The Laughter of Death: Inside the Mind of Sexual Sadist Billy

The Criminal Street
16 min readSep 9, 2023
Via Wikimedia Commons

Roy Hazelwood mentioned something about sadists in his book Dark Dreams,

“Sexual sadists are sexually voracious, indiscriminate, capable in many instances of coupling with humans of either sex or any age, as well as animals and inanimate objects as the opportunity presents itself.”

Similarly, Mike DeBardeleben once explained the sadism in most concise words,

“The wish to inflict pain on others is not the essence of sadism. The central impulse is to have complete mastery over another person, to make him/her a helpless object of our will, to become the absolute ruler over her, to become her god, to do with her as one pleases are means to this end. And the most radical aim is to make her suffer. Since there is no greater power over another person than that of inflicting pain on her. To force her to undergo suffering without her being able to defend herself. The pleasure in the complete domination over another person is the very essence of the sadistic drive.”

To make you understand these words even more with a better example, today, I am here to take you inside the mind of one such sexual sadist, Billy Lee Chadd, the serial rapist and killer. Now, before I start the account of crimes and the psychology of this horrendous man alive, I wish to tell you why I chose this man. Billy is an exceptional offender as he literally wrote an autobiographical account of the crimes he committed and the fantasies he had, which he meant to publish and make money with. However, it never went out. Nevertheless, it provided the closest window in his mind through his own stories. I guess you are excited enough to dive into this article. So, let’s start.

Billy Lee Chadd was a native San Diegan, who was married and had children. In four words, he described himself,

“normal, easy-going guy.”

But this was certainly not the case. He killed scores of people, but in his manuscript, he committed only four of which Officer Mike Pent (who was dealing with his case) confirmed only three.

First Crime.

The first homicide of Chadd’s life began at the age of twenty in 1974 when he raped a thirty-year-old San Diego woman. Her body was found lying in bed on her stomach with her hands and feet bound through a window sash cord. She was blindfolded by a towel and was violently raped vaginally, anally and orally. After strangling, Chadd stabbed her repeatedly in the neck, ending her life gruesomely. When he gave his clinical emotionless confession, he said that he initially went to the victim’s residence to rob it, but when he confronted her, he became aroused as she emerged from her tub: wet and naked. As the opportunist rapist ( the man who arrives with the intent of committing one crime but seizes an opportunity to commit another), Chadd was also a sexual sadist. He first took the woman into the bedroom, raped her, and then killed her on the sole motive that she would identify him. The confession looks pretty simple and easy. But this is not even half the reality. In his manuscript, Dark Secrets (which isn’t available on the internet, don’t bother finding it), he gave the actual narration of his many cases. And I will tell you everything about it in upcoming sections.

Sexual Sadist Billy Lee Chadd
Billy Lee Chadd | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

A Self-Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Before starting to learn anything more about his crimes, let us first understand why at first place he did it. Well, it doesn’t have a reason. You don’t justify yourself for the sins you do. Anyway, Chadd doesn’t believe it at all as in his manuscript, he gives an intimate reflection of his crimes, telling us why he performed those heinous acts. Firstly, he says that he led a double life (a husband and father), who nevertheless had this little problem of violent streak towards women. Secondly, he normalizes his acts through the fact that he came from a broken home and his mother and stepfather were alcoholics. When he was eight, his mother would wake up at noon, and he didn’t know how to deal with anything. His friends taught him to steal, and by the age of eleven, he could drive a car without facing serious legal consequences. Chadd boasts of these accomplishments as he plays the victim card of his family, and in all those conditions, he still had the talent to survive. Chadd was fifteen when he met his future wife, with whom he says,

“ I began having sex when I was SIXTEEN… We made love almost daily until July of my 16th year. Then all hell broke loose in my life.”

Now, before continuing further, allow me to emphasize that one of the familiar patterns of an offender is to blame projections on other.

“It’s always someone else’s fault.”

To understand, I will walk you through an instance. One midnight, Chadd was drunk and high on drugs, and he was visiting a friend. Both of them wished to rob a house across the street. Now, he waited in the truck, but moments later, he was awakened by the police and was under arrest. Chadd believed he didn’t commit any crimes due to his unspecified physical abnormality, and if he really were her attacker, the victim would notice it and mention the same in her testimony. But this didn’t happen. Chadd’s attorney refused to pursue the matter, so he ended up being sentenced to two years. According to Chadd, he did nothing, and his footprint, due to his so-called physical abnormality, reached up to her driveway. The second time he committed the crime was about a sexual assault. He writes,

“Bad luck for the poor lady that she was home. I told her our car had broken down, and I asked if she would let me use her phone. If she would have said no and closed the door, nothing may have ever happened to her. She did say no, but she then explained that her husband was at work and she never let strangers in when she was alone. ALONE.”

