A Hughes Aircraft engineer, assigned to a classified anti-submarine warfare unit, was stabbed to death shortly before dawn Saturday by an intruder at his east Anaheim home, police said.
Neighbors in the 600 block of Jambolaya Street said they were awakened at about 5 a.m. by cries of “Help me! Please help me!” from Frederick John Travis, 49, who lived alone in a white brick home with blue trim.
A neighbor said he ran next door and found Travis’ body face up in an open doorway to his back yard. The victim had numerous stab wounds to the upper torso.
“I got within 4 feet of him and that’s all I needed to see,” said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified. The neighbor’s wife called police.
Anaheim police said they had no suspects late Saturday. Detective David Tuttle said burglary is being investigated as a probable motive.
Hughes Aircraft Co. officials said they know of no reason why anyone would want to kill Travis.
“He wasn’t in any kind of trouble and he wasn’t involved in any top-secret programs,” said Travis’ supervisor at Hughes’ Anti-Submarine Warfare Division in Buena Park. “The things that he was doing had some classified nature, but that’s average work at any defense contractor.”
Travis had been a technical engineer with Hughes for the past decade, and most recently was in charge of a group of five to six other engineers at the anti-submarine division, his supervisor said. The engineers must have U.S. government security clearance to work in the division, Hughes officials said.
Their highly sensitive division works on programs related to sonar devices that Navy ships pull to detect the presence of enemy submarines or surface ships, Hughes spokesman Dan Reeder said. The program, Reeder added, is considered “very important” for the Navy.
The neighbor who discovered the body said Travis was dressed except for shoes. Other neighbors said Travis was in the habit of staying up all night, working on his computer and even washing his car.
“He was very shy,” one neighbor said.
Travis moved there about 8 years ago, neighbors said. He lived alone with an Irish setter named Charlie, which he gave away several months ago for an unknown reason. Travis was divorced and had a daughter, who lives in the East with her mother.
Travis and other neighborhood residents had been plagued with sporadic break-ins in recent years. Jaqi Rogers, who lives across the street, said Travis’ home--which backs up to a large, vacant lot--was burglarized of a videocassette recorder and other valuables 1 1/2 years ago.
Although Travis was remembered as quiet and reserved by his neighbors, his co-workers regarded him as a go-getter.
“He was a very good employee,” said Travis’ supervisor, who did not want to be identified. “He was more or less self-taught in the discipline he chose to follow, and he took a lot of pride in his work.
Travis also was a private pilot and flew regularly out of Chino Municipal Airport.
His supervisor said he also considered Travis a friend.
“I could always talk to him about anything,” the man said. “He was a really good guy.”