Wayne Adam Ford was a former long-haul truck driver who murdered four women from 1997 to 1998. When he turned himself into the Humboldt County Sheriff Department in Eureka, California, he had a woman's breast in a bag in his coat pocket. He was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder on June 27th, 2006 and was sentenced to death in August of 2006.
RECAP: Wayne was battling some mental health issues after he got hit by a car and he ended up being honorably discharged from the Marines in January of 1985. He hopped from job to job and started dating a woman named Anaya. He was obsessed with putting safety pins or needles in her breasts which she went along with, but she didn’t really like it. After they split up, he met and married Lucie and they had a son together. This relationship fizzled out in 1996 and in 1997, Wayne got a new job driving a large long-haul.
On October 26th, 1997, a body was found in the water of Freshwater Slough (SLEW). The arms, legs and head were missing and the woman was dubbed Torso Girl and she has not been identified. On June 2nd, 1998, about two miles from the small town of Buttonwillow, a naked woman’s body was found floating in the water in the California Aqueduct. She was identified as 26-year-old Tina Renee Gibbs.
On the evening of September 20th, 25-year-old Lanett Dayon White changed her clothes, and she told her cousin that she was heading to the store just around the corner. One of the kids in the house wanted some milk, but they didn’t have any, so she figured she could grab it quick. Her cousin Sharon saw that Lanett was upset about something and she was sniffling and crying. She tried to ask her what was wrong, but she didn’t say anything, and she left the house. Lanett had her first child, a daughter, just a day after her 16th birthday. She had her son a little over ten months later with a different father. Five years later, she had another son with a third father and a fourth son with a fourth father in 1998. She had some run-ins with the police for drugs and forgery. When she left for the store to get the milk, it was the last time she was seen alive.
On September 25th of 1998, three men were driving a truck hauling a cattle trailer on the way to Vallejo, California and they pulled into a large gravel turnout off State Highway 12. The engine had been misfiring, so they needed to replace one of the spark plug wires. As they were stopping the truck, one of the men, Rinaldo Lorenzo noticed a woman’s naked body in the irrigation ditch. They ran across the highway and asked another man to call the cops. Before they arrived on the scene, the men fixed their truck and left.
The police found the woman lying in the bottom of the ditch and she was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, and a little over 150 pounds. She was on her back with her knees up and slightly bent. Her body was lying just over a foot of slow-running irrigation water, but her arms were both out. It appeared that someone had just tossed her body and fled. Her face and chest were black from decomposition which suggested that she had been dead for several days. Detectives searched the area and found several items near the body, such as: a plaid, dark-blue-and-beige long sleeved shirt, one brown leather glove, and a blue plastic tarp that had blood stains on it. There was a cloth bracelet on the woman’s wrist, a ring on her index finger, and a yellow metal necklace around her neck and she had several tattoos.
Other items discovered in the turnout were a white plastic bag with possible blood stains and the bag had a logo from a nationwide chain of truck stops called Flying J. Several leaves near the body had possible blood stains, a bloody paper towel, a saw blade, a plastic water bottle, a small lipstick container, a disposable lighter, a plastic bag that was for paper plates, and some hair. The woman’s body was removed from the ditch for examination and the pathologist noted that there was “a puncture mark lateral to the right breast.” The wound was about a quarter inch across and the absence of hemorrhage in the surrounding tissue suggested that it was inflicted after death.
The skin slippage and erosion of the epidermis accompanied by the loss of much of the victim’s hair and the discoloration of the tissues indicated that the decomposition was advanced, at least 2-5 days. A tattoo on her right breast said “Mi Madre Debi” and her left breast said “Ignacio”. There was a heart with a ribbon on her right shoulder and her right ankle said “My Mac” written in cursive. There wasn’t an obvious cause for the woman’s death. There was almost nothing except a single small stab wound just to the right of her breast. There were slight markings on the neck that appeared to be consistent with the pattern of her necklace, but there wasn’t anything suggesting strangulation.
There were red marks on the back of the woman’s head, but it was impossible to know if they were pre or post-mortem. There was a measurable amount of methamphetamine in the woman’s blood at the time of death, but it was enough to get high, but not enough to kill her and there were no other drugs in her system. Investigators were able to get useable prints from the woman and they determined that she was 25-year-old Lanett Deyon White who went to buy milk for her baby and never came back.
