One day in December 1986, a woman asked her neighbor, William Bannister, to babysit her six-year-old daughter, April Cooper. Bannister turned out to be an unfortunate choice of caregiver because he was an all-around psychopath who murdered the little girl while she was in his care. They never found her body and Bannister wasn’t convicted in the crime until 1998. He’s now doing life without parole in a California prison.
Bannister has a very bad record. In 1978, he killed his girlfriend and served five years in prison for that crime. (People can get more than that for drug possession!) In 1993, seven years after April’s disappearance, he tried to strangle his teenage son’s girlfriend and was sentenced to sixteen years for attempted murder. He was, I hope, still behind bars when he was charged with April’s murder in 1995. And there he shall stay, wasting taxpayer money and oxygen, to the end of his days.
I was writing up Charley cases today and came across Laurie Lucas on NamUs. She’s also profiled on Colorado’s new cold case database (which, sadly, has no more photos than when I first wrote about it almost a month ago). The page for Laurie on there was sans photo but did have some other info and Bannister was mentioned, described as a “suspected serial killer.” No fooling? The name rang a bell, but I actually had to Google him to identify him. He was the last person known to have seen Laurie, and has proferred the old “ran off with another man” story. Yet, Laurie’s mother hadn’t heard from her for months before Laurie supposedly hooked up with a roofer and went to Texas. Laurie, I suppose, might really have run off with someone. I don’t know. The only one who knows the truth about that is Bannister.
I suppose as long as Bannister is still alive there is hope that he will ‘fess up to everything he’s done and lead police to the bodies of his victims — and I think there’s a good chance he’s killed more than just his girlfriend and April. But the man has nothing to gain by confessing now, and I doubt appealing to his conscience would work since he seems to have none. If he’s kept his mouth shut for the 20 years since Laurie’s disappearance, it’s hardly likely he’ll change his mind now.