Lawrence Sigmond Bittaker, one of the “Tool Box Killers" who preyed on teenage girls in Southern California 40 years ago, has died of natural causes, state corrections officials said Monday. Bittaker and accomplice Roy Lewis Norris kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered five girls in 1979. Their nickname came from the tools such as a screwdriver, pliers and ice pick that they used to torture and kill their victims. Bittaker, 79, died Friday in San Quentin State Prison, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. The cause of death will be determined by the Marin County coroner, the AP reports. The killings began with the death of Lucinda Lynn Schaefer, 16. She was followed by Andrea Joy Hall, 18; Jacqueline Doris Gilliam, 15; Jacqueline Leah Lamp, 13, and Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16.
Norris testified against Bittaker, after pleading guilty to all charges in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty against him. The two had met in prison, per Reuters. A Los Angeles County jury convicted Bittaker of five counts of murder, five counts of kidnapping and a series of other charges. He was sentenced to death in 1981. Norris was sentenced to a term of 45 years to life and remains in prison. (California's governor has enacted a moratorium on executions in the state.)