Carpenter attempted murder in 1960, for which he spent seven years in prison. In 1970, he was arrested for kidnapping and spent a further seven years behind bars. After his release, he was a suspect in the notorious Zodiac murders, although he was eventually cleared.
From 1979-1981, he raped and murdered five women and was suspected of killing at least two others, one of whom was Ellen Hansen, a University of California, Davis student killed while hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains. A memorial scholarship has since been created in honor of her courage during the attack, which allowed her hiking companion to escape alive.
Carpenter was eventually arrested and found guilty of the murders, for which he was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. He remains on San Quentin’s death row.
On May 10, 1988, a San Diego jury convicted Carpenter of first degree murder in the slayings of Richard Stowers, Cynthia Moreland, Shauna May, Diana O’Connell and Anne Alderson. Carpenter was also pronounced guilty of raping two of the women and attempting to rape a third.
In December 2009, San Francisco police reexamined evidence from the October 21, 1979, murder of Mary Frances Bennett. Bennett, 23 years old at the time of her murder, had been jogging at Lands End, San Francisco, when she was attacked and stabbed to death. A DNA sample obtained from the evidence was matched to Carpenter through state Department of Justice files. In February 2010, San Francisco police confirmed the match with a recently obtained sample from Carpenter.
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