On Nov. 29,
1988, Nathan Trupp walked into a Northeast Heights bagel shop and
fatally shot two men and a woman. He later eluded police and killed two
security guards in Southern California. He was found by a California
court to be psychotic.
While "Highway to Heaven" was in final
production in December 1988, Michael Landon had a close encounter with
death. A man named Nathan Trupp, a mental patient wanted in connection
with several murders in New Mexico, shot and killed two security guards
at Universal Studios, before being felled by a sea of police bullets.
He had claimed to be on a "mission from
God" and, as he toured the sprawling 420-acre studio lot on his general
admission ticket, had asked several employees where he could find
Unable to locate Michael, Trupp walked
off the tour tram and went to the guardhouse at the entrance to the
compound, where he demanded to use a studio phone to speak to Landon.
When the guards refused, the forty-two-year-old man walked away, only to
return a moment later. He pulled a gun and shot both men through the
head, killing one of them instantly. The other died a short while later
at the hospital.
Mentally Ill Man Admits 2 Killings
Nathan Trupp, who shot the Universal
Studios guards in 1988, is sentenced to a mental hospital
By Michael Connelly
- Los Angeles Times
May 26, 1990
As members of his victims' families wept, a longtime
mental patient admitted in court Friday that he killed two Universal
Studios guards while stalking actor Michael Landon. The man was then
found not guilty by reason of insanity as part of a plea bargain that
prosecutors say will likely keep him confined for life.
Nathan Nicholas Trupp, 43, was committed to a state
hospital for the mentally disabled for the Dec. 1, 1988, slayings of
Armando Torres, 18, of Los Angeles, and Jeren Beeks, 27, of La Crescenta.
The unarmed security guards were shot to death at Universal's main gate,
moments after Trupp had been turned away after asking to see Landon, who
he believed to be a Nazi
Under terms of the agreement, Trupp pleaded guilty to
two counts of murder in Los Angeles Superior Court because prosecutors
wanted him to admit that he killed the two guards. But Judge Clarence A.
Stromwall, at the request of prosecutors, accepted Trupp's original plea
of not guilty by reason of insanity and committed him to an unspecified
state mental hospital.
Trupp, who also is accused of killing three people in
an Albuquerque, N.M., bagel shop two days before the slayings at
Universal Studios, sat attentively in the courtroom, answering "guilty"
twice when asked by Deputy Dist. Atty. Sterling E. Norris how he pleaded
to the murder charges.
Norris said after the hearing he was satisfied with
the agreement and added that it was unlikely Trupp would ever be
released from custody. The plea bargain was necessary, Norris said,
because convicting Trupp of the two murders would be unlikely. He has a
long history of mental illness, and court-appointed psychiatrists who
examined him after the shootings concluded he was insane.
"In practical terms, we think he will never be
released," Norris said. "It is the result we had to accept. We had three
top psychiatrists who found he was insane."
Several friends and members of the families of the
two victims attended the hearing. Some burst into tears when the names
of the two victims were announced during the reading of the charges.
Afterward, the families said they were basically pleased with the plea
agreement--as long as Trupp remains in custody.
"I just hope they keep their side of the bargain and
keep him in there for life," said Jaime Torres, Armando Torres' older
brother. He said that whether Trupp was in a prison or a mental hospital
did not matter, "as long as he is not allowed to hurt anyone else."