In 1976, Conrad Hilberry was a professor of literature at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich. During his life, he self-published 11 books on poetry and one outlier that seemingly didn't fit in with the professor's style or interests. Years later, alumni Hugh Broder stumbled across this book in the Michigan Authors section of a used bookstore. He was shocked to discover that he recognized the author's name, and even more surprised when he realized it was a book about two serial killers.
Written in 1987, Luke Karamazov told the story of two Michigan brothers–turned–serial killers who murdered separately. Broder was so intrigued, he decided to adapt the book into a movie. Along with a friend, they reached out to Hilberry who gave them a tour of all the significant places within the book. It took years to make, but the result is the 2023 film He Went That Way starring Jacob Elordi (Euphoria) as one of the brothers, Larry Lee Ranes.
Where is Larry now? Here's what we know.
Where is Larry Lee Ranes now?
Larry Lee Ranes is currently serving a life sentence without parole at Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Mich. According to an August 1986 profile of Ranes in the Detroit Free Press, he legally changed his name to Monk Steppenwolf in 1972 due to the shame he felt around his brother's actions. Obviously he is not referring to the killing spree Danny Ranes went on, but rather the fact that he raped his four victims first. The Ranes name "represented everything bad," said Steppenwolf.
So, how did Steppenwolf get to where he was? In 1955, he was 13 years old and living in Kalamazoo along with his brother and mother. Steppenwolf's father, who abused his mother, left when he was 9 and ended up working as a gas station attendant in Florida. As a young teen, he fell in love with his older next door neighbor Sue, who had three children and was 10 years his senior. They entered into a relationship until at 17, Steppenwolf got busted for stealing a car and chose to join the army as punishment.
Less than a year later he was kicked out for drunkenly assaulting another soldier and attempted to pick back up with Sue, who rebuffed his multiple marriage proposals. Depressed, Steppenwolf tried to kill himself two days before Christmas 1963. After a brief stay in a mental institution he was released, only to begin his murderous binge four months later.
Larry Ranes, aka Monk Steppenwolf, would go on to kill five people.
On June 5, 1964, in Michigan, Steppenwolf was arrested by police and charged with the murder of a Plymouth schoolteacher named Gary Smock, who picked Larry up when Larry was posing as a hitchhiker in Kalamazoo, per the Detroit Free Press. Authorities were tipped off by Sue or a friend of Sue's, after Steppenwolf confessed to his former love. This was the beginning of the end as Steppenwolf would soon reveal to a psychiatrist that he murdered four more people. Three of those people worked at gas stations, like his father.
"I turned myself in to get killed," he told the outlet. "I didn't turn myself in to do time." Steppenwolf was under the misguided impression that he could get the electric chair, but the state outlawed capital punishment in 1847. In October 1964, a jury found then 19-year-old Steppenwolf guilty of first-degree murder, per the Anderson Daily Bulletin. Apparently when the verdict was read, he smiled.
Dave Pitts was one man Larry Lee Ranes didn't kill, though he had the chance. Where is David Pitts now?
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) plays Dave Pitts, an animal trainer with a chimp named Spanky, in He Went That Way. Evidently Pitts and Steppenwolf spent three harrowing days together, which is the focal point of the film. When Professor Hilberry turned over his taped interviews with Steppenwolf to Broder, one question jumped out at the writer. "You guys all ask me about the five guys I killed. Why don’t you want to hear about the one I didn’t kill," asked Steppenwolf. That is where Pitts comes in.
Not only was Pitts an animal trainer, but according to an April 2019 issue of Ice Capades The Blade, he was a skater with the company from 1961 to 1971. If you're asking yourself, "Was Spanky in the show?" Yes, he was. In fact, one of Pitts's favorite memories of his time on the ice was when "Spanky performed a 22-foot barrel jump night after night in East Company."
Pitts told the outlet he was currently living in Buenos Aries, "down the street from my daughter and her family." While he misses the wild world of entertainment, Pitts is enjoying life away from it. He also said he's writing his memoir, which could include the story of his time with Steppenwolf though he doesn't mention it in the interview. Guess we'll have to catch the movie to get all the details.