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William Richard BRADFORD

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Photographer
Number of victims: 2 +
Date of murders: July-August 1984
Date of birth: 1946
Victims profile: Shari Miller, 21 (barmaid) / Tracey Campbell, 15 (neighbor)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Los Angeles County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in 1988. Died in prison on March 13, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

 
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William Richard "Bill" Bradford (1948–2008) was an American murderer who was incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison for the 1984 murders of his 15-year-old neighbor Tracey Campbell and barmaid Shari Miller.

In July 2006, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department released a compilation of photos found in Bradford's apartment in the 1980s, depicting 54 different women in modelling poses. As Bradford had used the promise of a modelling career to lure his victims, and taken pictures of Miller before murdering her, police believe that Bradford was in fact a serial killer and that the photos depict Bradford's other victims in the moments before their deaths. Bradford died at the Vacaville prison medical facility on March 10, 2008, of cancer.

Crimes

In July 1984, while out on bail and awaiting trial for rape, Bradford met Shari Miller, a barmaid at a Los Angeles establishment called "The Meet Market". Bradford told her that he was a professional photographer and offered to help her build a modelling portfolio. He took her to a remote campsite in the deserts north of Los Angeles (which was the site of the alleged rape for which Bradford was awaiting trial), photographed her in a variety of modelling poses, and then strangled her. After killing her, Bradford sliced off her tattoos and removed her blouse; he then transported her body to a Hollywood parking lot, where he dumped the corpse in an adjoining alley. When the body was found, there was no identification on it, leading Miller to be labeled "Jane Doe #60".

Shortly thereafter, Bradford convinced his 15-year-old neighbor Tracey Campbell that she could be a model and took her out to the desert campsite, where he likewise photographed and strangled her. Bradford left the body there, covering the face with Shari Miller's blouse.

Arrest

Bradford came under suspicion when investigators learned that he had been the last person to see Tracey Campbell alive. This, coupled with his pending rape trial, compelled police to obtain a search warrant for Bradford's apartment; inside, they found the photos of Miller and Campbell, along with an assortment of 54 other photos of unidentified women. Police recognized the photos of Miller as "Jane Doe #60" and arrested Bradford on suspicion of murder; using a rock formation visible in one of the photos of Miller, police were able to locate the camp site in the desert where the murders had occurred. Upon searching the site, police found Campbell's decomposed body behind the rock formation. Shortly thereafter, Bradford pleaded no contest to the rape charge he was awaiting trial for and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Trial and conviction

Bradford was put on trial in 1988, during which he fired his lawyer, opting to act as his own counsel. During the phase of the trial in which Bradford acted as his own attorney, he offered no evidence or arguments as to his innocence. The prosecution identified Bradford as a serial killer during the course of the trial, but offered no information on murders aside from those of Miller and Campbell. In his closing statement, Bradford implied that he had murdered several other women in addition to Campbell and Miller: "Think of how many you don't even know about. You are so right. That's it."

The jury found Bradford guilty of both murders and sentenced him to death.

Time on death row

In 1998, Bradford dropped all of his appeals, claiming that life in San Quentin had become unbearable. Having had no legal representation for the past 10 years, Bradford hired a lawyer to help speed the process of his execution, and began writing poems about life in San Quentin. His poetry attracted attention from the press, who dubbed him "Death Row Poet".

Five days before his scheduled execution, Bradford said that he had changed his mind, professing his innocence and declaring that he wanted the execution process to be halted.

2006 events

In 2006, Los Angeles police suddenly voiced new interest in the Bradford case, releasing a data sheet depicting headshots taken from the photos in Bradford's apartment. Detectives claimed that they believed the women could all be Bradford's victims; since the photos release, at least one woman, "#28", has been identified, as Donnalee Campbell Duhamel, a woman whose decapitated corpse was found in a canyon in Malibu in 1978. It has been determined that Duhamel met Bradford in a Culver City bar, "The Frigate", a few days before her body was found.

Investigators have also revealed that several of the women have since been identified as Bradford's ex-wives, though no indication has been given that they are dead, or that Bradford is suspected of murdering them.

Another identified photograph is that of the sister of CSI: Miami actress Eva LaRue. She is number three in the picture. The CSI: Miami' episode "Darkroom" is based on this case. They both talked with the Sheriff's Department and were able to give additional information.

The "vast majority" of the women in the photos remain unidentified, and are all viewed as possible rape and/or murder victims. Police are encouraging that the photos be distributed nationwide, as Bradford spent time in Michigan, Florida, Texas, Oregon, Illinois, Kansas and Louisiana, and faced criminal charges in several of those states. In 1978 he faced criminal charges for sexually assaulting his wife in Michigan, and in 1980 was accused of sexual assault in Valparaiso, Florida.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Murderer on Death Row dies of natural causes

Associated Press

Friday, March 14, 2008

Los Angeles -- Condemned killer William Bradford, a double murderer who implied to his jury he had other victims, has died of natural causes while awaiting execution in a California prison. He was 61.

