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Ivan J. HILL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "60 Freeway Killer"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robbery - Rape
Number of victims: 9
Date of murders: 1979 / 1986-87 / 1993-94
Date of arrest: 2003
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: A male clerk / Lorna Reed, 35 / Rhonda Jackson, 23 / Roxanne Bates, 31 / Betty Sue Harris, 37 / Helen Ruth Hill, 36 / Donna L. Goldsmith, 35 / Cheryl Sayers, 34 / Debra Brown, 33
Method of murder: Shooting / Strangulation
Location: California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 22, 2007
 
 
 
 
 
 

60 Freeway Killer Pleads Guilty to Two More Murders

By Christine Pelisek - Laweekly.com

The "60 Freeway Killer" pleaded guilty today to killing two women, more than twenty years ago. Ivan Hill, 48, was already serving a death sentence for the strangulation murders of six women who were found dead along the Pomona (60) Freeway when DNA linked him to the two additional murders.

Pomona Superior Court Judge Charles Horan sentenced the former forklift operator to life without the possibility of parole for the strangulation murders of 35-year-old Lorna Reed, who was found dead in an open field in San Dimas in 1986, and of Rhonda Jackson, 23, whose body was discovered in a trash bin in a parking lot in Pomona in 1987. The convictions bring Hill's known body count to nine.

Hill was dubbed the 60 Freeway Killer because he left his victims' bodies along the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, Walnut, Pomona, Chino and Ontario.

He was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murders of Roxanne Bates of Montclair, Betty Sue Harris of Pomona, Helen Ruth Hill of West Covina, Donna Goldsmith of Pomona, Cheryl Sayers of Ontario and Debra Brown of Los Angeles. The women were killed during a three-month span in 1993 and 1994. After Hill was found guilty in 2007, his mother asked the jurors for leniency because she alleged Hill was savagely beaten by his father as a child.

 
 

'60 Freeway' serial killer sentenced to death

March 22, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A man convicted of the ''60 Freeway Slayer'' serial murders was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing six prostitutes whose bodies were found in cities along the freeway route east of Los Angeles.

There was ''overwhelming'' evidence that Ivan J. Hill murdered the women, Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler said.

''Each of these victims was stalked, if you will,'' the judge said.

Hill, a 45-year-old former forklift operator, was convicted Nov. 17 of six counts of first-degree murder for killings committed in 1993 and 1994. He was charged in 2003 after DNA evidence linked him to the killings while he was serving time in state prison for unrelated crimes.

At trial, jurors heard a recorded telephone call to a police dispatcher in which Hill acknowledged killing a woman and said her body was in an Ontario park. In a second call, he warned: ''Y'all better catch me before I kill again.''

At his sentencing, Hill listened intently as family members of the victims condemned him.

''I can never forgive you and I will never forget,'' said Toni Goldsmith, who was 15 when her mother, Donna L. Goldsmith, 35, of Montclair, was strangled.

''I hate you. I hope you rot in hell,'' Toni Goldsmith's daughter, Precious, told Hill. ''... You look as if there's no hurt in you.''

Hill was asked by the judge if he had anything to say but replied, ''No, your honor.''

In addition to Goldsmith, Hill was convicted of killing Roxanne Bates, 31, of Montclair; Helen Ruth Hill, 36, of Pomona; Cheryl Sayers, 34, of Ontario; Betty Sue Harris, 37, of Pomona; and Debra Denise Brown, 33, of Los Angeles.

The judge rejected a defense request to reduce the sentence to life in prison without opportunity of parole.

''I acknowledge the gravity of these crimes. I acknowledge the number of these crimes,'' attorney Jennifer Friedman said.

However, she said Hill was shaped by abuse he suffered as a child.

The defense has said Hill also saw his father shoot his mother to death on Christmas Day in 1968.

Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan countered that the killings were ''well-thought out acts by Mr. Hill.''

''We may not ever understand why he did what he did. But we do know the result of what he did,'' the prosecutor said.

The judge noted the abuse but said it was not enough of a mitigating circumstance to save Hill's life. Prosecutors had said he was suspected of several other killings for which he was not charged.

The judge noted that Hill's criminal history included robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He was serving time in state prison for those crimes when he was charged with the killings.

 
 

60 Slayer abused as child

December 15, 2006

The mother of convicted serial killer Ivan Hill told jurors Monday that her son grew up in an abusive home, where he regularly received savage beatings from his father and was forced to become the man of the house by age 10.

Testifying in the penalty phase of her son's multiple murder trial, Bessie Hill said Ivan endured his rocky childhood without complaint. She then told jurors she hoped they would spare her boy's life.

"I don't want to see him die," she said. "He's my son."

Jurors convicted Hill last month of six counts of first-degree murder for the strangulation killings of six women. The victims, mostly prostitutes, were killed during a three-month span in 1993 and 1994.

Their bodies were then dumped in cities along the 60 Freeway between Ontario and Industry.

