Home / Retribution VS. Restoration … Stephen Stanko’s Killing Spree Begins

Retribution VS. Restoration … Stephen Stanko’s Killing Spree Begins

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The following is a quote from Amazon.com’s listing for this book; Living in Prison : A History of the Correctional System with an Insider’s View by Stephen Stanko, Wayne Gillespie, Gordon A. Crews:

“…Can the morality of a nation really be judged by how it treats its prisoners? The United States has more people in prison than any other nation, and the nature of the American correctional system continues to be the subject of passionate debate…”

The book is apparently a survey of the history of the US correctional system written by two college professors and an inmate – Mr. Stanko. In the review for the book it says:

“…The strength of the work, however, is the powerful personalization of the prison experience provided by Stanko, who is currently incarcerated in South Carolina…”

Well, Steve Stanko is, as of this writing, not in prison. He was, in fact, released last year, in July, after serving 8 years of a 10-year sentence for kidnapping. He had a somewhat violent criminal history going back into the 90’s. He was to be considered under something amounting to house arrest – ankle bracelet and all – for at least two years.

It seems Steve Stanko was trying to do something with his life, starting a program to help youth offenders rehabilitate and go on the straight and narrow. Stanko had also written two novels and was looking for a publisher of his autobiography.

But this poster boy for rehabilitation and crusader for prison reform is not where he should be, right now.

He’s on the run, accused of rape, and two murders.

From myrtlebeachonline.com, an article posted April 9, 2005:

“…Arrest warrants charge Stephen Stanko, 37, with murder and criminal sexual conduct charges, Georgetown County Sheriff Lane Cribb said.

Laura Ling, 43, of Murrells Inlet, was found dead around 3 a.m. Friday shortly after police responded to a call from a teenager at the home who said she had been sexually assaulted there.

Police said Stanko fled in a stolen Ford Mustang, which was found Saturday morning in the driveway of a Conway home.

After Horry County police were unable to make contact with the resident, they entered the home where they discovered a 74-year-old man dead from a shotgun wound. Horry County Deputy Coroner Dan Bellamy identified the victim as Henry Lee Turner…”

Laura Ling is said to have been a librarian. I found a page at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library & Information Science website that may have been authored by her: The Virgin Mary in Medieval Manuscripts.

She was working for a public library at the time of her death. She’d begun teaching computer classes for senior citizens and was well-loved by her colleagues.

But her killer, Steve Stanko, he wrote a book. Why, he was an author. They had some sort of relationship, the nature of which would only be speculation. Speculation based on Ms. Ling being a librarian, perhaps somewhat retiring and sheltered as they can be. Speculation based on Stanko being yet another cool and manipulative psychopath – apparently one who is smarter than the average waste of DNA he cohabitated with in prison.

Speculation that suggests a story of a woman who was possibly very kind and open and willing to believe that the Stephen Stankos of the world can actually be rehabilitated.

Stephen Stanko is 6’3″ and weighs 192 lbs. He appears to have dark hair of medium length and wears glasses with aviator-style silver frames. News reports from April 9, 2005 – Saturday – indicate he was last known to be driving a 1996 Mazda B2300 extended cab pickup truck with South Carolina tags, tag number 709 PYJ. If you think you see him, the usual warnings about staying the hell away and calling 911 apply. Authorities speculate based on recent tips that he may be heading for North Carolina.

A side note – researching this has taught me how badly information can get bunged up when it’s blogged – I found this site – the Blogger News Network. It touts itself as the breaking news source for the blogosphere. That it may be, and I’ll certainly bookmark the site, but their article about Stanko and the crimes for which he is accused is pretty off the mark – the blogger who posted the article states in his intro that Stanko killed a 74-year-old woman and took her truck. Then he pasted the article which he found at Fox News that plainly says Stanko is thought to have murdered 74-year-old Henry Lee Turner, a male, took Turner’s truck, and is also killed Laura Ling, a 43-year-old woman. It’s just my opinion, but being a blogger does not mean you have the right to be lazy with the facts on anything. It’s the kind of sloppiness that allows pundits to sneer when info mentioned in a blog is discussed in the news.

I also encountered the National Incident Notification Network, which is not a blog, per se, but they had the following quote in their article about Stephen Stanko:

“…He was last seen on Friday and is a determined author who has studied to be a serial killer. Public should consider him armed and dangerous. It is believed he may try to kill again…”

I first thought that to be a ridiculous-sounding statement in the context of an otherwise legitimate news blurb, but then it occurred to me that Stanko may have, in his way, done just that while in the care of the judicial system. It wouldn’t be the first time a middling criminal came out of lockup with his knowledge of how to kill and kill again refined and honed to a razors edge.

