Carroll Edward Cole was born on May 9th, 1938, in Sioux City, Iowa. After the birth of his sister in 1939, his family moved to California and his father, LaVerne Cole, found work in a shipyard. Not long after, his father left to fight in World War II.
While his father was gone, Cole’s mother, Vesta, had several affairs, and would sometimes bring her son along with her to meetings with her lovers. She threatened to beat him if he ever told his father about what went on. His mother emotionally abused him and even dressed him up as a girl. Cole was also teased in school because of his “girl’s name”.
When Cole was 8, he exacted revenge on his classmate by drowning the boy in a lake in Richmond, California. Authorities determined the death was an accident, but Cole eventually confessed otherwise in an autobiography he wrote while in prison years later.
Cole had committed several petty crimes in his teen years, and he was often arrested for theft and intoxication. He decided to join the army after high school, but he was released under a ‘bad conduct discharge’ in 1958 for the theft of some pistols.
In 1960, Cole attacked two couples who were parked in cars on a lover’s lane. Afterwards, he called the police in Richmond, where he was living, and told them that he suffered from violent thoughts of strangling women. From this point, he spent time in and out of several mental hospitals, spanning over three years. At Stockton State Hospital, the last hospital he spent time in, his doctor wrote a report stating: “He seems to be afraid of the female figure and cannot have intercourse with her first but must kill her before he can do it.” Despite this analysis, the same doctor approved Cole’s discharge in April 1963, disregarding the antisocial personality disorder diagnosis hospital staff gave Cole.
After his release, Cole moved to Dallas, Texas, where his brother Richard had been living. He met, and eventually married, a woman named Billie Whitworth, who was a stripper and an alcoholic. This marriage did not change his perspective towards women. The two divorced after two years when Cole burned down a motel, convinced that Whitworth was inside having sex with other men. He was arrested for arson.
After his release from prison, he attempted to strangle an 11 year old girl in Missouri. For this incident, he was arrested and spent five years in prison.
When his sentence in Missouri was finished, he traveled to Nevada and attempted to strangle two women. Noting that he had a problem, he checked himself into a mental hospital. The doctors there took note of his murderous thoughts and fantasies, but still decided not to detain him, and discharged him with a ticket to San Diego.
Cole’s “first” murder victim was a woman named Essie L. Buck, who he had picked up in a San Diego tavern on May 7th, 1971. He strangled her to death inside of his car and drove around with her body in the trunk before dumping it. Two weeks later, he murdered an unnamed woman and buried her in a wooded area. His reasoning for these murders was that these women were unfaithful to their husbands, and they reminded him of his mother and her adulterous ways.
Cole married a barmaid named Diana Faye Younglove Pashal in July 1973. Like his first wife, Pashal was also an alcoholic. They fought often, and Cole usually took off on his own for days at a time and commit murders. During one of these trips away from home, he allegedly cannibalized a woman to a point.
In September 1979, Cole strangled his wife to death. A neighbor, suspicious at Pashal’s disappearance, called the police eight days later. Authorities found her body wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a closet, but decided cause of death was due to her heavy drinking. Cole was released and all charges were dismissed.
Cole left San Diego and ended up in Las Vegas. He met a woman named Marie Cushman in a bar in 1979. That same evening, the two had sex in a motel and Cole strangled her to death.
After murdering Cushman, Cole moved back to Dallas, where he had strangled three more women by November 1980. He was a suspect in the second murder and was also found at the scene of the third killing. Police arrested him and held him in custody. Authorities concluded the third victim probably succumbed to a natural death, but Cole confessed to her murder and several others.
He told police that he had murdered fourteen women over a nine year period, but that he was unsure of that count because he was usually drunk during the murders.
Cole was convicted of the three murders he committed in Texas on April 9th, 1981, and sentenced to life in prison. In 1984, Cole’s mother passed away and this reportedly triggered a change in his attitude. He agreed to face additional murder charges in Nevada, even if that meant he would receive the death penalty.
He was extradited to Nevada in February 1984, where he was convicted for the deaths of two women in 1977 and 1979. Cole was sentenced to death in Nevada in October 1984. The American Civil Liberties Union tried to have his sentence commuted, but Cole protested and accepted his sentence. He was executed by lethal injection at the Nevada State Prison on December 6th, 1985.