RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Just over 30 years ago, a serial killer in Richmond prowled the streets of the south side, viciously raping and murdering a slew of women. Timothy Spencer ultimately became known as the South Side Strangler.
Now, decades later, journalist and Richmond-native Richard Foster, is talking to family members, detectives and prosecutors who were never heard from before publicly.
Foster's upcoming podcast and Style Weekly print series, "Southern Nightmare: The Hunt for the South Side Strangler" goes inside the hunt for Spencer in 1987.
"I remember that people were terrified," said Foster. "Windows were nailed shut. Doors were dead bolted."
It was the first time a killer was caught and convicted in the U.S. using DNA evidence.
"Police believed he was hunting women who lived alone," said Foster. "He would torture them, strangle them. He would repeatedly bring them to the point of death and then release them, over and over and over again."
Spencer killed five women. Three were in Richmond's south side, and two were in Arlington.
Foster interviewed more than 40 people over the last eight months, creating an in depth podcast about the investigation that paralyzed the people of Richmond. He even connected with the mother of the youngest victim,15-year-old Diane Cho, who had never spoken publicly about her daughter's death.
Starting May 30: Listen to the 'Southern Nightmare' podcast here
"She's still 30 years later, broken by this. She says that her life would be completely different today if her daughter were alive," he said.
One of the landmark aspects of the case was the first time police and prosecutors used DNA evidence in the U.S. to connect a suspect to the victims.
"This was seven years before the O.J. Simpson trial. This was long before C.S.I.," said Foster. "This was the first time in American law enforcement history that a suspect with no fingerprints, no witnesses, and no other real physical evidence… was arrested and convicted solely on the basis of DNA evidence."
Spencer was also the last felon to be executed by electric chair in Virginia. His case led to the first DNA databank in the state, setting the stage for the rest of the nation.
But Foster hopes his series will more importantly highlight the memory of the victims.
"I also really want this podcast to say something about the five women who died because they can't speak for themselves," he said.
The first podcast debuts on May 30th. It can be downloaded for free from any podcast store. Style weekly will also be featuring accompanying articles for each of the ten following episodes.
Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.