new jury also sentenced him to death.
Charlene Gallego was released from prison in Nevada in July 1997. Gerald Gallego died of rectal cancer on July 18, 2002 at the Nevada prison system's medical center.
Davis, Carol Anne. Women Who Kill, Profiles of Female Serial Killers. Brixton, London: Allison & Busby Limited. 2001
Ward, Bernie. Families Who Kill. New York: Pinnacle Books. 1993
Flowers, R. Barri. The Sex Slave Murders, New York: St. Martins Press, 1996
Gerald GallegoGerald Gallego never met his father, but he had the old man's temper, all the same. Gerald, Sr., was serving time in San Quentin when his son was born, in 1946, and nine years later he became the first man to die in Mississippi's gas chamber, condemned for the murder of two police officers. Gerald, Jr., didn't know the difference, accepting his mother's fiction of an accidental death, but he would start to log his own arrests before the year was out. Minor scrapes climaxed with his incarceration, at age 13, for having sex with a six-year-old neighbor girl. By age 32, he had been married seven times -- twice to the same woman -- with several bigamous unions along the way. Outstanding warrants called for his arrest on charges that included incest, rape, and sodomy.Gallego's latest wife, Charlene, would stand in striking contrast to her husband. A Sacramento native and the product of a solid, caring home, she somehow fell head-over-heels in love with Gerald, learning to accept his quirks and falling into line with fantasies that called for him to build a secret hideaway where hostage "sex slaves" would be kept to do his bidding.On September 11, 1978, 17-year-old Rhonda Scheffler and a friend, 16-year-old Kippi Vaught, disappeared from Sacramento, on the short walk to a local shopping center. Two days passed before their ravaged, battered bodies were recovered outside Baxter, 15 miles away. Both girls had been molested, bound and beaten with a tire iron, after which a single bullet had been fired through each one's skull.On June 24, 1979, 14-year-old Brenda Judd and 13-year-old Sandra Colley vanished from the Washoe County fairgrounds, in Reno, Nevada. Neither girl was seen again, and both were listed as runaways until 1982, when Charlene Gallego's confession linked her husband with their abduction and murder.Ten months later, on April 24, 1980, Karen Chipman and Stacey Redican disappeared from a Reno shopping mall, their remains discovered near Lovelock, Nevada, on July 27. Both girls had been sexually abused, then beaten to death with a blunt instrument.Linda Aguilar, age 21, was four months pregnant when she disappeared from Port Orford, Oregon, on June 8, 1980. Relatives reported her missing on June 20, and her body was found two days later, in a shallow grave located south of Gold Beach. The victim's skull was shattered, her wrists and ankles bound with nylon cord, but an autopsy revealed sand in her nose, mouth, and throat, indicating that she was buried alive.On July 17, 1980, 34-year-old Virginia Mochel was abducted from the parking lot of a West Sacramento tavern, where she worked as a barmaid. Her skeletal remains, still bound with nylon fishing line, were found outside of Clarksburg, California, on October 30. In the absence of other evidence, loops of cord around the neck were seen as proof of death by strangulation.Craig Miller, 22, left a Sacramento fraternity dance with his date, 21-year-old Beth Sowers, around 1:30 a.m. on November 2, 1980. Moments later, friends observed them seated in a car outside, a rough-looking stranger sitting up front, on the passenger's side. One of Craig's friends was sliding behind the wheel, to make small talk, when Charlene Gallego appeared, slapping his face as she ordered him out of the car and sped away. Miller's frat brothers memorized the license plate, telling their story to police when Miller was found dead the next day, near Bass Lake. (Beth Sowers would not be found until November 22, shot three times and dumped in a Placer County ditch.) Officers traced the vehicle to Charlene's parents, recording her flat denial of the incident. She also gave her name as "Mrs. Stephen Styles," a false identity Gallego had secured by stealing a policeman's I.D. card, using the vital information to request a "duplicate" birth certificate and driver's license for himself. Identified by Charlene's parents, Gallego skipped town with his wife, using Charlene to phone home for money on November 3. The next call came from Omaha, two weeks later, and federal agents were waiting when the suspects called for their money at Western Union, on November 17. The killer team of man and wife hung tough for 18 months, but Charlene gave it up in mid-1982, turning state's evidence in return for a maximum sentence of sixteen and a half years in prison. Gallego's four-month trial in Sacramento, on charges of murdering Miller and Sowers, ended with his conviction and sentence of death in April 1983. Transferred to Nevada for trial in the Chipman and Redican murders, Gallego became the target of an unprecedented public subscription campaign, with California residents donating $23,000 to help defray the cost of his prosecution. Convicted on two more counts of murder, plus two of kidnapping, Gallego was sentenced to death a second time. Gallego is currently on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.
Gerald and Charlene Gallego
By David Lohr
Gerald Armond Gallego was born on July 17, 1946, in Sacramento California. Gerald was the product of a long line of career criminals stemming from both sides of his family.
Gerald’s criminal record began at an early age. By the time he was six years old he had charges of burglary, and sex offenses. At age twelve he was placed on juvenile probation for burglary, and later charged with committing lewd and lascivious acts with a six-year-old girl. He was placed in a boy’s school in 1959.