I do believe if Stephen Stanko isn’t caught soon that he will leave more death in his wake.

And when it comes to criminals like him, perhaps it’s time to let the retribution outweigh the restoration. I’m sure Stanko’s co-authors of Living in Prison : A History of the Correctional System with an Insider’s View thought that by having Stanko work with them they were contributing mightily to his proper “restoration” to society.

In reality their co-author was just another psycho who walked, and now appears to have killed, at will.

(This entry also published in my true crime blog, The Dark Side of PlanetHuff.)

**UPDATE** Fugitive Stephen Stanko has been captured in Augusta Georgia. This is according to a news report on Fox News at 3:58 p.m. eastern time, April 12, 2005.

Stanko was wanted in the murders of 43-year-old Laura Ling, his housemate, and 74-year-old Henry Turner, and the rape of an unnamed teenaged girl. This update has been published as a separate bulletin at the Blogger News Network.

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About Steve

  • Well – He killed my Dad & Now he got the Death Penalty for the Murder of Laura Ling, so He will also get the sentance of Death for the Murder of Henry L. Turner. Justice will be served. 8/18/2006

  • Sherron

    I hope that Stephen Stanko is sentenced to the death penalty. I worked with him for a very short time 10 years ago and was shocked to find out about all the horrible things he has done. Elizabeth it saddens me to see you reliving your horrible experience. I could not imagine what you are going through right now. My heart truely goes out to you… My thoughts and prayers go out to all of his victims. Hopefully justice will pervail and he will pay with his life.

  • L

    I knew Stephen Stanko before he was charged for murder, when he was dating my mother and stole thousands of dollars from us. I won’t say I don’t hate this man, he ruined a good deal of my childhood, but I do want to know what they are going to do to him. Does anyone know if he’s been tried and if there is a verdict? His prosecuitor had wanted my mother and I to testify against him, but my mother didn’t want to have his death on her hands. I’m trying to find out if they finally made a decision. Thank you for your help, and god bless.


  • sheila

    Henry Lee Turner was like a father to me. His son is married to my sister. He has been in our family for 20 years. What a wonderful man Henry was. I wish that the world could have known him. He stood for everything good. He was retired from the military, and recovering from prostrate cancer. He told me, “it will take something bigger than cancer to get me down, and the day before his brutal murder, he also told me the Dr.s had given him an “all clear sign”.
    He was full of life, and had a zest for living like no one I have ever met before. He was truly an inspiration, and he will be forever missed.

  • Ken bennett

    Most of you are talking out your backside. Some more than others. There is no rehabilitation in South Carolina. Never has been. It is a warehouse. You get what you pay for ppl. Expect more of the same.

  • Elizabeth

    While reading the comments, I realize this is only one case of so many. Americans should rise up and fight against the system that allows sexual predators and criminals much like Stephen Stanko to roam free in our communities only to violate us and our children again and again. As for me, I am hoping to read this book he has co-authored and bring truth to the rumored lies he has written within it. My story will shed more insight into his habits of cons, fraud, lies and theft. By his actions after committing murder and rape, we have the monster unveiled. I thank you all for the support of pulling his book! It’s packed with lies.


    Violent criminals really need to be kept behind bars.

  • I also had the experience of knowing Steve in high school and dating him seriously for over a year. I, as well as our friends from high school are in shock at what he has done. He came from a “decent” family and had many opportunities to succeed in life. This choice he has made has been his own and he deserves any cruel punishment that he may receive.

  • xjx

    Elizabeth, I saw you on TV and was horrified by your account of what he did to you. What a monster. But even more horrifying was that after he killed Laura, raped the teen and killed Mr. Turner, he was so narcissistic he partied and flirted in Columbia, then talked his way into another woman’s home in Augusta. Good grief! How in the world, after so much horror and so much activity packed into a short amount of time, could he act normal enough to get a woman to take him home? It defies rational thought.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with you about not letting such criminals out of prison early. We and our neighbors are currently having problems with a 23-year-old unemployed drug addict who recently got off probation and lives with his parents. Now that he is off probation he is cocky and up to his old drug-selling and drug-using habits, but there’s nothing we can do about it because we don’t have proof.


