Altemio Sanchez

Altemio Sanchez, 62, is an Puerto Rican serial killer who was convicted for multiple rapes and murders. He would viciously beat and rape his victims and in 3 of the cases he strangled and suffocated them to death.

It’s believed Sanchez, a Factory worker, was active in his crimes since 1975, possibly even before that, but wasn’t caught until 2007. He is also known as the Bike Path Killer and the Bike Path Rapist because he often committed his crimes near remote bike paths. In 1985, Anthony Capozzi, was wrongly convicted of 2 of the rapes committed by Sanchez. He was later released after advancements in DNA technology linked Sanchez to 8 rapes / crime scenes, including those Capozzi had been accused of. However, by that time Capozzi had already spent 22 years in prison.

Anthony Capozzi with his mother

Sanchez was born on 19th January 1958 in San Sebasti├ín, Puerto Rico, he was the youngest of 4 children born to father Altemio Sanchez Sr, (who had an affair with a prostitute and consequently left the family when Altemio Sanchez Jr was 2) and mother Lucy Caraballo (who was reportedly a drug / alcohol addict and had attempted to terminate her pregnancy with him by overdosing on pills. She is said to have told a teenage Sanchez that he was a mistake.) Caraballo moved her family to the USA shortly after Sanchez’s father left and after a while they settled in Buffalo. Caraballo remarried and as well as witnessing his new stepfather regularly beat his mother Sanchez was also, allegedly, abused by him, both physically and sexually.

Throughout school Sanchez was an active sportsman and was described as being a nice kid, shy and quiet. However he was always intimidated by the opposite sex, later claiming he was actually afraid to talk to them.

It is widely believed that Sanchez first began attacking females in 1975, aged just 17 and whilst still at school. He graduated in 1977 aged 19 and went on to attend Buffalo state college. In the same year he attacked a young woman who he had knocked off a bike. He hit her in the head and threatened her at knife-point whilst rubbing himself up against her. Bizarrely, he told her and future victims to refer to him as “Dave”.

Whilst attending college Sanchez met his future wife and mother of his children, Kathleen Whitley. They remained married until his arrest in 2007. A year after they married, Sanchez, committed what is believed to be his first actual rape, his victim was 21 years old. Over the next few years Sanchez raped multiple woman at knife-point, not only insisting they called him “Dave” but also ordering them to waiting 30 seconds after he had fled, before leaving the crime scene themselves.

Delaware State Park

Throughout the 1980’s Sanchez continued raping young women, (over a dozen have been confirmed but the victim count is suspected to be higher), mainly in the Delaware park, Statue of David wood’s area. Sometimes he was attacking women at a daily rate, sometimes he would leave a period of time between each attack. He had, however, upgraded his weapon of choice from a knife to a gun and began ordering victims to wait 5 minutes before fleeing instead of the original 30 seconds, later increasing it to 40 minutes. One victim fought back and almost managed to get control of the gun, from then on Sanchez began using a rope or ligature to restrain and subdue his victims. His attacks were becoming more violent. He had taken to double wrapping a rope around his victims neck and taping their eyes shut with duct tape before beating, raping and leaving them unconscious. His youngest victims were only 14 years old.

Many of the women / girls he attacked told police the assailant was a short, stocky, bald man with a moustache. From their descriptions police issued a sketch of the man they wanted in connection with the attacks, the man the press had dubbed the Bike Path Rapist.

Police Sketch of the Bike Path Rapist, AKA Altemio Sanchez

Altemio Sanchez lived a double life, In contrast to the predator that would sought out and brutally attack unsuspecting females, the married, church-going, father of two was described by friends and acquaintances as a mild mannered, hard working, respected and devoted family man. He held down the same job for over 20 years and was popular amongst his colleagues, often hosting barbecues at weekends and coaching basketball and little league baseball. It was said he was “the nicest person you’d ever want to know”, and that his nickname was “Uncle Al.” Unbeknown to them his other nickname was the Bike Path Rapist, soon to be the Bike Path Killer.

In 1990 Sanchez decided that raping his victims wasn’t enough. He wasn’t getting the satisfaction out of the attacks anymore. That September he accosted Linda Yalem, 22, along the Ellicott Creek bike path. He placed duct tape over her mouth and nose and raped her as she suffocated. Linda was Sanchez’s first known murder victim. Every year on the anniversary of Linda’s death an annual race was held in honour of her memory, sickeningly, Sanchez would volunteer to take part.

Linda Yalem

Altemio Sanchez’s actions and whereabouts soon began to cause suspicion. A co worker had spotted Sanchez on the Ellicott Creek Bike path around the time of the last few rapes and murder. He alerted police who wasted no time in setting up surveillance on Sanchez and his home. In January 1991 police conducted a voluntary interview with Sanchez. His fingerprints were taken and he was released.

Like his father, Sanchez enjoyed spending time with prostitutes. On one occasion he was arrested for trying to pick up an undercover officer and was fined for loitering. He was fined again several years later in relation to a similar charge.

Knowing the police considered him a suspect didn’t hinder Sanchez. The thrill of getting caught probably made the attacks more thrilling for him. In 1992 he raped prostitute, Majane Mazur, 32. During the attack he placed a bag over her head and she began to fight back. Sanchez and Majane had had prior dealings in the past and he feared she would identify him to the police. To prevent that from happening he murdered her. Sanchez later claimed that he hadn’t originally intended on killing her but felt he had no choice as he didn’t want to get caught.

Majane Mazur

Sanchez’s next known attack was many years later, although it is likely there were others in-between that are unknown. In 2006, exactly 16 years to the day of Linda Yalem’s murder, Sanchez attacked and strangled mum of four, Joan Diver, 45, who had been out running on a bike path. However, in contrast to his usual MO, he didn’t rape her. He dumped her half dressed body in bushes near the path. Police were able to gain a DNA sample, that was later matched to Sanchez, from a single drop of sweat found inside Joan’s Vehicle. The DNA sample also matched samples taken from several other crime scenes.

Joan Diver

One of Sanchez’s victims had spotted him in a shopping mall just days after he had attacked her and made a note of his licence plate, reporting it to police. The car belonged to Sanchez’ Uncle who at first denied the car had been used that day due to being uninsured, however, he later admitted in 2007 that his nephew Altemio Sanchez had been driving the car that day.

Considering Sanchez their prime suspect, police upped their investigation on him. During a night out at a restaurant with his wife, Kathleen, Sanchez was unaware that undercover police were in attendance. After he had left, police collected samples of his DNA from the glass and cutlery he had eaten with. Unsurprisingly, it matched the DNA of the Bike Path Killer / Rapist. They had their man.

Sanchez’ arrested

Within days , Sanchez, was taken into custody and interrogated for more than 9 hours, after which he was formally arrested and charged with the murders of Linda Yalem and Majane Mazur. Although Sanchez’ DNA conclusively tied him to multiple rapes, police were unable to charge him for them as the statute of limitations had passed. A few months later he was charged with the murder of Joan Diver.

Before sentencing Sanchez told the court “I just wanted to mention that whatever sentence I get today, I deserve. I know I’m going to be spending life behind bars, never to see the streets again. But… I did these crimes and I should pay for these crimes.” Ultimately Sanchez pleaded guilty to the three murders and in August 2007 he received 3 life sentences totalling 75 years.

References: Department of Psychology, Radford University, Brittany P. Vaughan, Amber M. Trahan, & Kelly A. Krebs:,%20Altemio.pd Wikipedia: Criminal Minds: f Unsolved Mysteries Wiki: Find-a-grave: WFBO: Unsolved Mysteries,com: NBC News: Murderpedia: WNEP