Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession

Another Body



Through the end of 1974, Lancaster continued driving a cab in San Pedro. Then in 1975, he moved to San Francisco, where he got a job as a security guard. He also drove a cab in nearby San Jose, just south of San Francisco Bay.

In March 1975, San Francisco police found the body of 60-year-old Leah Griffin tied up inside her apartment at a residential hotel on Powell Street. She had been raped and strangled.

Leah had been a legal secretary but had fallen on hard times. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she started drinking and lost touch with her grown children. Her daughter hadn't even known Leah was living in San Francisco until being notified about her death.

Two months after Leah Griffin's murder, in May 1975, Lancaster took a ride with his son Steve and Steve's fiancée, Jeanette, to San Luis Obispo, to help them find an apartment. He stayed with them for a while.

At first Jeanette thought her future father-in-law was a sweetheart. It wasn't long, though, before she saw a different side of him. Lancaster began leaving what Jeanette described as love notes on her car windshield. He was hitting on his son's fiancée. Then Lancaster made his startling admission about having killed four women.

On July 9, 1975, Jeanette and Steve went to the San Luis Obispo police with their information.

After Lancaster told the L.A. cops to pound sand, he left California and returned to his native Kentucky. Later, he went south to New Orleans where he married a woman and spent the next decade or so helping raise her daughter. But that marriage, too, eventually broke up, and by the early 1990s, Lancaster was back in Los Angeles, back in the harbor district where Lois Petrie, Cathy Masters, and Ann Fellows had been murdered.

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