Friday, January 17, 2014

Murder LA 000040

THURSDAY, FEB 4th 1971

A hiker traversing the trails of Griffith Park spots a man and woman ahead. The woman is in some state of toplessness so the hiker decides to keep his distance and give them some privacy. He quickly realizes, however, that the woman is not walking; she’s being dragged along. Finally she’s dropped to the ground and the man gets in his car and drives away.

The hiker is able to get the vehicle’s license plate number and then checks on the woman. She’s blonde. Her blouse and bra are undone and her jeans are unbuttoned. She’s been strangled.

Her name is Mary Hill and she was 13 years old. Her parents were in a hospital at the time--her mother giving birth to twins.

The vehicle is found in West Covina but the owner, 38-year-old Bertram Greenberg, has already abandoned it and fled in his wife’s car.

FRIDAY, FEB 5th 1971

Arizona highway patrolman Jim Keeton has heard the news out of Los Angeles. So when he spots a California license plate he pulls the vehicle over. Keeton is taken off guard, however, and fatally shot. Greenberg leaves his driver’s license in Keeton’s patrol car. Keeton radios a distress call before dying.

Eight miles away, patrolman Don Beckstead apparently hasn’t heard the distress call and attempts to pull over Greenberg simply for his reckless driving. Beckstead is also shot. He will die on Sunday.

James and Karen Brown, a married couple in their early 20’s, are passing through Arizona when they spot a man on the side of the highway flagging them down. He says his car broke down and asks for a ride into town. Along the way, Greenberg makes them pull their Volkswagon off the road. He murders Mr. Brown, rapes Mrs. Brown and shoots her in the head, then leaves in their car. Mrs. Brown survives.

When a group of officers catch up to Greenberg he ignores orders to pull over and continues on, “right at the speed limit.” Apparently at this point he’s cutting his own wrists with a knife. Eventually he veers off the road and the car ends up in a bed of rocks. The produce worker from West Covina emerges from the stolen Volkswagon wielding the knife and is shot.

Bertram Greenberg, it turned out, had been in legal trouble for over a decade. After he was arrested for rape and sent to a psychiatric hospital he admitted to assaulting at least three other women. After serving eight months in Los Angeles County Jail he was released on probation. Six weeks later he impersonated an officer to get a woman to get into his car and then raped her. This time he served several years. Before his murder spree he was most recently in jail for extortion, after taking nude photos of a woman and blackmailing her with them.