Between 1978 and 1980, married sexual sadists and serial murderers Charlene Adelle Gallego and Gerald Armond Gallego killed a total of 10 victims in and around Nevada and northern California.
All but one of those who fell prey to the Gallegos were female. Six were teenagers. The couple held most of their targets captive and subjected them to rape and other sexual horrors, thereby inspiring the press to deem the Gallegos “the Sex Slave Killers.”
The background stories of both Charlene and (especially) Gerald each come off as hair-raising tales of lifetime trauma.
By high school, Charlene began acting out to dangerous degrees with drugs and sex. She then married twice, first to an active heroin addict and then to a U.S. serviceman who she described as a “mommy’s boy” because he could not keep up with her exotic bedroom kinks.
While having an affair with another married man, Charlene suggested they bring his wife into bed with them. He refused, and Charlene attempted suicide. After surviving, Charlene ran scam charity businesses.
Gerald Gallego grew up the son of a murderer father who was executed for killing two policemen and an abusive, neglectful mother who took on a series of horrendously violent boyfriends.
Throughout his young life, Gerald exhibited anti-social behavior. At 13, he was caught having sex with a six-year-old neighbor girl. He broke the law repeatedly and spent multiple years in reform schools and other institutions.
As a young adult, Gerald could not maintain a romantic relationship, although he married multiple times and fathered a daughter — and she became yet another victim he abused sexually.
Charlene and Gerald met at a poker club in 1977. They moved in together a week later and quickly got married. Rough sex proved to be a mutual turn-on, although Gerald continually needed increasingly edgy stimulation to maintain his performance.
In early 1978, after a threesome with a 17-year-old dancer, Gerald came home to find Charlene having sex with the girl without him. In a rage, Gerald threw the teenager out a window and ruthlessly beat Charlene.
The couple’s unsavory sex practices escalated. On July 17, Gerald “celebrated” his 32nd birthday by sodomizing his 14-year-old daughter and her friend while Charlene watched.
Come the fall, the Gallegos would up their transgressions to even more tragic extremes.
On September 10, 1978, Charlene and Gerald lured Rhonda Scheffler, 17, and Kippi Vaught, 16, into their van outside a Sacramento shopping mall. The couple repeatedly raped and tortured the girls all night, then drove them to a field where Gerald struck them with a tire iron and shot them to death.
Considering their first kidnap-torture-murder an “ecstatic” experience, in June 1979, Charlene and Gerald traveled to Nevada. Once there, they tricked Sandra Colley, 13, and Brenda Judd, 14, into their van by offering the girls a job delivering leaflets.
Charlene then piloted the vehicle while Gerald forced intercourse on Sandra and Brenda in the back. Once again, he beat and shot the girls dead in a field, then buried them in a ditch.
Authorities hunted for Sandra and Brenda as runaways for the next three years. In 1982, Gerald confessed to killing them. A tractor operator finally unearthed the girls’ bodies in 1999.
The Gallegos repeated their pattern on April 24, 1980, abducting Karen Chipman Twiggs and Stacy Ann Redican, both 17, after they exited a bookstore. Gerald raped them while Charlene drove, followed by fatal shots to the head and makeshift graves.
Six weeks later, the Gallegos picked up hitchhiker Linda Aguilar. She was 21 years old and four months pregnant. Once again, rape and violence ensued, with Gerald ultimately slamming Linda’s head with a rock, strangling her, and burying her in an out-of-the-way spot before taking off.
An autopsy later concluded that Linda had actually survived Gerald’s attack, but then suffocated as she struggled to claw free from her grave.
For their next assault, the Gallegos switched their modus operandi. On Robert’s 34th birthday, the couple kidnapped Virginia Mochel, 34, a barmaid with whom they had been friendly. Virginia reportedly begged Gerald to kill her while he was raping her. He obliged and strangled her to death.
Finally, on November 2, 1980, in plain view of passersby, the Gallegos forced a young couple into their van at gunpoint: Mary Elizabeth Sowers, 21, and her fiancé, Craig Miller, 22.
A witness copied down the van’s license plate. Tragically, though, police did not catch up to the vehicle until after Gerald fatally shot Craig and raped and murdered Mary.
Two weeks later, officers spotted the van and arrested the Gallegos at a Western Union office. Charlene’s parents were in the process of wiring her money.
Once in custody, Charlene turned on Gerald. She testified against him in exchange for a lighter sentence. Juries in Nevada and California quickly found Gerald guilty of all charges leveled against him, and both courts sentenced him to death.
While Gerald never ended up facing the executioner, on July 18, 2002, he died of rectal cancer behind bars.
Charlene Gallego — who now lives as Charlene Williams — served 16 years and got out of jail in 1997. She granted an interview in 2013 to CBS’s Sacramento affiliate under the condition that her personal information and whereabouts be kept secret. Williams stated that she had lived as Gallego’s hostage and “could not” leave him. She expressed profound horror and regret over the crimes.
As for Gallego, Williams said: “I put him on death row. Am I proud of that? Yes, I am.”
Watch the all-new series premiere of Kiss of Death on Thursday, August 24 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery!