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Back in civilian life, he was living in San Jose, California, and briefly attended San Jose State University, however he dropped out after one semester.It is believed that he joined a group of hippies in the early 1970s and settled with them in a hippie commune.
In a diary, Lake had written how he was convinced there was going to be a global nuclear war, and he planned on surviving in his bunker and rebuilding the human race with a collection of female slaves (he named this plan "Operation Miranda" after a character in the book The Collector by John Fowles).He identified himself as Robin Stapley and had a driver's license in that name.Police were suspicious because, according to the driver's license, Robin Stapley was 26 while the man they had in custody was clearly in his late 30s.In 2001, NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit aired an episode entitled "Manhunt", which fictionalized the hunt for the two killers.The main villain of the episode, Daryl Kern, was a conglomerate of both Lake and Ng.Five of the bodies were of men lured to the ranch to be robbed and killed including Robin Stapley and Paul Cosner and the 12th was identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, who knew Ng because her boyfriend had once been his cellmate in prison.
Police also found charred fragments of human bones (in excess of 45 pounds in total), but they were unable to determine the identity of the victims or their number.
Lake and Ng took residence at Lake's remote ranch in Wilseyville where they began abducting, torturing, raping and killing people.
Most of Lake and Ng's victims were people who knew them.
By then, police had confirmed the true identity of their suspect as Leonard Lake.
Furthermore, the man whose identity Lake had taken, Robin Stapley, had been missing for several weeks.
While being interviewed at the police station, Lake asked for a glass of water and used it to swallow a cyanide pill hidden in the lapel of his shirt.