Most Americans are familiar with the legend of the Bell witch, a tale that has spawned numerous books and movies. It centers around the haunting, and alleged murder, of the patriarch of a real family named Bell who resided in Tennessee in the 1800s.
Supposedly, the vengeful spirit of a former neighbor, the witch, creates turmoil and wreaks havoc on the family in such a terrifying manner that it affected them the rest of their lives, and two hundred years later, the story is still being told.
One hundred and fifty years after the Bell family haunting, and an ocean away, a child with the last name Bell was making headlines. Her crimes would also traumatize the families of her victims for the rest of their lives. Called a witch, devil spawn, and bad seed, Mary Flora Bell will forever be the epitome of evil to some who hear her story and to those who lost a family member to her evil deeds.
Whereas the Bell witch was supposed to have the ability to shapeshift, it would be the English government that aided Mary to shapeshift and become invisible. Mary would be granted anonymity, as would the daughter she had years later; a controversial ruling. Although victims’ families understood the need to protect her daughter, it was Mary’s anonymity which was at the center of the debate.
Imagine, if you will, the horrific thought that a family member had been murdered, and you are notified that the killer will soon be released, but neither you nor anyone in the public will be privy to where they will be living after their release. Now, compound that thought by adding the fact that the convicted killer will also be given a new name and identity, which authorities refuse to reveal to you. How safe would you feel? When you stepped outdoors to check the mail, would you find yourself checking over your shoulder in fear?
As happens so often, the grief and anger that the victims’ families felt did not resolve after Mary was locked away, nor did the terms of her release heal any wounds. If anything, knowing that she was going about her own daily life unnoticed and unidentified made the families of both her victims feel bitter; as though they themselves were prisoners. Mary was free to work and raise her daughter out of the glare of the media spotlight, but the families did not have this same luxury.
Mary Flora Bell—whomever and wherever she is today—will forever be known as the little girl with the angelic face who killed two small boys. In 1968, it was a crime which was quite unheard of, especially in her small corner of the world; Newcastle on Tyne, England.
It is a tale of sadness and brutality, as well as one of redemption. Mary Bell was a child damaged by the abuse she suffered at home and damaged by the lack of love and nurturing every child needs to grow and become a well-adjusted individual. Mary had been hurt so utterly deeply, that it seems pain was the only thing she had to give others.
The objective of this book is not to excuse any of Mary’s actions. Even most small children understand right from wrong, but in Mary’s case, it is difficult at times to discern whether she understood right from wrong and simply chose to do wrong, or if she was truly incapable of understanding the difference.
By studying Mary’s psychosocial background, crimes, and the punishment she received, we can possibly gain a better insight into what went wrong, if the punishment was sufficient to meet the crimes, and if the punishment appears to have been effective.
Monsters Are Real
There is nothing unusual about believing in monsters as a child, but chances are you eventually stopped asking your parents to check under your bed. At some point, most children stop believing the boogeyman is waiting in the closet for them to drift off to dreamland, but anyone who reads true crime stories can tell you, without hesitation, monsters are real. They don’t always present with horns or a tail, and we often don’t recognize them for what they are until it is too late, yet they move amongst us every day of our life.
On March 12, 2004, a monster would emerge from the shadows; a self-proclaimed vampire god, clothing soaked with blood. But who was he, and what events led to this massacre?
The answer you receive when posing this question depends on who you ask. One of Wesson’s sisters sees the young boy who loved animals, and appeared to have a natural gift for healing. Their mother related a story of a dog her son he was caring for, Wesson seemed to know what to do for the animal, nursing it back from the brink of death.
Wesson’s children all say he was a loving father, involved in every aspect of their lives.
In contrast, police and prosecutors will more likely tell you that Wesson is evil incarnate. Any love that Marcus Wesson bestowed upon his children, was tainted by perversion.
How then did the Wesson, accused of these horrific atrocities, develop from the kind, nurturing young man his sibling and mother remember? Let’s begin with a little more background information.
