Who was the individual known as "Sandy" in 1963?
Preliminary Report on Project MK-ZODIAC
The Story of "Sandy"
and the Murder of Vern C. Smith in Connection with
the Murders of Robert George Domingos and Linda Faye Edwards
and the Murders of Johnny Ray Swindle and Joyce A. Swindle
Friday, May 31, 1963
The individual known as "Sandy" met James L. Coleman, 16 years old, and J. C. Reed, Jr., 17 years old, at the beach boardwalk area in Santa Cruz.
"Sandy" also had met other people at the beach, including Steven Straub, a Santa Cruz resident who later would draw a sketch of "Sandy".
Coleman, Reed, and "Sandy" began a crime spree together which included robbing a woman of $20.00 at her apartment in Santa Cruz.
The three teenagers stole a car and drove to Lompoc.
Saturday, June 1, 1963
Sometime between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., Coleman, Reed, and "Sandy" arrived in Lompoc and later drove to Santa Maria.
Sunday, June 2, 1963
Coleman, Reed, and "Sandy" drove around the Lompoc and Santa Maria area during the day.
In the evening, they met Vern C. Smith, a quarry worker in Lompoc, and decided to rob him.
Vern C. Smith was 63 years old (born February 22, 1900, in Kansas).
Sometime around 11:00 p.m., "Sandy" told Smith that they had run out of gas and asked for help near his camper truck in which he lived in San Miguelito Canyon.
As Smith filled the gas tank of their stolen car, "Sandy" suddenly stabbed Smith with a hunting knife.
Monday, June 3, 1963
At appproximately 12:15 a.m., Smith died from the knife wound.
"Sandy" laughed about the murder of Smith as if it was a joke.
Smith had $360.00 of which Coleman and Reed gave $20.00 to "Sandy" and kept the rest for themselves.
At about 2:00 a.m., Coleman and Reed left "Sandy" by a motel at Arroyo Grande because "Sandy" "was acting strange".
Tuesday, June 4, 1963
Coleman and Reed left the stolen car near Salinas and they hitchhiked back to Santa Cruz.
Meanwhile, Robert George Domingos and Linda Faye Edwards decided to go to the beach instead of a senior ditch day party for the students who were planning to graduate from Lompoc High School.
Domingos was 18 years old (born May 12, 1945) and Edwards was almost 18 years old (born June 7, 1945).
Domingos and Edwards were planning to marry in November.
Sometime in the afternoon or evening, Domingos and Edwards were killed at Gaviota Beach near Goleta (approximately 30 miles south of Lompoc).
Wednesday, June 5, 1963
Coleman and Reed went to hotel in Santa Cruz where they talked about getting ammunition for a gun that they had.
A hotel clerk heard their conversation and called the police.
Coleman and Reed were arrested in their hotel room for the robbery which had happened on Friday, May 31, 1963.
The police searched their hotel room and found that they had a .22 caliber pistol.
When the police interrogated Coleman and Reed separately, they were asked about their conversation regarding ammunition and they began to provide details about "Sandy" because, in the context of the situation, it was necessary to explain that "Sandy" "talked a lot about buying a .22 caliber rifle".
As their story unfolded, the police were able to connect Coleman and Reed to the death of Smith.
Meanwhile, in the evening, while looking with others for Domingos and Edwards, George Domingos (the father of Robert George Domingos) saw his son´s car parked in some bushes near the beach.
At about 10 p.m., Highway Patrolman Paul Schultz found the bodies of Domingos and Edwards in a driftwood shack which had been partially burned.
Domingos had been shot 11 times and Edwards had been shot nine times by a .22 caliber gun.
There were bruises on the face of Domingos.
The body of Edwards (facing up) had been placed on top of the body of Domingos (facing down).
The bathing suit of Edwards had been cut off from her body, but surfer shorts were still on the body of Domingos.
When the autopsy was completed, Dr. John P. Blanchard did not find any evidence that Edwards had been sexually molested.
The investigators thoroughly searched the beach and found rope which could have been used during the crime and matches which could have been used to burn the shack.