In July of 1961, Gerald was paroled. Less than a year later, along with his half brother David Hunt, Gallego was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to the Preston School of Industry in Ione, California. Gerald escaped shortly after beginning his sentence. However, he eventually turned himself in. He was eventually paroled in 1963.
In December of 1963, Gerald married his first wife. He was sixteen, she was twenty-one.
In April of 1964, Gerald’s first child Krista was born. The marriage was short lived and Gerald somehow managed to gain custody of his daughter and sent her off to live with his mother.
On July 12, 1966, Gerald again married. His bride was a twenty-four year old waitress form West Sacramento. However, just twenty-six days after it began, the marriage fell apart. It appears Gerald enjoyed beating the shit out of his new bride and chasing her around with knives.
On October 25, 1969, Gerald and his Half-brother David were again arrested for armed robbery. They had targeted a motel in Vacaville, California. Shortly after their arrest, the two brothers and another inmate escaped the Solano County jail. Nonetheless, they were recaptured four days later. Gallego was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the robbery.
On October 14, 1967, Gerald took his third wife, a laundry worker. This marriage lasted one month. He seemed to enjoy kicking the shit out of her as well.
Gerald’s fourth marriage took place in March of 1969, in Reno. His new wife, nineteen-year-old Harriette, was pregnant by the time their marriage ended less than a month after it began. The family of Harriette referred to Gerald as Jekyll and Hyde. To this day, the daughter does not know the identity of her father.
On October 5, 1974, Gerald went down the aisle a fifth time in Butte County. His new nineteen-year-old wife was a laundry worker.
On December 12, 1975, Gerald was discharged from parole.
In August of 1977, Gerald and his wife separated.
In the fall of 1977, Gerald met a young, two time divorced woman, Charlene Adell Williams, at a poker club in Sacramento. The two immediately hit it off. Thus began the couple’s infamous relationship....
Gerald and Charlene had their share of problems. He had difficulty achieving and maintaining erections, and frequently blamed this on her. It would seem that no matter how hard she tried she could never satisfy her man. He would constantly abuse and demean her to no end.
In early 1978, Gerald was quite pissed off when he came home early from work and discovered Charlene in bed with a young woman (not quite eighteen). He went into a rage and physically abused Charlene and her young lover while berating and shouting at them.
On July 17, 1978, Gerald celebrated his thirty-second birthday by sodomizing his daughter Krista. Apparently, he had been molesting her since the age of six.
By July of 1978, much to Gerald’s chagrin, Charlene was pregnant.
On September 11, 1978, Gerald decided it was time to turn fantasies that he had been harboring into reality. He and Charlene hopped into their 1973 Dodge van and drove off in search of a sex slave for Gerald. They soon spotted two young girls, seventeen-year-old Rhonda Scheffler, and sixteen-year-old Kippi Vaught. Gerald pulled the van over a short distance away and had Charlene approach the girls on the pretext of joining them in the van to smoke some Marijuana. Unfortunately for the young girls, they quickly agreed and followed Charlene back to the van. When Rhonda and Kippi stepped into the back of the van they were greeted by Gerald and a .25 caliber pistol. The girls were forced to lie face down as he bound their hands and feet with adhesive tape. Charlene was then commanded to keep and eye on them while he drove to a more secluded area. Once satisfied he had found a quite area, Gerald brought the van to a stop. He quickly unbound the girl’s ankles and led them out of the van and into the cover of trees, warning Charlene to stay put. Hours later Gerald returned to the van without the young girls. He looked at Charlene and recanted the chilling words, "Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies." Eventually Gerald and the two girls got back into the van, and Gerald ordered Charlene to drive to another area he had chosen. Once they arrived, Gerald ordered the girls out of the van and shot them dead.
On September 13, 1978, just two days after the young girls disappeared, two migrant farm workers discovered their lifeless bodies. It was also around this time that Gerald took Charlene to an abortion clinic and forced her to abort their unborn child.
On September 27, 1978, Gerald's daughter Krista filed charges of incest, sodomy, oral copulation, and unlawful intercourse against her father.
On September 30, 1978, Gerald and Charlene were wed. Not wanting to face the charges his daughter had filed, Gerald decided it was best to get the hell out of dodge.
By December of 1978, the couple was staying in Houston Texas, and Gerald took on the alias Stephen Feil.
On June 24, 1979 (fathers day), Gerald decided he wanted to abduct another girl(s). The couple went to the Washoe County Fair and Gerald sent Charlene off to find the new victim(s). Charlene soon came upon fourteen-year-old Brenda Lynne Judd, and thirteen-year-old Sandra Kay Colley. She approached the girls and offered them money to distribute handbills and place them on the windshields of parked cars. The two girls quickly agreed and followed Charlene back to the van. However, once they arrived at the van, Gerald and a .44 caliber pistol greeted them. He immediately forced them into the van and bound there feet and wrists. He then commanded Charlene to drive as he began to sexually assault the two young girls in the back of the van. Hours later, Gerald had Charlene drive into the high Nevada desert. Once there, Gerald led the girls off one at a time, carrying with him a hammer and a shovel.
