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James Edward RUZICKA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: "Sexual psychopath" - Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1973
Date of birth: 1950
Victims profile: Nancy Kinghammer, 16, and Penny Haddenham, 14
Method of murder: Strangulation - Stabbing with knife
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Status: Sentenced to two consecutive life terms in 1974

Deemed a "sexual psychopath" after attacking two Seattle women, he escaped Western State Hospital, then raped and strangled two teenagers in West Seattle. He hung the body of the one victim from a tree and hid the other in a field. He was arrested in Oregon after raping a 13-year-old girl.


James Edward Ruzicka

In and out of juvenile facilities and prisons from the age of nine, James Ruzicka was the product of an abusive home who compounded his problem with abuse of LSD, cocaine, mescaline and heroin. He first practiced bestiality as a child, soon progressing to the molestation of young girls. 

In 1973, at age 23, he was convicted of raping two Washington women at knifepoint. Pronounced a sexual psychopath by the court, he received a ten-year prison sentence, suspended on condition that he join a sex-offender rehabilitation program at Western State Hospital, near Tacoma.

Ruzicka jumped at the chance to escape prison time, and soon advanced to the position of trusty, escorting other patients to their work stations outside the hospital's maximum-security wing. Administrators thought enough of Ruzicka to grant him a 48-hour furlough, from which he never returned. Making tracks for Seattle, the fugitive moved in with his ex-wife and her new husband, living rent-free for a time before striking off on his own.

In the four weeks after his flight from Tacoma, Ruzicka murdered two girls in Seattle. Nancy Kinghammer, 16, and Penny Haddenham, 14, were both abducted from their homes by night, with Penny's corpse recovered first. 

Investigators found her hanging from a tree, just off the West Seattle Expressway; an autopsy determined that she had been raped, then strangled, before her body was strung up. Nancy Kinghammer surfaced a month later, her half-naked body concealed beneath trash in a vacant lot used as a dumping ground. Some towels were wrapped around the decomposing corpse; together with a knife, found near the scene, they would be traced by homicide detectives to the home of Ruzicka's ex-wife. 

By that time, Ruzicka had been arrested in Beaverton, Oregon, for the brutal rape of a 13-year-old girl. "I asked her if she wanted to ball," he told police, "and she didn't say 'no,' so I figured she wouldn't mind." 

Sentenced to prison on that charge, Ruzicka later confessed to the murders in Washington and was extradited for trial. 

Convicted on all counts, he received two consecutive life terms, to be served following completion of his Oregon sentence. (Authorities in Oregon have reportedly ordered a series of hormone injections for Ruzicka, designed to reduce his libido.)

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans



MO: Serial rapist who killed girls age 14 and 16.

DISPOSITION: Two consecutive life terms, 1974.



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