THE TOOLBOX KILLER Why criminologist Laura Brand was on the phone with serial killer during labor

Criminologist Laura Brand considers Lawrence Bittaker to be the most sadistic serial killer in U.S. history. She fought to get in communication with him so she could better understand his psychology, and so she could hopefully find clues about where some of his victims’ bodies that were never found are. Her quest for answers led her to develop a strong friendship with Bittaker. When she got pregnant, he expressed a strong interest in her pregnancy and new baby to the point where the sadistic rapist-killer was on the phone with her when she gave birth to her child.

In a new documentary about Laura’s conversations with Larry Bittaker, The Toolbox Killer (streaming on Peacock,) Laura explains how she bonded with Larry to the point where he considered Laura and her sone Romeo his family.

Larry cruelly murdered that he picked up with his accomplice Roy Norris on the beaches of Southern California during the summer of 1979. He would torture them before death with tools like ice picks and pliers from his toolbox. He had a childhood of neglect and violence and soon developed extremely disturbing behaviors. His mother abandoned him to relatives at a young age, and he had a fierce hatred for her which may be linked to his intense hatred of women.

His one soft spot, however, is pregnant women. During his murder spree, Larry had moved into a run-down motel where a lot of young people were living. One of his neighbors there was an 18-year-old girl who was pregnant and had been cut off from her family because of it. Larry befriended her, bought her things, and drove her around alone in his van that summer. She had no idea the awful violence he was engaging in until one day when he told her that the only reason she was alive was because she was pregnant. She bolted out of the car.

Larry’s affinity for pregnant women extended to Laura Brand, who was trying to study his mind and gain insight into humanity’s most dark behaviors.

In January 2018, Laura Brand found herself pregnant and suddenly jobless when the company she was working for went bankrupt. She was also alone and homeless, but Lawrence Bittaker was calling her to check up on her. During this time he finally agreed to be interviewed in person.

She was able to visit thanks to the rest of the men on death row. One of the wives of a death row inmate gave Laura a place to stay near the prison. She told Lawrence Bittaker that her goal was to bring home the remains of the two victims who had not been found.

Laura’s first in-person interview with Lawrence Bittaker happened when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. He was shocked at her appearance and found it hard to look her in the eye. Interviewing someone in San Quentin prison is a dangerous task for anyone, but a pregnant person would be especially vulnerable in this situation.

A few months later, Laura went into labor, and she even talked to Lawrence Bittaker while she was in labor. He became attached to her son, Romeo, and she says he developed a “love” for the child. She says he saw himself as a “surrogate father or grandfather” for her child.

Laura gave Larry a picture of her child at his first birthday party, and he would also show off the picture. He would ask to see the baby constantly and asked to be considered the baby’s “honorary” uncle. Larry put Laura down as the next-of-kin in his will and she thinks he sees her and her son as his only family. Bittaker had claimed to have had a breakthrough where he finally feels human emotion and claims he is no longer a sociopath after being one for most of his life.

FBI Mary Ellen O’Toole doesn’t believe this for a second. She considers getting close and giving out personal information to someone like Lawrence Bittaker is “problematic.”

Laura says that getting so close to Lawrence Bittaker helped give her unprecedented access to his mind.

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