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I am hatred. When you look at me, you look at hate. I don't know what love is. Two words I don't like to use are 'love' and 'sorry,' because I'm about hate.

Tommy Lynn Sells, a.k.a. The Coast to Coast Killer and The Cross Country Killer, was an American pedophiliac, hebephiliac, and necrophiliac serial killer, serial rapist, family annihilator, abductor, and robber who claimed to have murdered over 70 people.


Sells was born on June 28, 1964 in Oakland, California. He had a twin sister named Tammy Jean. They were two of the five children in his family, having been brought into the world by Nina, their unmarried mother. A few months later, Sells and his sister contracted meningitis; he survived, but she died. Shortly thereafter, he was sent to live with his aunt. Two years later, Nina brought him back home when she learned that his aunt wanted to adopt him.

When Sells was seven years old, he began drinking. At eight, he was molested by a man with Nina's consent. At ten, he began abusing drugs. Three years later, a naked Sells climbed into his grandmother's bed while she slept. This incident caused him to be banned from the house, and not long afterwards, his mother and siblings suddenly left town, abandoning him. A few days later, he assaulted a female by striking her with a pistol in a fit of rage. In 1978, 14-year-old Sells was on the road, living the life of a permanent drifter.

In May 1981, Sells reunited with his family in Little Rock, Arkansas, but Nina threw him out after he stripped naked and attempted to join her in the shower. After failing to get help from a mental health clinic, Sells began drinking more, eventually leading to his first arrest in 1982 for public drunkenness.

Killings, Capture, and Execution

Sells claimed to have committed his first murder when he fifteen years old. He broke into a house and saw the homeowner sexually abusing a boy. Remembering his own sexual abuse as a child, he became enraged and shot the man. This murder has never been confirmed.

Sells committed numerous unrelated crimes for the next few years, including theft, driving under the influence, and assault. However, murder was what he enjoyed the most. In 1983, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he beat a woman and her daughter to death with a baseball bat. Multiple other killings would continue to occur; on October 15, 1987, Sells drugged Stefanie Stroh with LSD before he fatally strangled her. He then encased her feet in concrete and dumped her in a desert hot spring. Her body has never been found.

On November 17-18, Sells was hitchhiking in Ina, Illinois. He was picked up by Keith Dardeen, who offered to bring him back home for dinner. When they got to the Dardeen residence, Sells pulled out a gun and shot him in the head twice. He then cut off Keith's penis before killing him with one more shot to the head. Keith's son, Peter, was bludgeoned to death. Sells then attacked Elaine, Keith's pregnant wife; the beating was so severe that she went into labor and gave birth to her daughter (whose parents had decided to give her the name Casey). He fatally bludgeoned Casey before raping her mother. Sells proceeded to mutilate Elaine's breasts before beating her to death and sexually assaulting her corpse with the baseball bat that he had used to murder her children. He left the weapon sticking out of her vagina.

On May 13, 1992, Fabienne Witherspoon found Sells begging on the streets. She took him to her home, where he proceeded to rape her. He then stabbed her eighteen times and beat her with a piano stool. Witherspoon survived and alerted police. Sells was arrested and sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison. He was released in 1997.

Sells' murders came to an end on December 31, 1999 in Del Rio, Texas. Holding a 12-inch knife, he entered a house and sexually assaulted Kaylene Harris before stabbing her sixteen times and slashing her throat. He then went after Krystal Surles, slashing her throat. He left, unaware that she had just barely survived. Surles informed neighbors and helped the police identify Sells. He was arrested on January 2, 2000.

Similar to Henry Lee Lucas, Sells confessed to murders that he had either not committed or could not be confirmed; he claimed to have killed over 70 people. Regardless of what the number really was, he was found guilty on September 18, and two days later, he was sentenced to death.

Sells was executed by lethal injection at 6:14 PM on April 3, 2014.

Modus Operandi

Sells traveled all over the United States, targeting random victims, though he seemed to prefer couples, young-to-middle-aged women, teenage girls, and young girls aged nine to fourteen. His victims were killed in a variety of ways, including shooting with a .32 caliber revolver, bludgeoning (usually with a baseball bat), throat slashing, stabbing, and strangulation. Some victims were mutilated and most of his female victims were raped or sexually assaulted (one of whom was violated with the baseball bat that he used to kill her, and another was forced to perform oral sex on him before her death). One victim was run over by a train post-mortem. During his couple murders, he would also kill any children present. He would also sometimes take valuables from victims.