Born Marcus Delon Wesson on August 22, 1946, in Kansas, to Benjamin; reportedly a violent and abusive alcoholic, and Carrie; a religious fanatic, according to her son. Wesson would live a relatively uneventful life until he became obsessed with religion—a religion of his own making and one most of us would label a cult. Wesson stated Jesus Christ was a vampire and then proclaimed himself to be, at times, Jesus Christ, and at other times, God. Wesson declared himself a vampire god, and although he could twist the scriptures in the Bible to reflect his teachings, before long he was writing his own version that reflected his strange beliefs.
His favorite game to play as a child was a preacher leading his flock, where he could be the center of attention. That childhood game never stopped for Wesson, it merely grew more bizarre. The Seventh Day Adventist beliefs he had been raised upon would be combined with Wesson’s personal beliefs in polygamy, and incest. He believed that he and his family were like vampires, but different because they had souls; whereas vampires were prevented from moving around in daylight because they were soulless.
Wesson was an unimpressive student, not even earning enough credits to graduate from high school. While he was allowed to participate in his class’s graduation exercises, Wesson never received a diploma. By most recollections, Wesson was a quiet individual, often fading into the background. Similarly, childhood acquaintances say he never allowed himself to be pressured by classmates to try drugs or alcohol. Despite Wesson’s size, he was usually more inclined to be bullied rather than bully anyone himself. His peers recall it was his appearance, not his academics, that made him stand out. While other students dressed in jeans and t-shirts, Wesson wore dress pants and button up shirts with a tie.
But no one, not even his own mother, could see any resemblance between the quiet young man with the crew cut, who loved electric trains, to the three hundred pound, dreadlocked monster the world was introduced to in 2004. Could it really be true that the man who was once an orderly and ambulance driver in the Army, might be guilty of the multiple murders he stood charged with? What made him go from saving lives to taking them?
It is alleged that Wesson’s father molested him, and his siblings. On the witness stand, Wesson’s sister didn’t come right out and confirm this, but she did state that when their father was drinking, he was much more inclined to hug and kiss them. The children knew the best way to avoid unwanted physical affection, when their father Benjamin was drunk, was to hide. In fact, a childhood friend of Wesson’s testified that Benjamin offered him fifty dollars in exchange for oral sex.
Wesson’s father would eventually run off with a male cousin, with whom he was having a homosexual affair. That incestuous affair seemed to have gone on for a decade before Wesson’s father reappeared to take on his paternal duties once again, as if nothing happened. Perhaps this is where Wesson got the idea that it was somehow okay to carry on sexual relations within your own family and that fathers had special ways of “loving” their children.
It is unknown just how much Wesson’s mother, Carrie, knew about the abuse and incest her husband perpetrated upon his children. Likewise for Elizabeth, whom Wesson would marry and have children with. She denied knowing anything about Wesson touching the girls, or taking them as wives and lovers, even with evidence that clearly shows otherwise. More than one time, it was alleged at trial, Elizabeth walked in to find one of the girls performing oral sex on her husband. She also said she never suspected Wesson was the father of her daughters’ and nieces’ babies; she never asked, insisting if the girls wanted her to know, they would have told her.
Is it possible that over a decade of incest, resulting in multiple children, could go on under the same roof without anyone suspecting? If you believe Elizabeth, Wesson, and even some of her sons, the answer is yes. It is difficult to imagine that in the small spaces the large family occupied, secrets that dark could be kept for so many years. Events in the twentieth century would teach us that when family members are under a strong psychological hold, as seen within other “families,” such as the Manson family, the Branch Davidians, and members of Jonestown, it is simply a self-survival technique to believe and do what you’re told, no matter what.
