In 1979, career criminals Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris set out on a rape, torture and murder spree that would finally come to an end on Halloween night of that same year. The pair would become collectively known as “The Toolbox Killers,” and though investigators could only imagine the horrific fate suffered by the four women the men had murdered between February and September, in the case of 16-year-old Shirley Lynette Ledford there was absolutely no doubt about what had transpired on that Halloween night.

Shirley Lynette Ledford

Shirley Lynette Ledford

In November police began to investigate the sadistic duo when they received a tip from a friend whom Norris had bragged to about the murders. Within Bittaker’s possession was an audio tape the pair made on the night of Ledford’s murder. This tape was later played at the trials of both Bittaker and Norris, forcing many of the jurors to leave the courtroom. Though this tape has not been made available to the public, transcripts of the audio have been made available.

Bittaker: (Slapping Shirley) Say something girl, huh? Huh?
Ledford: What do you want me to say?
Bittaker: Huh, huh? Say something, girl! Don’t you hit me? Huh, huh?
Bittaker: Say something girl. Huh?
Ledford: Ouch! (Shirley begins to scream)
Bittaker: Say something! C’mon! You can scream louder than that, can’t you? Huh? What’s the matter, don’t you like to scream? (Slapping sounds can be heard).
Ledford: (Screams) Oh no!
Bittaker: What’s the matter, huh? You want to try again?
Ledford: (Screams) Oh no! Don’t touch me! No!
Bittaker: Huh? You want to try again?
Ledford: On no, don’t touch me! No don’t touch me. No! No! No! No! No!
Bittaker: Want to try again?
Ledford: No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

[Note: Ledford can be heard crying profusely and begs Bittaker to stop hitting her. She says to him again, “No, don’t touch me!” It is assumed that she rolls over and pulls herself into the fetal position as she continues to weep, based on what Bittaker says next.]

Bittaker: Roll over girl.
Ledford: No don’t touch me!
Bittaker: Roll over!
Ledford: (Pleading tone in voice) Don’t touch me.
Bittaker: (Slapping Shirley) Start getting to work, girl!
Ledford: Don’t touch me!
Bittaker: Start getting to work girl!
Ledford: (Crying) Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!
Bittaker: Get to work, girl!
Ledford: Don’t touch me.
Bittaker: Roll over. I’m not asking you; I’m telling you!
Bittaker: Roll over.
Ledford: (Crying sounds can be heard).
Bittaker: C’mon, C’mon, C’mon!
Bittaker: What are you dong? What are you doing?
Ledford: Huh?
Bittaker: What are you doing?
Ledford: I’m not doing anything; I’m trying to do what you wanted me to do.
Bittaker: What did I want you to do?
Ledford: Suck on it.
Bittaker: Suck on what?
Ledford: This.
Bittaker: What’s this?
Ledford: Your dick.
Bittaker: Yeah? Say it.
Ledford: Your dick.
Bittaker: You’re sucking on my dick?
Ledford: That’s what you wanted me to do?
Bittaker: Is that what you’re doing?
Ledford: Yes, I was.
Bittaker: Tell me.
Ledford: Yes.
Bittaker: Tell me what are you doing?
Ledford: I’m sucking on your dick.
Bittaker: Do you want to do it?
Ledford: You want me to?
Bittaker: You want to, girl? Do you want to suck my dick baby? Huh, huh, hey? Start answering me! (Beating sounds can be heard).
Ledford: Yes.
Bittaker: Tell me.
Ledford: Yes.
Bittaker: Beg me.
Ledford: Yes.
Bittaker: What, hey what do you want girl?
Ledford: I want to suck on your dick.
Bittaker: You don’t sound like you really mean it. (Slapping sounds)
Ledford: I do.
Bittaker: (Laughing) Suck on it then! C’mon start sucking on it. No matter what you can do, squeeze hard you understand and if it hurts any time you want to scream, go ahead and scream.
Ledford: Oh no! (Screams)
Bittaker: Scream, baby! Go ahead and scream! Scream, baby!

[Note: During this point of the tape Bittaker had been forcing Ledford to perform fellatio on him as he beat her on the head and breasts and loud screams can be heard. Bittaker can then be heard pulling a pair of pliers from inside his toolbox.

High-pitched and prolonged screams of agony can be heard as Bittaker squeezes and twists at her labia, clitoris, nipples and breasts with the pliers. Clanging can be heard as Bittaker returns the pliers to the toolbox. The audible banging noises heard throughout is believed to be the sound of Ledford hitting the walls of the van as she flailed and writhed in pain.]

