Who is Adolph Laudenberg? Serial Killer Caught 30 Years after Committing his Crimes

Who is Adolph Laudenberg? Serial Killer Caught 30 Years after Committing his Crimes

Who is Adolph Laudenberg?

Adolph Laudenberg, known as The Santa Strangler, was an American serial killer who murdered three women in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles and one in San Francisco during the 1970s and is the prime suspect for another two similar murders.

He was born on June 13, 1926, and was considered a recluse.

But, when Laudenberg was 18, he met Annelle, his future wife, while serving in the naval construction battalion in Trinidad and Tobago.

Adolph Laudenberg

After Adolph left the service, he adopted her son, Steve, and the couple relocated to California permanently.

The couple divorced in 1974 after Adolph married and divorced a second woman.

During the 1960s and 1970s, however, he settled down and worked as a security guard at a steel plant before becoming a cab driver in the San Pedro area in the late 1960s.

And it was through his cab driver job that Laudenberg began to pick up lonely, alcoholic, or ill women to bind, rape, and strangle.

Cops believe he chose his victims because they resembled his ex-wife Annelle.

Who is Adolph Laudenberg?

His victims included:

Lois Petrie, 43
Catherine Medina, 50
Anna Felch, 54
Leah Griffin, 60

He was questioned by police during the initial investigation into their deaths, but he denied any wrongdoing.

Cops didn’t have any DNA evidence or other clues linking him to their deaths at the time.

Why was he known as The Santa Strangler?

According to cold case detective Richard Bengston, Laudenberg earned his nickname in prison because of his resemblance to Father Christmas, specifically his grey beard and moustache.

He was well-known in the community as a kind and friendly old man, much like Santa.

Bengston, on the other hand, believed it was all a ruse to persuade his neighbors that “he wasn’t capable of committing any crimes.”

How did Adolph Laudenberg get caught?

Despite confessing to two daughters-in-law decades apart, he was only apprehended in 2002.

On the first occasion, in 1975, the woman believed his story and informed authorities, but they were unable to prove her claims despite their best efforts.

However, he did the same to his son’s ex-wife Renee in 2002, explaining what he did in far greater detail – arming San Luis Obispo police with more evidence as they re-examined the cold cases.

Who is Adolph Laudenberg? Serial Killer Caught 30 Years after Committing his Crimes

An undercover police officer eventually met with Laudenberg at a donut shop in Torrance in order to obtain key DNA evidence to support their theories.

The detective informed Laudenberg that he wanted to speak with him because he was interested in his hobby, cane whittling.

However, after discussing various topics, Laudenberg walked away without throwing out his coffee cup.

The other officer then stepped in and took the cup, from which DNA samples were extracted and sent for testing.

Cops were able to match the samples to seminal fluid found on one of his victims, Lois Petrie’s, thanks to technological advances.

In light of the new evidence, authorities tracked down Laudenberg’s camper van and arrested him, holding him on a $1 million bail.

How did Adolph Laudenberg get caught?

He was charged with Petrie’s murder, but denied all charges.

A ruling judge handed him a conviction of first-degree murder for Petrie’s killing and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Following his death in prison in 2015 at the age of 89, he remains the primary suspect in two additional murders.

However, there has never been any solid evidence linking him to the murders of Irene Hind, 55, and Maude Burgess, 83.