In September of 1979, the Gallego’s moved back to Sacramento, continuing to use the aliases of Mr. and Mrs. Feil. Gerald eventually got a job as a bartender and soon began having an affair with a woman by the name of Patty, whom eventually, unbeknownst to Gerald, became pregnant with his child.
On the morning of April 24, 1980, Gerald awoke Charlene and demanded, "I want a girl! Get up!" After driving around for awhile, he spotted two girls, seventeen-year-old Karen Chipman Twiggs, and seventeen-year-old Stacy Ann Redican, coming out of a book store. Charlene approached the two girls and offered them to join her in the van on the pre-text of smoking some weed. The girls eagerly agreed and followed her back to the van. As the girls got into the back of the van, Gerald greeted them with a .357 Magnum pistol. He quickly commanded Charlene to drive and ordered the girls to undress. Gerald took turns raping and sexually assaulting them. After he was content, he again had Charlene drive to a secluded area and led the girls one at a time into the woods carrying a hammer and a shovel. However, this time he forced Charlene to view the graves. She claimed that she saw movement but Gerald insisted that they were good and dead. Then they left.
On July 27, 1980, picnickers discovered the coyote-ravaged remains of Karen and Stacy in two shallow graves in an area twenty miles outside of Lovelock, Nevada. They had both been raped, and suffered massive and fatal head injuries by a blunt instrument.
In May of 1980, Charlene was again pregnant by Gerald, and he was again pissed off.
On June 1, 1980, Gerald and Charlene married each other for a second time. However, this time they were wed as Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Robert Feil.
On June 7, 1980, while traveling down the highway, Gerald and Charlene spotted a lone pregnant woman hitchhiking, twenty-one-year-old Linda Aguilar, four months pregnant. The young woman gladly accepted the ride and joined the couple in the van. Charlene was soon driving and Gerald was pointing his .357 in Linda’s face. After a short drive to a remote area, Gerald raped Linda, and then beat her over the head with a rock. To satisfy himself that she was dead he strangled her corpse for good measure.
On June 22, 1980, German tourists walking the beach discovered Linda’s badly decomposing body. After an autopsy was completed, it was determined that Gerald was unsuccessful in murdering Linda, she actually had awaken after her captors left, and in her panic and struggle to get free suffocated in the sand.
On July 17, 1980, Gerald’s thirty-fourth birthday, he abducted thirty-four-year-old Virginia Mochel as she walked from the tavern where she worked as a barmaid. The strange thing about this victim is the fact that Gerald and Charlene knew her and had been served drinks by her on numerous occasions. At any rate, Gerald raped Virginia, and afterwards she begged him to kill her. He gladly obliged and strangled her. He then dumped her body by a pond.
On October 3, 1980, a fisherman discovered the nude decomposed remains of Virginia Mochel in some brush near Clarksburg.
On November 1, 1980, Gerald told Charlene, "I’m getting that feeling", he did not need to explain further she knew exactly what he meant....
In the early morning hours of November 2, 1980, Gerald saw a young couple, twenty-two-year-old Craig Miller, and his fiancée, twenty-one-year-old Mary Elizabeth Sowers, standing on the side of the street. In his most brazen attempt yet, Gerald got out of the car, walked right up to them, pulled out a .25 caliber Beretta, pointed it in the couples face, and ordered them into the car. Unfortunately for Gerald, friends of the young couple saw them get into the vehicle and wrote down the license plate number. After driving to a secluded area, Gerald commanded Craig out of the car, as the young man turned to walk towards the front of the vehicle, Gerald aimed his pistol and shot the boy point blank range in the back of the head while his fiancée looked on in horror. Gerald then fired two more shots into Craig’s head, as he lay lifeless on the ground. Gerald got back into the vehicle and ordered Charlene to drive to their apartment. Once back at the apartment, Gerald took his new sex slave into the bedroom and raped her for hours on end. After he was satisfied, he ordered Charlene to drive to a rural area. Once there, Gerald ordered Mary out of the car. He then shot her three times at point blank range.
When the two sweethearts never came back to meet there friends, they turned over the license plate number to the police. The police questioned Charlene and obtained a search warrant for their vehicle and house. It did not take long for investigators to find substantial evidence such as bullet casings and other suspicious tools. After mercifully interrogating Charlene, she spilled her guts and told all.
While awaiting trial in California, due to a shortage in funds, the public raised nearly $28,000 to help prosecute Gerald Gallego.
On January 17, 1981, Charlene, while in a prison ward, gave birth to Gerald Armond Gallego Jr. Custody of the child was given to Charlene’s parents.
On June 21, 1983, after six months of hearings, Gerald Armond Gallego Sr., was sentenced to death for the murder of the college sweethearts.
In November of 1983, due to a plea-bargain struck with prosecutors to testify against Gerald, Charlene was sentenced to sixteen years and eight months in prison, with the understanding that no other charges in ANY other state could or would be pressed against her, as long as she gave full cooperation, which she did.
On June 25, 1984, after being extradited to Nevada, Gerald was again sentenced to death for the murders of Twiggs and Redican
In August of 1997, at the age of forty, Charlene Adell Williams Gallego, was released on parole from the Department of Prisons Woman’s Center in Carson City, Nevada. Her lawyer says that she will pursue positive goals in an undisclosed location.
