'Trashbag Killer' recants confession

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Confessed 'Trashbag Killer' Patrick Kearney, who pleaded guilty four years ago to the gruesome murders of 21 young men and boys, has recanted his confession in a letter to a newspaper, it was reported Friday.

In a letter to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the 42-year-old former computer technician from Redondo Beach, Calif., retracted his confession and said he wanted to be released from Soledad Prison, where he is serving two life sentences.


'I have another tidbit of news for you,' Kearney wrote to the newspaper. 'I didn't kill anybody. That's all I'll say at the moment.'

In a handwritten petition filed last month in Riverside Superior Court, Kearney asked to be released from prison, claiming he did not commit the grisly string of murders and was poorly advised by his defense attorney.

'The person in custody pleaded guilty to felonies which he did not commit,' Kearney said. 'The pleas were given due to threats and other forms of duress.'

Kearney did not elaborate on either contention. Superior Court Judge John H. Hews, who sentenced Kearney in 1977 for three murders in Riverside County, turned done the request for release Oct. 31.


Kearney was later given a second life sentence in Los Angeles after pleading guilty to 18 murders. He had also admitted slaying 11 other persons for a total of 32 victims, which would have made him the bloodiest murder in U.S. history if prosecutors had brought charges in all the cases.

His victims, ranging in age from 5 to 28, were shot to death from 1968 to 1977. Their bodies, often dismembered and stuffed in large plastic trash bags, were dumped in several Southern California counties, sometimes left by roadsides.

Kearney and his roommate David Hill fled Southern California for several weeks after detectives connected them to killings and obtained warrants for their arrests, but the the pair turned themselves in to Riverside County sheriff's deputies in July 1977.

Kearney told detectives that he committed the murders and Hill, who was later released after a grand jury refused to bring charges, was not connected to the killings.

Kearney's guilty pleas in Los Angeles and Riverside were over the objections of his attorney, J.P. Grossman, of Riverside.

During several interviews with detectives -- including one in prison after he pleaded guilty -- Kearney explained in detail how he found and killed his victims. Detectives said they had no doubt he was the killer because he knew details only the killer could have known.


Kearney's recent petition for release from prison contended that Grossman did not properly represent him. He contended that because Grossman held book and publicity rights to the case he had a conflict of interest in the outcome.

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