LA Forensics: The Chinatown Widow
Los Angeles of the '80s
Twenty-some years ago, Los Angeles was a different type of place. Gangs ruled many of the neighborhoods, graffiti was everywhere and Hollywood had a grimy, seedy feel to it. In the late '70s and '80s, serial killers like the Night Stalker, the Freeway Killer and the Hillside Strangler hunted victims and killed them in gruesome ways.
"At that time, Hollywood was down on its heels. It had lost its glitz and glamour," Rose said. "In fact, tourists were always disappointed when they came to Hollywood. The closest they came to a star was seeing a star on Hollywood Boulevard on the sidewalk. And it was a place filled with disappointed people.
"It was a place where we saw a lot of violent crimes, in fact an unequal share of violent crimes (compared to) the county of Los Angeles," Rose said. "(We had) more stabbings, strangulations than ... other parts of the county because they're more personal. I think we just had a lot of disappointed souls who came out here to make it big and ended up homeless or unhappy or both."
Within the two years previous to Donna's murder, dozens of middle-aged and elderly women around the East Hollywood area had been beaten, raped, and strangled. Police believed a serial killer was on the loose and dubbed him the Eastside Strangler. It seemed possible he could have claimed Donna as one of his victims.