Homicide investigators have confirmed that a weekend slaying in San Francisco is linked to the recent “Valley Intruder” killings and assaults in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman R. Block said Thursday.
The Sheriff’s Department declined to reveal how the attacks in cities 400 miles apart were related, saying only that clues found there have convinced members of a special task force sent to San Francisco that there is a common denominator.
“We can’t say that it is the same individual (who committed the San Francisco slaying), only that it is related,” said Sgt. John Broussard of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “It would be poor investigation to rule out copycats or additional suspects.”
Broussard said the clues found in San Francisco and evidence found here cannot be made public at this time for fear of compromising the continuing investigation.
The Valley Intruder--described by survivors as a gap-toothed, curly headed man in his late 20s or early 30s--is believed responsible for at least seven killings, and perhaps as many as a dozen, as well as 15 rapes, beatings and kidnapings in the Los Angeles area since last March.
Now, investigators say, he is the prime suspect in the attack in San Francisco on accountant Peter Pan, 66, and Pan’s wife, Barbara, 64.
San Francisco police say the Pans were shot with a small-caliber weapon by an intruder who apparently entered their Lakeside District home through an unlocked door or window sometime between 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. The assailant ransacked the home before fleeing, investigators said, but they were unsure if anything had been taken.
The Pans were found Sunday morning by a son who stopped by for a visit. Peter Pan, an accountant, was dead at the scene. His wife was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was reported in stable condition Thursday.
Patrols Beefed Up
San Francisco police would release no further details of the investigation, but Capt. Diarmuid Philpott did say that 70 extra officers have been assigned to the Pan slaying and that patrols throughout the city have been increased.
Also, undercover officers were briefed at a meeting Thursday night on the modus operandi of the Valley Intruder, who usually slips into darkened homes through unlocked doors and windows, attacks victims as they sleep and then ransacks the home.
Some of those slain here were shot, others were stabbed or beaten. Several of those slain and assaulted were sexually abused, including at least one male.
The first killing attributed to the Intruder occurred March 17, when Dayle Okazaki, 35, was found shot to death in her condominium in Rosemead. About an hour later, investigators said, a man walked up to a car in which Tsal-lian Yu, 30, was sitting alone at an intersection in Monterey Park and shot her to death.
On June 1, Mabel Bell, 84, and her sister, Florence Lang, 81, were found severely beaten in their home in Monrovia. Mabel Bell died; Florence Lang is still convalescing in a nursing home.
On June 28, Patty Elaine Higgins, 32, was found dead at her home in Arcadia. Police said her throat had been slashed. Four days later, the body of another Arcadia resident, Mary Cannon, 75, was found in her home. Her throat also had been slashed.
Killed While Sleeping
On July 20, Chainarong Khovanath, 32, was shot to death as he slept in his home in Sun Valley. His wife was assaulted and his 8-year-old son was beaten. Two weeks after that, Elyas Abowath, 35, was shot to death in his home in Diamond Bar and his wife was assaulted.
“He is extremely diversified, cunning and very dangerous,” Broussard said. The sheriff’s sergeant warned that linking the intruder to a crime in the Bay Area does not mean that residents here should relax their vigilance.
“We’re still telling people (here) to lock up and light up,” Broussard said. “We don’t want to give a false sense of security.”
While detectives have said nothing about the clues linking the attacks, Dr. Harvey Schlossberg, a forensic psychologist in New York, said clues in serial murder cases usually include some form of specific trademark left by the killer.
“Each killing is a lot like an artist’s painting, based on the artist’s needs and wishes, so there has to be some sort of element that ties them together,” said Schlossberg, a former director of psychological services for the New York Police Department who worked on the so-called “Son of Sam” murder case. David Berkowitz pleaded guilty to the murders of six women and the attempted murders of seven other people in New York City in 1976 and 1977.
“In these serial murders, you have the same dynamic. Each one has the same touch that will distinguish it from anyone else’s,” Schlossberg said.
Robbery Not Motive
An exception to this, he said, would be if the intruder’s killings were motivated by the urge to rob. However, descriptions by police have not indicated that robbery was the primary motive.
In San Francisco, police Cmdr. Richard Klapp said investigators are concerned that the killer may strike again.
In Los Angeles, Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Salerno, a veteran homicide investigator who played a key role in the infamous “Hillside Strangler” murders in 1978 and 1979, said another attack would come as no surprise to him.
“Most serial murderers don’t stop,” he said. “They might relocate. They will kill again.”
Times staff writers Bob Baker and Carol McGraw contributed to this story.