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Artist Implicated in ’87 Murder of 1st-Time Prostitute

Times Staff Writer

A Sherman Oaks graphic artist was identified Tuesday as the man who gave a ride to a first-time prostitute who later was found strangled to death in a Van Nuys park.

Richard Heywood Jordan, 41, gave a ride to Jacquie Raye Graham, 18, of Seattle hours before her body was found July 20, 1987, Graham’s boyfriend said in Van Nuys Municipal Court.

Testifying at Jordan’s preliminary hearing, the boyfriend, Richard Hurst, said Graham accepted a ride in Jordan’s car because she intended to perform acts of prostitution to pay off a $46 debt. Hurst, 21, also of Seattle, said it was the first time she had offered sex for money.

‘Keep Eye on Things’

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Hurst said he accompanied her to Sepulveda Boulevard to solicit a customer. “I figured if I went with her, I could keep an eye on things,” Hurst said outside the court.

He testified that they were sitting on a bus bench at Sepulveda Boulevard and Vanowen Street about 6 p.m. when a 1978 Ford sedan pulled up with Jordan at the wheel. As Graham got in the car, she reminded Hurst to take down the license plate number. Her parting words to Hurst were: “I love you, and I’ll see you in a little bit.”

The next day a jogger spotted Graham’s strangled body, clad in a pink tank top and miniskirt, in a clump of bushes in the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, according to police reports.

Police traced the license plate number to a car belonging to Jordan. Jordan was arrested at his Hollywood office July 20.

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Charges against Jordan were dropped last November when Hurst failed to appear to testify at Jordan’s preliminary hearing.

In October, however, police found Hurst in Eugene, Ore., and he agreed to testify. Jordan was re-arrested on suspicion of murder Oct. 25 and again pleaded not guilty.

Hurst testified Tuesday that Graham had moved with him from Washington to Southern California, and that they had been staying with his family in Oxnard.

He and Graham, who had dated more than a year, “needed a change and thought Southern California would be good,” Hurst testified.

He told the court that Graham had stolen a ring and pawned it for $46 to buy drugs. When the ring’s owner threatened to go to the police, she promised to pay him. Although Hurst offered to give her the cash, Graham decided to earn the money through an act of prostitution, he testified.

“She took the money and used it for drugs, and she felt that it was her responsibility to pay for it back,” he told the court.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue today. If ordered to stand trial and convicted, Jordan faces a sentence of life imprisonment.


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