In 1987, Gallego filed a state petition for writ of habeas corpus. However, the petition was denied by the Pershing County District Court, and Gallego's appeal from that denial was denied by the Nevada Supreme Court.
On June 8, 1988, the United States Supreme Court decided that they would not review an appeal submitted by Gerald Gallego.
In 1989, Gallego filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court. Gallego raised new issues, which had not been decided on by the state courts, the petition was dismissed without prejudice to re-file.
In 1990, Gallego filed another state petition for writ of habeas corpus in the 7th Judicial District Court in White Pine County. The petition was dismissed, on November 18, 1991.
In 1992, the Nevada Supreme Court dismissed Gallego’s subsequent appeal from that denial. He then requested a rehearing, which was also denied.
In May of 1993, Gallego requested a review by the United States Supreme Court. The request was denied, Gallego then made his appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
On September 15, 1993, Gallego filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court raising 40 claims for relief. U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben denied all his claims and Gallego went to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Judge McKibben on all grounds except one issue regarding the executive clemency jury instructions. The Ninth Circuit determined that the jury was inadequately informed as to whether or not it was necessary to sentence Gallego to death in Nevada to ensure that he could not be released after serving only a relatively brief period. "This situation is especially tragic when you take into consideration the nature of the Gallego case and the fact that Gallego has already made four trips up the appeals ladder, delaying justice for almost 14 years," Attorney General for Nevada Del Papa said.
In 1997, Gerald won his fight and a federal appeals court ruled that his Nevada death sentence was invalid because the judge wrongly suggested to the jury that Gallego - who also was sentenced to death in California - might eventually be paroled if he was spared execution.
On March 22, 1999, a competency hearing was held to determine the mental state of Gerald Gallego. Gallego, 52, has been undergoing a court-ordered evaluation by doctors since exhibiting bizarre behavior at a hearing in November that was supposed to be the first step toward a penalty-phase retrial of his 1984 murder convictions. That evaluation has been concluded, and attorneys from both sides conferred and settled on the starting date for the hearing that will decide if Gallego is competent to proceed. During much of his competency hearing Gerald Gallego slept under a table in his cell and communicated with doctors through a food slot in the door. According to Dr. David V. Foster, such behavior, combined with evidence of organic brain dysfunction, is indicative of a mental state that renders him incapable of assisting counsel in a retrial of his penalty-phase proceedings. Foster, an Auburn psychiatrist hired to assist Gallego's appellate defense team in California in 1994, added that Gallego's behavior is a result of a "delusion that there's a herd of people from the dark side who are his enemy." Claiming that Gallego suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from an extremely abusive childhood, and is afflicted by brain damage caused by head injuries sustained in his youth, the good doctor declared it would, "inhibit his ability to plan, problem-solve, comprehend and make judgments.
Gerald & Charlene Gallego
by Marlee MacLeod
We have a few stock images that spring to mind when we think of serial killers. Maybe we see, when we're inclined to think of such things, a Jeffrey Dahmer-type character-quietly savage, a misfit loner who practices his unspeakable avocation under society's radar. Or maybe Ted Bundy is our archetype-a conscienceless charmer who leaves mutilated bodies as his peculiar calling card. We probably do not, however, associate married couples with our notions of serial killing.
But the fact is that couples do commit serial murders, and quite efficiently indeed. Though such murders have not been common enough to entrench themselves in the public psyche, they have occurred with some regularity over at least the past thirty years. Probably the most lurid of these cases is that of Paul and Karla Bernardo, an attractive young Canadian couple who, in the early nineties, gleefully kidnapped, drugged, raped and/or killed a number of women and carefully captured many of their perverse exploits on video tape. The furor over the Bernardo arrests and Paul Bernardo's subsequent trial coincided roughly with shocking revelations coming out of Gloucester, England regarding Fred and Rosemary West. Over many years the Wests murdered several women and girls, including some of their own children, and buried the bodies in various locations in their house, garage and garden. Also in England, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley worked as a serial killer team preying upon children.
A strictly American couple was the Sunset Strip Killer Doug Clark and his girlfriend Carol Bundy, a Los Angeles strain of the same psychopathic syndrome. And even before the sensational cases of the nineties, killer couples were at work. Alvin and Judith Ann Neelley of Georgia, had they not been quite so inept, probably would have taken a greater toll than the thirteen-year-old girl and the woman they kidnapped, raped and killed in late 1982. At least as high a toll as that exacted by Gerald and Charlene Gallego. In the late seventies, the Sacramento, California couple kidnapped and killed ten people. Most of their victims were teenage girls, lured and captured in well-planned schemes, the ultimate goal of which was to provide a steady procession of disposable "love slaves." Depending on whose story you believe, Charlene Gallego was either a reluctant facilitator of, or a willing participant in her husband Gerald's tragic extended binge. After the couple's apprehension, Charlene claimed that Gerald had beaten and intimidated her into helping him, but Gerald, for his part, insisted that she had taken part in the assaults and killings. "We had this sexual fantasy see, so we just carried it out," Charlene later recounted chillingly. "I mean, like it was easy and fun and we really enjoyed it, so why shouldn't we do it?"
