Student, 23, Slain in Campus Parking Lot : Woman Found Fatally Stabbed After Leaving Saddleback Concert

Times Staff Writers

A 23-year-old Saddleback College student was found stabbed to death next to her car in a campus parking lot Saturday night, shortly after she left a concert and reception sponsored by the college radio station.

Robbin Brandley, a communication and fine arts major from Laguna Beach, had worked as an usher for the KSBR-sponsored Liz Story piano concert and attended the reception until about 10:30 p.m., faculty members said.

Her fully clothed body was found a half hour later in a small parking lot on the Mission Viejo campus. She had suffered multiple stab wounds to the upper torso, but there were no signs of a struggle and no immediate evidence of a sexual assault or robbery, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Miller said Sunday. An autopsy was scheduled.

About 400 people attended the sold-out concert at the Doyle G. McKinney Theater, just up the hill from the parking lot. The concert ended at 10 p.m., and about 50 people attended the reception, Lynn Gamwell, director of the campus art gallery, said.

The attack was the second on a female student in less than a year at Saddleback. In April, a 25-year-old woman was abducted from another campus parking lot in a Volkswagen van by two men who beat her over the head, stripped her, then dumped her naked about six hours later on a freeway off-ramp.

Miller said his investigation revealed that lights in the parking lot where the attack occurred are on a computer timing system set to go out at 9 p.m. College officials denied the lights are on such a system.

The campus is patrolled 24 hours a day by security officers. Although only two officers are on duty at night, volunteer male students are available to escort female students from classes to the parking lots after dark, college officials said.

But Harriett S. Walther, president of the Saddleback Community College District Board of Trustees, said Sunday she is not certain whether the escorts are available on weekends.

"Students are encouraged during regular class nights to avail themselves of the service," Walther said. "Certainly, if there's any recommendation forthcoming, either from the sheriff or from our own security people . . . that we do anything additional, we would certainly consider that. We're extremely concerned about the safety and welfare of not only our students, but our visitors."

"We're all horrified," Walther added.

Brandley, a former disc jockey at KSBR, was expecting to graduate from Saddleback this semester and planned to attend San Francisco State University to pursue a career in broadcasting, said Robert Cohen, chairman of the college's fine arts and communication department.

"She was interested in radio, television and film," Cohen said. "She liked to produce shows and get in front of the camera. She had terrific potential."

Sheriff's deputies, aided by dogs and a helicopter, searched the parking lot and a wooded ravine behind it for more than four hours Sunday morning for clues. After the search ended about 11:30 a.m., firefighters cut out a section of curb near Brandley's brown Chevrolet as evidence. No weapon was found, Miller said.

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