Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Addicted to Luxury: The Pampered Killer

Attacking the Vulnerable

As police checked out gardeners, house-keepers, and service personnel for the 27-unit condominium project in Canyon Lake, they took note of recent reports about prowlers.  They also learned that Norma Davis, who'd lived there for the past five years, generally kept to herself.  On that day, according to records kept at the gate, she had not authorized any strangers to come to her home. 

Residents who spoke with reporters said the crime reminded them of the Manson murders from 1969 just a seemingly random, though bloody, attack.  Norma had last been seen when she shopped at a hardware store across from the gated community, having keys made.  It seemed possible that someone unknown to her had seen her and followed her.

But soon, detectives on the case would have reason to believe that she had been the victim of a serial killer.  A second murder occurred in the same general area only two weeks later.  (A psychic had predicted the murder and had told the detectives they would close the case, but had been unable to offer any concrete leads.)

Friends of June Roberts had grown quite worried (Howard & Smith mistakenly call her June Brown).  She did not answer her phone and it was her 66th birthday.  When three people went to her mobile home along Big Tee Drive in Sun City on Monday evening, February 28, she did not answer her door.  They found the house keys on her golf cart, entered her home, and found her inside, lying on her back on the floor in the den beneath a large, overturned chair.  She was dead.  They called the police, who initially thought, from terrible bruises on the body, that the victim had been killed by a blow to the head.  She was transported for an autopsy as police checked the area.

A large diamond ring remained on her finger, and in her home, two telephone cords had been removed.  A heavy glass wine decanter had been used to batter her.  Again, with no evidence of a break-in, detectives were convinced that June had known her attacker, but they were at a loss as to what the motive had been.

Canyon Lake City Hall
Canyon Lake City Hall

The Canyon Lake City Council held an emergency meeting to urge police to provide residents with necessary information.  According to the Press Enterprise, with two murders in as many weeks, many of the elderly residents were moving in with relatives or acquiring guns and better locks for self-protection.  In addition, an extra police patrol was added to the area.  It was the subject of nearly everyone's conversations.

What the police realized was that both women had lived alone, neither had shown signs of a struggle, and it appeared that neither had been significantly robbed.  Nor were they raped.  However, Davis had been repeatedly stabbed, as if the attack was motivated by anger, and no knife was used on Roberts.  Investigators were unable to determine for sure if someone had broken into the two homes or had been allowed to enter, but it seemed more likely to be the latter.

During Roberts's autopsy, her cause of death was found to be strangulation, and it was believed that she had died earlier on the day she was found.  She suffered both head and neck injuries.  A telephone cord removed from the wall and found in her home was believed to be the murder weapon.

Investigators had no suspects in this or the earlier murder, but by March 10, they were considering the possibility that the murders were linked to the attack on Dorinda Hawkins.  The police gave the newspapers the composite drawing of Dorinda's attacker a bleached-blond fortyish Caucasian woman wearing a white blouse with a flower print - but the case finally broke the following week after yet another murder.  This time, the rampaging killer made several key mistakes that allowed the police to track her down.

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