Lanett had been living with her cousin, so investigators spoke to her and Charlotte said that they had smoked methamphetamine earlier in the afternoon on the day of Lanett’s disappearance. She heard that Lanett had met someone at the store the night before and arranged to “make some money.” Police wanted to know how she had died and how she ended up more than 400 miles away from her home. We know she was headed to the store on the night of her disappearance, so investigators started there. The owner of the store had surveillance cameras, but the tapes for that night had been re-used. They contacted the clerk that worked that night, and he said Lanett had been at the store three times that day and made three different calls from the pay phone. The last time he saw her was around 9:30 PM, but Lanett said she would be back around 11. The clerk closed the store a few minutes after 11 without seeing her again. Investigators spoke to Lanette’s cousin Sharon, and she was able to fill in some of the gaps. She said that Lanette had gone to the liquor store twice on the night before her disappearance.
She returned from the store with $30 and said she let a man at the store touch her. Sharon believed it was the night clerk that had paid her. She was supposed to go back to the store for a third time around 11:30 to meet the night clerk and another man and they were going out for a drink, and she was going to get $70, but the $70 meeting got postponed to the following night for some reason. This all happened on Saturday, and she went missing on Sunday.
On October 22nd of 1998, around 1-2 in the afternoon, Larry Halverson was working, and he saw a familiar young woman named Patricia Tamez. She was a sex worker who often hung around the same area. On this day, a large, black semi-tractor truck pulled up, words were exchanged, and a minute later, she hopped in the truck, and they drove off. Patty often stood on the intersection and left with truck drivers, so this wasn’t abnormal in anyway, but for some reason, Larry got a good look at this driver and noticed that he was a white man, in his mid 30’s and he had several days' worth of growth in his beard. Patty was wearing a maroon-colored jacket tied around her waist, a light-colored, loose fitting top, blue shorts, and white tennis shoes without socks. The truck pretty much pulled away before she was even fully inside, and Larry saw Patty’s maroon jacket flapping outside the truck window before it was pulled back inside.
The truck turned the corner onto D street, which was Old Route 66, and headed east, following State Route 18 which was also referred to as “Happy Trails Highway” and that headed into Apple Valley. Larry thought this was strange because he knew that Patty had a specific area that she was comfortable with, and she didn’t like to venture outside of that. Patty was sweet and many people in town knew her. She had been suffering for years from a debilitating addiction to methamphetamine and she had spent a lot of time in the hospital for this.
We actually have decent accounts of some of the things Patty was going through. She had been an excellent student in school and was a hard worker. She had been an upper middle-class college student who dropped out because she was getting into meth, and she had started drugs when she was 13. When she was in her early twenties, things started to change. She got pregnant and the baby was taken from her because of her drug problem. On New Year’s Day of 1993, she was with a man named Listerman and they were in a parking lot of a motel. Patrol deputies decided to check the car out and Patty seemed very nervous. While they were talking to her, they saw a blue vinyl zippered bag in the back seat of the Cadillac. The deputies claimed the bag was open and they saw a triple beam scale for weighing drugs and there was a bag with a white powdery substance.
Patty and Listerman were arrested and three months later, they were both in trouble again. A member of the Ontario narcotics squad obtained information that they were selling meth from a motel room. When officers arrived, Patty said she wasn’t the one that rented the room, so she couldn’t let them in. When she tried to close the door, the officers blocked it because they smelled, “a very strong chemical odor” and they both believed meth was being cooked which could be potentially explosive.
They both agreed to plead guilty, and Patty agreed to the time she’d served in jail from a previous arrest, which was about two months, she would get 5 years probation and she would be enrolled in a drug recovery program. She completed a 2 month in-patient drug treatment program and was given permission to go to Arlington, Virginia to search for a job. She ended up going back to college instead and she remained clean and was tested twice a week. If she completed all of the necessary requirements, the jail time would be expunged, but unfortunately, by late March of 1994, Patty failed seven tests. She was given the chance to enroll in in-patient treatment to stay out of jail, but she never showed up.
On October 21st of 1996, Patty was seen in St. Mary’s Hospital in Apple Valley and she was going through hospital records and had files scattered around the parking lot. When officers arrived, they couldn’t find anyone, but that’s because she was back inside. The guard found her pulling a linen cart down the hall and the staff had to tackle her and handcuff her. When the deputy arrived, Patty said she had been near the radiation section because she was doing some volunteer work. She saw that the linen cart was unattended, so she thought she would move it out of the way. Patty had never volunteered at the hospital, the records were checked.
