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Authors: James Ellroy

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BOOK: Destination
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This freak was typical. He calls a young girl. He says he's a school official. He asks embarrassing questions. He tells her to take her measurements. Ditto
this
freak. He calls a Valley woman. He tells her to wear high heels and eschew underwear. He tells her to meet him at the Akron store on Sunset. The cops show. He doesn't.

The detectives tracked reports. They grilled known phone freaks. They cleared them. Phone freaks were tough to catch. More freaks at large.

They dumped the phone shit—12/29/65. Cheryl Gorman got a late Christmas card. It mentioned a meeting in 7/65. The family had gone down to Coronado. Ed and Julie played bridge. Stephanie and Cheryl hit the beach.

They met two boys. Cheryl said she was reading
The Collector.
It's about a freak. He kidnaps a woman. He holds her hostage. She dies in captivity.

The kids played a game. The boys tied up and untied the girls. It was brief chuckles. That was all of it.

That was July. Cut to late December. One boy sends a Christmas card. It mentions the rope trick.

The detectives studied the card. The detectives drove to San Diego. They found the boys. They grilled them. They polygraphed them. They cleared them.

Adios, 1965—1966 struts in.

1/5/66: The lab tests the south and east bedspreads for semen. The
east
bed hits positive. There's no sperm isolate. There's a blood-type A reaction. The result: inconclusive. The stain is near the foot of the bed. It's near Stephanie's death pose. The rest of the bedspread tests positive: A-type blood reaction. That marks the
specific
stain inconclusive. That means the semen could match A or O blood. Stephanie was type O. There were no foreign fluid types in her rectum or vagina.

1/7/66: The lab tests the bloody towels. They get a type-O reaction. It's probably Stephanie's blood. Stephanie
might
have wounded the killer.

The detectives worked. The lab confiscated new crime-scene guns. They examined them. They test-fired them. They got nil results.

2/22/66: SID tests the Gorman hair samples. Most test out to Stephanie and Cheryl. One doesn't. This hair is coarser. It's not a Negro, Mexican, or Oriental hair. It's assuredly Caucasian.

2/22/66: The lab tests Stephanie's fingernail clippings. They find no scraped flesh. They find blood traces. They're too small to type. They can't tell if she scratched her assailant.

2/28/66: LAPD pops the Remorseful Rapist.

It's a traffic stop—2nd and Serrano. It's a male Mexican. His name: Edward David Apodaca.

He's packing tape and a toy gun. He stands in a show-up. Thirty-eight victims ID him. The Gorman cops grill him. He's gun-checked, print-checked, poly'd, and cleared.

3/8/66: A neighbor lady rats off a loiterer. He's standing at Pico and Roxbury. He matches the police sketch. Patrolmen haul him in. The detectives grill him.

His name is Mr. K. He's an alien. He hails from Gyula, Hungary. He's a schizo and a nut-bin habitué. He's got a nationwide rap sheet: vag/disorderly conduct/wienie wagger beefs.

He won't cooperate. He won't take a poly. They book him for Murder One. They put him in a show-up. George Iwasaki views him. He says maybe, maybe not.

Mr. K. talked a little. He said he escaped Patton State Hospital. The detectives called Patton. They learned: Mr. K. escaped 8/5/65—the Gorman snuff date.

But:

Mr. K. split late in the day. The time glitch cleared him.

Mr. K. got unbooked. Murder One
—nyet.
Patton sent a crew down to shag him.

3/24/66–3/31/66: Two Metro cops hit Georgia Street Juvenile.

They run record checks. They check current and recent Hami kids. They check the boys for juvie beefs. They check the girls as sex-beef complainants. The girls shoplift clothes and cosmetics. The girls run from titty pinchers and whip-out men. The boys run the fucking alphabet.

Lots of sex shit. 288PC—forced oral cop. 288—voluntary. 288—mutual suck. Voyeur busts, malicious mischief. Some kid molests a prepubescent girl. The cops pop him. Said kid gets popped at a fruit bar later. A 14-year-old boy attacks two 11-year-old girls. He slides on it. He gets popped for Peeping Tom later. Lots of GTA, some grand-theft merch, some parked-car sodomy. Wienie waggers galore. Glue sniffers, grasshoppers, juiceheads galore. Fruit rollers, fruit teasers, high-school fruitettes. Firebugs, chronic runaways. A doozie right after the Gorman job—8/13/65. Venice Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk. There's a public rest-room. There's a Mex kid pulling his pud. The kid states: “I was thinking of a Hami Hi girl.”