    I think that some criminals can be very reasonable and rational, and actually do good things while they are in prison, but only because they are away from whatever it was that got them sent to jail in the first place. Stanko, is a good example, but a lot of other recent cases are similar in that they were violent offenders who were model prisoners, either getting time off for good behavior, or at least giving that appearance. Once out of prison and free to do what they wish, some terrible compulsion for lack of a better word, seizes them and they commit the same offense again, or worse. Look at how many repeat offenders in the news at first “merely” molested or rpaed, but now they are murderers on their recurrent offense.
    Unless someone can offer me solid evidence and not wishful thinking, I am moving more towards the “throw away the key” side rather than believe rehabilitation for sexual predators is possible. Maybe we should look for a way to keep them behind bars and be productive, but separated from society for life. I mean some type of work farm, or factory system, dsomething that wil help move the cost of their incarceration off of us and pay for itself. I am sure it is not that simple.

  • RJ


    Interesting point about crime and political beliefs.

    There’s an old saying: A former-liberal and current-conservative is someone who has recently been mugged.

    I have a few liberal beliefs as well. But when it comes to crimes such as these, I am FULLY in favor of harsh treatment and capital punishment.

    These scum evoke spitting outrage in even the most level-headed intellectual modern liberal.

  • There is no supporting it. He was a smooth-talking psychopath, running his con every moment. I too find the irony of his participating in writing this book remarkable. Men like him are the reason my views on criminal justice are so conservative compared to many of my other personal beliefs. Guys like Stanko should be monitored non-stop, and closely, to the point he can’t breathe.

    Interesting thing I found online; the man actually had the gall to sue the state of S. Carolina while incarcerated for 5.69 in wages earned while working in prison. Amazing, ain’t it?

    Rehabilitation my ass.

  • Elizabeth

    Quite frankly all of this sickens me. This man made me a victim of his and was released with early out for good behavior. The two murders may have been avoided and a teenager would not be without a mother and not have been raped if he was still serving his time for the first crime. And…to co-author a book… then create such terror to so many. Who can support his way of thinking?

  • pdc

    Ditto xjx’s comments; Laura was anything but the stereotypical-librarian type, and Stanko’s “honesty” about his life in prison presumably impressed her, so horribly sorry to say. Laura was beloved and will be deeply missed; there’ll never be another one like her, as anyone who knew her can testify.

  • Thank you for posting your comment, and I can believe you…in fact, I hope others read the comments because it’s important that they see just how easily a smooth-talking, presentable psychopath can get in under the radar of virtually anyone.

  • xjx

    I knew Laura, and she was not shy and retiring. She was extremely intelligent and outspoken, not to mention an incredibly gorgeous and well groomed woman. That tells you how devious stanko is…he fooled someone who I’d never in a million years would believe could be deceived in that way.

  • Thomas Hucks

    I was browsing through Horry County Crimes and came across your site,I was trying to find more info on the murders of my friend Charlie Parker and his wife who both were murdered by
    some maniac.He lived on Hwy.90 just before you get to the junction of 22,on the left after you pass the swamp.I’ve known him since 1971,he was
    a real good person,now it’s only a memory-I hope Horry County will go and put all crack users in some kind of mandatory rehab program,if they can catch them with a trace of it in their blood,before these people get a chance to go commit any more crimes.

  • Well, looks like he was headed into my neck of the woods when captured. Just reported on Fox news that he was captured as he left a shopping mall in Augusta. There were two more deaths overnight in the area he was thought to be heading to, but they don’t know if they were related yet.

  • As someone living in the general area that he’s been in, it makes me a little uneasy. Not to mention the rumors that newspaper and magazine articles about serial killers have been found in his home (I think that’s what they said). I just saw a press conference about him earlier today on the local TV station. Kinda freaks me out. I’m just praying it isn’t the area’s next “Pee Wee” Gaskins, as he killed in a similar manner in the same area and claimed up to 150 victims.

    Great report, though!

    -=The Prynce

  • Robert;

    I apologize for the tone of what I wrote – I really like the idea behind BNN and plan to use it often, as well as bookmark it. I feel blogging is a different animal from journalism or newswriting, but I try to hold myself to a journalistic kind of standard when I post as far as currently known facts are concerned.

  • RJ

    These serial murderers can be very charming. I’m sure he seemed a decent enough fellow to his co-authors.

    People like this, I dunno, I think the police should be given “shoot to kill” orders upon finding them…

  • Ron

    Maybe he is working on the sequel.

  • Thanks for the correction on the Stanko case, Steve. I have amended our published story to reflect the correct facts.

    Best wishes,

    Robert Hayes
    Editor, BNN