When we read about criminals, we don’t merely want the gory details of the crimes, we long to understand the rationale. If we could get inside the mind of the criminal, we might be able to decipher what went wrong and why. Many people have built careers attempting to understand the criminal mind, and yet, all too often, we are left with far more questions than answers
This is the first chapter of “Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka: The Horrific True Story Behind Canada’s Ken and Barbie Killers” from the collection “Serial Killers: The Horrific True Crime Stories Behind 6 Infamous Serial Killers That Shocked The World”
Paul loves Tammy
Tammy loves Paul
Mrs. Paul Bernardo
Tammy had a crush.
She sighed deeply as she scrawled in a notebook in large, loopy handwriting favored by crushing, teenage girls. The radio in her bedroom played a love ballad as she daydreamed about her oldest sister, Karla’s, boyfriend. She really liked Paul. She knew he liked her, too. He had told her.
Maybe she should have felt guilty about the stolen kisses the two had shared, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She loved Karla, but she could be a real pain. Always flaunting her looks, her boyfriend, anything she thought might make her baby sister jealous, and most of the time, it worked. Not this time though.
Tammy could still see Karla’s angry face and hear her ear-piercing screeches when she and Paul had shown up several hours after leaving to go on a beer run. Karla cursed at Tammy while Tammy had inwardly smiled to herself. It had felt amazing that her big sister was actually jealous of her, for once. And no wonder, Paul was a great catch.
Tall and blond, he had a great job, and a rad sports car. During their outing, in between chugging beers and making out, Paul had told Tammy how much more beautiful and desirable he found her. She did not need to bleach her naturally fair locks, and her body was much firmer and toned. Next to her, Karla was a fat old cow.
Karla still thought they would be married one day, but there was nothing to worry about, he assured Tammy. She belonged to him and he planned on having her forever. As she looked out the window of her bedroom, watching for the first glimpse of his car pulling into the driveway, she knew she would do anything for Paul. She loved Paul so much, she could just die. (CI)
The snow drifted down slowly. It was to be a white Christmas; nothing unusual for St. Catherine’s, Ontario. It was the night before Christmas Eve, 1990, and festivities were in full swing in a suburban home a few miles from Niagara Falls. Upstairs in the split level house, a mother, father, and their middle daughter slept, perhaps while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
Earlier, everyone had gathered to partake in spiked eggnog and other mixed drinks. Unbeknownst to parents Karel and Dorothy, their eldest daughter, Karla, had added about fifty milligrams of the prescription sedative Halcion to drinks she had prepared for her youngest sister, Tammy. Her middle sister, Lori, noticed that Tammy seemed a bit buzzed and told Karla to stop giving Tammy alcohol. Upset that she was being ignored, Lori went to bed, followed shortly after by her parents.
Tammy, beginning to feel the effects of the combination of sedatives and alcohol, went upstairs to grab a bite to eat. She hoped the food would sober her up a bit. She did not want to fall asleep and miss the movie Karla had rented. It turned out it would not be the movie rental that was the showcase of the evening. It would be the movie made starring Tammy, and all that occurred during and after which changed so many lives forever, and ended the life of one person.
Downstairs in the den, fifteen-year-old Tammy Homolka continued partying with her older sister, Karla, and Karla’s boyfriend, Paul. Tammy and Karla’s parents were not prudish when it came to their children drinking. Even if they were not around to personally supervise things, they felt Karla and Paul could be trusted to take care of Tammy, and as long as they were drinking at home, their parents reasoned, they were safe. That night in 1990, nothing could be further from the truth.
Born in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada, on January 1, 1976, the youngest of three girls, Tammy was a bubbly blond, whose large doe eyes gleamed through a fringe of platinum bangs. ‘Tow headed,’ is what old-timers used to call children with hair like Tammy’s so blond it was almost white. Tammy excelled at sports and had a trim, fit physique that any girl, even her sister, Karla, would kill to have.