She told the deputy that “I needed something to keep me busy.” She said she went through the records because she was looking for one to bring to a friend who worked in the radiation section. After speaking to her more, it was discovered that Patty had recently been committed for mental observation at the hospital and she was trying to find out the psychiatrist who treated her so she could request to be released from her commitment. She had wandered around the hospital, but got lost and saw the linen cart. She took the cart into a staff break room and started cleaning just to pass time and keep herself busy, according to Patty.
The deputy told Patty that her statements weren’t making sense and she said she didn’t want anything to be said officially because it would find its way back to the judge and probation officer. She was arrested and charged with grand theft. While she was waiting for her next hearing, she got arrested again for shoplifting a pair of jeans from a Sears store, then she tried to take the jeans to a Mervyn’s store to exchange them for a credit voucher. She got the voucher and bought a pair of underwear, but shoplifted a pair of jeans from Mervyn’s and she was caught. She said she stole the jeans because she needed money for food.
Patty was struggling with her addiction and things took a very different turn on March 6th of 1997. Personnel assigned to the Army National Guard Armory building in Apple Valley arrived to work and found a light blue suitcase sitting on top of a trash can placed against the front door of the building. The suitcase had a name tag with the name Tony Rogers. They were only familiar with this name because of Patty. She had been showing up and pestering one of the recruiters for quite some time. She believed that the recruiter was involved in some work with Tony Rogers who was someone she had been dating and he was in state prison.
So, they recognized the name and realized Patty had left this suitcase and they were worried that it could be a bomb. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad had to evacuate all surrounding buildings and medical offices and they blocked all roadways near the Armory. When they opened the suitcase, it definitely did not contain a bomb. There was an assortment of Bibles and other books, along with a red plastic folder with handwritten notes on secret codes. There was a book about Top Secret Data Encryption Techniques.
After interviewing the guardsmen, it appeared that patty started showing up at the Armory several weeks earlier and she had the intention of enlisting in the Army. As they had more conversations with her, they noticed that she would become irrational and irate, so she was asked to leave. She kept going back to the Armory and on one occasion, she pinned an envelope to a board in the office. The envelope was addressed to Patty and came from Tony Rogers and the stamp was from State Prison Generated Mail. She mailed another piece of correspondence to a recruiter from Tony Rogers. The envelope contained four written pages of government conspiracies and cover-ups of illegal specimen testing on people, of church involvement, and names of people she wanted them to “take out.”
Patty called the Armory 4 times and left threatening messages on their voicemail. She became increasingly more upset with each call, and she was yelling and cussing. On one call, she said, “You’re going to get it, I’m not fucking with you anymore, you can be eliminated.” The calls all came in around 2 AM, but then they stopped, and she didn’t come by the Armory for a while.
When the suitcase was investigated, there were actually four tags and all of them were Victor Valley Hospital visitors passes. Two were marked Tony Rogers, Department of Defense and the other two said CIA C/O Tamez. Patty believed that she was a secret agent, and the Army recruiter was her contact with her control, who was Tony Rogers. The author of the book believes that Patty had entered into extreme paranoia which often develops after using methamphetamine for prolonged periods of time.
Patty’s mom was not surprised about the “bomb incident” because Patty had done the same thing a year before at the Child Protective Services offices in Victorville. The police caught up to Patty at a bus stop and she was charged with maliciously planting a false bomb “with the intent to cause another to fear for his or her personal safety.” During an interview, Patty said she already joined the Army and she was upset because they didn’t bother to contact her. She said she joined through“the Pelican Brief Program.” She said that when she went to the Barstow jail she watched the Pelican Brief movie and there were secret messages at the end and the messages were telling her to help her country and join the reserves. She waited for them to contact her, but they didn’t, so she had to do it herself.
While Patty was waiting for her trial to start, she got caught stealing a frozen cheese lasagna and a package of tampons. She said she took both items because she needed them, and she was talking to herself and saying she would soon be going to see God. At this point, she had so many pending cases against her, and she was recommended for a mental evaluation. Everything was put on hold because in November of 1997, she was committed to Patton State Hospital and in February of the following year, she was released and returned to court. She agreed to stay with her father and stepmother while she waited for her sentencing in April, but she didn’t show up.
