On July 31, 1949, Laura Showalter was murdered in the territory of Alaska during the course of an attempted rape. Months later, Harvey Carignan, then 22, was arrested after attempting to rape another woman, Christine Norton.
Carignan was convicted of first-degree murder and assault with intent to commit rape for his crimes against the two women and sentenced to death. In 1951, however, Carignan won a new trial when his confession was thrown out because it had been improperly obtained. An officer had told Carignan that he wouldn’t receive the death penalty if he confessed to the crime, which he then did.
With his confession suppressed, the murder charge was eventually dismissed, but he did serve a 15-year sentence for assaulting Norton.
He was paroled in 1960, but just months later he and his brother were arrested for burglary in Minnesota. They were convicted and Carignan was sentenced to another four years in prison before being paroled on March 2, 1964. He again committed a burglary just eight months after his release and was convicted and sentenced to 15 years, this time getting paroled in 1968. He also spent another year in prison for violating his parole.
For several years, Carignan remained quiet, but on October 15, 1972, Leslie Brock, 19, was found beaten to death in Washington. A witness claimed to have seen her getting into Carignan’s truck.
It wasn’t until 1973 that Carignan allegedly committed the crime that would earn him his serial killer moniker “The Want-Ad Killer.” On May 1, 1973, Kathy Sue Miller, 15, saw a help wanted sign for Carignan’s gas station. When she responded to the ad, Carignan reportedly raped her before beating her to death with a hammer. Her body wasn’t found for months, until two boys hiking near Everett, Washington, found her wrapped in a sheet of plastic with holes in her skull.
Carignan was never charged with Brock or Miller’s murders because prosecutors lacked evidence to connect him to the crimes.
Months after allegedly murdering Miller, in September 1973, Carignan raped and beat 13-year-old Jerri Billings with a hammer, but let her go with a threat to not report the attack to anyone.
By 1974, Carignan began living with Eileen Hunley, 29, in Minnesota, but when she left him that August, she disappeared and was found dead five weeks later with multiple blows to the head. She had also been raped with a tree branch.
One month after killing Hunley, Carignan took Gwen Burton from a parking lot, choked her until she was almost unconscious, and then sexually assaulted her with a hammer. He then dumped her in a nearby field. She survived.
Days later, Carignan picked up Sally Versoi and Diane Flynn, both teenagers, and forced them to perform oral sex on him. He threatened to beat them if they didn’t comply. The girls were able to escape when Carignan stopped at a gas station. A couple days after that, Katherine Schultz, 18, disappeared and was found a day later beaten to death with a hammer.
Carignan was arrested on September 24, 1974, less than two weeks after his brutal crime in Minnesota spree began. He was charged with attempted murder and aggravated sodomy, to which he pleaded insanity, claiming God told him to “kill whores and harlots,” TMZ reported.
He was convicted in 1975 on both charges. Months later, he was found guilty on other charges including sodomy upon a child, and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He was also indicted for murdering Schultz and Hunley. He pleaded guilty to killing Schultz and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was later convicted of killing Hunley and sentenced to life in prison.
Though he was only convicted of murdering three women, Carignan allegedly killed at least five and raped even more.
Earlier this month, Carignan, 95, died from natural causes while serving his life sentence at a Minnesota prison.