Pitching Vonda Pelto, Ph.D., author of Without Remorse: The Story of the Woman Who Kept Los Angeles’ Serial Killers Alive, for an appearance on radio or TV shows always elicited a wide-range of responses as hosts and producers grasped the experience she had as an aspiring Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, from 1979 to 1982, when she was given the mind-blowing assignment of dealing with some of the most notorious serial killers and sexual predators in history. The material in this E.B. GO Radio Show Video, with her appearing with Molly Paige on KXL Radio in the wake of the horrible Orlando nightclub shootings, is compelling, informative and scary.
For three years, with on office on their cell block at Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail, she was tasked with keeping them engaged, and alive, while awaiting trial and their ultimate fate. After Freeway Killer Vernon Butts, awaiting trail at the same facility hung himself, Vonda was brought in to to keep the rest of the serial killers, sexual predators and high profile criminals in their custody engaged and alive in order to face justice. The assignment changed her life.
Excerpt from Without Remorse: The Story of the Woman Who
Kept Los Angeles’ Serial Killers Alive by Vonda Pelto, Ph.D.
The Nighmares Begin: My sleep was fitful. My dreams weren’t sweet. They involved killers chasing me, cornering me, trying to strangle me. Repeatedly, I tried to scream for help but nothing would come out. A metal gate slammed shut and I was trapped in the sally port with the Hillside Strangler. His hands were around my throat, choking the life out of me, making me grasp for air. Staff members pointed their fingers and laughed at me. No one came to my rescue.
Gratefully, I woke up from the nightmare, at first disoriented, unaware of being in my own bed. I reached up and discovered Pywacket, my Siamese cat, curled around my throat. She was lying halfway across my mouth.
I opened my eyes and looked around the darkened bedroom, realizing I was safe. The clock chimed three. I curled up in a fetal position and pulled the covers up well over my head and struggled to go back to sleep, hoping not to have any more bad dreams.
It seemed like I had just fallen back asleep when “Jeremiah Was A Bull Frog” blared out from the clock radio. Six a.m.—time to get up. I walked to the shower in slow motion and stayed under the hot water until I looked like a prune.
Wanting to move silently down the long concrete corridors, unnoticed by the inmates, I decided to wear clothes that would match rubber-soled shoes. Standing in front of the mirror, I laughed at myself. Here I am, Dr. Pelto, building my wardrobe around quiet shoes, so I can vanish into the mustard-colored walls.
“Mom, how’s it going at the jail?” She asked, stirring the eggs.
“Not sure I can handle it.” I poured each of us a cup, ambled to the breakfast table, and using a hand mirror, started putting on my makeup. This was a chance for us girls to catch up with each other’s news. From the time my daughters started wearing make-up, we had performed this family ritual each morning.
“Dr. Kline, my boss, introduced me to Lieutenant Chandler,” I said to Deanne as she set the plates down on the table. “He’s the head sheriff who runs the jail and has his offices on the first floor, close to the gate where I walk in each day.
You wouldn’t believe his office décor: brown and yellow plaid wallpaper. Strictly the fifties look. Bizarre! The deputies hang around in there and use a couple of old banged up wooden desks to do their paperwork.
“Do you have your own office?” Deanne asked.
“Not yet. Sure hope I get one today, though. It’s uncomfortable sitting in the clinical office and being ignored by the staff. Ron has asked me to organize them to clean up this big filing mess, and they aren’t happy about it.”
“Are you scared of the inmates?” Deanne then asked.
“Sure, a little. But there are always a lot of deputies around and they aren’t going to let anything happen to me.” I hoped.
“How are you going to stand working with those slime balls?” Tera wanted to know.
“I don’t know yet. For now, I just can’t let myself think about what they have done.”
I finished my make-up, picked at my breakfast with little appetite, shoved the dishes into the dishwasher, and turned off the coffeepot. After kissing the girls goodbye, I drove back to the Men’s Central Jail, hoping Ron would make plans for my supervision.
It was drizzling rain and at times the traffic came to a complete stop. The slow pace was okay; in fact, I appreciated the forty-five minutes it took me to get downtown. I would be meeting with Jim Munro, one of the Freeway Killers this morning. This didn’t seem real. But then, working in the Men’s Jail didn’t seem real, either.