The victims were Roxanne Bates of Montclair; Betty Sue Harris of Pomona; Helen Ruth Hill of West Covina; Donna Goldsmith of Pomona; Cheryl Sayers of Ontario; and Debra Brown of Los Angeles.

The same jurors who convicted Hill of the killings are now hearing additional evidence in Los Angeles Superior Court to help them decide whether Hill deserves the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

Hill's lawyers called his mother to the witness stand Monday to perhaps win Hill some sympathy. They projected childhood photos of the convicted killer on a large screen in the courtroom throughout his mother's testimony.

During her testimony, Bessie Hill shared with jurors a seemingly endless string of stories about Hill's troubled childhood, most centering around physical and mental abuse by Hill's father, William.

Ivan was the second oldest of her five children. Being the eldest boy, he received the harshest beatings from his father, she said.

"I felt like it was because he was, quote, trying to make a man out of him," Bessie Hill said.

The mother said the abuse started when Hill was only a few weeks old.

He cried a lot as an infant, and his father would place a heavy pillow over his head at night to drown out the noise.

By the time he was a toddler, his father had taken to whipping him with belts and tree branches for even the most trivial of infractions, such as wetting his pants, she said.

She said William Hill whipped the children on their bare bottoms. The more they cried, the longer he whipped, she said.

"I would approach him and say, `That's enough,"' she said. "That's when he would turn on me."

Aside from enduring the beatings himself, Ivan also saw regular fights between his parents, most of which ended with his father punching his mother in the face, Bessie Hill said.

The violence in the Hill household hit its peak on Christmas night 1968 when Hill was about 7 years old, Bessie Hill testified.

That night, William and Bessie got into yet another fight while the children were in a nearby bedroom. After the typical slapping and punching, William Hill pulled out a .22-caliber rifle and shot his wife in the face.

That incident landed his dad in jail and his mother in the hospital. Bessie Hill refused to press charges, however, and dad came back home.

Within a few years, Hill's parents separated. Bessie said she worked two jobs, leaving Ivan Hill to tend to his siblings when he was 9 years old.

"He was kind of left to be the man of the house," she said.

One of few places he could escape from the troubles of home was at his grandparents' house, Bessie Hill said. But even these getaways proved abnormal, as Hill's grandmother enjoyed taking the children to the local funeral parlor to look at dead bodies, Bessie Hill testified.

Jurors are permitted to consider Hill's upbringing to help them decide upon a penalty. They are also allowed to weigh aggravating factors, such as Hill's lengthy criminal record.

Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty.

Besides the obviously heinous nature of the six killings, they say DNA evidence suggests Hill strangled at least two other women.

Hill also has a 1979 murder conviction for the shooting death of a clerk during a Glendora liquor store robbery.

He also has six robbery convictions.

Testimony in the penalty phase of his murder trial is set to resume today in Los Angeles Superior Court.

 
 

60 Slayer convicted of murders

November 21, 2006

A serial killer who stalked and strangled at least a half-dozen women was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder Friday.

The verdicts mean Ivan Hill's trial will move to a second phase where the jurors who convicted him will decide whether he deserves the death penalty or life in prison without parole for the brutal 1990s killing spree.

"I'm very thankful for the verdict," said Toni Goldsmith, whose mother, Donna, died at Hill's hands 13 years ago this week. "We've been waiting for this for so long. I feel the death penalty will do him some justice. Let him feel what he did to other people."

Hill was dubbed the "60 Slayer" because the bodies of his victims were all found in cities along the 60 Freeway.

The women, all African American, were left dead in parks, parking lots and along roadsides between Ontario and Industry during a three-month span in 1993 and 1994.

The killings remained unsolved until 2003, when new DNA tests linked Hill, 45, to the killings. He was in prison for robbery at the time.

Jurors deliberated about three days before announcing their verdicts Friday afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Besides the first-degree murder convictions,they also found true special circumstances that Hill committed multiple murders and has a prior murder conviction.

Hill's lawyers conceded during a three-week trial he killed the women, but they claimed the killings did not amount to first-degree murder.

They asked jurors to convict Hill of second-degree murder, saying he strangled his victims in acts of cocaine-fueled compulsion that were beyond his control.

Hill would not have faced the death penalty if jurors convicted him of murder in the second degree.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, portrayed Hill as a heartless killer who took joy in his victims' suffering.

All of the victims were strangled, some by hand and some by ligature.

Some of them died with their hands or feet tied and their mouths taped shut.

The victims, mostly prostitutes, were Helen Ruth Hill of West Covina; Roxanne Bates of Montclair; Betty Sue Harris of Pomona; Donna Goldsmith of Pomona; Cheryl Sayers of Ontario; and Debra Brown of Los Angeles.

The penalty phase of Hill's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 29.

At that phase, prosecutors plan to present evidence that Hill killed at least two additional women.

Relatives of many of the victims also will be allowed to testify about the effect the killings had upon them.

Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan declined to comment on the verdicts Friday afternoon because the second phase of the trial is still pending.