On October 22nd of 1998, she was last seen getting into a truck and she was discovered the next night. 19-year-old Bryan Stankiewicz was a private security guard, and his main job was to keep everyone out of the water. Shortly after 9 PM, he was walking his normal route and met up with his co-worker Leland Myers and they unlocked the gate to the fence. As they walked to the side of the pump house, Bryan yelled, “We got a body here.” A woman was face up in the water and they called for help. By the time the police arrived, the body was gone and had moved to an area where the water pooled before entering the pumping mechanism. They had to call the aqueduct controllers to close the gates to prevent the body from travelling any further.
The woman’s body was nude, and she had a scar across her stomach, below her right rib cage and her left breast had been cut away with a sharp instrument. She had marks around her wrists and ankles, and it appeared that she was bound. Investigators were able to lift fingerprints and they identified her as Patty Tamez. The pathologist found significant trauma on her body. The marks on her hands and feet were clearly from being bound and there were a number of bruises on her face and the back of her head which looked like she had been hit with a blunt object. There was evidence of hemorrhaging within the neck, lungs, mouth, face, eyes and brain which is evidence that she had been strangled. Her back had been broken, higher up on her spinal cord. This would have caused her to be paralyzed from the chest down. It was possible that she was alive when her breast was removed and when she was shoved in the water.
The pathologist listed drowning as a possible cause of death. Vaginal swabs showed traces of sperm and several fibers were recovered from her body as well. She had many injuries or illnesses that were not related to the homicide. Her arms showed evidence of needle tracks from injecting herself with drugs, there was a scar on her wrist, her gall bladder showed signs of a disorder, as did her liver and bile ducts, and her heart was enlarged.
It was the night of November 2nd, 1998, when 36-year-old Wayne Adam Ford was wrestling with the idea of confessing. But on this night, he was sitting at the Ocean Grove Lodge. He told the bartender, “It’s either get drunk or blow my brains out.” He drank many rum-and-cokes that night, followed by several Brandy Alexanders. Around 6, Wayne asked if there were any vacancies, and he rented a room for $38.50. He asked the bartender, Ibarra, for directions to the nearest phone. Ibarra said there was a telephone at the bar, but Wayne said no, he needed one with some privacy, so he was led to the phone booth outside.
Wayne placed a call to his brother Rodney who had just arrived home after quitting his job. Rodney answered the phone and Wayne told him he was in big trouble, he needed help, and the police were after him. He was crying and told his brother that he needed to come get him. Rodney had always been a bit stronger emotionally than his little brother. Even though they had opposite personalities, they had always been close. Wayne had asked for help in the past, but this time, it was different. Rodney could hear it in his voice, something was very wrong, so he decided to begin the 5 hour drive to get to his brother.
Wayne went back into the bar and ate two Polish hot dogs and washed them down with some brandies. A bit later, he headed to his room and waited for his brother to arrive. When Rodney got there, Wayne was crying and said he was happy to see him, he needed him. They sat on twin beds facing each other and talked for about two hours, but most of it was nonsense. He started bringing up things from their childhood. Why did dad treat us the way he did? Why did mom leave us? Wayne changed the topic and started talking about cars, then he told his brother that he hurt some people and didn’t want to hurt them anymore. Rodney tried to get him to unpack that a bit more to find out what he was talking about, but Wayne said he just needed to turn himself in and he wanted help doing that.
Wayne knew that if he asked Rodney for help turning himself in, it would get done no matter what. Rodney always did the right thing regardless of the consequences and he had proved that time and time again. When Wayne was 14, he broke into a Sporting Goods store through the skylight and took $1700 worth of merchandise, including a few hundred shotgun shells and some fishing rods. Wayne later showed Rodney the items stashed in his closet, and he knew full well that Rodney was going to tell their father.
The next morning, Rod told his brother that he loved them and they went to the Eureka Zoo, which was a place they had spent time at when they were younger. They recalled old experiences and talked about the family, then went to a Vampire movie. About 15 minutes into the movie, Rod leaned over and said it was time to go the Sheriff’s department. He knew he couldn’t sit through a 2 hour movie with all these questions.