Paul would flirt with Tammy, teasing her that she pretended not to know the effect she had on him. Tammy giggled as Paul wrapped her in his arms and kissed her on the cheek. Karla was not amused in the least. She loved her sister, but she loved Paul more and seethed with anger that her little sister had something Paul wanted that Karla could never give him. Tammy was still a virgin, and Tammy’s virginity was what Karla planned on giving her boyfriend for Christmas.
Karla had attempted to present her boyfriend with that gift before, but her plan had been derailed when Tammy woke suddenly from the Valium Karla had mixed in her spaghetti. Karla, who worked at a veterinary clinic, had stolen some of the sedative and drugged Tammy. After eating the spiked food, Tammy had passed out and Paul had begun undressing her, and preparing to rape her when she suddenly regained consciousness. Infuriated, Paul stormed from the room, while a confused Tammy was coaxed by her sister to disrobe and go to bed. She must have been extremely tired, said Karla, since she practically fell asleep eating dinner.
Confused but unquestioning, Tammy took her older sister’s advice. Moving as if she were in a daze and her limbs feeling heavy and limp like a ragdoll, Tammy managed to remove her clothes and crawl under her thick comforter. As she passed out once again into dreamless unconsciousness, she had no idea someone was watching her. Paul Bernardo stood over her sleeping body and masturbated. It was not as satisfying as the rape he had planned earlier, but it would have to do until he got another opportunity.
December 23, 1990, was the chance Paul had been waiting for. A few weeks earlier he had taken Tammy on a beer run, which had ended up taking several hours. He had admitted to Karla that he had used the opportunity to make out with Tammy, but did not dare to take it any farther than kissing and heavy petting. Besides, it was rape, not consensual sex that gave Paul his kicks. He wanted Tammy desperately, now more than ever after their make out session, but he craved the physical brutality and control raping someone gave him.
Paul had waited, biding his time, often resorting to standing outside Tammy’s window and masturbating as she changed clothes. Tonight was going to be different, however. Tonight, he would possess Tammy physically. With Karla’s help, Paul would take what he desired.
Logs popped and crackled in the downstairs den’s large fireplace. Tammy was consuming a far greater amount of alcohol than either Paul or Karla. Karla kept refreshing her sister’s drink and Tammy, feeling mature and happy to be included in activities with two adults who were treating her as a peer, kept drinking, not wanting the fun to end.
Soon Tammy was getting sleepy and having a difficult time keeping her eyes open. The room listed and began to spin as a wave of nausea swept over the teen. Karla, playing nursemaid, comforted her younger sister and reassured her that she would feel much better after a nap. She and Paul would not ditch her, Karla said. They would stay with Tammy the entire time.
That is exactly what the couple did. As Tammy passed out from the alcohol she had consumed, Karla got the next part of the plan ready. She had once again used her job at the veterinary clinic to obtain a drug she hoped would keep her sister unconscious until Paul could complete the act this time.
At work, Karla had seen the effects of a drug called Halothane; used as an anesthetic for surgical procedures. Halothane’s sedative effects were closely monitored in the clinic, however, where supplemental oxygen would be used, as well as a flow meter to measure the amount of Halothane given. Patients given Halothane are often intubated; meaning a tube is inserted orally to keep the airway patent. Karla knew the dangers of the drug being used in a non-clinical setting and the increased sedative effects when combined with alcohol.
Paul grabbed his video camera, a different one from the one he had been using earlier to tape the entire Homolka family as they drank eggnog and kidded around. Focusing the lens on Tammy, Paul instructed Karla to help him undress Tammy. The couple took turns raping Tammy, and it would all be caught on film.
Karla held the Halothane-soaked cloth tightly to Tammy’s nose and mouth, fearful of Tammy regaining consciousness; like their previous attempt. Instead of regaining consciousness, Tammy began to vomit, sending Paul and Karla into a panic. Further adding to the frantic situation, Tammy choked on her own vomit, aspirated, and stopped breathing.
