14 March 1992 – Steven Brian Pennell
What does a man have to do before his loving, loyal wife dumps him?
Well obviously killing four women as well as raping and mutilating some more just isn’t enough, according to Kathy Pennell, who fought hard to save her husband from the lethal injection by purporting that he was incompetent.
Quite why she thought this in unclear because Pennell was described by many as a monster.
He’d take his van and cruise around looking for victims, who’d be dumped in the back of the vehicle before being raped, tortured and mutilated – then, if they were lucky, he’d bash them about to put them out of their misery.
Instruments of torture
Of course with other serial killers there are clues to behaviour in their upbringing, but by all accounts Pennell had a well-adjusted childhood. So maybe it was his failed attempts to become a criminologist that provoked his frustrations.
He’d prey on women, often choosing prostitutes, who he’d drive off to remote spots, where he’d engage in torturous activities using his rape kit, which comprised restraints, pliers, a whip, handcuffs, needles and knives.
Known simply as the I-40 Killer or the Corridor Killer, because his crimes would take place along Highway 40 in Delaware, Pennell was known to beat his victims to within inches of their lives with a hammer, even cutting off their nipples. But he was finally caught after a policewoman posed as a prostitute.
Fittingly, on Hallowe’en, Pennell was found guilty of just two murders, and that was enough to ensure he was sentenced to die. He became the first person to be executed in Delaware since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, indeed for 45 years.
Pennell was put down by lethal injection and his death cost around $50 grand, which is pretty steep by execution standards.