Gerald & Charlene
Gerald Armond Gallego's criminal pedigree was flawless. He was born in 1946 while his father, whom he would never meet, did time in San Quentin. Upon his parole, the elder Gallego resumed his criminal activity and was returned to prison. When he was next paroled he fled California, eventually landing in Mississippi where he, in two separate incidents, killed two police officers. In 1955, Gerald Albert Gallego received the dubious distinction of being the first man executed in Mississippi's new gas chamber.
Little Gerald's mother was no stranger to the lawless life either, having been raised in an extended family that included murderers and child molesters. Lorraine Pullen Bennett Gallego was a prostitute in Sacramento's skid row, and her boy Gerald served as a runner for various pimps during the 1950s.
By contrast, Charlene Gallego's upbringing was a fairy tale. She was born Charlene Williams in 1956 to Charles and Mercedes Williams. Charles Williams had worked his way up in the grocery business, advancing from supermarket butcher to an executive position with a national grocery chain. Charlene was an only child and grew up in Arden Park, an upper-middle-class area of Sacramento. She was gifted and talented, with a 160 IQ and a prodigious talent for the violin. It was not until she started high school that predilections for alcohol, drugs and sex revealed themselves in her character. She barely graduated high school, failed out of college, and was a veteran of two short, failed marriages, all in rather short order. Still, millions of girls had preceded Charlene in the grand tradition of teenage rebellion and its related disastrous decisions without descending into sexual sadism. As far as anyone could tell, she was just a very troubled and spoiled girl.
For his part, Gerald Gallego followed his own tradition of rebellion and disaster. His run-ins with police began when he was six years old, and by the time he met Charlene in 1977, he had been arrested at least twenty-three times and had served time at the Fred C. Nelles School for Boys, the Preston School of Industry, the Deuel Vocational Institution, and the Vacaville Medical Facility, as well as various city and county jails. He had also accumulated a rather large collection of ex-wives, having married and divorced five times. Whatever failings he may have had, Gallego was irresistibly attractive to some women. Among those women was his future wife and partner in crime, Charlene.
Gerald and Charlene met at a seedy poker bar in Sacramento in September 1977. "I thought he was a very nice, clean-cut fellow," Charlene said years later. For his part, Gerald found her small stature and blonde hair quite fetching. Within days he sent her a dozen roses with a card that read, "to a very sweet girl." They were living together within a few weeks, and Gerald laid down the law immediately. Charlene was to be the primary breadwinner, turning over her earnings from clerking at a supermarket to him. He told her what clothes to wear, and made no secret of his affairs with other women. Still, Charlene found him exciting, much more dynamic than her two previous husbands, and when he spoke of his fantasy of having young, disposable sex slaves the idea sounded darkly intriguing.
Kippi & Rhonda
On September 11, 1978 Gerald was ready. He awoke Charlene (who was two months pregnant and suffering from morning sickness) and told her he had plans that she was to help him execute. They drove in their 1973 Dodge conversion van (with mountains air-brushed on the sides) to Sacramento's Country Club Plaza shopping center, where Gerald gave Charlene her assignment: she was to locate two suitable sex slaves and lure them out to the parking lot and into the van. She was hesitant at first, afraid that she'd be unsuccessful, or worse, be caught. Gerald told her she was taking too long, and if she knew what was good for her she'd do what he said. She redoubled her efforts, and before long had zeroed in on two prime candidates. Rhonda Scheffler, seventeen, and Kippi Vaught, sixteen, were out for an afternoon of shopping and whatever fun they could scare up. When Charlene (who looked about their age) approached them asking if they'd like to smoke some pot, it sounded like just the adventure they were looking for. They followed her eagerly out to the parking lot, where she opened the van. Inside Gerald waited with a .25 caliber pistol. The girls were surprised, afraid, and easily subdued. Gerald bound them with tape and told Charlene to watch them while he drove.
They headed east on I-80 toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At Baxter, California they left the interstate and Gerald steered them further away from civilization and into the foothills. After finding a suitable spot, he left the van with the girls, the gun, and a sleeping bag, telling Charlene to wait. When he returned hours later he told her to take the van into Sacramento and visit friends in order to establish an alibi. Then she was to drop off the van and return in their Oldsmobile.
Charlene did as she was told, and when she returned to the woods outside Baxter Gerald ordered the girls into the back seat of the Oldsmobile. He sat with them and directed Charlene, who drove until he said to stop. Along the way he talked as if he would presently release the captives, but when he finally ordered Charlene to pull over he ordered the girls out, knocked them unconscious with a tire iron, and shot them.
Brenda & Sandra
Gerald and Charlene, having married quickly in Reno, decided to leave California for a while until the heat from the murder investigation diminished. Rather than see their daughter and their good name disgraced by Gerald's apprehension, Charles and Mercedes Williams stepped in to assist. They instructed Charlene to steal her cousin's birth certificate, and with that Gerald obtained a driver's license and other documentation in the name of Stephen Robert Feil. Then Charles Williams used his business pull to get Gerald a job driving a truck for a supermarket in Houston. The job, however, did not suit Gerald, and he and Charlene were in Reno by the following spring.