In a flurry of activity, the couple quickly cleaned Tammy up and dressed her before calling for an ambulance. So great was their panic that instead of simply turning the den light on so they could see better, they dragged Tammy into Karla’s room. Paul made a half-hearted attempt at CPR, but the little time they had before medical technicians arrived was devoted to hiding evidence and cleaning up the scene. The blanket Tammy had vomited on was thrown in the washing machine, and the bottles of Halothane and Halcion stashed out of sight.
Tammy’s parents did not even realize anything was amiss until the emergency lights and sirens alerted them. As medics attempted resuscitative measures, Karla assured her parents Tammy was looking better and appeared to be regaining her color. Karel and Dorothy followed the ambulance to the hospital, while Karla, Lori, and Paul stayed behind to answer questions. Tammy would never regain consciousness and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The couple’s story, that Tammy had become intoxicated and began vomiting from the alcohol, before losing consciousness, was suspicious, but accepted by both the family and medical staff. Despite having a chemical burn that covered the side of her face, Tammy’s death was chalked up to being just a terrible accident. The medical examiner reasoned that the burn could have been caused by gastric juices Tammy expelled while vomiting. Karla said she thought it was a carpet burn Tammy received when she and Paul dragged her body into a position to perform CPR once they realized she was no longer breathing.
Looking back, as with most extended criminal investigations, there were so many mix-ups and missed opportunities. Opportunities for the authorities to catch the perpetrators and prevent some of the future carnage that resulted from a pair of rapists and killers running loose on the streets. The Canadian government, law enforcement particularly, has been judged harshly for decisions that resulted in a frustratingly prolonged investigation in which inaccurate eyewitness testimony was relied on too heavily, while DNA that could have identified the guilty party remained untested for over two years.
The dozens of victims of the sex crimes Paul Bernardo committed, whether alone, or as he alleges, in conjunction with Karla Homolka, might have been spared the assaults they were to suffer. Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French might still be alive with families of their own, if the crimes had been stopped with that committed against Tammy Lyn Homolka. How different would things have turned out for everyone involved? How much pain and loss could others have been spared?
It is difficult to fathom that Paul Bernardo, who would eventually be linked via DNA to the Scarborough sex crimes, was pulled in and questioned regarding the assaults on more than one occasion. Bernardo even joked with law enforcement that he could also see a resemblance between himself and a sketch of the rapist created from victims descriptions. It seemed to be just a part of his sick game—a game with deadly consequences.
Tammy was laid to rest on December 27, 1990, only a few days short of her sixteenth birthday. The funeral home had done its best to cover the large reddish-purple burn on her cheek, for it was to be an open casket service. Karla kept stroking her sister’s hair, and she and Paul both kissed Tammy’s cold lips, telling her how much they loved her. Not until more deaths occurred involving Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, would the trinkets the couple had placed in the casket be found.
When Tammy’s body was exhumed, it was noted that Karla had placed a necklace around Tammy’s neck; the same necklace she had been wearing in the video of Karla and Paul raping Tammy. On the necklace was a gold ring belonging to Bernardo. They had also placed photos of themselves, and an invitation to their wedding.
When the authorities passed this news on to Karel and Dorothy, they asked that the items not be returned to the coffin before Tammy was once again returned to her resting place.
This is the first chapter of “Doug Clark and Carol Bundy: The Horrific True Story Behind the Sunset Strip Slayers” from the collection “Serial Killers: The Horrific True Crime Stories Behind 6 Infamous Serial Killers That Shocked The World”
Pavement that had baked in the sun all day shimmered like the gossamer wings of a dragonfly as it lay radiating its heat up into the summer air—what little air could be found, that is. As evening began and shadows lengthened, the stifling heat made the air feel heavy and oppressive. The demand on power plants due to an increase in electric fan and air conditioner usage threatened blackouts. Residents poured out of apartments, rundown houses, and cheap motels in search of some relief from miserable conditions.
