Angelo Buono, the Hillside Strangler

Kidnapping, Rape, Torture and Murder

Back View of Angelo Buono Speaking to Woman
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Angelo Anthony Buono, Jr. was one of the two Hillside Stranglers responsible for the 1977 kidnap, rape, torture and murder of nine girls and young women in the hills of Los Angeles, California. His cousin, Kenneth Bianchi, was his crime partner who later testified against Buono in an effort to avoid the death penalty.

The Early Years

Angelo Buono, Jr. was born in Rochester, New York, on October 5, 1934. After his parents divorced in 1939, Angelo moved to Glendale, California with his mother and sister. At a very early age, Buono began showing a deep disdain for women. He verbally assaulted his mother, a behavior that later intensified towards all women he encountered.

Buono was brought up as Catholic, but he showed no interest in attending church. He was also a poor student and would often skip school, knowing that his mother, who had a full-time job, could do little to control his activities. By the age of 14, Buono had been in a reformatory and was bragging about raping and sodomizing young local girls.

The "Italian Stallion"

Beginning in his late teens, Buono married and fathered several children. His wives, who were at first attracted to his macho self-proclaimed "Italian Stallion" style, would quickly discover that he had a deep loathing for women. He had a strong sexual drive and would physically and sexually abuse the women in his life. Inflicting pain seemed to add to his sexual pleasure and there were times that he was so abusive, many of the women feared for their lives.

Buono had a small, semi-successful car upholstery shop attached to the front of his home. This offered him seclusion, which was what he needed to act out his sexual perversions with many of the young girls in the neighborhood. It was also where his cousin, Kenneth Bianchi, came to live in 1976.

A Career Jump Into Pimping

Buono and Bianchi embarked on a new career as small-time pimps. Bianchi, who was more attractive than his wiry, large-nosed cousin, would lure young runaway girls to the home, then force them into prostitution, keeping them captive with threats of physical punishment. This worked until their two best "girls" escaped.

Needing to build up their pimp business, Buono purchased a list of prostitutes from a local prostitute. When he figured out he had been scammed, Buono and Bianchi set out for revenge, but could only find the prostitute's friend, Yolanda Washington. The pair raped, tortured and murdered Washington on October 16, 1977. According to authorities, this was Buono and Bianchi's first known murder.

The Hillside Strangler and Bellingrath Link

Over the next two months, Bianchi and Buono raped, tortured and killed another nine women ranging in ages from 12 to 28. The press named the unknown "killer" as the "Hillside Strangler," but police were quick to suspect that more than one person was involved.

After two years of hanging around his piggish cousin, Bianchi decided to return to Washington and reunite with his old girlfriend. But murder was on his mind and in January 1979, he raped and murdered Karen Mandic and Diane Wilder in Bellingrath, Washington. Almost immediately the police linked the murders to Bianchi and they brought him in for questioning. The similarities of his crimes to those of the Hillside Strangler was enough for the detectives to join forces with the Los Angeles detectives and together they question Bianchi.

Enough evidence was found in Bianchi's home to charge him with the Bellingrath murders. Prosecutors decided to offer Bianchi a life sentence, instead of seeking the death penalty, if he gave full details of his crimes and the name of his partner. Bianchi agreed and Angelo Buono was arrested and charged with nine murders.

The End for Buono

In 1982, after two lengthy trials, Angelo Buono was found guilty of nine of ten Hillside murders and received a life sentence.

Four years into serving his sentence, he married Christine Kizuka, a supervisor at the California State Department of Employee Development and a mother of three.

In September 2002, Buono died of a suspected heart attack while in Calipatria State Prison. He was 67 years old.

Interesting Note: In 2007, Buono's grandson, Christopher Buono, shot his grandmother, Mary Castillo, then killed himself. Castillo was married to Angelo Buono at one time and the two had five children. One of the five children was Chris' father.

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Montaldo, Charles. "Angelo Buono, the Hillside Strangler." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, February 16). Angelo Buono, the Hillside Strangler. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "Angelo Buono, the Hillside Strangler." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 18, 2021).