For a while things were relatively normal. Gerald worked for a time as a driver for a meat distributor, while Charlene worked in the office of another distributor. But by June Gerald had again left his job, and in his restlessness he had begun formulating a new plan. He wanted new sex slaves, and the best place to get them, he figured, was the Washoe County Fair.
Fourteen-year-old Brenda Judd and thirteen-year-old Sandra Colley were almost out of the fairgrounds and on their way home when Charlene stopped them. She needed help distributing advertising leaflets in the parking lot, she said, and would they be interested in earning a few extra dollars? When the girls agreed, Charlene said she needed to get more leaflets from her van and led the way through the lot. The three got into the van, and Gerald, who had been watching and following Charlene from a distance, arrived a moment later. Brandishing a gun, Gerald bound the girls and headed for I-80. On the way to the highway, he stopped at a hardware store, returning to the van with a hammer and a shovel.
Gerald drove east on I-80 for a while, then headed into the hills toward Mustang. After a while he told Charlene to drive, while he got into the back of the van and assaulted the girls. He took his time, and Charlene kept driving further into the Nevada hills. Eventually, telling Charlene she drove too fast, Gerald took the wheel again. When he stopped, he took the girls away from the van one at a time, using his new tools to kill and bury them.
Charlene cleaned out the van when they returned to Reno the next morning, but Gerald decided to keep his hammer and shovel. Meanwhile, though Brenda and Sandra had been reported missing, there was some confusion regarding two other girls who had run away to join the carnival company that ran the midway rides for the fair. Even when that was cleared up, the investigation into their disappearance didn't get far. Feeling reasonably safe, Gerald and Charlene left Reno to return to Sacramento within a couple of months.
Stacy & Karen
Things settled down. Gerald found new sexual intrigue with another woman, and Charlene was relieved that his demands on her and their accompanying frustrations (Gerald was often impotent when attempting normal intercourse) had lessened. But in time, the novelty of his new conquest wore off and Gerald was again seeking excitement. It was time, he told Charlene, for more love slaves.
April 24, 1980 found Gerald and Charlene eyeing the crowds of teenagers in the parking lot of Tower Records in Sacramento. Seeing too many cops mixed in for their liking, they moved on to the Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, about 20 minutes outside Sacramento. They'd had good luck at a mall with their first victims, they reasoned, so why not try again?
Stacy Ann Redican and Karen Twiggs, both seventeen, were worldly girls, but not wise enough to realize that the offer Charlene made to them of free drugs and a ride in a cool van would lead to their deaths. Even as Gerald pointed his .357 Magnum at them and ordered Charlene to drive they seemed more inquisitive than frightened, as if they thought the situation was some sort of grown-up game they should play along with. Presently, though, reality sank in-this was no game. As Charlene headed east on I-80 Gerald crawled in the back of the van and raped them repeatedly. Every so often, he paused to shout some directions to Charlene, and after a while they ended up at Limerick Canyon near Lovelock. As he had done before, he walked the girls away from the van one at a time and dispatched them with a hammer. This time, though, Charlene wouldn't let him keep his weapon; she flung the hammer out the van window on the way back to Sacramento.
Charlene, who had had an abortion the previous year, realized that she was once again pregnant. She steeled herself for Gerald's reaction, expecting the worst, and was shocked when he seemed rather pleased. The idea of creating life fed his enormous ego, and besides, domesticity provided an excellent cover for his true depravity. He even went as far as marrying Charlene again, this time using his Stephen Robert Feil alias. Feeling that his new marriage helped to cement his new identity and further obfuscate his old one, Gerald breathed easy.
And he began to take risks.
Linda & Virginia
The Gallegos, now living as the Feils, were on a small vacation in Oregon when they spied their next victim. It was June 7, 1980, and Linda Aguilar wasn't Gerald's type-she was 21, had dark hair and eyes, and was pregnant. But when he saw her walking beside the highway, he decided he had to have her. He slowed the van and asked Linda if she needed a ride. Linda, on her way home from a local store, accepted. Charlene knew the routine by now-presently Gerry ordered her to drive and began his sexual assault. In a while they stopped, and Charlene wandered about in the woods, killing time until Gerry was ready to go. When he found a spot he felt was suitably isolated, he took Linda away from the van, striking her with a rock, then strangling her.
Authorities first believed Linda Aguilar, who was known as something of a free spirit, had merely wandered off. But as the days passed suspicion mounted, and when her body was found later that month, police suspected her boyfriend of the killing. Even though one witness reported seeing a pregnant woman getting into a van the day of Linda's disappearance, the circumstantial evidence against the boyfriend weighed more heavily in the minds of the police. He had beaten Linda before, and it seemed he would be charged with her murder soon.
Gerald was getting bolder and more impatient. It was only a month and a half before he was ready to strike again. He and Charlene spent the day of July 16, 1980 drinking themselves silly, then spent the evening doing even more drinking a the Sail Inn, a bar in West Sacramento. Gerald was belligerent and boastful that night, and seemed to pay no special attention to Virginia Mochel, the bartender. When closing time came, though, he told Charlene he wasn't ready to leave. They waited in the parking lot, and when Virginia came out after locking up the bar Gerald forced her into the van with his .357. But this time, instead of heading out into the countryside, he drove the van home. Charlene waited inside watching television, and when he was finished with raping Virginia, Gerald told Charlene to get in the van. He made her drive, and while she did, he strangled Virginia. They dumped the body outside Clarksburg. The next day Gerald celebrated his thirty-fourth birthday with unseemly glee.