If lucky enough to have a little extra money or the ability to hustle some up, the clubs and bars along the Sunset Strip offered parched souls cold drinks, musical beats, and air conditioning. There were plenty of people hustling on the strip in the summer of 1980. Some sold drugs, and some sold their bodies to obtain drugs.
There was a certain twisted symbiosis in the lives of those working the strip. They were integral to each other’s survival while at the same time selling death via baggie, bottle, and body.
Keenly aware that their lives were in constant danger of being snuffed out, women still hustled their bodies for the drugs that gave them the fortitude to get out there and do it all over again, night after night. It was a vicious cycle of dirty needles, dirty customers, and dirty bodies.
Heroin abuse was waning a bit as the much cheaper drug crack moved into the streets. Crack did not require obtaining a needle or the even tougher task of finding a decent vein, when years of use had left the user tapped out. Plus, it was cheaper. A twenty dollar blowjob would enable a user to buy a couple modest-sized rocks and keep them amped up for two to three hours. Crack was thought as being “safer” by drug users since not having to deal with sharing needles meant less likelihood of catching hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
For the most part, up until the 1980s, STDs were largely made up of curable illnesses. Sex without a rubber might mean you had to get a shot of penicillin in the ass, but STDs were not generally considered deadly until the AIDS epidemic during that decade.
Violent robberies and assaults by people while on crack or in an attempt to score increased dramatically. The drug element was something most working girls understood the dangers of but being stalked by serial killers was not. No year before, nor since, 1980 has seen more homicides in America.
As record summer temperatures soared and lingered around the triple digits, so did the number of crimes committed. California easily led the nation in crime, particularly violent crimes against individuals, namely rapes and murders. It was a deadly decade when the Sunset Strip murders occurred, and at the time it seemed serial killers were crawling all over California.
One of the saddest things about the story of the first two victims, to me, is that they have consistently been labeled as prostitutes ever since their death; however, no proof is yet to be found which indicates there is any truth to that. The only person to insinuate that either girl was involved in prostitution was the person convicted of killing them: Doug Clark. Gina Marano—often misspelled as Narano in both news articles and even a few court documents—aged fifteen, and Cynthia Chandler, sixteen, were not just stepsisters—they were best friends.
Although born on opposite coasts of the United States, the sisters had grown so close that perhaps it makes sense that distance did not separate them at the time of their deaths. Gina’s father and Cynthia’s mother had married and moved their respective children to Huntington Beach, California, to live as one big, blended family. Both girls made friends easily, were bright students capable of doing well academically, but like a lot of teens, they seemed to resent what they perceived as restrictions on their freedom imposed by their parents. The girls had a history of running away from home, occasionally ending up in Cynthia’s place of birth: Los Angeles.
While most people arrive in Los Angeles seeking wealth, a great many, especially young people, arrive seeking something entirely different—excitement. Gina, a beautiful brunette with olive skin, and Cynthia, a lovely blond with a sun-kissed glow, were among those looking for excitement. It was not unusual for males and females alike to hitchhike during the 1970s and even into the 1980s. “Stranger Danger” was a slogan still a few years in the future.
Stepping into a car with a stranger was dangerous, but it was also a common occurrence, and the two girls presumably felt there was safety in numbers. As they thumbed their way along the coast, the girls generally kept to the busy freeways where they were more likely to be offered a ride, and they always stuck together.
The sisters’ bodies were found on June 12, 1980, not far from a California highway off-ramp. It appeared to investigators the girls had been killed at another location and their partially nude bodies dumped from a vehicle, and rolled down an incline, where they came to rest amongst desert scrub and brush that reached upwards to the unforgiving sky. No attempt had been made to conceal the bodies.
The bodies of Gina and Cynthia were dumped in a similar manner and location as some of the victims attributed to the “Hillside Strangler;” however, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, the two cousins arrested and charged with the murders, had been off the streets and in police custody since January 1979, which made it impossible for the two girls to be victims of Bianchi and Buono.