Rodney didn’t want the police to mistakenly impound his truck and think he was involved, so they stashed it at their grandmother’s house and walked the rest of the way. When they were about 10 minutes away, Wayne said he didn’t want to do this anymore. He knew he would never get out of jail if he went. Rodney said they were going to follow through with this. Wayne called the sheriff’s department to say they were coming in because he had, “hurt a lot of people.” On the way to the police department, Wayne began having second thoughts.
Rod told him they needed to just get this over with and Wayne cried the whole time.
Around 6:30 PM, the two men entered the lobby of the Humboldt County Sherrif’s Department in Eureka, California. The brothers had spent most of the day together and Wayne decided to turn himself in because Rod had been encouraging him to do so. When they arrrived, Wayne kept saying he needed to talk to someone because he hurt people. They looked up his name in the system and didn’t see that he had any prior issues, so they weren’t taking things very seriously. Wayne finally said he had something in his pocket that would make them want to talk to him. The Seargent asked if he could look inside and Wayne tried to reach in his pocket and they said no, for our safety, we will take a look. Inside his pocket was a zip lock baggie. The officers put on latex gloves and the deputy pulled it out. There was something fleshy inside and leaking fluid into his palm. It was a fatty yellow tissue with a brown nipple. They were holding a human female breast.
Wayne was immediately arrested and placed in a cell. A detective did attempt to talk to him, but he said he wouldn’t talk until he had an attorney. Remember, his brother Rod had escorted him to the police department and he had absolutely no idea what his brother had done. He just knew that he was in a tremendous amount of pain and needed to take responsibility for something that he had done. The police spoke to Rod to tell him what was happening and he told them that his brother needed a lawyer and the police got mad at him.
Rod was sent in to talk to Wayne. Rod decided that maybe an attorney wasn’t such a good idea. If they got involved, maybe the police wouldn’t be able to help any of the people Wayne had hurt. Rod told his brother that he was going to go tell the police to try to talk to him again. After this, Wayne made the decision to start talking and he didn’t stop talking.
The day after his arrest, on November 4th, 1998, Rhonda Parker, a reporter for the Times-Standard wrote a story for the newspaper titled Trucker linked to torso case and it read, “A long-haul trucker from Arcata has apparently confessed to murdering four people including a young woman whose torso was floating in a slough near Eurkea last fall. The severed breast Ford had been carrying was from a more recent victim, and was not from the headless body that had been found in the slough the year before.”
The reporter learned that Wayne had been employed by a long-haul trucking outfit headquartered in Arcata and that meant he drove throughout the western states. Rhonda contacted the owner of the trucking company, and he was shocked that Wayne had been arrested and he said he never had any reason to believe that he was a serial killer. He said,“He seemed like a normal kind of guy. I wouldn’t have expected any problems from him. He was kind of quiet, but he wasn’t weird or anything.”
As you can imagine, this case blew up in the media when people heard that he had a severed breast in his pocket when he went to the police to confess. Eureka attorne y Kevin Robinson found it very strange that he heard about this story in the newspaper and not from the police, prosecutor’s office, or another public defender and he wondered if that meant that Wayne didn’t have anyone representing him. He tried to visit him in jail, but he was told by the sheriff’s deputies that Wayne was unavailable. In California, if a jailer prevents an attorney from seeing a prisoner who ASKED for legal counsel, the jailer would be guilty of a misdemeanor, but Kevin Robinson had no way of knowing if he asked for a lawyer or not. The detectives have claimed that they were in the process of interviewing Wayne when he showed up and that’s why he was unavailable.
On Nobember 6th, Wayne Adam Ford was led into the courtroom of Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson. Deputy District Attorney Worth Dikeman read the complaint where he was charged with a single count of murder for the unidentified torso whose headless remains had been found in the slough near Eureka the previous year. The Judge asked if he had a lawyer and Wayne said, “I keep asking for one.” He confirmed that he wanted to speak with someone, but he didn’t have any money to hire an attorney, so Kevin Robinson was appointed and entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
So, this starts off tricky right away. Wayne said he kept asking for a lawyer, so it certainly sounds like he was denied access and we know that Kevin Robinson was initially turned away when he tried to meet with him. Also, the complaint against him was only for one count of homicide because that’s all that took place in Humboldt County. Even if they found evidence of the three other murders he confessed to, he couldn’t be tried in Humboldt County because they wouldn’t have jurisdiction. He had made confessions from three other jurisdictions in California: San Joaquin (Wa-keen) County in central California, Kern County in south central California, and San Bernardino County in eastern Southern California.