They went through 5000-plus names. They turned up 201 rap sheets. They weeded out unlikelies. They grilled the pure freaks. They print-checked them and gun-checked them. They got diddly-shit.

4/4/66: The L.A. Police Commission gets a mailed note and poem. Said note and poem read thus:

Did they ever find who snuffed out Stephanie Gorman? Was he of Lago Vista Dr., Beverly Hills? Used to frequent the pool hall in Westwood?

And her name was Stephanie.
She came from Hills Beverly.
A quick roach was he around the house.
I declare, look here, you may find out
(An idea to a mystery)

The detectives worked it. Lago Vista Drive/men named “Roach”/Westwood poolhalls. It wasted man hours. It went nowhere. A cryptographer read the poem. She said it was gobbledygook.

6/20/66: LAPD gets hip to Dave S. Remember—he called West L.A. Station. It was 8/6/65. He said he went by the Gorman pad on 8/5. He looked for Bob Gelff. Bob used to live there.

Dave S. was 21. Dave S. went to Hami. Dave S. got popped for 288 once. Dave S. had a bad-check warrant: extant in Orange County.

6/21/66: Metro cops grill Dave S. He tells his Bob Gelff story. He parked in the Gormans' driveway. He thought he saw someone peek out a window. No one came out. He split.

The story made no sense. Gelff
didn't
live there. Dave S. nixed a polygraph. Dave S. split the interview. Dave S. called back. He said he'd take the poly now.

They set up the test: 7:00 p.m., 6/21/66. Dave S. called up and cancelled. The detectives talked to Bob Gelff.

Shit, we sold the house. The Gormans bought it in '61. The Gormans had it in '65. Shit, Dave
knew
where I lived.

The cops rebraced Dave S. They requested a formal statement. He refused. They arrested him.

They got him a public defender. He refused to talk. They booked him for Murder One.

He spent two days in the shitter. He agreed to a poly. He took the test. He came up clean.

His prints didn't match. He owned no guns. George Iwasaki viewed him. George Iwasaki said nix.

They released Dave S. Orange County grabbed him. Bam— bad-check warrant extant.

The Gorman job was 11 months old. It was dead-stalled and fucked.

RICK JACKSON TOLD me about Stephanie. My neck hairs stood up.

Rick works LAPD Homicide. He's a superb detective and one of my best friends. We talk long-distance. We prowl crime-historical L.A. We talk CRIME. We dig the horror. We transmit chills. We rap logic and moral perspective. We dig crime as social barometer and buffoonish diversion. My wife says we cackle like schoolgirls.

Stephanie Lynn Gorman. DR 65-538-991. DOD: 8/5/65.

Rick gave me a synopsis. Details nudged me. A pinprick memory blipped.

It's summer '65. I'm 17. There's a Hollywood newsstand. There's a girl's picture. It straddles a newspaper fold.

Blip—no more, no less.

Rick said the case went active. It was a fluke. It happened like this:

It's 2000 now. The older sister's middle-aged. She attends a party. She meets an LAPD man. She mentions her sister's case. She
wonders.
She requests a status update.

The man calls Robbery-Homicide. Detective Dave Lambkin picks up. He works the Rape Special Section. He's a 20-year officer. He doesn't know the Gorman case.

The man shoots the sister's request. Lambkin responds. He reads the Gorman file. He notes the unknown prints. He sends them to the FBI.

The Feds run them through the CODUS computer. They get a single-print match.

The kickback supplies a name. The man was young
then
and old
now.
He's now a suspect.

That blip. That picture. A slight expansion—her pageboy hairdo.

Rick's synopsis. The horror. The Watts Riot bit.
My
L.A. '65 summer. Stone's throw to
her.

Show me the file. I need to
see.

I FLEW OUT. It was December 2000. I booked a room in Beverly Hills. Beverlywood adjoined it. Stone's throw to Hillsboro and Sawyer.

It was cool. L.A. smelled like fresh rain. I ignored it. I conjured up the hot summer of 1965.

I rented a car. I drove to Parker Center. Rick introduced me to Dave Lambkin. He was mid-40s, bald, and fucking bug-eyed intense. He talked fast and articulate. His thoughts scattergunned and coalesced precisely. He said the file ran fourteen boxes. He gave me the suspect update.

Call him Mr. X. Mr. X is sixty-nine
now.
Mr. X was thirty-four
then.
He had a minor rap sheet.
Très
that—one receiving stolen goods bounce, à la '71.

