Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: The Signature Murders


Late in the morning on June 8, 1998, Detective Blake took a call from a male who would not identify himself. He stated that he had seen the posters and was now in the vicinity of the man pictured. He was standing in the parking lot of the AIDS Project, LA, at Vine and Fountain.

Blake and McDonough rushed to the address, hoping to catch the man before he walked away. As they pulled up, they observed a black man who resembled the photo, but he was not wearing the leather jacket. A security guard identified him as Robert Rose. They took him in for questioning.

Robert Rose
Robert Rose
At the station, Detectives Jaramillo and Parry took over. Rose, 43, had a black handbag in his possession and when they examined the contents, they found a pocketknife, narcotic paraphernalia, and some paperwork.

Doing a background check turned up a surprise: Rose was a convicted killer. He was currently on parole for a manslaughter that had occurred in 1989, which had happened during a burglary. In fact, there was a warrant on him for violating parole, and he had a long history of crimes such as burglary, theft, trespass, and extortion. He'd been sentenced to thirteen years but had been released after serving eight.

It was now time to see if their suspect could be placed at Willie Nichols' residence. They took his fingerprints and sent them to the Latent Print Section of the crime lab, requesting a comparison. They learned that the match was positive: Rose had left a print on the bottle found in the apartment.

Jaramillo informed Rose of his Miranda Rights and proceeded to talk with him. Rose admitted to being in the area in April. Shown a photo from the ATM video surveillance, he said it looked like him but hedged a little before denying that it was him. He also denied knowing Willie or even being near his apartment complex.

Then Jaramillo pulled out his trump card: fingerprints of the perpetrator found at the scene. At this point, Rose refused to cooperate any further and the interview had to be stopped. Rose was nevertheless placed under arrest and taken to the LA County jail.


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