Extra! L.A. Murders on Halloween!

Thank goodness my apartment doesn’t have a creepy attic or an abandoned basement, and bumps, bangs and screams don’t make me make the choice between staying in, or going out and facing the Covid-19 pandemic outside.

At the moment the real horror is in the very air around us, so since I’m stuck at home like everyone else, I thought I would post a second Halloween-themed blog post about L.A. murder….

This was the Los Angeles Times headline on April 26, 1969, reporting that 35-year-old car salesman Jack Gentry Stearns has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting 32-year-old Kenneth A. Lindstrand to death in front of dozens of witnesses at a Van Nuys Country Club Halloween costume party back in 1967.   

Lindstrand was east to spot, as he was one of the few people not in costume, and when a man also not in costume ran after him shooting a gun, people thought it was a prank. One woman in a hula skirt began to dance over Lindstrand’s body and said “This will wake him up!” – until, of course, she realized he was dead!

Stearns had apparently objected to the way Lindstrand was dancing with his 22-year-old wife Maria, and would now have many years to think about what he had done when the green-eyed monster talked into his ear that fateful night…

Around 9pm on Halloween night 1974, the elderly Mrs. Low answered the door of her Chinatown home to three masked “trick or treaters” – one of them wearing the wolfman mask, another Frankenstein. They all pointed guns at her and forced their way into the house, but when nearly-blind 81-year-old Pok Suey Low came out from the bedroom, one of them shot him in the chest.

The killers fled, leaving behind several masks and – bizarrely – a large bag of candy and chocolates, and for months the police had no luck tracking them down.

In February the next year, two 15-year-old boys (15 years old!) confessed to the crime when they were caught after beating, robbing and kidnapping a 20-year-old man named Chan Wing Wong from Lincoln Heights. They had driven Wong out to San Bernadino, telling him they were going to bury his body in Cajon Pass, but luckily, he escaped and – though shot by the terrible duo – rang into the night, and finally managed to raise the alarm

I saved the juiciest story for last!

This happened on Halloween night 1957, and was another “trick or treat” murder. In this case, 35-year-old beauty shop owner Peter Fabiano answered the door of his Sun Valley home to two people dressed in Halloween costume and was shot once, dying later in hospital.

Again police struggled to find the gunman, only it turned out it was a gunwoman!

In March the next year, 43-year-old medical clerk Goldyne Pizer (who looks so happy in this photo), and 40-year-old photographer Joan Rabel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. 

Goldyne – dressed in a white sheet as a ghost – was the one who pulled the trigger, firing from inside her handbag, and she told the jury that Rabel had spent nearly three months persuading her to hate Fabiano. They had taken joint trips to his beauty salon to have their hair done, and so that Goldyne knew exactly what he looked like, and it seemed that Goldyne was the easily-manipulated patsy in this diabolical and deadly scheme.

The motive? Rabel was once a good friend of Fabiano’s wife Betty, but was none too pleased Betty had let her husband back into her life after a temporary separation.

Perhaps this was her misguided way to try and “free” Betty from what she saw as a bad marriage, or maybe there was more to it than that… either way, Pizer and Rabel were both sentenced to 5 years to life.

And on that note, have a Happy Halloween!