Ledford: My God! Please stop it! (Screams)
Bittaker: Is the recorder going?
Norris: Yeah!
Bittaker: Scream baby! Scream some, baby.
Ledford: I can’t!
Bittaker: Scream some more baby. Come baby. Come on. Nobody is going to hurt you. Turn over and talk to me nice. Love me. You want nothing more in the world than to make me cum. Huh?
Ledford: (Still crying, says something unintelligible which ends with her saying “that’s right.”)
Bittaker: Say it again baby. What do you want huh? What do you want?
Ledford: Your cock.
Bittaker: Where do you want it baby, huh?
Ledford: I want to hold it and squeeze it.
Bittaker: Why?
Ledford: It feels good, cause you like it and I like it.
Bittaker: You want me to cum baby.
Ledford: Oh yeah.
Bittaker: You want me to cum, yeah? Want me to come, tell me baby. (Beating and slapping sounds)
Ledford: Yeah.
Bittaker: Tell me!
Ledford: Yeah.
Bittaker: Huh?
Ledford: Oh yeah.
Bittaker: Hey girl, you want me to put a pair of pliers up your cunt?
Ledford: What?
Bittaker: You want to make me cum huh? You want to make me cum huh?
Bittaker: Huh? Want to make me cum girl, huh?
Ledford: Oh yes (Scream)
Bittaker: Yes what?
Ledford: I want you to cum. Cum. (Scream). Come on.

[Note: Ledford screams and moans as Bittaker inserts the pliers inside of her vagina and begins twisting them and tearing at her from the inside]

Bittaker: Stop screaming at me, come on talk to me!
Ledford: Cum, cum, cum. Please cum, cum, cum, cum.
Bittaker: Where do you want me to cum, baby?
Ledford: I want you to cum.
Bittaker: Where do you want me to cum?
Ledford: I want you to cum.
Bittaker: Where do you want me to cum?
Ledford: Your cock. I want you to cum.
Bittaker: Cum where?
Ledford: Cum.
Bittaker: Cum where? Where do you want me to cum?
Ledford: In me.
Bittaker: Where?
Ledford: Cum.
Bittaker: Where?
Ledford: All over. All over.
Ledford: (Scream). No, no, no, no, no, no. (Scream)
Bittaker: Is the recorder going?
Norris: What?
Bittaker: Is the recorder going?
Norris: (Emphasis) Yeah!
Ledford: Oh no, no, no! Oh no! (Sobbing sounds)

[Note: A shrill scream can be heard followed by the sound of Ledford wailing. It is believed that Bittaker had been sodomizing Ledford, before inserting the pliers into her rectum and twisting and tearing at the inner lining. Again banging sounds can be heard as Ledfords hits the walls of the van, flailing about in sheer agony.]

Ledford: (Screaming). No! No! No! Oh, oh! (Screaming)

[Note: The tape recorder is shut off briefly while Bittaker takes the wheel and allows Norris to have a turn. In other cases this is where Norris would rape the victim, but since Bittaker had already mutilated her vagina and anus with pliers, he instead forced the girl to give him fellatio before turning the tape recorder back on.]

Norris: Make noise there, girl. Go ahead and scream or I’ll make you scream!
Ledford: (Loud, pleading tone) I’ll scream if you stop hitting me!
Norris: (Enthusiastic tone in voice) Oh yeah?
Ledford: (Screaming)
Norris: Keep it up girl!
Ledford: (Sreaming)
Norris: More!
Ledford: (Screaming)
Norris: ‘Till I say stop!
Ledford: (Screaming)

[Note: Unitelligible sounds interspersed with the cries and moans of Ledford are heard just before Norris can be heard clanging around inside the toolbox. Norris then pulls out a sledgehammer. Ledford can be heard crying and shouting, “Oh no! No! Oh!” several times. Norris then strikes her in the elbow with the sledgehammer.]

Ledford: You broke it!
Norris: I barely hit it.
Ledford: (Pleading and sobbing) Don’t hit me again!
Norris: Oh yeah?
Ledford: (Screaming) No! No! No! No! No! (Bludgeoning sounds can be heard, interspersed with repeated high-pitched screams)
Ledford: No! No! No! No! No! (Scream) Oh no! No! No! No!

[Note: Norris struck Ledford with the sledgehammer 25 times, repeatedly fracturing her left elbow. Each time she is struck she cries out with a high-pitched scream.]

Norris: How’s that?
Bittaker: (Driving) What’s going on?
Norris: I was just beating on her elbows with the hammer.
Bittaker: Ah!
Ledford: Oh! (Screams as Norris again repeatedly strikes her elbow with the hammer).
Norris: What are you sniveling about?
Ledford: (Scream). No! Oh. Owww! I, (Repeated screams).
Ledford: (Screams).

The tape recorder is then turned off. By the time the pair were finished, Ledford begged for her captors to kill her already.

Norris wrapped a wire coat hanger around Ledford’s neck and strangled her to death. The pair then took the girl’s mangled and mutilated body and placed it on display with her arms outstretched and her legs spread apart on the front lawn of a random home.

Rumor has it that the FBI still has copies of the tape, which they play for new recruits in order to prepare them for the sort of monsters they may be up against. Detective Paul Bynum, who was tasked with investigating the sadistic murders, later committed suicide. The levity of the brutal slayings, combined with his fear that Norris and Bittaker may someday be paroled and come after him was too much burden for one man to bear.

Both men received the death sentence for the heinous murders. Most would assume that they had long been executed, but the truth is that both men are still alive on death row. It is likely that neither men will carry out their sentence.