Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: The Keystone Diamond

Awakened in the Night

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect their identities.

STUDIO CITY — It was shortly after midnight on Oct. 16, 1983, and Dennis Brown was getting ready to go to bed. He said good night to his roommate, William Conway, and retired to his room. By all indications, it seemed like just another quiet night in Studio City, an upper middle class bedroom community north of Hollywood.

The pair had met during a stint in Alcoholics Anonymous, and William, who was going through a divorce, asked Dennis if he wanted to rent a room. Studio City was a great place to live — close enough to Hollywood to feel like you're part of the action, yet far enough away to escape the seediness and the crime. 

For Dennis, it was also close enough to find a wide array of women to bring home, something the 70-year-old William didn't like. The men constantly argued about the women.

At 2:30 a.m. Dennis awoke to noises — possibly voices — coming from William's room, so he got up to investigate. Dennis started to open William's bedroom door to see if he was all right, but someone on the other side pushed it closed.

"William?"

No response. Strange.

Concerned, Dennis went into the kitchen and picked up a knife. William's bedroom also had a sliding glass door that led into the backyard and Dennis was going to look through it to see if anything was amiss.

William's attack-trained German shepherd, Dante, was outside; the sliding door was open so the dog could come and go at will. In the darkness, Dennis could barely make out William getting up from his bed and falling down on the floor with a groan. William might have been drinking, Dennis thought.

"Are you okay?" he called out.

"Yes, I'm okay," a voice answered.

Satisfied, Dennis returned to his room, leaving Dante in the backyard.

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