Known Victims


  • July 5, 1979, Port Gibson, Mississippi: John Cade, 39 (shot with a .32 caliber revolver)
  • Unspecified date in 1982, Little Rock, Arkansas: Hal Akins (shot; survived)
  • July 31, 1983, St. Louis, Missouri: Colleen and Tiffany Gill (both bludgeoned)
    • Colleen Gill, 33
    • Tiffany Gill, 4
  • July 26, 1985, Springfield, Missouri: Ena and Rory Cordt (slashed their throats and bludgeoned with a baseball bat)
    • Ena Cordt, 28
    • Rory Cordt, 4
  • 1987:
    • May 1, Lockport, New York: Suzanne Korcz, 27 (her body was found on September 5, 1995)
    • October 15, Lovelock, Nevada: Stefanie Stroh, 20 (strangled; her body was never found)
    • November 17-18, Ina, Illinois: The Dardeen family
      • Keith Dardeen, 29 (father; shot three times in the head and cut off his penis)
      • Peter Dardeen, 3 (son; bludgeoned with a baseball bat)
      • Casey Dardeen (daughter; bludgeoned with a baseball bat)
      • Elaine Dardeen, 30 (mother; raped, mutilated her breasts, and then fatally bludgeoned with a baseball bat; violated with a baseball bat post-mortem)
  • 1988:
    • September 11, Salem, New Hampshire: Melissa Tremblay, 11 (raped and stabbed; run over by a train post-mortem; her body was found the next day)
    • December 18, Tucson, Arizona: Kent Lauten, 51 (stabbed; her body was found two days later)
  • December 9, 1991, Marianna, Florida: Teresa and Tiffany Hall (both bludgeoned with a wooden table leg)
    • Teresa Hall, 25
    • Tiffany Hall, 5
  • May 13, 1992, Charleston, West Virginia: Fabienne Witherspoon, 20 (raped, stabbed 18 times and bludgeoned with a piano stool; survived)
  • 1997:
    • October 13, Lawrenceville, Illinois: Joel Kirkpatrick and Julie Rea-Harper
      • Joel Kirkpatrick, 10 (stabbed)
      • Julie Rea-Harper (assaulted only)
    • October 15, Springfield, Missouri: Stephanie Mahaney, 13 (abducted, drugged, raped and strangled; her body was found on November 18)
  • 1999:
    • April 4, Gibson, Tennessee: Debra Harris and Ambria Halliburton
      • Debra Harris, 31 (raped and stabbed; left the knife in her chest post-mortem)
      • Ambria Halliburton, 8 (incidental; stabbed three times)
    • April 18, San Antonio, Texas: Mary Perez, 9 (abducted, raped and strangled with her T-shirt; her body was found 10 days later)
    • May 13, Lexington, Kentucky: Haley McHone, 13 (abducted, raped and strangled with her T-shirt; covered her body with debris postmortem; her body was found 10 days later)
    • Unspecified day in May, Madison, Wisconsin: Unnamed inmate (assaulted only)
    • July 5, Kingfisher, Oklahoma: Bobbie Lynn Wofford, 14 (forced to perfom oral sex with him; sodomized and shot in the head; took two of her earrings; her remains were found on November 4)
    • December 31, Del Rio, Texas: Kaylene Harris and Krystal Surles
      • Kaylene Harris, 13 (sexually assaulted, stabbed sixteen times and slashed her throat)
      • Krystal Surles, 10 (slashed her throat; survived)


  • Unspecified date, unspecified location: Unnamed man (shot when Sells caught him sexually abusing a young boy)
  • 1980:
    • Los Angeles, California: Unnamed man (stabbed with an icepick)
    • Oakland, California: Unnamed man (assaulted; Sells was unsure if the man died)
  • 1982, Little Rock, Arkansas:
    • April 27: JoAnne Tate and her daughters
      • JoAnne Tate, 35 (sexually assaulted with a broomstick and stabbed with a knife)
      • Melissa Davis, 7 (stabbed with a knife; survived)
      • Renee Tate, 4 (stabbed with a knife; survived)
    • Unspecified date: Unnamed woman (abducted, raped, tortured and killed; her body was never found)
  • February 28, 1983, St. Louis, Missouri: Unidentified girl, 8-10 (raped and killed; her head was never found)
  • Unspecified date in 1988, Gooding County, Idaho: Unnamed woman and her son
  • 1989:
    • January 27, Truckee, California: Unidentified woman
    • January 30, San Francisco, California: Ilene Misheloff, 13
    • May, Roseburg, Oregon: Unnamed woman (raped and killed)
    • May 9, Roseburg, Oregon: Unnamed woman
  • Unspecified date in 1997, Twin Falls, Idaho: Unnamed woman (raped and killed; cut up with an axe and buried post-mortem)
  • April 15, 1998, San Antonio, Texas: Thomas Brose, 40 (shot)
  • Note: Sells claimed to have murdered numerous other people and that his number of victims exceeded 70.

On Criminal Minds

  • Season Five
    • "Our Darkest Hour" - While Sells was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Billy Flynn - Both were serial killers, serial rapists, abductors, and robbers who were sexually abused by their mothers, were both drifters and committed petty crimes that eventually escalated to murder, targeted both single victims and couples, killed them by shooting them with revolvers or by bludgeoning (though Sells also used other methods), raped and sexually abused most of their female victims, and operated in multiple states. Flynn also appears in Season Six.