Chadd returns to the house after breaking the front door with a brick. And as he enters, he finds her in the bathroom. He first grabs her hair, and as she screams, he puts a knife to her throat, he drags her to her bedroom and tells her to shut up, or she will get killed. Chadd writes in his manuscript

“When we got to the bedroom, I just shoved her down in the bed and threw up her housecoat. I tried to cut her panties off, but my knife wasn’t sharp enough. I pulled her panties down, pulled down my Levi’s, and got on her. She just laid there. So I told her to start moving, or I’d hurt her.

Up till that night, I had balled quite a bit, but I had never experienced such sexual pleasure. I was completely overcome with passion. I dropped my knife. I even lost my vision for a few seconds. I collapsed on her, and I was so spent I could not even move. Had she only known my condition, she could have picked up the knife and stabbed me, and I couldn’t have done anything to stop her. I told her to stay in bed, and I left the house. Later that night, I thought about the rape, and I decided it wasn’t bad at all. And I knew I would do it again.”

With these two incidents, you can easily understand that he blames the justice system and the victim for making him into a sexual predator. It clearly depicts that according to Chadd, at first time, he didn’t do anything wrong but got caught, and for the second time, the victim was foolish to state that her husband wasn’t at home. Also, the victim didn’t kill him even when she had the chance (as he dropped the knife). The power he felt after rape is understandable through his urge,

“I never had experienced such sexual pleasure.”

But at this stage, he was an inexperienced offender as he didn’t take time to select his victim, chose a crude method to open the door through brick, did nothing to protect his identity, and lastly, failed to bind and gag the victim after his departure. One more thing, which you must notice is that he relived his crime again in his mind, as he decided,

“It wasn’t bad at all.”

Hence, all these statements hint at his tendencies towards sexual sadism.

Chadd also shows the idea that he didn’t mean with any of his victims. They were just like use and discard to him. With his power and domination, he is in total control. And of course, he has no realization of any empathy for the things he did.

When Chadd was seventeen, he was transferred to CYA’s Youth Training school, where he attempted suicide. And then, he used this incident to prove again, that he is blameless. He writes,

“If I would have been successful, four people would be alive today.”

After this unsuccessful attempt, he was sent to the Atascadero State Hospital, where he had experienced homosexual sex. He also mentions the use of drugs and homosexual acts in the Atascadero. After his transfer to the CYA, he blackmailed a teacher to give him grades, or he would tell authorities about her having sex with staff. With these events, it is clear that he wishes to dominate and take every authority under his control.

The first nonsexual murder Chadd did was of a young man who sat by the road as he was hitchhiking. Chadd picked a big stone from the ground and smashed his head open, killing him at once. But there was no reason behind this murder. And he described it as an easy experience, as he felt the god-like power. He writes in his manuscript,

“Later that night, I thought about what I had done. I asked myself why I did it. But no answer came to me. I wasn’t sorry or anything. And I admitted to myself that I enjoyed it. And I wondered if all murderers felt as I did.”

He then added,

“I just filed it away in the corner of my mind, where I was beginning to compile quite a few dark secrets. A corner from which I could summon out the memories to look at them again and again. To relieve my crimes and revel in the horror of my victim.”

With his words, it is clear that Chadd needs power. And later, he perceives this need for power in the rape encounters too. What most he loved about rape was controlling and exercising power over the victim. And of course, as he did not find anything wrong with it, and enjoyed the feeling of supremacy, his character hints out to be a psychopath. He further writes,

“I asked myself why I did it. But no answer came to me. I knew what I had done was wrong. But where were the feelings of guilt that were supposed to accompany such a deed? What was it that caused me to feel such elation? What was it that allowed me to take another human’s life with no feeling of remorse?”

He is such a psychopath that he not only has a lack of remorse but also enjoys every single crime he does. One time, he remembers going home to his pregnant wife, whom he brutalized when she refused sex with him. He writes,

“I started to choke her. I could see fear in her eyes… My wife was cowering in a corner with tears in her eyes. The fear she showed would fire me even more. I couldn’t see her face, just those eyes, afraid and pleading. I felt myself slipping into the strange feeling of supremacy again. I wanted to kill. Then I suddenly realized who I was choking. I thought, ‘My God, what am I doing?’ I let her go, but the drive to destroy was still there. I don’t know how, but I shifted my anger from her to inanimate objects. I started breaking anything that would break. I kept shouting ‘DIE DIE.’”

