13 ‘Overkills’ Are Unsolved
Monday, November 24th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24 – Unsolved murder is not a stranger to the Los Angeles area.
Since the beginning of the year there have been 13 brutal slayings, most of which have been called “senseless” or “thrill murders” by police. They are not what could be called ordinary murders – those committed for revenge, punishment or in fits of anger.
Authorities refuse to speculate on whether there is any connection between the 13 killings. The only apparent relation is that the murders were brutal – one of which was termed “overkills” by the county coroner – and they remain unsolved.
The murders range from the Benedict Canyon massacre of actress Sharon Tate and four other persons to the beating death of an unidentified young woman.
The latest occurred during the weekend. The mutilated bodies of a nude 19-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy were discovered Saturday. The victims were identified as Dorren Gaul, Albany, N.Y., and James A. Sharp, Crestwood, Mo. The faces of Miss Gaul and Sharp had been so badly mutilated police at first believed they were wounded at point-blank range with a shotgun. The victims had been beaten to death.
The string of slayings began Jan. 1, when the body of Marina Elizabeth Habe, daughter of screenwriter Hans Habe and actress Eloise Hardt, was found in heavy brush off a mountain road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Police said she apparently had been abducted from the driveway of her mother’s home in West Hollywood. She had been stabbed to death.
On May 22, the body of Rose Tashman, 19, a former college student, was found in an isolated area in the Hollywood Hills. She had been raped and strangled. Police believe she had been abducted from the Hollywood Freeway after she stopped her car at an offramp because of a flat tire.
The body of another young girl, Virginia Lynn Smith, 13, was found June 23 in a creek bed in a deserted canyon near her home in Claremont. She had been raped and strangled. Her nude body was found by two hikers. The vivacious brunette with blue eyes had been vice president of her class at school.
The mass murder of actress Sharon Tate and four other persons followed on the night of Aug. 8 or the morning of Aug. 9. The Hollywood names involved brought international publicity. Miss Tate, coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger, men’s hair stylist Jay Sebring, Polish emigree Voityck Frokowsky and 18-year-old Steven Parent had been shot or stabbed to death. There were footprints in pools of blood about the house rented by Miss Tate and the word “Pig” as scrawled in blood on a door. The only main clue police have revealed is that amber-rimmed eyeglasses, believed to be those of the killer, were found at the scene.
The following night, on Aug. 10, the knife-slashed bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Leno A. LaBianca were found in their home in Los Angeles. The grisly scene was similar in some respects to that at the Benedict canyon home. Police theorized the slayings were the work of a “copy cat” killer.
On Nov. 16, the body of an unidentified woman, about 25, was found in a brush-covered ravine in the Hollywood Hills. Police said the woman had been slashed with a knife over most of her body.
The motives in all of the murders remain unclear and authorities admit that the longer time lapses the harder it may be to solve the crimes.