Virginia Mochel had two small children and was not the itinerant sort, so police took her disappearance seriously. Patrons of the Sail Inn reported that two strangers, a man named Stephen and his girlfriend Charlene, had come into the bar that night. Police tracked Gerald down at his new bartending job, and he admitted he'd been at the Sail Inn that night. He knew nothing of what had become of Virginia Mochel, however. Charlene gave similar answers, and told police offhandedly that she and her boyfriend had been fishing that day. When Virginia's body was found, her hands were bound with fishing line, which raised detectives' suspicions, but didn't offer anything concrete against the couple. The investigation ground to a halt.
Mary Beth & Craig
Meanwhile, Gerald and Charlene were coming unglued. Gerald, who had always been quick to use his fists with Charlene, became even more violent. In September, Charlene moved out, returning to live with her parents. Gerald left town for a bit, rekindling a previous romance. But by November he had returned and Charlene agreed to see him again. On the night of November 1, they borrowed Charles and Mercedes Williams Oldsmobile, saying they were going to dinner and a movie.
Gerald and Charlene got drunk that night, and it wasn't long before Gerald announced his intention of capturing more love slaves. Charlene drove as he scanned crowds at various shopping centers for candidates. It took a while, and Charlene, realizing that the game was getting ever more dangerous, was ready to give up for the night and head home. But early on the morning of November 2, Gerald ordered her to stop the car at Arden Fair, a popular shopping center. She was shocked to see that his intended victims were not two young girls, but a man and a woman, probably college students.
Charlene pulled the Oldsmobile into a parking space and Gerald got out, approaching Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers with a .25 caliber handgun. Hoping their acquiescence would keep their drunken assailant from hurting them, they complied. They even kept quiet when a fraternity brother of Craig's, who had attended the same dinner the couple, was leaving, leaned into the car and asked what they were doing. Just then Charlene, still in the driver's seat, began shouting at the man and pulled away quickly. Not quickly enough, though. The fraternity brother wrote down the license number of the Olds as it sped away.
Charlene drove for a while out into El Dorado County until Gerald told her to stop. He ordered Craig out of the car and shot him three times in the head, then told Charlene to drive to his apartment. When they arrived he took Mary Beth into the bedroom. Charlene watched television, and when Gerald was finished raping Mary Beth, she drove the two out into the country again. He shot Mary Beth, and returned with Charlene to the apartment to dispose of evidence.
When Gerald and Charlene returned to her parents' house the next morning, the police were there. Gerald disappeared quickly, leaving Charlene to deal with investigators' questions. She and her boyfriend had gone to a movie the night before, she said; they'd driven his red Triumph. When detectives reminded her that the Triumph had been parked in front of the house all night, she said they'd gotten so drunk she couldn't remember which car they'd taken. The detectives left deeply suspicious.
Gerald decided that Craig Miller's body, which he'd taken no trouble to conceal, had to be moved before police found it. He didn't know, however, that it had already been discovered, and when he and Charlene went looking for it that night, it was nowhere to be found. It was time to run, they decided. They drove to Reno where they ditched the Olds and boarded a bus for Salt Lake City.
Back in Sacramento the evidence was mounting. Craig Miller's fraternity brother identified a picture of Gerald as the man he'd seen in the Oldsmobile with Craig and Mary Beth. Charles Williams told police that Stephen Feil's real name was Gerald Gallego. The bullets removed from Craig Miller's body matched those Gerald had shot into the ceiling of a bar where he had worked.
Charlene called her parents from Salt Lake City asking for money, which they wired to her. She and Gerald moved on to Denver, then to Omaha, Nebraska, where once again she called her parents. Reluctantly, they agreed to wire more money. This time, though, they told the FBI what they were doing. Agents were waiting at the Western Union office in Omaha, and they picked up the couple without a struggle.
Charlene struck a deal. It took a while, but eventually prosecutors arranged for her to plead guilty to the murders of Craig Miller and Mary Beth Sowers. In exchange for her plea and her testimony against Gerald, she was given a sentence of sixteen years and eight months, which was the minimum time to which she could be sentenced in California for first-degree murder. She struck a similar deal with Nevada authorities, pleading guilty to the second-degree murder of Karen Twiggs and Stacy Redican and receiving the same sentence. Oregon prosecutors decided to let California and Nevada bear the expense of investigation and trial and declined to file charges. Authorities in California were not happy with the plea bargain and tried to have it withdrawn, but in late 1983, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge dropped the charges against Charlene in the Miller and Sowers deaths. With the infighting over, the way was clear to prosecute Gerald.
Gerald, exhibiting the same hubris that had brought him to his current state, decided to serve as his own attorney. His misadventure in defense began with his deferring his right to an opening statement until after the prosecution had made its own statement. He further damaged his case and credibility by offering no cross-examination of Mercedes Williams, one of the prosecution's most effective witnesses. He did cross-examine Charlene however, for six days.