The investigators found ejected .22 caliber shell casings in a creek bed near the beach and there were also tracks in the creek bed, so the investigators theorized that the bodies were shot in the creek bed and then dragged to the shack.
In the shack, the investigators found three ammunition boxes which each had some .22 caliber bullets. (There was also one empty ammunition box.)
The Los Angeles Police Department assisted in the examination of the bullets and shell casings.
Ultimately, it was impossible for the investigators to confirm that the ammunition found at Gaviota Beach had been sold at the nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base because it was available at many other locations.
The investigators did speculate that the evidence indicated that the killer deliberately reloaded the weapon.
The investigators included Sheriff James W. Webster, Undersheriff R. B. Romero, Detective Chief Charles M. Taylor, Detective Gilbert Chayra, Inspector Charles Taylor, William Cummings, and Ray Pinker (from Los Angeles).
Thursday, June 6, 1963
Police Lieutenant Richard Overton of Santa Cruz announced that Coleman and Reed had confessed to being involved with the robbery and murder of Smith, so they were transferred to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Department for further investigation.
The investigators had determined that Coleman and Reed could not have been involved with the murders of Domingos and Edwards.
Meanwhile, in the evening, Lompoc High School held its graduation ceremony.
Friday, June 7, 1963
There were at least two suspects from Lompoc who were cleared at this time in connection with the murders of Domingos and Edwards.
One of the suspects from Lompoc who investigators cleared was a 17 year old boy who had been arrested on suspicion of intoxication at Lompoc in the evening on Thursday, June 6, 1963. This suspect admitted knowing both Domingos and Edwards. This suspect also admitted that he was at Refugio Beach on Tuesday, June 4, 1963. (Refugio Beach is near Gaviota Beach.) This suspect had a bruised right hand. In addition, guns were available to this suspect.
Saturday, June 8, 1963
At 8:00 a.m., the funeral of Domingos was held at La Purisima Catholic Church and the burial followed at Lompoc Evergreen Cemetery.
Monday, June 10, 1963.
At 2:00 p.m., the funeral of Edwards was held at McPeek-Starbuck Mortuary and the burial followed at Lompoc Evergreen Cemetery.
Tuesday, June 11, 1963
Lieutenant H. C. Clark, did a composite drawing of "Sandy" based upon the descriptions provided by Coleman and Reed.
"Sandy" was referred to as "the laughing boy" and/or "the laughing killer".
In addition to the murder of Smith, "Sandy" was considered to be a suspect for the murders of Domingos and Edwards.
Coleman and Reed were held in the Santa Barbara County Jail for a hearing which was scheduled for Friday, June 28, 1963.
Meanwhile, Sergeant John Gabrielli of the Sacramento Police Department announced that the investigators had cleared another suspect in connection with the murders of Domingos and Edwards. This suspect had been arrested in Sacramento on Sunday, June 9, 1963, and flown to Santa Barbara on Monday, June 10, 1963. This suspect was a 17 year old boy from Sacramento, who had resigned from a job at a carwash at Lompoc on Friday, May 31, 1963. The physical appearance of this suspect was similar to "Sandy". This suspect was seen wearing surfer shorts. This suspect had scratches on his arms and wrists which he explained were caused by a dog. This suspect had a .22 caliber rifle and admitted stealing a .22 caliber pistol and ammunition from a relative in Lompoc, on Saturday, June 1, 1963. This suspect claimed that he had returned to Sacramento on Sunday, June 2. 1963. Witnesses confirmed that this suspect was at a baseball game at Sacramento on Tuesday, June 4, 1963.
Monday, June 17, 1963
The investigators cleared another suspect in connection with the murders of Domingos and Edwards. This suspect was a 17 year old boy from Newport Beach, who had been taken to the Orange County Juvenile Hall after police were alerted that he had a .22 caliber rifle and his physical appearance was similar to "Sandy".
Friday, June 28, 1963
The Juvenile Court hearing of Coleman and Reed began in Santa Barbara.
