The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on December 11, 1977 · Page 98
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 98

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 11, 1977
Page 98
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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1977 PAGE 2-SEC.5 THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR WOMEN MAY HAVE Hollywood May Link Six Of Strangled Young (Although a inspect is being held for questioning in the strangling of 10 young women in the Los Angeles area in recent, weeks, police still are conducting an exhaustive investigation into the brutal murders, and are now speculating that more than one killer may have been involved. The following in-depth study of the case and the lives of the victims was conducted by the Los Angeles Times.) By JOHN HURST (C) The Los Angeles Times ' Los Angeles Hollywood was a thread linking the lives of six of the 10 victims of the so-called Hillside Strangle the Los Angeles Times has learned. Five of the young women were heavily involved in the Hollywood street scene, according to sources on Hollywood Boulevard,, and a sixth worked as a waitress at Hollywood and Vine and lived in an apartment in the area. All along Hollywood Boulevard, "street people" runaways, castaways, pimps, pederasts, prostitutes, parking lot attendants, waitresses believe the killer or killers may have known the young women. Pretty Yolanda Washington, 20, first of the victims to be discovered, was a familiar figure along the boulevard. She was last seen at Vista Street and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on Oct. 17 at 11 p.m., according to police. She was j found the next afternoon, nude and . "strangled. " u MISS WASHINGTON'S short life was rough. Pregnancy forced her out of high school, but she returned to finish at continuation school after giving birth to a girl. The child was left in care of Miss Washington's mother, Catherine Campbell, as Yolanda became involved with a man the family calls "a bad dude" a pimp and drug pusher who once took a shot at Yolanda with a handgun. Mrs. Campbell did not know exactly where her daughter was living, but Miss Washington would show up at her mother's home from time to time with clothing for her child. She took the baby some shoes two weeks before she was murdered. Yolanda Washington was known at the Howard Johnson's restaurant at Hollywood and Vine, but the second victim to be found Judith Lynn Miller, 15 years old was much better known. Judy, as she is known, was a child of the streets. ' HER MOTHER, Doris Miller, and two younger brothers, Roy Lee, 7, and Jimmy, 12, were living in a small motel-apartment In Hollywood. Judy was sometimes there. Did she run away? "Yeah and no," replies Mrs. Miller. "She would go and stay with some friends for a while and then she'd come back." She was last seen by her mother on Oct. 15. Police say she was last seen alive at 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 31. She was found later that morning, nude, strangled. Her body had been dumped in bushes in a hilly area. "A very sweet, lovely little girl," is how Judy is described by a man of 40 who would occasionally give her a place to stay. "She went to Vegas for a month and then she stayed with me for a couple of nights," says the man, who also points out a 14-year-old girl as his fiancee. "EVERYBODY KNEW Judy and everybody liked Judy," says Jackie John-son, 18, one of the many youngsters who Pall Of Fear Falls By WILLIAM OVEREND (C) THE LOS ANGELES TIMES Los Angeles It is Wednesday afternoon at a supermarket in Highland Park. Patricia Bazzell and Janice Ritchie, nurses at Glendale Memorial Hospital, have decided to do their shopping together early. Like almost all the other women in the area, they don't want to leave their homes any more after dark. And they don't want to be alone, even In the day. "I try not to think about It," Miss Bazzell says. "If I did I'd really freak out. I had a fellow from Sears come in the other day to fix the dishwasher. After I let him in, I thought it could be the strangler. I made him walk in front of me. It's really absurd what goes on in your mind." "Some of the nurses have started phoning each other to make sure they're home safely," Miss Ritchie adds. "I don't go out after work anymore. I sleep with a hammer and a flashlight under my pillow, and I've started carrying a knife in my purse. It's a steak knife. I don't know how much good it would do. "IT'S SAD WHEN you have to be grateful that you've made it inside your house without getting killed." In the neighborhoods of Los Angeles . -closest to the areas where most of the-bodies of the 10 young women and girls strangled recently under similar circumstances have been found, almost every woman you meet says she is afraid for her life. It's not an abstract sense of fear. Most of the victims have been found nude and raped near areas of Glendale and Highland Park within a radius of five miles. Many of the women closest to the murder scenes say this is the first time they have ever really been afraid of something, and that fear has changed the way they live. "I get awfully scared,"' says Mrs. Corine Maldonado, washing her car in front of her home in the predominantly Mexican-American area of Highland Park. "My 12-year-old gets home from' school at 3:45. She knew the 14-year-old (Sonja Johnson) who was killed. I usually! get home about a half-hour later. I have her call me now when she gets home, and if she has to go anywhere after that I go with her. . "I'VE NEVER worried about somebody jumping me before," she adds, "but. KNOWN KILLER 11111 tmmn wamt... t i WW i mmmmvmmmimmmmmm mmrwm9mr-imJ-i- iwwwpwwp.11"! JANE KING An Incautious Traveler congregate In the booths of Howard Johnson's restaurant. Miss Johnson says she Is a former prostitute. "Since this has been going on, I quit," she says. Judy was liked all alo,!g the boulevard, but she also was considered tough and street-wise. "She wouldn't go with anybody she didn't know," says one source. The third victim to be found also was. considered to be cautious. Lissa Teresa Kastin, 21, worked as a waitress in a health food store on Vine Street, just a few doors away from Howard Johnson's. Miss Kastin did not take part In the Hollywood street life. She had worked as a waitress for only about two weeks before the night of Nov. 5 when she was last seen alive at 9:15. She was found the next morning, nude, strangled. Her body was dumped in a hilly area of nearby Glendale. MISS KASTIN'S ambition was a career in show business. She had been a member of the "L.A. Knockers," a female rock dance troupe that performed on various television shows and in concerts and nightclubs in Las Vegas. According to fellow dancer Jennifer Doyle of Hollywood, Miss Kastin was "real spunky, a very, very strong girl. I can't imagine something like this happening." She also was very cautious, says Miss Doyle." "She would never go for a ride with someone she didn't know." Miss Kastin's mother, Maria LeBlanc, agrees that her daughter was careful: "She was very cautious. I don't think she would get in a car with anybody. Whenever she went out with a fellow, she 7. . . aw ( 1 KATHLEEN ROBINSON Always Thumbing Rides POLICE ARTISTS CONCEPT Of 'Hillside Strangler' now I just park closer to the front gate so I can run into the house. Evervbodv's .talking about the stranglings now. No--body lets their daughters out after dark." In different words, other women say .the same thing. Walking home from St. .Ignatius School, Mrs. Rita Medrano says this is the first time "this has happened so close to home." She is a volunteer teacher's aide at the school which two of the victims, Miss Johnson and Dolores Cepeda, 12, had attended. Their bodies were found Nov. 20, a week after they were last seen alive at the Eagle Rock Plaza shopping center not far away. - "This is the first time I've ever looked -over my shoulder and around corners," Mrs. Medrano says. "I don't know what I'm looking for. It's fear. -Most of the mothers are picking their kids up at school now if they can. I have a 7-year-old daughter. She rides to school with a woman who lives at the bottom of the . hill. I watch her walk down, and we both-stand there watching her when she comes home." EVEN AT HOME there are fears.' Many of the women say they plan to buy deadbolt locks for their doors and talk - about getting watchdogs. Heading for a-j corner grocery store nearby, Michelle : Columbus, 21, says she never worried about that kind of protection before. 1 .A-4 i ; n 1 '' i r w L- HSZZZXS.. .J LAUREN WAGNER A College Student took her own car so she could leave when she wanted to. She was very independent." That independence led Miss Kastin to seek work as a waitress in order to save money to study in San Francisco rather than accept funds from her father, according to Mrs. LeBlanc: "She wanted to make people laugh, make them happy," says her mother. JILL BARCOMB, 18, had not been In Hollywood very long. The young people along the boulevard recognize the photo of the girl with the beautiful dark eyes as an occasional companion of Judy Miller. . Miss Barcomb pleaded guilty to prostitution in Syracuse, N.Y., last Jan. 13 and was put on one year's probation. On Sept. 22 she was arrested in Syracuse for , violation of probation and on Sept. 29 she was allowed to continue her probation. Six weeks later, on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., i ,. I ! JfK' I'll J I- 1 LV 4 i J II -..- ' ' ..9, -a,.. . lf 2 2 'SHfc. t' irtrii''-iir''"r - r-"rtrrfii---r nB V IT'm i immSbhih f 'I i mrnri YOLANDA WASHINGTON The First Victim JILL BARCOMB Former Prostitute 1 j I t,-. J J Over 'Hillside' Area "But I've never been afraid before," she says. "Everyone I talk to is petrified. The people who own our apartment don't allow pets, but I'm getting a dog anyway. A big one." Although the police earlier had stressed they couldn't be certain they were after the same killer or killers in all the cases, they now say the 10 murders seem to be connected, while three other strangulations in Los Angeles since September appear unrelated. Even before they arrived at that conclusion., they were call-' ing it the case of "the Hollside Strangler." In Glendale and Highland Park, however, the women speak only of an artist's sketch of one possible suspect in case they might spot him. While the level of fear is high in those areas, it hasn't reached the level generated by the "West Side Rapist" a couple of years ago, according to Lt. Dan Cooke, . press spokesman for the Los Angeles. Police Department and "we're not interested in making this into a contest," he adds. ONE MEASURE of community con-- cern, Cooke says, is the number of calls to the phone line set up by the special Strangler Task Force, comprised of 40 officers from the L.A. and Glendale . police and the Sheriff's Department, es-, tablished more than a week ago to handle the investigation. "They have four lines and ' they're busy all day," Cooke says. "They've had thousands of calls. They quit keeping count. Mostly tips, usually no good at all. We don't want to discourage people from' calling, but they shouldn't unless they think they have some valuable information. This is a city of very concerned ' people. We couldn't do our jobs if they weren't." In the general area where most of the victims have been found, in fact, only one woman was located who doesn't seem to be concerned about the situation at all-She is about 50, waiting at a bus stop. "It doesn't make sense to me to brood about ' it," she says. "If you're going to die, it could happen anytime. I recently had a sore foot and I was much more concerned about that than the strangler. After all, he's not going to wipe out the entire population." THERE DOESN'T appear to be much" of a generation gap on the issue. Waiting for the bus to go home in front of Eagle Rock Plaza, where the Johnson and Ceper " i SONJA JOHNSON Too Young To Date .Miss Barcomb was last seen alive In. Hollywood. She was found the next morning, nude, strangled. Her body was dumped on a lonely road in West Los Angeles. Kathleen Robinson, the fifth victim found, was not a cautious young woman. When the pretty 17-year-old blonde was not out hitchhiking, she lived with her mother in a rundown little white frame house outside the boundary of Hollywood. MISS ROBINSON was last seen on the night of Nov. 16 at 9:30 in Santa Monica. She was discovered the next morning the only victim found with her clothes on strangled. Her body was dumped in the Wilshire District. "She was," says a businessman across the street from her home, "the type of girl who'd go anyplace with anybody ... She was always coming in here and KRISTIN A WECKLER A Very Quiet Girl JUDITH LYNN MILLER Child Of The Streets da girls were last seen alive, four teenage girls say they wouldn't want to stay out after dark these days even if their parents would permit it. "We all talk about it at school," says . Karen Wang, 15, a sophomore at Eagle Rock High School. "I watch men more closely now, and my sister usually picks me up after school ancPdrives me home. ' Most of the girls have somebody keeping an eye on them." A gray-haired woman next to her agrees that "everyone Is terrified." She doesn't want her name used, she says, because the strangler might track her down. "There isn't an age group that isn't afraid," she says. "I have nine grandchildren and I'm afraid for them. They don't live in the area, but he could strike anyplace. It doesn't make any difference," It is the same attitude almost everywhere, an entire community exercising caution in the face of potential danger. It's not just people looking out for themselves or for their families. ONE AREA RESIDENT tells of a neighbor she barely knew who noticed the front gate to her home was broken and spent a half-hour the next morning repairing it. At a grocery store, night manager Ken Cash says he has fewer women shoppers after dark and makes a point of escorting the female checkout clerks to their cars at closing time. The mothers of young children escort their daughters almost everywhere. Walking her first-grader home from ' school, Mrs. Maria Barrantes says the strangler "could be anyone." She can't sleep at night because she worries about . it so much, she says. Outside St. Ignatius School not far away, the mothers waiting in their cars for their children say they worry, too. One of them, Mrs. Elena Zambrano, says she thinks the stranglings have been "a message from God that we have to work better to take care of our kids." , At the Highland Park Recreation Area, Mrs. Diana Fasano, 24, holds her year-old daughter Gina in her arms while: her 6-year-old, Christine, plays nearby. She wouldn't have come to the park today, she says, if her husband hadn't come with her. She keeps a copy of the sketch of the strangler suspect in her purse, and says she has an empty soft drink bottle next to her bed at home to. use as a club if necessary. ."IF THEY CAN do that to a 12-year- ! 1 f DOLLIE CEPEDA . A Zest For Life . saying, 'Oh, I've been to Las Vegas . . . ' And she was always thumbing rides by. herself, even at night." A source on Hollywood Boulevard says Miss Robinson was a regular at one of the notorious gathering spots in the area. "She was in and out continuously," he says. Jane Evelyn King, a beautiful 28-year-old blonde, was another Incautious traveler. She was known to hitchhike around Hollywood and accept rides to the apartment she shared with a man in West Hollvwood. . MISS KING, the ninth victim found; was last seen, according to police, on the night of Nov. 9 in Hollywood at 11:20. She was finally found on Nov. 23, nude and strangled. Her body was dumped in a brushy area near Griffith Park. Miss King, an aspiring actress and model, was a sometime student at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood and street sources say she often spent time around the Scientology office and in at least one gathering spot on Hollywood Boulevard. "She was trying to break Into famous Hollywood," says Steve Moskowitz, an architect who shared an apartment with her. "She was always on the go," says Moskowitz, "running around, always out someplace ... She didn't seem too bad. She was just in the wrong place at the right time." There is no apparent connection between Hollywood and the other four strangling victims. " KRISTINA WECKLER, 20, was a student at the posh Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. A close friend insists Miss Weckler did not 'frequent vice-Infested Hollywood Boulevard. LISSA TERESA KASTIN A Cautious Girl T'1' Los Angeles 1- Los Angeles' Hillside has become an area of terror for many Angelenos as one or more murderers stalked young girls in the area. Circled numberr indicate order and locations of victims found during the recent strangulation murders: (1) Yolanda Washington, found Oct. 18; (2) Judith Lynn Miller, Oct. 31; (3) Lissa Teresa Kastin, Nov. 6; (4) Jill Barcomb, Nov. 10; (5) Kathleen Robinson, Nov. 17; (6) Jane Evelyn King, Nov. 23; (7) Kristina Weckler, Nov. 20;. (8) Sonja Johnson, Nov.' 20; (9) Dolores Cepeda, also found Nov. 20; (10) ' Lauren Rae Wagner Nov. '29. A 42-man Hillside Strangle Task Force . of the L.A. police is investigating for clues to the killings. (AP) old, they'd do it to someone younger," she says. "You don't see many kids in the park any more. You don't know where to walk. Everybody's home after dark. This world's getting awful bad. It's even unsafe during the daylight." Her girlfriend's "old man" won't even let her walk to the store alone, Mrs.' Fasano adds. He keeps a big steel pipe in his car and says he'd like to use it on the