David Carpenter Murderer – A Dark Chapter In California’s History

david carpenter murderer

David Carpenter murderer, also known as the ‘Trailside Killer,’ was a notorious serial killer who committed a series of gruesome assassinations in the late 70s and 80s in the vicinity of San Francisco, California.

The killer’s modus manner involved attacking mostly women hikers, r*ping them, and then taking their lives.

He is thought to have assassinated more than ten victims during a 21-month period, targeting them in hiking trails, mountains, and forests. Despite his notoriety, Carpenter is not widely discussed in the media.

Sources indicate that he was apprehended after one of his last victims managed to escape and reported the incident to law enforcement.

The survivor provided valuable information that helped investigators identify the David Carpenter murderer and serial killer around May 1981.

Carpenter was subsequently found guilty of multiple murders and other offenses and received a death sentence. As of now, he remains on death row.

On April 16, 2023, ID’s Very Scary People aired an episode titled The Trailside Killer, which chronicled the case against David Carpenter.

David Carpenter murderer- Disturbing & abusive life

Carpenter was born and raised in San Francisco, California, to a father who was an abusive alcoholic and a mother who was domineering and abusive towards him.

By the age of seven, he had developed a severe stutter, which made it difficult for him to interact with others, and he was often subjected to bullying as a result.

Additionally, his parents forced him to participate in activities like ballet and violin lessons, which only made him a target for further bullying. Later on, he displayed two of the three indicators of the MacDonald Triad, namely bedwetting and animal torture.

When he was 17 years old, Carpenter was jailed for s*xually assaulting two of his younger cousins.

However, he was released after serving just a year and went on to continue s*xually assaulting children. In 1955, he got married and had three children named Michael David, Gabrielle Louise, and Circe Anne.

Side Profile of David Carpenter murderer
Side Profile of David Carpenter murderer

Carpenter supported his family by working in different roles, such as a salesman and a printer, and he also served in the Coast Guard, where he received an honorable discharge.

Despite being married, he continued to stalk women and demand more s*x from his wife. In 1960, he befriended a woman and led her into the woods in Presidio, where he tied her up with a clothesline, beat her with a hammer, and stabbed her hand. 

Fortunately, a military patrol officer stumbled upon the scene and caught him in the act.

Carpenter attempted to shoot the officer with a gun but missed and was subsequently injured by return fire and arrested.

In the following year, David Carpenter was sentenced to a 14-year prison term for one count of assault with intent to commit assassination and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

While he was serving his sentence, his wife filed for divorce, and he was diagnosed by prison psychiatrists with sociopathic personality disorder and an IQ of 125.

David Carpenter murderer was released from prison after serving just nine years and soon remarried, but this marriage also ended in failure.

Between the end of January and the beginning of February, Carpenter carried out a series of assaults on women. On January 27, in a single day, he intentionally collided his vehicle with a woman’s car and forced her out, then attempted to r*pe her.

Although Carpenter stabbed her, she managed to escape and remembered his license plate number. He then broke into another woman’s residence, abducted and r*ped her, and also stole her vehicle.

On February 3, David Carpenter stole a woman’s car and proceeded to r*pe another woman, who had her infant child with her during the assault. However, Carpenter treated the child kindly.

He was apprehended on the same day. While awaiting trial, he attempted to escape with four other inmates, but they were swiftly caught.

Carpenter entered into a plea bargain and was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping. In May of 1979, he was granted parole and transferred to a federal halfway house.

Soon after his release, it is believed that he began to commit assassinations.

During this time, Carpenter enrolled in computer printing courses at the California Trade School and obtained a degree. After completing his studies, he secured a job as a typesetter instructor.

David Carpenter murderer of five young people in Marin County

Between October and November of 1980, Carpenter committed a series of frenzied assassinations that culminated in the deaths of Cynthia Moreland, 18, and her fiance Richard Stowers, 19, Diane O’Connell, 22, and Shauna May, 23.

All the victims were found shot to death with the same .38-caliber pistol on Sky Trail at Point Reyes. Additionally, David Carpenter murderer, r*ped and assassinated Anne Evelyn Alderson, 26, on a Mount Tam trail using the same pistol.

On March 29, 1981, a break in the case finally occurred when Ellen Hanson, a 20-year-old student at UC Davis, and her boyfriend Steve Haertle, 21, were attacked while hiking the Ridge Trail.

Haertle survived the attack and was able to provide information about the nightmare to the authorities.

David Carpenter murderer had pulled a gun on the couple and said, “I see we meet again.” While Haertle pleaded for their lives, Hanson told him, “Steven, he’s going to shoot us anyway, don’t listen to him.”

After the attack on Hanson and Haertle, Carpenter had kidnaped and r*ped another woman before releasing her unharmed.

However, the woman was able to identify Carpenter’s car, and he was subsequently arrested. Ballistic evidence linked him to the murders of five young people in Marin County.

A picture of David Carpenter wearing a brown jacket and black-framed glasses
A picture of David Carpenter wearing a brown jacket and black-framed glasses

Is David Carpenter still alive?

Currently, David Carpenter is now on death row at San Quentin Prison in San Quentin, California, where he has been since November 1984.

In September 2021, The True Crime Report corresponded with the convicted killer via email, and he was willing to discuss what life is like for someone who has spent so many years awaiting execution.

At the time of the interview, Carpenter was 91 years old. As a death row inmate, David Carpenter murderer of 5 innocent women has his own cell, which provides him some comfort.

According to his interview with The True Crime Report, he has control over his lights and a 15-inch color television and can sleep or take a nap whenever he wants. He also has the freedom of a single cell that he would not have in a two-person cell.

Carpenter is allowed to go outside three times a week and can leave his cell once a month for church services, medical appointments, or visits from friends and family.