Inside sick killers horrendous torture kit he used to kill Route 40 sex workers

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Death Row's 'Route 40 killer' carried a torture kit he used to brutally murder women before he was executed on March 14, 1992.

Steven Brian Pennell, Delaware's only known serial killer, was convicted of the murders of two women and suspected of killing three others after abducting them from the highway during the 1980s.

His first victim, Shirley Ellis, 23, was found by two boys at the side of the road partially nude, her legs spread out, hands and feet tied with adhesive tape.

She was identified by her tattoos, a former sex worker from the area, who was turning over a new leaf and helping AIDS patients at Wilmington Hospital.

However, an autopsy revealed there were no signs of sexual assault but she had been seriously abused after being struck with a hammer and choked with a string around her neck.

His second victim, Catherine A. DiMauro, 31, was found dead the following year on June 18, when construction workers found her naked body on their site.

Her cause of death was the same as the previous victim and there were no signs of sexual assault – but her body was covered in blue fibres.

Initial suspicions were raised about the 34-year-old after an undercover cop, named Renée Taschner, posed as a sex worker by the side of the road to try and catch him.

Reports say Pennell's car, a blue Ford, was spotted seven times within the span of 20 minutes on the road.

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The cop moved to a more isolated location where Pennell stopped close to her – from there she could see that the suspect was a white male and the carpet inside his car was blue.

Pennell was nervous and could barely make eye contact as he attempted to convince her to enter the car but she refused.

She managed to gather some of the fibres from his car and took down the license plate number only to discover the vehicle belonged to the married electrician and father of two who had no criminal record.

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When police obtained a search warrant for Stephen's vehicle they found the victim's fingerprints, blood and hair.

They also found a "torture kit", which included pliers, whips, handcuffs, needles, knives, adhesive tape and restraints.

Pennell was arrested on November 29, 1988, and was eventually sentenced to death on October 31, 1991.

His defence team objected to the sentence but he was executed anyway on March 14, 1992.

  • Death Row
  • Serial Killers
  • Murder

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