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O.C. grand jury indicts ex-Marine in 5 slayings

It’s been nearly 24 years since Robbin Brandley, 23, was stabbed to death in a parking lot after leaving a piano concert at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. Her killing sparked successful efforts to make college campuses safer by requiring better lighting in parking lots and the disclosure by schools of information about crimes on campus.

Still, no one has ever been prosecuted for her death.

On Monday, a former Marine who confessed more than a decade ago to stabbing Brandley to death and killing four other women in Southern California was indicted by an Orange County grand jury, setting the stage for an eventual trial.

Andrew Urdiales, 45, is on death row in Illinois, where he was convicted of killing three women. He was arrested in 1997 after ballistic tests linked him to slayings there. Soon after his arrest he confessed in detail to killing eight women in a nine-year spree.

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In the case being handled by the Orange County district attorney’s office, Urdiales is accused of committing five murders in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties between 1986 and 1995. For six of those years, Urdiales was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.

Prosecutors believe that Brandley was Urdiales’ first victim. She was volunteering on Jan. 18, 1986, as an usher at the college concert and was stabbed 41 times in the back, neck, chest and hand with a hunting knife as she left the event.

Urdiales later preyed on prostitutes, prosecutors said. In almost every case, Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Howard Gundy said, Urdiales drove his victims to a remote place and had sex with them or sexually assaulted them before stabbing or shooting them.

The other California victims were Julie McGhee, 29, who was shot in the head in Cathedral City on July 17, 1988; Maryann Wells, 31, shot to death in a deserted industrial complex in San Diego County on Sept. 25, 1988; Tammie Erwin, 20, shot three times in a remote area in Palm Springs on April 16, 1989; and Denise Maney, 32, stabbed to death in the Palm Springs desert on March 11, 1995, while Urdiales was vacationing from Illinois.

Prosecutors expect Urdiales to be extradited to California to face the charges after the evidentiary portion of his death penalty appeal in Illinois. The process could take several months.

“It’s important to people in the victims’ families that he be prosecuted in the state of California,” Gundy said. “Members of the community want to see him stand trial for crimes he committed here.”

paloma.esquivel@latimes.com


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