Carroll Edward Cole (9 May 1938 - 6 December 1985) was an American serial killer responsible for sixteen murders, 15 of which were of women.
Cole was physically and emotionally abused by his mother Vesta Cole when he was a child, while his father was away fighting in World War II. Vesta would force Cole to watch her having sex with her lovers, and would regularly beat him and force him to dress up as a girl. This abuse fuelled a deep-seated hatred of women that would form the basis for Cole's later crimes. Cole was also bullied at school due to his "girl's name".
At age 8, Cole retaliated against his classmates by assaulting a boy named Duane and drowning him in a lake. The death was recorded as an accident, and the truth was not revealed until Cole confessed in his autobiography while awaiting execution.
As a teenager, Cole accumulated many criminal convictions for assault and petty theft. In 1960, he attacked couples in Lover's Lane and attempted to strangle them, but failed, and was later caught and committed. He was ultimately released from Stockton State Hospital in 1960, despite a doctor's findings that he had a sexual fetish for strangling women to death. He later married a stripper named Billie Whitworth, but became convinced that she was having sex with other men in a motel, which he burned down as a result, serving time in jail. After his release, he was jailed again when he attempted to strangle a girl, and was then institutionalized again after he attempted to strangle two more women.
On 7 May 1941, Cole picked up a woman named Essie Buck in San Diego and strangled her to death before dumping her body by the side of the road. Two weeks later, he murdered another woman and buried her in the woods. In 1973, he married Diana Faye Younglove Pashal, an alcoholic with whom he fought regularly. Cole would often go off on his own for days at a time, during which time he would commit his murders, once partially cannibalizing a victim. He later strangled Pashal to death and convinced the police that she had died of alcohol poisoning.
Cole moved to Las Vegas in 1979, and picked up a woman named Marie Cushman, who he had sex with in his hotel room before strangling her to death. He later went to Dallas, where he killed three more women, getting caught at the scene of the third murder and arrested. While in custody, he confessed to the murders of 15 women, although he only confessed to his first murder after his conviction. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Texas for three murders committed their, and was later extradited to Nevada to face charges for two murders committed their. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Cole was executed by lethal injection at Nevada State Prison on 6 December 1985.