Briton Accused of Killing Northridge Family to Be Tried

Times Staff Writer

One-time Reseda auto dealer Harvey Rader on Wednesday was ordered to stand trial in the murder of four members of a Northridge family in 1982.

Los Angeles Municipal Judge David M. Horwitz concluded a weeklong preliminary hearing by finding that there was probable cause to believe that Rader had committed the crimes. He ordered that Rader, 47, be held without bail pending arraignment in Superior Court on Tuesday.

Rader is accused of murdering Sol Salomon, an Israeli immigrant who had his own business refilling fire extinguishers and told friends he had invested in Rader’s car business; Salomon’s wife, Elaine; and their two children, Michalle, 15, and Mitchell, 9. Their bodies have never been found.

Rader, a British subject, was arrested last summer as he completed a federal prison term for passport fraud.


Deputy Dist. Atty. Lonnie Felker, who has characterized the murder cases against Rader as somewhat weak, said he was pleased by Horwitz’s ruling, but noted, “This is only the first step in a long process. . . . Obviously the burden of proof at a preliminary hearing is a lot less than at a trial. We’re looking forward to doing our best to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”

Felker said the district attorney’s office will decide soon whether to seek the death penalty in the case, which is built on circumstantial evidence.

Rader’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mark Lessem, said he is “confident my client will be acquitted.” He said there is no evidence that Rader committed the murders and “whether or not there’s a murder at all is also questionable.”

Noting that Rader has been the prime suspect in the case for many years, Lessem said his client looked forward to resolving the allegations.

“This has ruined his life,” the lawyer said.

Lessem said he had intended to prove at the preliminary hearing that police attempted to strengthen their case by arranging a fabricated confession. He alleged that police had Rader placed in jail with known informants for that purpose.

Informant Won’t Testify

But one of the informants Lessem intended to call as a witness to try to prove his claim was advised by his own attorney not to testify for fear of incriminating himself. A second informant said he will not testify unless Horwitz ordered police to protect him. Horwitz declined, and Lessem abandoned his attempt to prove police misconduct.

Rader was first arrested in the case in 1983 along with his cousin, Ashley Paulle, after Paulle made a series of statements to authorities accusing Rader of the murders and implicating himself as Rader’s aide.

The district attorney’s office did not charge Rader at that time, saying there was insufficient evidence. The case against Paulle was dismissed because it was found that the district attorney’s office had improperly revoked his immunity.