Real Name: Unknown (at time of broadcast)
Aliases: Pizza Parlor Killer, Convenience Store Killer, Sacramento Thrill Killer
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: February 19, 1991
Details: In Sacramento, California, authorities are searching for an unidentified person who is believed to have shot and killed at least six people. On February 12, 1991, the assailant fatally shot forty-two-year-old customer Thor Johnson Sr. and employees Stephen Anderson, thirty-five, and Zeid Ahmad Obeid, twenty-two, at a Quik Stop convenience store. Police had no suspects or eyewitnesses to the crime. They could find no reason that anyone would want to kill the victims; none of them had gang affiliations and little money had been stolen from the store.
From store receipts, authorities learned that a female customer left the store at around 10:39PM after buying a magazine. They believe the next customer was the gunman; he bought two ninety-nine cent items. His sales were rung up, but never totaled. It is believed that the gunman shot the two employees and then took a few dollars from the register. As he left the store, he shot Thor outside in the parking lot.
The case became the main priority for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. Based on the evidence, authorities feared that he would kill again. Exactly one week later, on February 19, he killed three Round Table Pizza Parlor employees who were closing up the restaurant. The victims were: college students Sarah Crook, eighteen years old; Kyle Reynolds, twenty years old; and Andrea Coladangelo, thirty years old. The restaurant was less than one mile from the Quik Stop convenience store.
Once again, authorities were left with three victims and no eyewitnesses. The killer stole Andrea's purse and took money from the register. However, authorities believe that the theft was an afterthought to throw them off of the killer's trial. Ballistics testing confirmed that all six victims were killed with the same weapon: a .25 caliber Beretta pistol. Authorities felt that the murders were committed for no reason other than to fulfill a person's psychological need to kill, and therefore dubbed the wanted person as the "Sacramento Thrill Killer".
One investigator believed that the killer had little sophistication with weapons. He even theorized that the killer was a younger person, stealing the gun "from daddy's nightstand". Some authorities suspect that the killer is a transient. They want to know if other police departments across the country have reports of multiple homicides with a similar pattern.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 1, 1991 episode.
Results: Captured. A few weeks after the initial broadcast, the killer was identified as twenty-two-year-old Eric Royce Leonard, who lived half a block from the convenience store. Leonard had been questioned earlier in the case after witnesses saw him near the two crime scenes. He also was unable to give an alibi for the time of the murders. A .25 caliber Beretta was found at his father's home. Ballistics tests determined that it was the murder weapon. His father also told police that Eric confessed to the murders.
During a preliminary hearing, Leonard stated that he was guilty. However, at trial, he claimed that he was not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury did not believe this; Leonard was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1996. His conviction was upheld in 2007 despite his defense attorney's claims of personality disorder.
- 'Thrill Killer' Suspected in Six Murders
- California police seek 'Thrill Killer'
- Suspect Arrested in 'Thrill Killings' of 6
- 'Thrill killer' motive sought
- Jury recommends thril kills death penalty
- Death sentence upheld for Sacramento 'Thrill Killer'
- People v. Leonard
- Eric Leonard at Murderpedia
- Angela Coladangelo at Find a Grave