The girls had been murdered at some point the previous day, only a few hours before their bodies were discovered. The sweltering California heat, however, had already caused the bodies to bloat and decomposition was progressing at a rapid rate. Skin that had once glowed with youth now held a waxen pallor and threatened to burst open as it was stretched taut from the gases created by the process of decomposition.
Around one in the afternoon on June 12, a worker clearing debris and litter in the area near Forrest Lawn Cemetery found Gina’s body lying face down and Cynthia’s body a few feet away. Gina’s clothing had been removed except for the red tube top she was wearing, which had shifted down to her waist. Cynthia was still partially clad in a pink jumpsuit, which had been slit up the leg with a sharp instrument, all the way to the crotch.
Neither girl had on panties, but it was not readily apparent to officials at the scene whether any sexual assault had occurred either prior to or following their deaths. Except for the girls’ clothing being partially removed, torn, and in disarray, there was not much evidence of this being a sex crime.
A small amount of blood and a drop or two of what was believed to be motor oil was noted on Cynthia’s jumpsuit. Gina had succumbed to gunshot wounds to the head, while Cynthia had, in addition to a matching head wound, been shot in the chest at close range. Black burn marks, which fanned out in a speckle pattern, told investigators that the muzzle of the gun was either held extremely close to, or pressed into, Cynthia’s chest.
Finding very little of any evidentiary importance, investigators nonetheless collected any stray cigarette butts, beer bottles, or paper wrappers—anything that might assist them in finding out who was involved in the girls’ deaths. Police faced the grim task of not only identifying a killer but identifying the victims as well.
At the time of discovery, neither girl was found to be carrying an identification card on her person, which resulted in the necessity of both being given Jane Doe monikers until family members came forward and were able to identify them as their loved ones. The girls had been dumped so casually, and with such disregard for human life, it seems doubtful that this would have been their murderer’s “first kill.”
The perpetrator seemed comfortable with killing and handling the bodies. Cynthia’s body displayed marked lividity, a phenomenon caused by the cessation of blood circulation when the heart stops beating at the time of death. Blood, which would normally be in constant motion, propelled by the natural pumping action of the heart through the various blood vessels, becomes dependent on the force of gravity, pooling in the areas closest to the ground.
It was this lividity on Cynthia’s body and the lack of any blood at the scene that told law enforcement the girls had been killed elsewhere and transported to the area in which they were found. Police cordoned off the area with yellow crime scene tape, although it would not deter the only living creatures in the area—insects setting up house and making meals from the remains.
Gina and Cynthia’s parents were looking for their daughters the day the bodies were discovered; they were able to identify them and give police a bit of information and insight. Gina’s father recalled talking to his daughter a week or two earlier but had not heard from either girl since. Right before the girls’ murders, they had been at a party in Beverly Hills where they had been introduced to a girl by the name of Mindy Cohen.
Cohen, a nineteen-year-old from an affluent background, was a very down-to-earth type taking an interest in the two girls who seemed so out of place at a catered affair in the hills. Cohen was able to fill in some of the missing pieces for authorities concerning the days surrounding the sisters’ deaths.
Cohen’s boyfriend, thirty-eight-year-old Mark Gotteman, was a wealthy lawyer who loved to party and throw hedonistic drug-fueled fêtes with guests ranging from business professionals and people in the entertainment industry to strippers and prostitutes. Gotteman had a close friend named Richie, who owned a long, sleek limousine driven by a tall, handsome chauffeur. This chauffeur was often sent out by his boss in search of attractive girls to bring back to the Gotteman mansion to party with other guests.