One more account in his manuscript was of the 1974 rape and murder of a San Diego woman, where he writes,

“My body was giving me massive spurts of adrenaline. My heart was going like a trip hammer as I reached for the doorknob. The excitement and fear poured back over them again.”

As Chadd went inside the home, he discovered her standing in her bathtub in a naked position. At gunpoint, he forced her into the bedroom, where he brutally raped her. He explains in his manuscript,

“She was writhing in pain, and I loved it. I was now combining my sexual high of rape and my power high of fear to make a total sum that is beyond explaining. I can’t begin to describe the feeling. It is one that must be experienced to know how it feels. I was completely beyond all contact with reality. I was alive for the sole purpose of causing pain and receiving sexual gratification. I have never experienced a high like this from any drug.”

Chadd even remembers that he was laughing on his way home in his car. And he even relived the rape-murder in a wet dream that night.

A year later, he committed another murder in San Diego. As he was working in Las Vegas, Chadd met Delmar Bright, twenty-nine, and a hotel porter. According to Chadd, Bright offered him twenty dollars and a six-pack of beer if he posed in the nude to which Chadd agreed. Again, he said that it was Bright, who made a homosexual advance, producing some extension cords, and asking Chadd to tie him up. So, in moments, Bright lay on his stomach and put his hands behind his back. Chadd describes this homosexual encounter in his manuscript. He says,

“He did, and I tied him up. I took my knife and laid it next to the bed. I took another cord and put it around his neck in a slip noose.”

Chadd, then asked him,

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you.”

Bright thought that he was just playing around so he started telling him that he had his pictures and Chadd left fingerprints all over the house. Chadd then writes,

“Damn! he was right! I mentally thanked him for reminding me. I said I’m going to kill you faggot!”

Delmar Bright Billy Lee Chadd
Delmar Bright murder covered by Local Press | Source: Mayhem In The Desert

Chadd further explains,

“My high was beginning to take over again. I started breathing hard, and my palms got all sweaty. I felt the now familiar exuberance sweep over me again. I was going to kill.” As Bright began to laugh, since he thought it was a joke, Chadd recalls it as “It was all a big joke to him. But it was all too real for me. I wanted to kill, but there was something missing. FEAR! He wasn’t afraid. I got my knife and showed it to him. This is for real. I saw a twinge of uncertainty in his eyes now. It was working, he was beginning to get scared. I put the knife to his throat and cut him. Not deep. Just enough to draw blood. Here it was. I could see it now. Terror. he knew I was serious. He opened his mouth to scream, but I yanked on the cord, and the scream came out as a strange gurgle.”

As he sees him in pain, he masturbates right at the moment, getting himself highest on his sexual pleasures. After the murder, he then sanitized the apartment. He recalls,

“I started to giggle as I walked away from the place. By the time I got to the corner, I was laughing hysterically. I calmed myself and still smiling, hailed a cab.”

After these incidents and crimes, the narcissistic ability of Chadd finally allowed him to share the details with his wife. However, she is so frightened by the confession that Chadd eventually backs off, saying that he was ridiculing around. Maybe he wished to include his wife in all the crimes, who knows? Unlike Karla, she did not participate in any of the crimes.

Chadd describes how he and his family hitchhiked throughout the United States and enjoyed his military service. After all these continuous crimes, eventually, he committed his fourth murder.

The victim was a young woman with her eighteen-month-old son, who asked Chadd about a particular bus stop. Chadd showed her the location and then spied her. He learned that she rode from bus to work every day. So, one day, Chadd offered her a ride, and she accepted it. As soon as she sat in his car, he began kissing her, and she was responsive at first. But, as Chadd tried undressing her, she told him that her children were due home soon, where she babysit. As she turned him down, he dropped her at Mira Mesa’s home (the home, where she babysat). As part of revenge, he reached her place at night and forced his way into the home. It was this time, he pushed her and began undressing her violently. As she reacted violently and stood up, Chadd recalls the incident and writes in his manuscript,

“I was no longer in control. My monster decided I couldn’t handle it. So with a roar of rage, he got off and grabbed her by the throat and started choking her. All I could do was watch. I tried to stop what was happening, but I could not. It wasn’t me anymore. In the end, I wanted her to know I was going to kill her. I needed the fear that knowledge would bring. I’m the Hillside Strangler. I’m going to kill you, bitch. Oh, the luscious terror she showed. It was the best yet. Looking at me coming closer with the cord, knowing I was going to kill her, had her paralyzed with fear. I started strangling her, and I was laughing as I watched her eyes. Yet this was it. The joy I felt couldn’t compare with anything I could try to imagine. The ultimate high.”

