Serial Killer of the Day: William Lester Suff, “Riverside Prostitute Killer”

First tried and convicted of killing his then-wife and 2-month-old daughter. He only served 10 years before being released and killing 13 prostitutes.

In 1974, a Texas jury convicted Suff and his then-wife, Teryl, of beating their two-month-old daughter to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later reversed Teryl’s conviction but upheld Suff’s in Suff v. State, finding insufficient evidence to convict her as either the primary actor or a principal in their baby’s murder. Though Suff was sentenced to 70 years in a Texas prison, he served only 10 years before his 1984 release on parole.

He subsequently raped, stabbed, strangled, and sometimes mutilated 12 or more prostitutes in Riverside County, beginning in 1986. On January 9, 1992, Suff was arrested after a routine traffic stop.

Described as a mild-mannered loner, Suff worked as a county stock clerk who allegedly delivered supplies to the task force investigating his killing spree. He liked to impersonate police officers and even cooked chili at office picnics. In fact, it was alleged that he used the breast of one of his victims in his chili, which won the “Riverside County Employee Chili Cookoff.” He was also working on a book about wild, lethal dogs. He enjoyed vanity plates and was an avid volunteer in the county’s car-pooling program.

On July 19, 1995, a Riverside County jury found Suff guilty of killing 12 women and attempting to kill another, though police suspected him responsible for as many as 22 deaths. On August 17, 1995, after deliberating for only 10 minutes, the jury returned verdicts of death on all 12 murder counts. On October 26, 1995, the trial court followed the jury’s recommendations and ordered Suff condemned to death.