Jennifer Friedman, one of two attorneys who defended Hill, also declined to comment.

 
 

'Catch me before I kill again,' suspect taunted

October 25, 2006

The voice on the phone taunted police, "better catch me before I kill again," and described the location where officers could find the body.

Jurors listened to the recordings in court Monday as Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan gave his opening statements in the serial murder trial of Ivan Hill, who is charged with killing six women in 1993 and 1994 and dumping their bodies along the Pomona Freeway.

Hill, 45, acknowledges placing the calls, and his defense attorney acknowledges that Hill killed the women.

But defense attorney Jennifer Friedman disputes the prosecution's claim that he killed them intentionally, which would make him eligible for the death penalty.

"Compulsive acts are not deliberate acts. ... They're not done after careful thought and weighing," Friedman told the jury. "Look at those killings. Listen to that phone call."

Prosecutors say one victim was strangled by hand and the other five had ligatures around their necks, which Monaghan said indicated Hill planned the killings.

In the recording of Hill's phone call to police, he was heard telling a 911 dispatcher he "did it again" and describing the location where he dumped the body.

"I did, um, what's this, number five or six, I forget, but she's out there," Hill said. In a second call, he asked why it was taking so long for officers to reach the scene. "Y'all better catch me before I kill again," he said.

Hill was linked to the victim by DNA testing and charged in November 2003. At the time, he was in prison for robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, and had been set to be released in three months.

 
 

Linked by DNA, Man Admits to 6 Slayings

October 15, 2006

The man accused of being the "60 Freeway Slayer," who terrorized the San Gabriel Valley in the early 1990s by strangling six woman, won't dispute that he is the killer as his trial gets underway this week.

The revelation, contained in court papers, ends the 13-year mystery of who was responsible for the grisly killings, which all took place in communities along the Pomona Freeway.

Ivan J. Hill, who was linked to the crimes a decade later through DNA evidence, will center his defense not on whether he committed the crimes but on whether he should get the death penalty.

Prosecutors outlined in court papers how Hill allegedly roamed the San Gabriel Valley late at night looking for victims.

He worked by day as a warehouse "romper" in a series of low-paying industrial jobs in and around the area. At night, he often cruised the gritty streets near Mission and Holt avenues in Pomona looking for prostitutes, officials said.

It was there that Hill allegedly victimized half a dozen prostitutes whose discarded bodies turned up along a 30-mile section of the 60 Freeway corridor stretching from the City of Industry to Ontario.

Hill will not deny that over a 10-week period beginning in November 1993, he killed Betty Sue Harris, Roxanne Brooks Bates, Helen Hill, Donna Goldsmith, Cheryl Sayers and Debra Denise Brown.

Instead, the case will focus on whether the crimes of the so-called 60 Freeway Slayer constituted first-degree murder deserving of the death penalty.

Lawyers on both sides would not comment for this article. But they provided the outlines of their respective cases last week before a pool of about 300 potential jurors in the courtroom of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler.

Hill's defense team is expected to call several dozen witnesses who will speak to the defendant's troubled background.

Using medical experts, they will also make the case that Hill's actions could not have been premeditated because of his mental condition at the time of the killings.

Prosecutors will let Hill's extensive criminal background as well as the grisly details of the killings — including that victims were tied up and strangled with ligature — make the case for them.

Hill's victims, all African American and in their 30s, were strangled and their bodies dumped in industrial areas, city parks or by roadsides.

Some were found with duct tape over their mouths, others with their ankles or wrists bound.

When the slayings began, authorities first denied a connection.

But when Pomona police detectives discovered the body of Sayers, 36, in the Ganesha Park section of Pomona early on Dec. 30, 1993, it was a moment of clarity for authorities.

Sayers was the third woman found dead in Pomona in less than a month with a similar background — prostitutes who dropped out of school at early ages, were unmarried mothers with spotty work histories and minor criminal records.

They then knew they were dealing with a serial killer.

Investigators with the Pomona, Upland and Ontario police departments and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department began working together to investigate the slayings.

They were able to link two other homicides that of Harris, 37, of Pomona, who was found dead Nov. 1 in a business park in Diamond Bar; and Bates, 31, of Pomona, who was found Nov. 5 on a rural road in Chino to the same killer.

Even so, they had no suspect.

In early 1994, the murder spree ended. That coincided, prosectors now contend, with Hill going back to prison after his arrest and conviction for a series of armed robberies.

In March 2003, a DNA sample from biological evidence gathered in the Harris slaying was linked to Hill.

That was followed by five other "cold hits."

Deputy Dist. Atty. John Monaghan is expected to introduce tape of a 911 call made by Hill to Pomona police that led authorities to the body of victim Brown on Jan. 12, 1994. She was found face down in San Antonio Park in Ontario.

Also, jurors will see the letter that Hill wrote to a relative from jail when he was being interviewed about the killings in late 2003.

He said, "I knew this day would come when they came with the DNA samples."

 
 


 

Ivan J. Hill

 

 

 
 
 
 
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