Bradford died Monday of natural causes at a prison medical facility in Vacaville, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement Wednesday. It did not elaborate on the cause of death.

Bradford was sentenced to death in 1988 for the murders four years earlier of Shari Miller, 21, who he met in a bar, and Tracey Campbell, 15, a neighbor.

He was an amateur photographer who lured the young women by promising them jobs as models.

Miller's body was found in a West Los Angeles parking lot in July 1984, and Tracey's body was found the next month at a campsite in a high desert area north of Los Angeles.

In the penalty phase of his trial, Bradford agreed with prosecutors that he should be executed, saying, "Think of how many you don't even know about."

In 2006, Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators reopened Bradford's file and made public dozens of pictures of women and girls photographed decades earlier by Bradford. The pictures had been languishing in an evidence room since being seized from his home in 1984 when he was arrested in the two murders.

Sheriff's investigators were able to identify many of the women in the pictures. Authorities suspect at least one of those identified was a homicide victim linked to Bradford, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Wednesday.

The investigation into Bradford's possible involvement in other disappearances will continue, Whitmore said.

Bradford had been on Death Row since May 1988.

 
 

Killer’s death hampers investigation of other possible murders

Los Angeles Times

March 14, 2008

For two years, Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide investigators have worked to identify 47 women whose pictures were taken three decades ago by a Westside photographer later convicted of killing two models.

It has been a search that crossed the country and, at its height, consumed half the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. Officials eventually eliminated all but 14 women as potential victims. Of those there are half a dozen who they believe most strongly may have been murdered, including four whose bodies were found in remote canyon areas.

Detectives always believed that the man who held the key to the case was the photographer himself. William Bradford was convicted in 1987 of murdering two of his models and was suspected in other cases of women who vanished.

On San Quentin State Prison’s death row, Bradford finally agreed to sit down with detectives over two days several months ago and conceded knowing some of the half-dozen women. But he refused to provide detailed answers to key questions. He also denied killing them.

Now the case has again gone cold, because Bradford died of cancer last week at age 61 at the state prison medical facility in Vacaville.

Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Nelson said his detectives were hoping for another interview, convinced that Bradford was not telling all he knew and that he might want a final chance to clear his conscience.

The opportunity slipped away as his health deteriorated faster than anticipated.

The reaction is one of frustration,” Nelson said. “We really wanted to have a definite resolution to these six victims, and we may never reach that.”

Retired Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Peavy recalled that one of his detectives visited the parents of a potential victim in Florida. The mother had left the front porch light on every night for 20 years, hoping her daughter would return.

Some of these families are never going to let go of their hope that their daughter is alive,” he said.

Bradford was a photographer from the mid-1960s to the mid-’80s and frequented popular Westside bars, where he offered to take photos of female models and actresses.

Police found hundreds of those images when they arrested him in the early ’80s in the deaths of two Westside-area models.

Shari Miller, a 21-year-old barmaid, had Bradford snap her photos for her portfolio. After gaining her trust, he drove her to the Mojave Desert for a photo shoot and strangled her.

Days later, on July 12, 1984, Tracey Campbell disappeared. Authorities alleged that Bradford killed the 15-year-old in the same vicinity after another fashion shoot.

He was convicted in the murders, and in the penalty phase of his trial, Bradford asked the jury to sentence him to death, saying, “Think of how many you don’t even know about.”

The case might have ended there had it not been for cold-case homicide detectives who were looking at Bradford in connection with another case and stumbled across his photos in the case file.

Bradford’s comments at sentencing lent credence to the theory that the two slayings were “the tip of the iceberg,” Peavy said. So investigators took the rare step of releasing the images of the 47 women publicly.

In two weeks, sheriff’s officials fielded more than 2,000 calls from as far away as England. Most of the women, or their families, confirmed that they were alive. The women contacted were shaken by their encounters with a possible serial killer.

Investigators received 700 clues and eventually identified all but 14 of the missing women.

It was unclear, however, whether some of those who remained on the list were victims or just didn’t want to come forward.

But detectives have linked at least four of the women to bodies found dumped in various parts of northern Los Angeles County. Authorities still have not identified them. But they said the manner in which the bodies were dumped is similar to the method used in the murders Bradford was convicted of.

In addition, he continues to be a suspect in the killings of other women in the Los Angeles area. Patricia Dulong, 34, was found dead in Santa Monicain September 1975; Donnalee Duhamel, 31, was killed in August 1978, her body found on Old Topanga Road in Malibu.