During the prosecution's questioning, Charlene had offered a defense for her lack of action. She had been afraid of Gerald, she said. He beat her and he threatened her. He demanded and kept all the money she made, and when she'd expressed doubt or displeasure, she testified that he shamed her, saying she wasn't the "girl with heart" he'd thought she was. During his cross-examination, Gerald tried to undermine her credibility, offering as evidence a love note she'd written him after their capture. He portrayed her as an unstable drug addict and got her to admit to a lesbian affair she'd had while in jail awaiting the trial. On the final day of laborious, trivial questioning, Gerald came to his point. "Mrs. Gallego," he said, "isn't the bottom line of your deal to blame both these murders on me to save yourself?" Charlene shot back, "No it is not!!!"
It seemed unthinkable that Gerald could do anything to further undermine his own defense, but he did. He put himself on the stand, which allowed prosecutors to catch him in countless inconsistencies. In his closing statement he admitted he'd taken "a legal licking," but asked the jury to believe him "on faith, if nothing else." They did not. On June 21, 1983, Gerald Gallego was sentenced to death for the murders of Craig Miller and Mary Beth Sowers.
Following the California trial, Gerald was charged in Nevada with the murders of Stacy Redican, Karen Twiggs, Brenda Judd and Sandra Colley. As Judd's and Colley's bodies hadn't been found, the State's best evidence was in the Redican/Twiggs case. Charlene had led investigators to a ball of white macramé rope in Gerald's car. The rope matched that found binding the hands of the bodies of Redican and Twiggs.
Gerald's second trial began on May 23, 1984 in Pershing County, Nevada. This time he let a public defender, Gary Marr, handle his case. Again, the strategy was to try and discredit Charlene's testimony. As star witness, she gave a detailed account of the last hours of Stacy Redican and Karen Twiggs. Marr had no more luck swaying the jury than Gerald had, however, and it took them just two and a half hours to return a guilty verdict. Gerald was again sentenced to death, becoming one of the few American criminals to be put on death row in two states simultaneously.
In the years since he was sentenced, Gerald Gallego vigorously proclaimed his innocence. In February 2001, Gallego appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court that his constitutional right to represent himself at trial was violated when self-representation was denied at his 1999 penalty hearing.
Attorney Brent Kolvet told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Gallego was not really interested in representing himself as much as he wanted someone other than Public Defender Steven McGuire to represent him. Nor was Gallego cooperative during that penalty hearing. His behavior, which included turning his back on the judge, warranted the need for an attorney to represent him, Kolvet said.
After Gallego's 1984 death sentence for the kidnap-murders of Stacey Redican and Karen Twiggs was reversed on appeal, he was given a new penalty hearing in 1999. The new jury took less than an hour to sentence him again to death a second time for the murder of the two young women.
Gallego was convicted of four killings. Charges were not filed in the cases of the other six murders.
The Nevada Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
The skeletal remains found in Lassen County, CA were confirmed by DNA testing to be those of Brenda Judd, 14, and Sandra Colley, 13. The girls were killed by blows to the head in 1979 after being abducted in Reno at the Washoe County Fair. Their remains were found in Nov. 1999 along U.S. Highway 395 some 25 miles north of Reno.
Gallego denied the killings and was not tried for their deaths. His wife Charlene had told police about the abduction and murder.
Charlene Gallego, known since the mid-80s by her maiden name of Charlene Williams, was released from a Nevada prison in July 1997. She did not tell authorities where she was headed, but agreed to register as a felon wherever she took up residence. Mercedes Williams, who raised the son Charlene bore in prison, said Charlene had left California and would not return.
July 18, 2002 Gerald Gallego 56, died at the Nevada prison system's regional medical center. In March, he was moved from Ely State Prison's death row to the medical center.
Cause of death was rectal cancer which had spread to his liver and lungs. The medical director described him as a "very quiet individual. He was very reasonable about no extra treatment or resuscitation efforts." Gallego made no final statements, had no visitors and was heavily sedated when he died.
In the years since he was sentenced, Gerald Gallego has vigorously proclaimed his innocence, but his appeals are very nearly at an end. He will probably be executed in the next year or two.
DNA testing proved that two bodies found in Lassen County, Nevada in late 1999 were those of Brenda Judd and Sandra Colley.
Charlene Gallego, known since the mid-80s by her maiden name of Charlene Williams, was released from a Nevada prison in July 1997. She did not tell authorities where she was headed, but agreed to register as a felon wherever she took up residence. Mercedes Williams, who raised the son Charlene bore in prison, said Charlene had left California and would not return.
All His Father's Sins by Lt. Ray Biondi and Walt Hecox. 1988. Pocket Books
The Sex Slave Murders by R. Barri Flowers. 1995. J. Flores Publications/St.
A Venom in the Blood by Eric van Hoffmann. 1990. Donald I. Fine, Inc.
Article/News Release in The Sacramento Bee by staff writer Wayne Wilson.
Metro section; Friday, July 19, 1997 page B1.
Article/News Release in The Sacramento Bee by staff writer M. S. Enkoji.
Metro section; Thursday, February 24, 2000 page B3.