Chadd at first took her into the bedroom by dragging her from her hair. He held a pocket knife across her throat. Chadd threatened if she did not comply with his animal desires, he would kill her and her son. So, Chadd brutally raped her. Then, after the sexual assault, he let her get up and get dressed, but then he changed his mind. So, he cut a piece of cord, tied her hands, and stabbed her from the back. The victim was killed by the slashed throat. Again, Chadd was remorseless.

“I was laughing as I watched her eyes bulge and her body start to convulse,” he recalled.

Once again, Chadd had an urge to share what he did, but this time, he told his brother. He unraveled each of the stories that he kept away from for years and his aberrant urges, which turned him into a killer. All the last entries of his manuscript were about how he used to become drunk and try to run his wife down with his car. It was the last case of his life, which got him caught finally.

Billy Lee Chadd Photograph
Billy Lee Chadd, Photograph | Source: Mayhem In The Desert

Chadd noticed a dying officer’s wife and daughter as they came to visit each day in the Naval Medical Center San Deigo near Balboa Park, where he worked. Now, he consulted the hospital records and wrote down the address where they lived. Chadd then broke down in their home, where he saw the woman sleeping peacefully. As she opened her eyes, Chadd was standing right in front of her. He then placed the blade edge of the weapon to her throat and raped her repeatedly. When her 17-year-old daughter entered the bedroom, Chadd assaulted her in front of her mother.

The disturbance woke the teenager’s four sisters and her grandparents, who were also sleeping in the house. With a machete, Chadd herded the women into the living room, where he instructed the eldest daughter to tie and gag her sisters and grandparents.

Having bound and gagged the mother and daughter, the assailant forced them into a car. As he drove east through Chula Vista, he let them out in a remote and sparsely populated part of the county. A US Customs officer found them walking along the roadway. And finally, he was arrested.

The Trials of Billy Lee Chadd.

As Billy was arrested for the sexual assault of the medical officer’s wife and daughter, the police found the earlier murders were also done by him through DNA testing and fingerprint match. In no time, the trials began.

Judge Charles Snell dealt with the case, and he told Chadd that he could never plead guilty for his crimes. But Chadd waited for the case to reach in Superior court. So, after three weeks, when this municipal court case reached a superior court, Chadd pleaded guilty again, but this time, Judge Gilliam, also refused to accept his plea. In addition, he also ordered Chadd to undergo some psychiatric tests. Two psychiatrists, Dr. Carl E. Lengyel and Dr. Bernard Hansen gave independent examinations on him.

A court hearing was held on February 7th, at which it was reported that Chadd was mentally competent and very aware of what was happening. Asked why he wanted to plead guilty, Chadd replied,

“I wanted to save time in prison. It would shorten my time in prison and get rid of some courts. If I were to be executed, I would not stay long. I would rather die than live. I am wanted in three states. One will provide me with gas.”

Then after a year again, Chadd pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder, but this time, Judge Gilliam listened to the defendant carefully and calmly. After a detailed legal procedure, he accepted Chadd’s plea of guilty. And so, Chadd was to appear before a jury, who would decide whether he would get a death sentence. This is one of the fascinating points of the case that the monster who raped and killed in a very cruel manner was now asking for his own death.

But before the court could state its decision, he wrote a manuscript, which was read in the court. And of course, as they heard the manuscript, the court had to decide whether the crimes committed by Billy Lee Chadd warranted life imprisonment or a death sentence. Defendant Billy Chadd expressed his desire for a death sentence, but he refused to take the witness stand during the penalty phase of the trial.

As a result of hearing everything, the court sentenced Billy Lee Chadd to die in the San Quentin gas chamber.

“Death is an erotic experience for him.”

David Pitkin, the defendant’s court-appointed attorney, told reporters after the trial,

“He’s looking forward to it.”

One Last Twist and End.

The manuscript, which Billy provided had an envelope covered with the drawings and latin phrases scribbled,

“In Nomine Di Nosiri Satanis, Luciferie Excelsie,” translating “In the name of our Satan, Lucifer on highest.”

One of the priests in San Diego believed that he worshipped Satan and so he had all the sexual predator tendencies.

Whether or not he was in Satanic worship, but in this world, I call him a monster, who has no right to plead anything. The heinous crimes he performed and the way he felt about them say everything about him. Do you think the same?


Dark Dreams: A Legendary FBI Profiler Examines Homicide and the Criminal Mind by Roy Hazelwood, Stephen G. Michaud



The Criminal Street

An online repository to briefly read about serial killers, their crimes & their trials. Every story is resource-backed, ones that you may check out at the end.