Peavy said that although it was disappointing that Bradford took many answers to the grave, sheriff’s investigators achieved part of what they set out to do: help some of the families find out what happened to their daughters.

In my heart, the guy was already dead,” Peavy said of Bradford. “He wasn’t going anywhere, and he wasn’t going to hurt anyone.”

 
 

Attorney: Inmate Offers To Help Identify Missing Women

KNBC.com

July 28, 2006

Through his attorney Friday, death row inmate William Richard Bradford offered to help investigators trying to locate 50 girls and women they say he photographed decades ago -- including three they believe were murdered.

"He told me if law enforcement wants to come to San Quentin ... he would be happy to look at those photos," said his lawyer, Darlene Ricker, who got a phone call from her client.

"At this time we're not interested because all he's going to (provide are) self-serving statements, trying to get himself out of it ... muddy the water while we're coming up with evidence," Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide Sgt. Alfred Castro said Friday.

Earlier, Bradford dismissed efforts to implicate him in the possible deaths or disappearances of the women in the photos as "a waste of taxpayers' money."

Castro said investigators have no intention of talking to him while they try to build a potential serial-killing case against him.

"He's going to die anyway," Castro added. "So why not confess?"

Bradford was convicted in 1987 of first-degree murder in the stranglings of Shari Miller, 21, who he met in a bar, and Tracey Campbell, 15, a neighbor. He has denied committing any murders and is appealing his conviction and death sentence.

On Tuesday, investigators went public with 54 photographs that were seized from Bradford's home in 1984 and stored as evidence until a cold-case detective unearthed them. NBC4's Patrick Healy said 34 women had been tentatively identified, including two homicide victims and one young woman who ran away from her Iowa home and was never seen again.

Since then, investigators have received more than 2,000 telephone calls and e-mails from as far away as Germany, and with their help have tentatively identified 34 of the 50 women portrayed, Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide Capt. Ray Peavy said Friday.

Three of the women could be victims of unsolved murders, Peavy said. One may be a 41-year-old mother whose headless body was found in a remote county area around 1980, and another may be a 14-year-old girl who vanished and was found in a "desolate" area in 1979. Both apparently were raped and strangled, Peavy said.

A third photograph appears to be that of a 14-year-old girl who vanished in 1975 after running away from her home in the Midwest and telling friends she was going to California. Peavy declined to provide other details but news reports say she may have been from Iowa.

"Family (members) of this young lady contacted us and said 'this one picture looks a lot like our daughter,"' Peavy said. "It's very, very close. We believe it's likely going to turn out to be her."

Authorities said Bradford, now 60, posed as a freelance photographer and took pictures of women he met at bars and elsewhere, luring them with promises to help their modeling careers.

Bradford has denied killing anyone. Even though he was a freelance photographer and the pictures were seized while in his possession, he may not have taken them, his attorney contended.

They could have been stock photos, she said.

"He hasn't seen these photos, because you see they've been locked up in evidence for 20 years," she said.

However, a relative of the 15-year-old he was convicted of strangling said Friday that he recalled seeing some of them.

"He showed me all of them," said Todd Heidrick, 41, the cousin of the 15-year-old girl who Bradford was convicted of strangling.

In a telephone interview from his home in Missoula, Mont., Heidrick said he was a 19-year-old living with Tracey Campbell and other relatives in a Los Angeles apartment next to Bradford's and, as an aspiring model, even had Bradford photograph him.

During a night of drinking, Bradford drove him around town and pointed out locations where he said he had photographed women, Heidrick said.

Heidrick said he was at work the next day when Bradford apparently went to the apartment, looking for him. Tracey was home alone and when he and other family members returned, she was gone.

Tracey took care of the household work but the beds were unmade.

"Her purse was there and her cigarettes were there," Heidrick recalled.

He and Tracey's brother combed the neighborhood for her. They also stopped at Bradford's unit, which he shared with an older woman and her son.

It was closed but the woman had left a note on the door that said "the girl next door is missing and I hope to God you had nothing to do with it," Heidrick recalled.

Bradford's ex-wife described Bradford as threatening and abusive.

"It was a marriage of pure hell," Cindy Horton told KNBC-TV on Thursday.

Horton was 18 when she married him in 1977 and they had a son before the 7-month-old marriage dissolved. She is one of the women in the photographs.

"He used to tell me about hurting people and that he was killing people," Horton said. "Nobody would believe me. They just said I was distraught."

Horton, originally from Michigan but now living in Florida, told The Grand Rapids Press in Michigan on Wednesday that Bradford hit and tortured her and that she still is frightened of him.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't look in my rearview mirror in my car or my bathroom mirror and expect to see him there to kill me," said Horton, 48. "Bill Bradford follows through on everything he says, and he'll find a way to get me."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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