Allegedly, a few nights before the girls were killed, Richie dispatched his chauffeur and limo on just such a mission, and while cruising slowly down the Sunset Strip, the man happened across Gina and Cynthia. He brought them back to the mansion with him. In her statement to police, and the testimony she gave at trial, Cohen said she quickly struck up a conversation with the sisters. Gina told Cohen they had gotten jobs at a Taco Bell near the place they were currently residing, but if they were employed, Cohen thought to herself, it was obvious that they were barely getting by. Despite the girls having a hungry look about them, as if they weren’t getting enough to eat, Cohen envied the girls and their bravery in striking out on their own.
She might not have been so envious had she known what neither sister had told anyone, that Gina had been drugged and raped at a party a few nights prior to the one at Gotteman’s mansion. Cohen gave Gina her name and phone number, which she had written on a piece of paper, urging them to call her day or night if they were ever in trouble or needed anything.
Gina kept a red address book with her at all times, and she stuck the paper in amongst the business cards and notes already in it. Gina’s father spoke with the police about his daughter’s address book, but it was not at the scene, nor was it ever recovered.
Mindy Cohen had more to share with the police. She contacted police in a terrified state after receiving a phone call from a man who identified himself as a police detective. After introducing himself, he went on to say that he was investigating the deaths of two teen girls with whom she was acquainted—Gina Marano and Cynthia Chandler.
Cohen’s number had been found in an address book one of the girls had with her when the bodies were discovered, the detective told her. He asked if it would be possible to come by and ask a few questions, but Cohen’s parents were out of town and she was babysitting her younger sisters. She gave this as her reason for not meeting with him that day, but she was willing to answer any questions the detective had.
After a few seemingly inconsequential questions, the man claiming to be a detective with the LAPD asked Cohen if she knew the girls had been prostitutes. No, she replied, she had not heard anything about that. The police had confirmed this, the caller informed her, because a man’s business card had been found with one of the girl’s bodies, and the man admitted to paying the girl for sex.
It was only after Cohen hung up the phone that she realized she could not recall the name the detective had given her. She also thought it was highly unusual for a police officer to go into so much detail about what was still an ongoing murder investigation. The thought of him telling her the girls were prostitutes, as if he felt the need to convince her it was true, made her uncomfortable. While thinking over the phone conversation, Cohen realized she had told the caller she was alone in the house with her younger sisters because her parents were out of town.
Now she wondered, not only if this could have been Gina and Cynthia’s killer posing as a cop, but if he had her address as well as her phone number. If she had known that Gina’s address book had not been at the scene, she would have known that her feeling that it had been the killer on the other end of the phone was correct. In tears, she called her lawyer boyfriend, Mark Gotteman, who in turn placed a call to the LAPD. No one from the precinct had made a call to Cohen, they told him; it must have been a crank call. Nevertheless, Cohen and Gotteman were worried.
A few days later, a woman by the name of Laurie Brigges also received a call from a man claiming to be a detective with the LAPD, who had been assigned to the Marano-Chandler investigation. Brigges’ husband, Henry, and his brother ran a moving company and Henry had been one of the last people to see the girls alive. Henry’s business card was found with the girls’ bodies, the caller stated—the same type of story that Mindy Cohen had been told. Laurie asked if Henry should call or come down to the station to speak with the detective, but he assured her that it was not necessary, and they would be in touch.
When Laurie relayed the message to Henry later, he told her that on June 11 he and an employee had seen the two girls. The girls had been hitchhiking and the men were worried for their safety, so they had given them a ride and warned them of the dangers of hitchhiking. Brigges had given the girls his business card and said that if he could help in some way, to call the number listed on the card. He never saw or heard from them again.
Upon reflection, Henry decided it would be best for him to contact police and offer any information he might have that could assist them in capturing the killer. As with Cohen’s experience, the police said no one had called the Brigges’ home and to disregard the phone conversation as some type of prank.
Henry Brigges agreed to try to put the incident out of his mind, but he couldn’t forget what had happened to the two sweet girls, and Laurie couldn’t forget the sound of the caller’s voice. Even the blistering California sun couldn’t rid her of the chills she got when she remembered it. It sounded like pure evil.
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