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The Death Row Poet

A personal look at William Bradford

By Andrea CapitanoPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Can you help identify these women?

This is William Richard “Bill” Bradford. This case has been of interest to me for decades. I remember the first time I heard of Bill. It was before I had even decided to pursue my degree in Criminal Justice. The case interested me so much because I had become quite close with one of Bradford’s ex wives. I was even a friend of one of his sons. I do not believe in coincidence. And the timing of meeting these people and pursuing my degree in Criminal Justice was incredible. I had first hand knowledge of someone who had intimately known a serial killer. The only better thing I could think of was if I had been able to interview Bradford myself. I did many research papers on him over the years. Having that personal knowledge was something I could not pass on. Sadly, both his son and ex wife have passed on. But I will always remember them so fondly. But it was obvious to see the devastation this man caused not only to his victims but to those who were close to him.

William Bradford was a convicted murderer sentenced to death in California. Bradford would lure his victims( over 50 women, allegedly) by posing as a photographer. He would use that to offer women modeling careers and then lure them out to the desert and rape and kill them. If this sounds familiar, in 2006 CSI did an episode on Bradford titled “Darkroom”. Bradford was only convicted of two murders. He was convicted of the murders of Tracy Campbell and Shari Miller. However, in 2006, authorities released several head shots taken by Bradford that they believe were also his victims. One of those head shots was the ex wife I had befriended. Another head shot was that of Nika LaRue who had been kidnapped and raped but had survived. She is also the sister of Eva LaRue, a cast member of CSI. Only one body has been determined to be among the pictures of Bradford’s. Donnalee Campbell Duhamel,whose decapitated corpse was found in a canyon in Malibu in 1978. The other women in the pictures have not been identified and are presumed as possible rape and/or murder victims.

Bradford had a lengthy criminal history and included charges of rape, sexual assault, and of course, murder. In his murder trial Bradford acted as his own counsel and offered no evidence to his innocence, In his closing statement he hauntingly told the courtroom, "Think of how many you don't even know about. You are so right. That's it."

While awaiting execution in San Quentin, Bradford dropped all his appeals and hired counsel to speed up his execution process. He began writing poetry which garnered publicity from the press who began calling him the Death Row Poet.

This is an excerpt of one of his poems:

“Many nights I have dreamed of death

Greeting me with welcome comfort

Tempered with a searing seduction.

Within these dreams I have discovered a


Serene, extreme place

Which dissolves the last drop of fear . . . “

Five days before his execution Bradford stated he changed his mind, declared his innocence and wanted to halt the execution. However, he died in San Quentin State Prison in 2008 of natural causes while serving his time.

From personal experience, I know Bradford dabbled and had interest in the occult. He even gave his son the middle name Beelzebub. The manner in which he chose his victims, executed their rape and murder, and disposed of their bodies was exponentially ritualistic. It seems likely that these factors may have had some connection to each other. However, as of now I do not believe I will ever know for sure.

capital punishment

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    Andrea CapitanoWritten by Andrea Capitano

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