An American Eskimo, Tahl clashed with authority for the first time at age three, after deliberately hurling a brick through a window. More arrests followed, but his crimes remained petty until the spring of 1965, when unexpected violent urges surfaced at the age of twenty-seven.
On April Fool's Day, Tahl, approached his man-and-wife employers, Mr. and Mrs. Victor Bowen, at the Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego, California. Brandishing a shotgun, he demanded cash, and was indignantly refused. Impulsively, Tahl shot both victims, killing Mrs. Bowen instantly; her husband would survive just long enough to name the gunman for police.
Mere hours later, still on April 1, Tahl invaded a nearby apartment, threatening to stab a two-year-old child if the boy's teenaged mother did not submit to intercourse. Following the rape, he fled from California, giving San Diego officers the slip, and set his sights on Texas.
In El Paso, Tahl acquired a bogus driver's license, draft card, and Social Security number in the name of "Arthur Spencer," moving on to Dallas as he searched for work. In Dallas, Tahl made friends with Allen Wright, age 24, and shortly moved his few belongings into Wright's apartment.
There, on April 26, a neighbor found Wright's body -- naked, torn by knife wounds -- and police began a search for "Arthur Spencer," on another count of murder.
Tahl, meanwhile, was hiding in Fort Worth. While there, he "found" a Social Security card in the name of "J.D. Baxter," usurping that identity as he evacuated Texas, homing on St. Louis. Back in Dallas, "Arthur Spencer" had been made as William Tahl, and federal warrants had begun to multiply on charges of unlawful flight. Tahl's name was added to the FBI's "Most Wanted" list on June 10, 1965.
Tahl's latest buddy, in St. Louis, was a teacher by the name of Marvin Thomas. After several meetings, Tahl moved into Thomas's apartment, watching from a distance as the FBI continued their pursuit across the great Southwest.
Come autumn, William's cash and self-control evaporated simultaneously; on November 5 he bound his roommate, battered Thomas with a sock containing buckshot, and coerced the teacher into signing four $100 checks, made out to "J.D. Baxter." Leaving the apartment shortly after 1 a.m., Tahl had no way of knowing that a neighbor had already called police. St. Louis officers arrived to rescue Thomas, listening as he related details of his ordeal.
They were still on hand then Tahl returned, but they proved careless in allowing him to use the bathroom prior to making the arrest. Emerging with a pistol pointed at himself, Tahl threatened suicide, revealing his identity and startling police with details of his several homicides.
An hour and twenty minutes passed before he finally surrendered and was carted off to jail, awaiting the arrival of the FBI.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans