In 1977, L.D. escaped from prison in Florida while serving time for robbery. For the next thirty years, he evaded arrested until he was found and arrested by Ontario police. Upon learning that he had an outstanding escape warrant in the State of Florida, he was extradited back. It had only been a few days, however, when he was found hanging in his cell. Although this suicide attempt was unsuccessful, he died a couple months later from the complication which ensued.
What is more shocking than this sudden end to his thirty years as a fugitive, is the links that have been made between him and the four deaths of women in California. Beginning in 1980, a 25-year-old woman who sometimes worked as a prostitute was found dead in an open field. Her hands and feet had been bound, her clothes removed, and she had died of strangulation. Three months later, another victim was found strangled. There is not thought to be any related cases until twenty years later, when 45-year-old V.W. was found in similar circumstances, naked in a field. Two months later, another female victim, C.F. aged 27, was also found strangled in a field.
The first connection L.D. had to these cases was an attempted attack he committed on a prostitute in 1980. The details of the attack matched the other murders, strangulation and binding of her hands and feet. In this case, however, the woman was able to escape and identity the attacker. L.D. was convicted of false imprisonment and put in prison for six months. As these were the days before computers were used, the fact that he was also a fugitive did not come out during the case.
The second connection was DNA. As DNA evidence was not advanced enough to solve these murders when they were committed, it was not until 2007 that it was scientifically proven that the same killer had murdered at least three of these women. This was not enough, however, as the DNA did not have a name. As detectives knew of the possible connection, they asked for a sample of L.D.'s blood following his death. What they discovered was a perfect match.
Although the families of the victims will now be able to have closure regarding who was responsible for these women's deaths, L.D. is now beyond the reach of the law. He could have been convicted on multiple counts of one of the most serious crimes, willful murder. According to the California Penal Code § 187-199 (2011), murder is the "unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought." Anyone who has been accused of such a serious offense needs to ensure they have strong legal representation on their side. For more information, please contact Martinian & Associates to learn how we could help you.