Hence: prints on file. Hence: the CODUS match. Hence: major suspect status.

No Gorman link. That's good. It jukes the random-sex factor. Ed Gorman's dead now. The mother and sister don't know X-Man. They've wracked their memories.

So:

We're running background checks. We're feeling positive. We've placed him in West L.A. then. We've surveilled him. We've got his prints on a coffee cup. We snatched it at a diner.

We need more facts. They're armament. They'll fuel the search warrant. They'll define the approach.

Show me the file. Show me the pictures first.

We walked to the Rape Special cubicle. I saw the boxes and binders. I saw a taped-on wall tableau. That memory blip blew out full.

The
L.A. Times.
The pic on the fold. The pageboy girl.

Lambkin passed me the pictures. They were faded Kodachrome. The colors looked sun-bleached. Shades beamed surreal.

There's the patio. There's the bloody towels. The south bed's askew. There's one spent shell.

I clenched up. I knew she'd be next. I wanted to see it. I trusted my motive. I know my eyes would violate.

There—

I couldn't peel her beauty back from the horror. I felt immodest and clinically focused. Her softness merged with the blood.

I CALLED IT quits early. The file boded vast and too detailed. The pictures held me for now.

Dead women own you. Call it blunt and simple. She's Geneva Hilliker Ellroy redux.

I went back to the hotel. I time-traveled. I placed myself in context with that blip.

It was “Freedom Summer.” I was seventeen. I was a year and three months older than Stephanie. I lived five miles northeast. I attended Fairfax High School up to mid-March. Fairfax was largely Jewish. I was gentile and fucked up. I craved attention, love, and sex. I did nothing constructive to earn it. I lusted for Jewish girls. I stalked them by bicycle. I pulled anti-Semitic stunts in school. I got my ass kicked. Fairfax kicked me out.

My dad was old and frail. He let me join the army. I hated the army. It scared me shitless. My dad had a second stroke. I faked a nervous breakdown. An army shrink bought it. My dad died 6/4/65. The army kicked me loose.

I bopped back to L.A. I was seventeen and draft-exempt. The army gave me go-home pay. I forged my dad's last three Social Security checks. I had a roll. I got a cheap pad. I got a handbillpassing job. I shoplifted food and booze. I popped pills and smoked weed. I ran 6′3″ and 140. Everything frightened me. I read crime books, fantasized, and jacked off. I was a teenage-misanthrope/hybrid-scaredy cat.

I stalked girls. My mode was the all-unilateral monogamous crush. My anti-Jewish stance was a shuck. It was kid iconoclasm. It was a love scrounger's yelp for help. Fairfax High was snotty and rigidly stratified. The Fairfax district bordered Hami Hi's. Hami was equally Jewish. Hami was allegedly more snotty and more stratified. Hami kids were hip, Hami kids disdained geeks, Hami kids rode the cool zeitgeist.

Proximity.

Stephanie was lovely. I did not doubt her good-girl status or sound character. She would have beckoned. I would have stalked her. I would have harbored tender thoughts. Booze might fuel a real approach—T-Bird chased by Clorets. She might reject me flat. She might reject me gently. She might hear me out. I was tall, I had my own pad, I had a murder-vic mom—sometimes the desperate impress.

Not likely. Lovely girls scare desperate boys. Ed Gorman would nab my shit quicksville. He'd kick my goy ass off his porch.

Yeah, I would have stalked her. No, I'd never harm a hair on her head.

THE HOUSE WAS INNOCUOUS. The northeast bedroom light was on. Rick and I staked it out.

Daytime crime, nighttime surveillance. We both loved crime locations. They spoke to us. They inspired time travel. They juked our talk.

We sat in Rick's car. Holiday lights beamed—Christmas sprays and menorahs. I mentioned a book. I read it circa '65. It was a thriller called
Warrant for X.

Rick said X-Man looked good. He was at the crime scene. They didn't know when. They
did
know he
did not
know the Gormans. He matched the peeper sketch. He was a Latin-type Caucasian. I speculated. Stephanie fought him. He panicked and shot her. Rick quoted Dave Lambkin. Dave was a sex-crime expert. Dave had this factors-in-place riff.

Would-be killers harbor fantasies. They rarely act them out. Most would-bes never kill. Sometimes factors converge. The right victim appears. The opportunity hits. Stress factors goose the would-be. Family grief, sex abstinence, booze or dope impairment. His switch flips. He acts.

BOOK: Destination
2.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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