Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession

A Strange Tip



In July 1975, the Harbor Division homicide unit got a call from a detective in San Luis Obispo, California. A woman had come into the police station with her boyfriend and spun an incredible tale, the detective said. She claimed her fiancée's father had confessed to her that he murdered three women in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.

The woman's name was Jeanette and her soon-to-be father-in-law's name was Andrew Lancaster.

Alan Gray as Andrew Lancaster
Alan Gray as Andrew Lancaster

LAPD homicide detectives made the 200-plus-mile drive north to San Luis Obispo to speak to Jeanette.

"She was told by Andrew Lancaster that he had committed four sins in his life," says cold case Detective Richard Bengtson, who was a teenager at the time of Lois's murder and would not begin investigating the case for more than a quarter century. "She went on to explain to the police that he admitted to her that he had killed four women in his life. That's what he referred to as his four sins. He said that he had killed three of these women in the San Pedro area, or Harbor area, of Los Angeles, and he had killed a fourth one up in the San Jose or San Francisco area."

Carmela Adams as Cathy Masters
Carmela Adams as Cathy Masters

Jeanette also told the Los Angeles detectives where Lancaster said he had left the bodies. To the Harbor Division investigators, the three San Pedro killings sounded exactly like those of Lois Petrie, Cathy Masters, and Ann Fellows.

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