LA Forensics: The Sandwich Shop Murders
Officers and volunteers canvassed the area for witnesses anyone who had seen anything between 1:20 and 1:45 A.M. that Sunday morning. A reward of $35,000 was posted for information leading to an arrest, with $25,000 from the LA City Council and $10,000 from the Sandwich shop Corporation.
Several people came forward with tips, but none provided the right kind of information. The police only knew from the bullets the type of gun they needed to find in the killer's possession. They continued to knock on doors and talk with people in the streets.
Then someone offered what looked like solid information. The woman who lived in the nearby apartment building, Rebecca, heard about the robbery and double homicide. When police knocked on her door, she described what she had seen that night as she walked home. She now knew she had witnessed the actual robbery and heard at least one murder occur. She was not confident she could identify the man who had been in the shop, since she had only looked quickly at him, but a few days later with the assistance of a police sketch artist, she managed to provide enough detail for a composite sketch. The man she recalled was thin and scrawny African American. He'd been in his early twenties, was about five foot eleven, and had large lips and short-cropped hair. His skin color was not very dark and he wore a white T-shirt. The composite looked close enough like the man she had seen that she affirmed it was accurate.
The police made posters from the drawing and hung them around the neighborhood. Several people called to tell them it looked like a man named James Robinson. He lived there and had once worked at the shop. In fact, he was one of the two men who had been let go in October.
These were good leads, but by that time, the detectives already had a better one.