Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Clairemont Killer

Second-story Man

Buena Vista Gardens Apartment Complex Aerial View
Buena Vista Gardens Apartment Complex Aerial View

Janene Weinhold also rented a second-floor apartment, residing at the Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex. She and her female roommate were students at the University of California, San Diego. On February 16, Janene drove her roommate to work around 9 A.M., arranging to pick her up later that afternoon. But she did not show up. She had said she was returning to the apartment and had mentioned no plans to go elsewhere, so it seemed strange that she not only did not show up but also failed to answer the phone when the roommate called. Such behavior was uncharacteristic of her.

A neighbor who lived below Janene saw a black man on the stairs around 11:30 that morning. He was just sitting there, his face in his hands, and she thought he looked quite unhappy. Not long afterward, she heard loud noises in Janene's apartment overhead. But when the noises stopped, she went back to what she was doing.

It was not until evening, around 8:00 P.M., that Janene's roommate finally came home. Having heard nothing from Janene all day, she was worried. She soon learned she had good reason to be. The front door was locked, so she let herself in. Then she found Janene's body.

The dead woman lay on the floor of her bedroom, naked except for her bra. It appeared that her clothing had been stripped off her and it lay nearby, inside out. One leg was spread and there were multiple stab wounds to her chest. Over the right breast was a small cluster of deep wounds. The roommate immediately called the police.

When they searched the apartment, they found what looked like a small honeycomb pattern left in blood on the door handle. They also discovered a bloodstained knife in the kitchen sink, with the tip bent. Although it was clearly the murder weapon, it belonged to the occupants. With no sign of forced entry, investigators assumed that Janene had either invited her attacker in or he had knocked and then pushed his way in when she answered the door, although no one reported hearing her scream. The woman who lived below her described the loud noises she'd heard, which helped the police to place the attack around noon, and the condition of her body supported that estimate.

Janene had been sexually assaulted, so a semen sample was sent to the lab for a DNA analysis. This technology had only been in use for the past three years, and was both time-consuming and expensive, but as the case progressed, an analysis was clearly merited. Semen was also collected from Janene's jogging outfit, the bedspread, and the carpet.

No one who knew the victim could think of anyone who might wish to harm her, so the attack appeared to have been a stranger assault. The black man on the stairs seemed to be a crucial piece to the puzzle, but no one knew who he was or why he'd been there. Residents in this complex remained alert, but that didn't stop other attacks.