Twenty-two years earlier, almost to the day, a woman named Dorka Lisker had been killed in that house. Her 17-year-old son, Bruce, was charged with the murder. He had a drug problem and a history of fighting with his mother.
But in recent months, new information had shaken his faith in the fairness of the verdict: A bloody footprint found at the scene did not match Lisker's shoes. A mysterious telephone call made around the time of the murder raised further questions.
Rabichow, 61, was having trouble sleeping. He replayed the trial in his head obsessively, going over the evidence, trying to reassure himself that he had not put an innocent man away for life.
In his distress, he clung to one element of his case, a piece of evidence that he still believed was irrefutable proof of Lisker's guilt. But to be sure about it, he would have to visit the crime scene.
"This is the critical issue of the case," Rabichow said before entering the house. "If I was wrong about this, I would not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt."
'She's Been Stabbed!'
"Help me, please! I need an ambulance right now. . . . Hurry!" [ ]
It was 11:26 a.m. on March 10, 1983.
"My mom -- she's been stabbed!" Bruce Lisker cried into the phone. "She's been stabbed!" [ ]
When police and paramedics arrived at the three-bedroom house on Huston Street, they found Dorka, 66, lying on the floor near the front entryway. Her face was bloody, and she had been stabbed in the back. Her skull had been crushed, her right ear nearly severed and her right arm broken. [ DOCUMENT: Autopsy Report on Dorka Lisker. ]
As the paramedics worked, Bruce paced back and forth and screamed at them to take his mother to the hospital. He was high on methamphetamine, and his hands were covered with blood.
He became so agitated that two police officers handcuffed him and put him in the back of a patrol car so he wouldn't interfere.
"Do you believe in God?" a tearful Lisker asked one of the officers. "Will you pray for my mother?"
A Child's Paradise
Dorka Zeman, a blond beauty of Czech descent, married Bob Lisker in 1946. They had been dating for about a year when another couple at a New Year's Eve party in Hollywood playfully dared them to tie the knot.
A little tipsy, they piled into a car and drove through the night to Tijuana, where they were wed the next morning. He was 19; she was 29.