Men who survived serial killer attacks meet for the first time in Bismarck after nearly 40 years

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 4:52 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A serial killer known as the Night Stalker was active in California in the 1980′s and left more than 25 victims in his wake. But this story isn’t about him. It’s about two men who both faced the killer but haven’t met until now.

James Romero was 13 years old when he spotted a prowler in his backyard, but at the time didn’t know the danger. As his family woke, the man ran, but Romero saw part of his license plate and the car which helped police identify the man. While the police spoke with Ramero, the killer was a short distance away where he shot Bill Carns in the head three times. Bill survived -- it was the last attack before the killer was arrested.

It’s been nearly 40 years since then. Now, Romero and Carns meet in Bismarck.

They shake hands and smile at each other.

This is the first time they’ve ever met but the connection runs deep.

For Romero’s first time in North Dakota, there’s a small ceremony in Carns’ sister’s home.

“Our ordeal has been a big impact on my life. So. I just wanted to meet Bill. I know it affected his life,” said James Romero.

“I went to college at NDSU in Fargo and joined a fraternity. I kind of feel like the two of us are brothers now. We shared similar circumstances, and we can relate,” said Bill Carns.

The men speak about their experience and what it’s been like building their lives with the event on the back of their minds.

Romero notes that fingerprint technology helped police crack the case and he’s encouraged to see others find answers to crimes today as technology continues to progress.

“A person that committed a crime has a much harder time of staying free,” said Romero.

Romero and Carns’ lives have certainly been shaped by the crimes.

“I have nightmares still. I have always had these nightmares of somebody coming after us or my family or attacking us, I have struggled with those types of things,” said Romero.

“I went through some areas where I had some real low spots. And fortunately, there were other people around me who grabbed me and said, ‘Bill, this is what the good Lord is trying to teach us,’ and at that point I realized the Lord Jesus Christ saved me that particular night,” said Carns.

But the men aren’t defined by the crimes and turn to loved ones every day.

“Family is so very important. I can rely on family. They’ll still be here tomorrow and the next day,” said Carns.

“Now I have my family with my wife and my kids, I have triplets, they keep me busy and pushing forward now,” said Romero.

Two lives that intersected by chance are now connected forever.

Bill Carns has had ongoing medical expenses stemming from the attack. To help, Romero and the Carns family have set up a GoFundMe. Visit Fundraiser by Linda Knodel : Funding for Bill Carns ( to learn more.

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