A convicted triple murderer jailed in an Illinois prison has been indicted by the Orange County grand jury for the murders of five Southern California women between 1986 and 1995 in Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties.
The first of the murders allegedly committed by Andrew Urdiales was that of 23-year-old Robbin Brandley, a Laguna Beach resident, in 1986, according to district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
Urdiales, 45, is charged with five felony counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders and the personal use of a firearm in three murders. Urdiales has already been convicted in Illinois for the murders of two women in 2002, and another in 2004.
Because of the special circumstance allegations, Urdiales is eligible for the death penalty, the district attorney’s office said. He is appealing a death sentence in Illinois and is expected to be extradited to Orange County pending completion of that appeal, the district attorney’s office said. No date for extradition has been set, Emami said.
Urdiales was a U.S. Marine stationed at various locations in Southern California from 1984 until his discharge in April 1991. Urdiales is accused of murdering four women, including one in Orange County, two in Riverside County, and one in San Diego County between 1986 and 1989. After his discharge in 1991, Urdiales moved back to his home state of Illinois. In 1995, he is accused of murdering a fifth woman, his third victim in Riverside County, while on vacation in Palm Springs.
Brandley is believed to have been Urdiales’ first victim in a string of murders of women. She was volunteering as an usher at a Saddleback College jazz pianist concert on the evening of Jan. 18, 1986. Urdiales is accused of having driven to the college from Camp Pendleton armed with a 6-inch hunting knife with the intention of murdering a random victim.
After the concert, Brandley left a reception in the Fine Arts complex and began walking to her car, when Urdiales allegedly approached her from behind in a dimly lit parking lot, stabbing her 41 times in the back, neck, chest and hands, and then fled.
Urdiales is also accused in the murders of three alleged prostitutes, two in 1988 and one in 1989. Two of those murders took place in Riverside County and one in San Diego County.
On vacation in Southern California in 1995, he is alleged to have committed yet another murder, again in Riverside County.
He was convicted of three murders in 1996 in Illinois, after police arrested him in November 1996 in Hammond, Ind., upon searching his vehicle and finding a handgun, which Urdiales was not permitted to carry, according to the district attorney’s office.
In April 1997, Illinois officers conducted ballistics testing of the firearm found in Urdiales’ vehicle in Indiana, and determined it was the same firearm used in the murders of the three women in Illinois, and arrested him.
As a result of the 1997 arrest, Urdiales was linked to the five Southern California murders. In June 1997, the Orange County district attorney charged Urdiales with Brandley’s murder and has been waiting to extradite him pending completion of his legal process in Illinois.
In 2002, Urdiales was convicted and sentenced to receive the death penalty in the murders of two of the Illinois victims. That sentence was later commuted to life without the possibility of parole.
In 2004, Urdiales was convicted of the first degree murder of a third Illinois woman and again sentenced to receive the death penalty. He is on death row in Illinois. Upon conclusion of his evidentiary portion of his appeal in Illinois, Urdiales will be extradited to California to face charges for murdering Brandley and the four other women killed in Southern California, the district attorney’s office said.
In July 2009, district attorneys from Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties agreed to consolidate prosecution of the five Southern California murders. The prosecution will be conducted by the Orange County district attorney.