strangler. He's also buying Mrs. Fasano's girlfriend a gun and is going to teach her how to use it. . "A girl was telling us last night that she was walking her dog and she heard a noise behind her," she says. "She Just' started running. -She didn't even look behind her, and I don't blame her. Any parent who would let a teen-age girl out alone In this area would have to have', their head examined. Each time you hear Victims She was last seen at her apartment fat an older, well-maintained courtyard In Glendale on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. She was. found the next morning, nude and strangled. Her body was dumped In a hilly area of Highland Park. Miss Weckler's landlords, Louis and Irene Barnes, say the young woman was a nice, friendly, but very quiet girl who kept to herself at the apartment building. Sonja Johnson, 14, and Dollie Cepeda, 12, once were schoolmates at St. Ignatius Catholic Elementary School. They had drifted apart, with Sonja attending St. Andrews High School in Pasadena, where she was not in love with school, but liked it, and with Dollie attending Stancliff, a private Catholic school in South Pasadena, where she was a straight-A student. THEY GOT TOGETHER for the day on Nov. 13 and went to a shopping mall' that is a popular hangout among teenagers in the Pasadena-Highland Park area. They were last seen that day in Highland Park at 6:30 p.m. after leaving the shopping mall. They were found a week later on Nov. 20, nude and strangled. Their bodies were dumped on a trash heap in an isolated area west of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine. Tony and Mary Johnson, Sonja's parents, are accountants with a little business in Highland Park. Sonja was too young to date, according to her father. She was "in love" with Shaun Cassidy, the rock star, and she had ambitions to become an orthodontist, a plan somehow related to the fact that she wore braces on her teeth. Tony and Cecelia Cepeda live with their four surviving children in a modest little house in Highland Park. MRS. CEPEDA IS grateful right now ' for her four sons, aged 16, 15, 14 and 9. "They try to take care of me, right now," she says. "They try to tell me things to get my mind off it ... We talk . about Dollie a lot, and we feel better, you know? Not sad. Because we have such wonderful, warm memories of her . . ." Besides being an excellent student,. Dollie had a zest for life that took her Into everything from Crafts for Christ to playground football. The last victim of the strangler to be found was Lauren Rae Wagner, 18-year-old business college student from Sepulveda in the San Fernando Valley. "She never left the Valley," responds a friend when asked if the attractive, friendly young woman could have run into her killer through a Hollywood contact. She was last seen by neighbors at , "10:10 pm on Nov. 28 as : she got out of ' iher car almost in front of her home, and 'escorted by two men, got Into another . 'car. .; . . ; . SHE WAS FOUND the next 'morning, nude and strangled. Her body was dumped in a residential area in ML Washington. .The method reportedly used to abduct Miss Wagner has caused speculation that impersonation of a policeman was used by the killer or killers. In Hollywood, the people on the street feel that the strangler is either someone, known to the girls or someone using a' ruse such as impersonating a policeman, a photographer or even a pimp. There is fear on the streets of Hollywood. But the night life goes on. "They go right ahead," says a wait-,-ress in talking about the young girls on the streets. "They don't think anything can happen to them." about one more, it gives you a weirder feeling." BUT THERE WILL always be some, time to make lt easy. As the sun begins to set, two girls stand by the road witn their thumbs out, looking for a ride town Figueroa Street in the area. One calls herself Pat and says she's 23. The other is a 15-year-old named Terl. They're just "hitchhiking around."" they say. They started off In Long Beacn, and somebody gave them a ride to Highland Park. Now they need to get to downtown Los Angeles to meet their uncle at his tattoo parlor. As they climb 'into the car, it's clear they will be totally' unimpressed with anything that's said. "Oh, yeah," Pat says. "A guy at a gai station told us something about a strangler today. I figured he was kidding." 1 J

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