Steven Brian Pennell: Blue Fiber Serial Killer of Delaware Profiled On Investigation Discovery’s ‘Grave Secrets’

Steven Brian Pennell is considered to be the first serial killer in Delaware. This Wednesday, Investigation Discovery will air his story on Grave Secrets. Steven Brian Pennell tortured and mutilated the bodies of several women along the I-40 corridor. He is known as the “Corridor Killer” and the “I-40 Killer.” The Grave Secrets episode detailing the case is “The Signs on Their Bodies.”

Grave Secrets: “The Signs On Their Bodies” on Investigation Discovery

  • Prostitutes disappear from the streets of Delaware and turn up dead, leading detectives to their first serial killer and first execution since the 1940s.

Grave Secrets will delve into their story, beginning with the murder of a woman in 1987. Shirley Ellis was found dead near a construction site in Delaware. The victim’s nude body was exposed and strange marks and lacerations were found on her breast and scalp.

Detectives deduced that some sort of tool had been used to mutilate the body. There were no leads in the case. Detectives had hoped that the murder was an isolated case. However, when more bodies turned up, detectives knew that they had a serial killer on their hands.

The women who walked the streets of Delaware near the I-40 corridor were stricken with fear as the mutilated and naked bodies of more women turned up. Seasoned investigators believed that the killer was proud of his work since he made no real attempt to conceal the bodies.

Catching A Serial Killer

To catch the serial killer, investigators set a trap. Officer Renee Taschner, an undercover cop, walked the dark area near the corridor, hoping to catch the killer’s attention. Her efforts were successful after she was spotted by a man in a blue van, who watched and followed her before finally stopping.

Officer Renee Taschner was shocked to find a blue-colored carpet in the man’s vehicle. She knew from the on-going investigation that several strange blue fibers were found on the body of one of the victims — a fiber that was later traced to a carpet store. That type of blue fiber was usually found in vans and trucks.

As Officer Renee Taschner talked to the man, she slid her hands across his carpet floor and was able to pluck some of the fibers to have them tested.

Here is what Taschner stated, according to Newsworks.

“I pretended to be interested in his van, so I had him turn the light on and when he turned the light on, my heart stopped because it was covered in blue carpet.”

Investigators struck gold when the blue fibers came back as an exact match. The van was traced to 31-year-old Steven Pennell, a married man who seemed to live a normal life. Authorities say Steven Brian Pennell worked by day but lurked the streets and killed women by night.

Steven Brian Pennell’s Victims

  • 23-year-old Shirley A. Ellis
  • 32-year-old Catherine A. DiMauro
  • 22-year-old Michele A. Gordon
  • 26-year-old Kathleen Anne Meyer,
  • 27-year-old Margaret Lynn Finner (suspected)

Steven Pennell was arrested and charged with the murders. At trial, he asked for the death penalty for all of the grief that he had caused his family. Pennell’s wish was granted, and he was put to death by lethal injection in 1992.

In the days leading up to his execution, Steven Pennell spent his time reading books, smoking, and eating steaks. The New York Times gives more grim details about his last day.

  • His wife, Kathy, made desperate efforts to obtain a stay, arguing that her husband’s outlook proved that he was mentally incompetent.
  • Mr. Pennell was strapped down on a vinyl-covered gurney. Asked by the acting warden, Robert Snyder, whether he had any last words, he briefly opened his eyes and shook his head.
  • Technicians then began injecting him with lethal drugs. After a few moments, Mr. Snyder closed a curtain to the death chamber and, over an intercom, announced that Mr. Pennell was dead.
  • He reopened the curtain, and a Roman Catholic priest standing next to the body was administering last rites

Watch the disturbing case of Steven Brian Pennell on Grave Secrets this Wednesday, November 16 on Investigation Discovery (ID). Before watching the current story, catch up on the one that aired last week on Grave Secrets — the case of Devon Guzman.

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