Serial-killing couple meets - HISTORY
Year
1977

Serial-killing couple meets

Charlene Williams meets Gerald Gallego at a poker club in Sacramento, California, resulting in one of the worst serial killing teams in American history. Before they were finally caught, the Gallegos killed and sexually assaulted at least 10 people over a two-year period.

Within a week of their first encounter, Charlene moved in with Gerald. The son of the first man to be executed in Mississippi’s gas chamber, Gerald had amassed seven felony convictions by the age of 32. He had also been marriedfive times and, it was later revealed,had beensexually abusing hisyoung daughter. By the time Charlene met Gerald, she had already gone through two marriages and had acquired a hard-drug habit.

Gerald, who had a taste for multiple women in his bed, brought home a teenage runaway so that he could indulge in a threesome shortly after Charlene moved in with him. However, he became extremely angry when he found out that Charlene and the girl were engaging in sex without him.

The couple soon decided to find victims that could keep Gerald sexually satisfied. After two months of planning, they abducted their first victims in September 1978: two teenage girls, whom they sexually assaulted, beat with a tire iron, and then shot in the head.

The couple, now married, waited until the following June before striking again, grabbing two young girls in Reno, Nevada. However, this time Charlene became mad at Gerald because he started raping the girls without her, while she was driving the van. When she began firing shots at him, he quickly killed the victims.

The pace of the couple’s killings quickened in 1980. In April, they kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered two girls from a mall near Sacramento. Two months later, they found another victim during a vacation in Oregon. This time they buried their victim alive.

In July, the Gallegos kidnapped and killed a couple as they were leaving a fraternity party. However, partygoers got the license plate of their car, and a manhunt was instituted. The Gallegos managed to elude authorities for a few months but were finally caught in November in Omaha, Nebraska. While awaiting trial, Charlene agreed to testify to save her own life. Gerald Gallego was tried in both Nevada and California and received death sentences in both states. Charlene was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in jail and was released in July 1997.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The guillotine falls silent

At Baumetes Prison in Marseille, France, Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant convicted of murder, becomes the last person executed by guillotine.The guillotine first gained fame during the French Revolution when physician and revolutionary Joseph-Ignace Guillotin won passage ...read more

The Battle of Lake Erie

In the first unqualified defeat of a British naval squadron in history, U.S. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry leads a fleet of nine American ships to victory over a squadron of six British warships at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.The battle was closely contested for ...read more

Smith to lead Jamestown

English adventurer John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia–the first permanent English settlement in North America. Smith, a colorful figure, had won popularity in the colony because of his organizational abilities and effectiveness in dealing with local ...read more

Guernica returned to Spain

On September 10, 1981, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s monumental anti-war mural Guernica is received by Spain after four decades of refugee existence. One of Picasso’s most important works, the painting was inspired by the destruction of the Basque town of Guernica by the Nazi ...read more

First drunk driving arrest

On this day in 1897, a 25-year-old London taxi driver named George Smith becomes the first person ever arrested for drunk driving after slamming his cab into a building. Smith later pled guilty and was fined 25 shillings.In the United States, the first laws against operating a ...read more

President Kennedy gets mixed signals

Maj. Gen. Victor Krulak, USMC, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Joseph Mendenhall of the State Department report to President John F. Kennedy on their fact-finding mission to Vietnam.The president had sent them to ...read more

Rod Laver wins Grand Slam

On this day in 1962, Rod Laver defeats fellow Australian Roy Emerson in four sets to win the U.S. Open. With the victory, Laver became the first man to win the tennis “Grand Slam”–four major tournaments in the same year–since Don Budge in 1938.Having already won the first three ...read more

Stephen Jay Gould is born

Stephen Jay Gould, author of The Panda’s Thumb and other popular essay collections, is born on this day.Gould grew up in Queens, New York, the son of a court stenographer without a college degree. Although Gould grew up to be a prominent paleontologist and biologist, he kept the ...read more

Halle Berry wins Emmy for Dandridge

On this day in 2000, Halle Berry wins an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her portrayal of the actress Dorothy Dandridge in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Dandridge, the star of 1954’s Carmen Jones, was the first African-American performer to ...read more

Jets collide over Zagreb

Two jets collide in mid-air over Zagreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176 people on this day in 1976. Errors by an air-traffic controller led to this deadly collision.During the Cold War, flights between Europe and the Far East were routed around the nations of the Soviet bloc. This made ...read more

Crime boss Salvatore Maranazano is murdered

Crime boss Salvatore Maranzano is shot and stabbed to death in New York City by four men working for Charles “Lucky” Luciano, one of the flashiest figures in organized crime. At one time, Luciano was living at the Waldorf Astoria and taking in over a million dollars a year, while ...read more

Hungary allows East Germans refugees to leave

In a dramatic break with the eastern European communist bloc, Hungary gives permission for thousands of East German refugees to leave Hungary for West Germany. It was the first time one of the Warsaw Pact nations-who were joined in the defensive alliance between Russia and its ...read more