30 year old San Francisco Murders solved

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Zodiac Media: 30 year old San Francisco Murders solved

By Mcgarrett2000 (Mcgarrett2000) (adsl-67-125-26-173.dsl.pltn13.pacbell.net - on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 01:55 am:

Well this isn't the Zodiac but today's Chron (SFGate.com) had this article about these Calif. murders from the early 1970s that were just solved using DNA. Like Z, this guy killed in different Calif. counties so there are similiarities other than just the time frame. Here's the link...

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 02:29 am:

Here's the text version:

Suspect held in 1970s S.F. slayings
DNA testing helped case against 77-year-old man

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer Tuesday, September 9, 2003

San Francisco -- A 77-year-old man arrested last week in the 1972 rape and slaying of a Los Angeles woman is a suspect in three strangulation killings that happened in San Francisco three decades ago, authorities said Monday.

Adolph Theodore Laudenberg, a World War II veteran and former cabdriver with no criminal record, was arrested Friday in Los Angeles. He is being investigated in six killings from 1972 and 1975, three in Los Angeles and three in San Francisco.

Police said Laudenberg told a relative in 1975 that he had killed four women, including one in San Francisco who police believe was 60-year-old Leah Griffin.

But it was not until DNA technology was developed -- and investigators assigned to tail Laudenberg lifted his saliva from a restaurant coffee cup -- that police were able to build enough of a case to arrest him.

The relative, whom authorities did not identify, said Laudenberg had confided that he was going through a divorce and that he had lashed out at women who reminded him of his wife. The women were pathetic, Laudenberg allegedly said -- in some cases they drank, and others had health problems.

"He viewed it as if he was doing them a favor," said San Francisco police homicide Inspector Pam Wermes.

The relative told police in San Luis Obispo, where she lived, about what Laudenberg had said. Laudenberg, however, denied to investigators that he had had anything to do with the killings, and police had little else to go on.

Police initially knew about four victims. Three of them were killed in San Pedro, a harbor area that is part of Los Angeles.

The first woman slain was Lois Petrie, 43, who was raped and strangled on Christmas Day 1972. Catherine Medina, 50, was killed in August 1974, and a month later, Anna Felch, 54, was raped and strangled.

Griffin was killed in her Powell Street apartment in March 1975. In the years since then, San Francisco investigators came to suspect that the killer also had raped and strangled 55-year-old Irene Hind, who was attacked March 12, 1974, as she closed up the bar she owned -- Irene's Domar Club at 510 Larkin St.

Wermes said the same killer may have been responsible for the slaying of 83-year-old Maude Burgess, who was found strangled in her Hyde Street apartment Oct. 15, 1974. A neighbor there who had heard the radio blaring for two days discovered Burgess' body -- her head covered with a sheet and a bandanna wrapped around her throat.

Laudenberg lived in San Jose at the time the women in San Francisco were killed and drove a cab in the South Bay, police said.

The cases remained unsolved for nearly 30 years, until Laudenberg allegedly told another family member that he had committed the killings, police said.

The relative went to Los Angeles police, who started a review by the department's cold case unit. Investigators put Laudenberg under surveillance and secretly retrieved a coffee cup that he left behind at a restaurant.

That gave them a sample of his DNA. Investigators say it matched DNA left at the scene of Petrie's killing, and at 9 a.m. Friday, police arrested Laudenberg in the camper he had parked not far from where Petrie was killed in 1972.

Wermes said San Francisco police haven't found any DNA from the three killings in San Francisco. "We have gone back and looked at other evidence, clothing and stuff, and there still might be a chance of extracting DNA," she said.

At the time of his arrest, Laudenberg was living off money he made by carving wooden walking sticks and selling them, said Los Angeles police Detective Vivian Flores.

Flores said the arrest marked the first case cracked by the LAPD's cold case unit, which is now 2 years old.

"The best part about it," she said, is that "the families are at peace. They are all elderly people now. They always wanted that closure -- they are just happy that they can close that portion of their lives."

Wermes had a theory about why Laudenberg confessed to different family members over the years.

"I think now he is getting older, he is probably getting a guilty conscience," she said.

E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at jvanderbeken@sfchronicle.com.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 03:49 am:

I'll be damned...

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009045.direcpc.com - on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 05:50 pm:

Justice delayed is still justice. At least they have answers to some questions. I'm very pleased that so many cold cases are being re-examined, even though many many others are still gathering dust.

By TheBlackJet (Theblackjet) ( on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 10:54 am:

Wendi, there is no justice for what happened to those women, and the police nor anyone else can't give it to you. The best they can do is make sure the person is punished.

By Anon (Anon) (adsl-64-170-192-143.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net - on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 10:22 pm:

TheBlack[cool your]Jet :)

Usually when people get caught, prosecuted, and soon to be convicted and sentenced, people think of that as justice. Not Justice, but justice, with the small 'j'... I think that's all she was saying, not that the case is totally closed and everybody is happy.

I love cold case examination, I think it is one of the coolest and most altruistic aspect of law enforcement. Even if the family of the aggreived are dead and forgotten, a case still is examined and worked on. Love it.


By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009025.direcpc.com - on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 09:50 pm:

Thanks Anon for the accurate assessment of my typing. Yes, I don't mean that everything is all nice and tidy and everyone is happy. That Etopia is not in existance unless you live on the silver screen.
Dead and forgotten, or loved and grieved...either way its a fascinating application of the law...s well as a challenge to law enforcement. A highly worthy challenge...

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc06f97.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 11:47 pm:

After I read that story, I had to wonder if he was responsible for the still-unsolved murder of Anita Andrews at Fagiani's on Main Street in Napa on July 10th, 1974... I'd like to see a pic of Laudenberg from that era compared to the composites of her killer...

By Mcgarrett2000 (Mcgarrett2000) (adsl-67-125-27-118.dsl.pltn13.pacbell.net - on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 06:57 am:

yeah this whole kinda makes you wonder about other unsolved murders in Northern Calif. from that same time period.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 09:40 pm:

Or the possible victims Z claimed in the "There is a hell of a lot more down there..."statement to the L.A.Times.