Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: West Hollywood Hustle

The Westside Strangler

The nude, handcuffed body of fifty-two-year-old Michael Hubbard, a gay schoolteacher, was found facedown in his bed in his home in the Alhambra neighborhood. There was evidence of strangulation and a laceration to the top of the head from blunt force. Handcuffs bound his wrists together and cloth ligatures tied his legs at the ankles. Tan lines indicated that his watch and a ring had been removed and taken. In addition, his VCR, radio, and ATM card were missing.

Dramatization of Body Placement at Hubbard Crime Scene
Dramatization of Body Placement at Hubbard Crime Scene

The medical examiner noted the similarity to the Gates and Klugman homicides, both of which were also investigated by the LA Sheriff's department. SID tested two Marlboro cigarette butts from a trashcan at the scene and found a blood protein match to the earlier murders.

Given the number of older gay men who had been strangled in the area in their homes, and the fact that the killer's blood type tied him to all the incidents, the police realized they had a serial killer at large who was probably Hispanic and posing as a prostitute. In addition, he was killing in rapid succession and would probably strike again, soon. His success had probably made him bolder. They had to work faster.

On November 29, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department learned that directly after the November 5 homicide, Hubbard's ATM card had been used. The photo taken by the bank camera resembled one of the men who had used Bayis' card. Still, they did not know who he was, or when or where he might try the card again. But some time later, there was a significant break in the case.

Sergio Rodriguez was located. He was identified as the person who'd handled several items in the car abandoned in Utah after the 1986 strangulation homicide. It had taken a few years, but they now knew where he was. They hoped he'd have some answers to this perplexing and dangerous mystery.

Watch this story and many others from the case files of the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, which solves crimes using cutting edge forensics. Only on Court TV. Learn more.


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