SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The United States leads the world for the most serial killers, some of which have had ties to Iowa, but did you know that a prolific serial killer was born in Sioux City?
The FBI defines serial killings as a series of three or more killings with common characteristics leading to one person. The American Psychological Association defines a serial killer as an individual who uses a distinct pattern to repeatedly commit murder.
Carroll Edward Cole, a Sioux City native, admitted to killing as many as 35 people for around 9 years and was convicted of killing five. Over the years of strangling women in California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming, he would repeatedly go to jail on petty crime charges and continue killing more people without being caught.
According to a 2005 study done in the Department of Psychology at Radford University, Cole was born in Sioux City on May 9, 1939. He was the second born of three children, and after his sister was born, his family moved to Richmond, California where his father was drafted to serve in World War II. The study states that his mother was physically and mentally abusive until his father returned from the war. He had an IQ of 152 but averaged a D+ in school.
It was stated that 7-year-old Cole was teased for having a girlish first name to the point that he allegedly blacked out. The study stated that when Cole woke up, he found that he had strangled the family’s puppy. This incident induced further fantasies of killing his mother and father.
In 1946, when Cole was 8, Cole was swimming at a yacht harbor with a group of boys, according to the study. When Cole was left alone with one of the kids who teased Cole for his first name, Cole allegedly drowned him.
Over the next several years, Cole allegedly committed several burglaries before eventually dropping out of high school and joining the Navy. His pattern of theft continued, leading up to being dishonorably discharged and moving back in with his family.
The study specified that on June 1, 1960, when Cole was 22 years old, he attacked the occupants of a car parked at Lover’s Lane with a hammer. They survived, and he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 30 days on the county work farm.
From 1961 to 1963, the study stated he would spend some time in various facilities where he was diagnosed with several psychiatric disorders.
Cole allegedly made several attempts to strangle several women starting in 1963, including a nurse and an 11-year-old while she slept in her bedroom. His first successful strangulation occurred in 1971 when he killed Essie Buck and left her in his trunk overnight before discarding her body on his 33rd birthday, according to the study.
On May 23, 1971, Cole allegedly strangled a woman known as Wilma. He was stated to have buried her, but her body was never found. A week later, he allegedly strangled a third victim that is currently unknown.
The study indicated that he was released from prison in March of 1972 after serving time for theft and drunk driving, and on an unknown date he allegedly picked up two women from San Ysidro in San Diego. The study stated that he allegedly strangled one of the women and bludgeoned the other woman to death with a hammer.
Cole’s next killing took place three years later in early August of 1975, according to the study. He was stated to have partied with a woman named Myrlene “Teepee” Hamer, and after she suggested sexual intercourse, he allegedly strangled her and left her on a hillside covered only by a sleeping bag. Hamer’s body was discovered on August 9, prompting Cole to flee the state.
On May 14, 1977, police discovered the body of Kathleen Blum. The study stated that Blum was a prostitute that Cole had strangled and left in a random person’s backyard.
According to the study, Cole met a woman on the night before Thanksgiving in 1977 and agreed to spend the night with her. The study stated that in the morning, Cole woke to find that the woman was dead in the bathtub. Various body parts were stored in the fridge, and her buttock was in a skillet on the stove. Cole allegedly claimed that he collected the woman’s body parts and brought them to the city’s dump.
On August 27, 1979, he allegedly strangled 39-year-old Bonnie Sue O’Neil and discarded her body in a garbage can. Less than a month later, on September 19, 1979, he strangled his then-wife, 25-year-old Diana Cole. The study stated that he allegedly wrapped her in blankets and stuffed her in a closet. Their neighbor called the police eight days later when they had seen Cole digging a grave in his crawl space.
After finding employment as a truck driver, Cole allegedly killed his last victim, 50-year-old Marie Cushman in the Kasbah Hotel, according to the study. A maid working for the hotel found her body left in their room.
Cole was arrested for parole violations on November 30, 1980, while he was on his honeymoon with his new wife, according to the study. Nevada announced plans to place him on trial for capital murder charges.
Cole appeared before a judge on August 16, 1984, where he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. On October 12, 1984, he was sentenced to the death penalty which was carried out on December 6, 1985.