As Larry Bright pleaded guilty to eight murders, he must have wondered, how had he become a serial killer...
On 30 May 2006, Larry Bright, 39, pleaded guilty to killing eight women, then burning the bodies of four of them in his garden.
Bright had carried out a 15-month killing spree in 2003 and 2004, targeting black women in Peoria, Illinois. He strangled seven of his victims, and gave enough cocaine to another to kill her.
But what turned this popular boy with a happy childhood into a brutal rapist and killer?
Born on 8 July 1966, Bright had a content upbringing. At school, he played football and was popular with the girls. But as a teenager, he started smoking marijuana.
At 19, he was arrested for vehicle theft and burglary and served two years in prison. After his release he began to drink and take cocaine.
Bright got a job as a concrete worker, until he injured his back. After which, he became addicted to painkillers – as well as cocaine and alcohol. Bright found it difficult to keep a steady job after this and lived in an apartment behind his mother’s house.
Meanwhile, he sought instant gratification with sex and drugs. He became fascinated with sex and pornography that involved African-American women.
Then in 2003, bodies of black women, some prostitutes and drug addicts, began turning up along rural roads around Peoria. Most of them were strangled.
But soon the murdered victims were no longer found dumped. Because in August 2004, Bright began to burn his victims’ bodies in a firepit in his back garden and scatter their ashes in different places.
Now women were being reported missing.
And, in that same month, Bright pulled over in his blue pick-up and offered a prostitute $200 worth of crack cocaine for sex. They went back to his home, where he beat her at knifepoint and raped her.
Somehow, she escaped. Fearing arrest for a previous offence, she didn’t go to the police. It was two months before they heard of the attack and she talked.
In July 2005, Bright was arrested and charged with murdering two women whose bodies were found strangled along roadsides. Authorities also recovered hundreds of charred pieces of bone from his garden and other locations nearby. Many were in such a bad state, they were unidentifiable.
So Bright struck a deal – he’d avoid the death penalty if he admitted all eight killings, providing closure for the families of the victims.
On Tuesday, 30 May 2006, Larry Bright pleaded guilty to eight murders, which included seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of drug-induced homicide. Under the deal, he also waived all appeal rights and will serve the entire life sentence in a maximum security prison with no chance of parole.
Prosecutors said Bright lured women to a guest house behind his mother’s home with the promise of cash or drugs, had sex with them, then strangled them.
His lawyer read a statement from the serial killer: ‘I know I’ve committed some horrible and unthinkable acts. I am very sorry for the grief and heartache I have caused.’