The Serial Homicide Case of the Day, from "Hunting Humans, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Serial Killers" , by Michael Newton
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Braun, Thomas Eugene and Maine, Leonard
A native of rural Washington state, born in 1949, Thomas Braun lost his mother in early childhood as the result of a clumsy, illegal abortion. Left in the care of their alcoholic father , Braun and his younger sister were frequently locked in a truck for safekeeping while the old man made his rounds of local taverns. Both were beaten on occasion, and when Braun's dog was accused of stealing chickens, Thomas was forced by his father to shoot the animal.
On August 17, 1967, Braun left his job as a gas station attendant in Ritzville, Washington, and picked up his best friend, slow-witted Leonard Maine, on his way out of town. The 18-year-olds had two pistols, a car, and no clear destination in mind.
In Seattle, on August 18, the boys stopped at a rooming house, asked about lodgings, and then pulled their guns on the landlady, fleeing in panic when she began to scream. Things went better the next afternoon, outside Redmond, when they pulled over 22-year-old Deanna Buse, pretending that something was wrong - with a tire on her car. Forcing the young woman into his vehicle at gunpoint, Braun drove on to Echo Lake, Maine bringing up the rear in Buse's sedan. Arriving at their destination, Braun marched his captive into the woods, forced her to strip, and then shot her five times without taking time to molest her.
Dumping their old car in Seattle and keeping the new one, the killers pushed south, into Oregon. On August 21, Samuel Ledgerwood saw them changing a flat tire and stopped to offer help, earning two shots in the head for his trouble. Leaving his corpse where it lay, the boys torched Buse's car and drove off in Ledgerwood's vehicle, bound for California.
On August 23, they picked up hitchhikers Timothy Luce and Susan Bartolomei, raping the girl several times before shooting both victims and leaving them for dead on the side of the road. Though crippled for life, Bartolomei would survive to describe her attackers, and police launched a massive search for the gunmen.
Four days later, in Jamestown, California, Ledgerwood's car was spotted outside a motel where suspects "Mike and John Ford" were registered in rooms 19 and 26. Surrendering without resistance, the killers were packed off to Washington for trial. Upon conviction, Braun was sentenced to death, while Maine escaped with a term of life imprisonment.
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