First things first:
*Trigger warning* The contents of this article is about serial killers which is inherently disturbing. Please do not continue reading, if serial killers and true crime associated topics are not your cup of tea. If you prefer more lighthearted content now or by the end of this article, here is a link to a furry kitten befriending a baby chick. Or feel free to peruse other less violent articles.
The NFL’s most prolific serial killer:
Welcome to Randall Woodfield’s origin story.
Born in Salem, Oregon in 1950, Randall was born into a regular middle-class family with no clear dysfunction or abuse present. His mother was a homemaker, and his father was a manager at a phone company. Woodfield was a mostly popular football star in high school.
The late Ann Rule, True Crime Writer extraordinaire, offered a unique perspective. She proposes that Woodfield was crippled by feelings of insecurity due to his harsh disciplinarian, perfectionist mother who he both loved and resented. Randy also felt overshadowed by his two sisters who were always smarter and better in school. Later in life they were both more accomplished – one was a doctor and the other was a lawyer. Allegedly, Randall felt outnumbered by women in his household, seemingly have a unpleasant relationship with the important female relatives in his life. This likely contributes to his dysfunctional relationship with women in the future. This is in no way justifying his actions, just offering an educated perspective on contributing factors.
Randall’s journey on the gridiron
After high school, Randall spent a year at an Oregon Community College. He managed to get in trouble there too. He was arrested, but not charged, for breaking in and ransacking his ex-girlfriend’s house.
Upon a planned transfer to Portland State University, Randy’s proclivities for being a flasher continued to escalate. He was arrested many times, and convicted twice for keeping his pants off more than on. His head coach, Ron Stratten claims he wasn’t aware of the charges, he hadn’t been the one to recruit him. He says he would have told prospective NFL teams if he had known. Lets give him the benefit of the doubt.
Post firing, Randy decided to stay in Wisconsin to hopefully win over the Packers by proving himself by playing semi-pro for the Manitowoc Chiefs. He played in Manitowoc for a year but was let go there too as well despite a good performance. He was arrested for 10 indecent exposure cases in Wisconsin, likely contributing to the Chiefs’ decision.
The caterpillar morphs into the moth
Now unemployed, Randall sought out a career change. The blow to his football career seemingly put him over the edge. What used to be a more passive approach to criminality, became direct.
A different kind of stat
In terms of serial killers, there was very little that distinguished Randall from those like him – his criminal patterns as seen below are similar to many others. He even had a VW Bug he drove state to state like Ted Bundy – his was gold though, not tan.
Modus operandi (MO): Typically preceded death of female victims with forced physical acts. Chester Turner, Randy Steven Kraft, Richard Ramirez. Then he discharged an firearm in the occipital portion of their head. Lonnie David Franklin Jr., Aileen Wuornos, the Zodiac Killer.
Years he committed crimes: 1979-1981. Gary Ridgway, David Carpenter, Joseph James DeAngelo.
Number of victims: 7 confirmed. Convicted of 1 death. Post-conviction he was linked definitively to 6 other deaths via DNA. He has been connected to 18-44 unconfirmed deaths. Many DA’s avoided charging Randall for additional charges because it would be expensive, and he was already spending life in prison Aileen Wuornos, David Carpenter, Derrick Todd Lee also had 7 confirmed deaths.
Type of victim: Young white women in their 20’s – give or take 10 years. Ted Bundy, Robert Lee Yates, Edmund Kemper.
The beginning of the end
Woodfield’s reign of terror ended as abruptly as it began. Randall’s pace of crimes was increasing – he went from having a cool down period of 5 weeks, to 4 weeks, to mere hours in between crimes. It would only be a matter of time before he would be caught as his self-control continued to deteriorate.
The Oregon detectives were suspicious of him based on his prior criminal record, and loose social ties to many of his victims. After Ms Wilmot identified him as her attacker in a lineup, the police obtain a warrant to search his home. They found firearm cleaning supplies and bullets. However, while the police were investigating, Randall’s landlady brought them his phone records – bills for calls in an I-5 shaped pattern from Washington to California. Just like the crimes that seemingly had his MO.
Unsurprisingly, after just 3.5 hours of deliberation, the jury found him guilty of Hull’s death and Wilmot’s attack and assault. He was sentenced to 90 years. At the end of 1981, Woodfield had his sentence increased by 35 years after being found guilty of another violent incident.
What his family, friends and teammates said:
Often people never suspected that the person in their life was a serial killer, or capable of being one. With Woodfield it was a bit of a mixed bag.
Family: nothing besides the father saying Randall wasn’t the son he used to know during his jail house visit- it’s unclear what he meant by that. Randall’s father was worried in 1975 when his son re-developed an obsessed focus on religion, almost to the point of a mental breakdown. Something that appeared once again in his first jail sentence.
Friends: One of his friends and coworker described him as a little weird after Randy was fired from his bar job due to bringing in too many underage girls on a regular basis. He also recalled Randall asking him to lie for him in small claims court. It would be scary to know how the friend defined more than a little weird.
Coaches: The PSU receiving coach said he was the nicest kid he ever knew, and it must have been the wrong Randall Woodfield. The PSU secondary coach said he was shocked – out of 100 guys on the team, Randy would be the 99th person he suspect of committing those crimes. Woodfield did have a habit of appearing overly connected to coaches, with feelings of friendship that didn’t exist through out college – the less assuming may have found this endearing. After returning from Wisconsin in 1975, Woodfield started working out with the PSU team and teammates warned the new head coach, Mouse Davis, to stay away from him – Davis had found him to be nice and a good athlete.
What did Woodfield have to say for himself?
Very little. He has never verbally admitted guilt and has denied all charges, to this day.
These days, Woodfield mostly sits isolated in his cell, uninterested in talking. Unless it’s about football. He instantly lights up and will talk all things football, particularly his career. He still carries around all correspondences he had with Green Bay and the ticket they paid for to fly him down to Wisconsin with. Another thing that still excites him is women, since 1981 he will still attempt to groom himself and flirt with any and all females he comes into contact with, particularly the guards. The female guards state that he is completely different with him than male guards – a troubling pattern for Randall.