A Killer Shot A Victim In The Head ... Then Accidentally Ran Into Her Months Later
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Thor Christiansen, a California man originally from Denmark, killed three women in 1976 and 1977. He picked up victim number 3 when he saw her posting flyers about a missing woman, victim number 2. The victims were all around 20 years old and looked pretty similar, so some people called the unidentified perpetrator "the lookalike killer." Others called him the "hitchhiker killer" (quite a few serial killers received that same nickname).
Then came April 1979. Christiansen hadn't killed anyone in a while as far as we know, but he now picked up a sex worker, Lydia Preston, on Hollywood Boulevard. They made plans to go to a hotel, then he drove past the agreed-upon destination and headed into the Hollywood Hills. Then, without any further delay, he took out a gun and shot her in the head.
This would be where most victims' stories end, but Lydia survived that shot. She even stayed conscious, managed to get out of the car, and ran to the nearest house. Christiansen, who hadn't dealt with anything like this before, decided not to give chase and just drove away. This seemed to work out fine for him: Weeks passed, no police knocked on his door, so he found a different sex worker and made her his fourth victim.
Lydia Preston, meanwhile, recovered from the bullet wound, though with some permanent damage. She reported what had happened, but she didn't have enough info to put the police on Thor's trail. There was every probability, of course, that she'd never run into the man again, especially if he was from out of town like he'd told her. Then in July, she was in a bar in Hollywood, when in walked Thor Christiansen. She ducked out of view, got to a payphone, and called the cops.
They arrested him based on her testimony, and thanks to some prints he'd left on a discarded tissue connected with one of the murders, they managed to get him to confess to everything. He got a life sentence ... and was quickly stabbed to death by another inmate, which was something experts had predicted would happen.
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Top image: Santa Barbara County Police