Investigation Discovery’s ‘Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? A Hate, Hate Relationship’ features the story of serial rapist Lonnie Keith who was suspected of raping 12 college girls in Butte County, northern California, from August 2011 to late 2012. However, he was charged with three rapes and took a plea deal for a reduced sentence. So, who is Lonnie Keith, and what is his story? Let’s find out.
Who is Lonnie Keith?
According to his former wife, Kari Keith, Lonnie Scott Keith had a “strange upbringing.” By the time he and his older brother were respectively seven and nine, their parents had suffered broken backs in separate injuries. With both adults losing the ability to work, the Keiths began having financial issues. Kari recalled a hospital bed in the living room with the elderly disabled couple eating off TV trays. The family eventually lost their Salinas home and ended up in a small apartment in Capitola in Santa Cruz County, California.
Hence, Lonnie and his brother had always been driven and hard-working since childhood. He used to deliver papers to pizzas to support himself, and his brother went on to open a successful retail shop. Lonnie earned a graduate-level certificate as a physician assistant in 2006 from UC Davis and scored one of the highest point levels in the class. Kari said, “He never wanted to let his parents down.” Kari, then 15, met 18-year-old Lonnie while cruising on South Main in Salinas.
Kari recounted their meeting in an interview, saying, “He was a pimple-faced pizza delivery boy who drove a nice car.” While Lonnie was shy and introverted, she recalled how she took the first step and asked one of their mutual friends to ask him to take her out on a cruise. It started a volatile relationship that lasted “nonstop for 15 to 20 years.” Kari alleged Lonnie had a sexual addiction issue from the beginning, having walked in on him viewing pornography several times.
The two broke up over this in 1997 but eventually got married on June 17, 1998, after Kari got pregnant with another man’s child during their break up. They had three more children as they moved from one place to another — Salinas, Sacramento, Chico, and Davis. Lonnie was a well-respected Physician Assistant, working at Enloe Medical Center during the day and at Oroville Hospital at night. He worked two jobs for several years, putting in long hours to sustain his family and pay off his student loans from UC Davis and other debts.
Nevertheless, the marriage became severely strained when Kari discovered Lonnie was having an alleged affair after she intercepted a text message in October 2011. Though he consistently denied having a physical relationship, he suggested they go to counseling. Lonnie moved out of their suburban home in Chico in January through May 2012 as the couple worked through the alleged affair. On three occasions, she claimed to stumble to find nylons, zip ties, and a syringe loaded with a strange substance in a brown paper bag.
Where is Lonnie Keith Now?
However, Lonnie explained the syringe away as being left over from the night before at work and denied the allegations of having an affair. Kari also remembered waking up one night in August 2012 to find her husband, not in bed. She admitted she had installed a tracking app on his phone to monitor his whereabouts and found he was in Chico. Kari recounted, “I turned on the iPhone tracker, and I see he’s in Chico.” She called Lonnie, and he initially denied being in Chico and insisted he was working at the Oroville Hospital Emergency Room.
Kari added, “I see the dot moving—on the Midway, and then it’s gone. Offline. Thirty-five or forty minutes later, he called from Oroville Hospital. I may have literally saved some poor girl from being raped that night.” On January 25, Lonnie texted Kari a customary goodnight message and said he was stuck in a hectic day at his workplace. California Highway Patrol officers pulled him over for speeding from Oroville Hospital. A few hours later, Chico police detectives stopped him for running a stop sign at West Fourth and Orange Streets.
The investigators found the rear-passenger windows partially covered with blankets and bedding. They searched the vehicle to discover two syringes loaded with a transparent substance, latex gloves, several nylons, and adhesive tape. The detectives executed a search warrant to find a flashlight with a stun gun, metal handcuffs, metallic leg restraints, zip ties, multiple syringes, multiple vials of prescription drugs, and latex gloves in a compartment under the front passenger seat.
Lonnie was arrested in the early morning of January 26 and charged with a series of kidnappings and rapes that took place in the spring and fall of 2012 in downtown Chico. Police reports stated around 12 incidents dating back to August 2011 in a south campus neighborhood where an assailant had forced college girls into a dark-colored sedan with covered rear windows. All the women were bound, blindfolded, and injected with a substance that caused drowsiness.
Yet, Lonnie was charged with three incidents in 2012 — April 15, September 22, and October 28. Kari said, “The police told me they had conducted a surveillance operation to catch a suspected serial rapist, and the items they found in Lonnie’s car matched the victims’ descriptions of what happened to them.” On August 28, 2014, he took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to one felony count of forceful rape and three felony counts of kidnapping.
The prosecution dropped special allegations and other charges, including tying and binding, assault with the intent of kidnap, and the administration of drugs. On September 17, Lonnie Keith was sentenced to 26 years in prison. According to official court records, the 50-year-old is serving his sentence at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, California. His inmate records state he might be eligible for parole in June 2030.