Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Murray Glatman: First of the Signature Killers

Shirley Ann Bridgeford

Seven months later, Harvey met victim number two.

Shirley Ann Bridgeford before her death
Shirley Ann Bridgeford before her death

Shirley Ann Bridgeford, 24 years old, recently divorced and with two sons, joined the popular Patty Sullivan Lonely Hearts Club in L.A., hoping to meet the right man. All she knew is that she didn't want someone like her first husband. She wasn't picky, having given up on Prince Charming, so when fellow member George Williams asked her out for a date March 7, 1958, she accepted. Williams did not set her heart fluttering his ears were so large and there was something, well, mousy about him but she figured a date is a date and beat sitting home Saturday night. He promised to take her square dancing; at least it would be a night on the town and a free dinner.

Harvey, as George Williams, showed up at the appointed time, 7:45 p.m., at her home on Tuxford Street, Sun Valley. Taken aback by a house-full of company to greet him, he kept his cool and played the hopeful boyfriend to the hilt, complementing the way Shirley looked and extending a "Nice to meet you all!" on his way out the door.

Once in the car, he asked Bridgeford if she would mind not going dancing; he had a headache and preferred to take a drive in the country instead, perhaps grab some dinner along the way. Sure, she replied, that sounded very nice. Driving south from Sun Valley, they stopped for dinner in Oceanside.

Afterwards, they returned to the car where Harvey resumed a southward direction.

"If we believe his later statements, he had not decided yet to rape and murder Shirley Bridgeford," Michael Newton reports in Rope. "He 'kept on thinking of her two children,' Harvey said, telling himself that Shirley was a 'different type' than Judy Dull. She didn't strip and show her body off to strangers. Shirley was a nice girl. Still...Her very presence in the car and the scent of her perfume incited Glatman...Harvey knew what he was missing if he did not follow through."

At last the car edged into the foothills of the looming Vallecito Mountains near Anza State Park. Harvey idled the car, letting it roll off the dirt road and several feet onto the dusty sand floor. Bridgeford looked at him quizzically. What omens she may have had crystallized sharp when she found the barrel of his .32 tucked between her breasts.

"Undress!" Harvey dictated.

She begged not to, but he insisted, and when she was naked, he ravaged her. The rapes, the humiliation, then he forced her onto the desert where he told her it was photo time. More pleas, more refusals from her abductor. He took photos of her dressed and he took photos of her nude. He took photos in many positions, his ritual orderly and timed... snap snap whirr. In the blackness the flashbulbs popped, one after another, crazy little explosions catching crazy little scenes. Snap snap whirr. To be sure he had useable products for all his trouble, he made her wait till the sun rose so he could take some photos in daylight.

When he thought he had enough to last him a while, he garroted his model and killed her.

Before he left the carcass in the dust, however, he did what he had done with Judy Dull: took some death shots in a number of wrenching positions.

Snap snap, whirr.

Then, as the maroon sun rose over the mountains behind him, Harvey went home to his darkroom for some real fun.

*****

Four months later, he discovered Ruth Mercado (Angela Rojas) and repeated the process, by then refined, dumping her body not far from what was left of Shirley Bridgeford's.

In the meantime, three girls' families, friends and landlords were asking questions of the police...Where did they go and why can't you find them?  Dull's disappearance had been one thing women ran off all the time to evade boyfriends and husbands and even families but then came the evaporation of Bridgeford and Mercado, two models and one "nice" girl, each one gone after leaving their place with a single male. Was there a connection? 

 

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