Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mistress of Hollywood: June Cassandra Mincher

Parallel Investigations

The Mincher case would soon be linked to an even colder case, but one that was being actively investigated, because it had been a celebrity hot potato.  The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department contacted the LAPD to compare notes.  Michael Pascal, it turned out, was a name common to two murders.  So were the names of a few of his bodyguards. 

Roy Alexander Radin, a movie producer from New York who'd staged successful vaudeville revivals, was working with other Hollywood notables on putting together deals to back the expensive production of The Cotton Club.  The story was based on a famous nightclub in New York City that had operated throughout Prohibition.  Opened in 1920, a gangster took over operations three years later, offering bootlegged liquor, scantily-clad female dancers, and even strippers.  Francis Ford Coppola directed the 1984 film which starred Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Gregory Hines. While it did not do well at the box office, the film was nominated for several awards, including Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Picture (Drama) and the Oscar for best Film Editing.

Movie poster: The Cotton Club
Movie poster: The Cotton Club

But Radin never saw it get produced; on May 13, 1983, he went missing.  A month later, in a wilderness area outside Gorman, California, a man was searching for a canyon in which to place a beehive for his honey business.  According to author Steve Wick in Bad Company, on June 10, he drove with a female ranger into Caswell Canyon.  Since it was a hot day, it didn't take long for him to smell the odor of decomposition near the spot they'd selected.  The man walked around a bush and saw a human hand sticking up in the air, then the shape of a business suit, and a hunk of hair.  "One side of the face was mostly gone, leaving a portion of the skull on top and the jaw line at the bottom."  Whoever it was, he'd been there a while.

Sheriff's deputies arrived to rope off the scene and look for physical evidence.  Spent bullet casings were found in piles, along with beer cans and broken bottles, as if this were a shooting range.  Missing person reports were checked, and the suit was matched against a description of the one that Radin had been wearing the night he climbed into a limo and never came back.

After the remains were removed for an autopsy, investigators returned with a filtering screen to sift the soil for evidence or more remains.  Six or seven feet from where the body was found they picked up a jawbone that held several teeth. This, too, helped to establish that the remains were those of Radin, via dental records, as did his fingerprints.

Detectives believed the Radin murder had been a contract hit and surmised that his face might have been destroyed with a bomb or shotgun blast.  Given the sensational nature of this crime and the intense degree of media exposure, the police searched frantically for witnesses and leads, but no one came forward.  It seemed that people were afraid of whoever had shot Radin, and if it had been a contract hit, then such a killer would not hesitate to kill witnesses, even accomplices. 

William Mentzer
William Mentzer

A man name William Mentzer came under suspicion after an anonymous informant called in a tip on Mentzer's association with a drug deal.  An arrest resulted in a warrant to search his apartment.  Among the items of interest were photographs of Mentzer standing with two other men in an area that resembled the very place where Radin's corpse had been dumped.  (Sergeant Carlos Avila even drove back to the place with the photo to confirm it.)  But they could not identify either of the men.

Mentzer beat the rap on the drug charges, so the case went cold. 

 

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