Wednesday, July 3, 1963
Coleman and Reed were officially charged with the murder and robbery of Smith.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge C. Douglas Smith ruled that Coleman and Reed would be tried in adult court and held them without bail.
Friday, September 20, 1963
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John A. Westwick sentenced Coleman and Reed to prison for five years to life.
District Attorney Vern Thomas prosecuted the case and the court appointed lawyers for Coleman and Reed.
During the trial, the two teenagers plead guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Friday, October 25, 1963
As the investigation of the murders of Domingos and Edwards continued, the investigators searched for a vagrant who witnesses had seen using a rifle and living in the driftwood shack at Gaviota Beach several weeks before the murders.
Composite drawings were done to assist in the search for this suspect.
George Edward Gill was identified as the vagrant and a warrant was issued for his arrest as a possible suspect in connection with the murders of Domingos and Edwards.
Gill was 50 years old (born October 25, 1913, in South Dakota).
Gill had been in the Army from 1943 to 1945 and was honorably discharged after he injured his back.
Gill had a wife and son whose whereabouts were unknown.
Wednesday, February 5, 1964
About 8:15 p.m., Johnny Ray Swindle and Joyce A. Swindle were murdered on a boardwalk on Ocean Beach at San Diego.
Johnny Ray Swindle was 20 years old (born July 4, 1943, in Alabama) and Joyce A. Swindle was 19 years old (born January 22, 1945, in Alabama).
They had recently married on Saturday, January 18, 1964.
They were shot with a .22 caliber gun.
There was evidence that the killer had shot each of them twice from above and then moved closer to shoot each of their heads.
The investigators considered the possibility that their killer was also responsible for the deaths of Domingos and Edwards.
Tests proved that the gun used to kill them was different than the gun used to kill Domingos and Edwards.
Sergeant Ed Stevens announced that it was known that there was at least one witness to the crime whom the police were seeking.
Wednesday, December 2, 1964
Gill was arrested by Officer James Picco near his shack on East Warren Street in Santa Ana.
Gill was considered to be a suspect for the murders of Domingos and Edwards and the murders of Swindle and Swindle at San Diego.
Gill was also wanted for pawning stolen guns in San Francisco in 1964.
Gill was taken to Santa Barbara for questioning.
Gill admitted building and living in the driftwood shack at Gaviota Beach.
Gill explained that he was working at an orchard in San Jose on Tuesday, June 4, 1963. (He had already moved to San Jose at that time.)
Thursday, December 3, 1964
Gill took a lie detector test, administered by William Cummings, but the results were inconclusive.
Friday, December 4, 1964
Gill was cleared as a suspect for the murders after the investigators verified his alibis.
Tuesday, August 1, 1972
William Baker at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Department was assigned to investigate the murders of Domingos and Edwards.
Baker issued a notice for law enforcement professionals to generate possible leads.
Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong, who were the inspectors working on the Zodiac case at that time, saw the notice.
Toschi and Armstrong consulted with Baker regarding the similarities in the cases.
Friday, November 3, 1972
Gill died in the County of San Bernardino.
Monday, November 13, 1972
Ten days after the death of Gill, Sheriff John W. Carpenter announced at a press conference of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Department that there was "considerable evidence" to link the murders of Robert George Domingos and Linda Faye Edwards to the Zodiac.
Carpenter hinted that there was "other evidence which I am not at liberty to disclose at this time".
The press release stated, specifically in reference to the Zodiac, "we have information, to be investigated further, which may place him in the Santa Barbara area in 1963".
The 1964 murders of Johnny Ray Swindle and Joyce A. Swindle were not mentioned.
The 1963 murder of Vern C. Smith was not mentioned.
Likewise, "Sandy" was not mentioned.
Friday, September 28, 1973
The return on bench warrant for "Sandy", which had never been served, was returned to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Department.
sketch of "Sandy" drawn by Steven Straub
The information in this report has been obtained from various sources. In the event that for any reason there is any discrepancy, please advise.
Click here for a map of the locations which pertain to the story of "Sandy".
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An Investigation of the Zodiac Killer
by Ricardo Eugirtni Gomez
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