Rose Parade Encounter Leads to Killing of Arcadia Woman

Aug. 9, 1963, Comics

Aug. 9, 1963, Buddhist Hunger Strike

Aug. 9, 1963: “In Saigon, 400 miles to the south, police geared for trouble as a young, unidentified monk announced plans to burn himself to death in the continuing Buddhist struggle for what they consider their civil rights and religious liberty,” The Times says.

In the theaters: “55 Days at Peking,” “Cleopatra,” “Flipper,”  “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Thrill of It All!”

Born 5 1/2 weeks premature, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the son of President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, dies at Children’s Medical Center in Boston.

Pershing Square, known as a haven for “off-beat characters” and “undesirables” will undergo a $100,000 “beautification program” in which “most of the square’s interior walkways” will be eliminated.


Rancho Road, Arcadia, Calif.
The 1000 block of Rancho Road in Arcadia via Google’s Street View.


On the afternoon of Jan. 9, 1963, Arcadia liquor store owner Jack Doctors, a former LAPD detective, found his wife, Jean, 37, partially undressed on the kitchen floor of their home at 1049 Rancho Road, Arcadia. She had been stabbed 39 times in the neck, chest and left arm with a hunting knife found in the kitchen, and was “criminally attacked,” The Times said.

Dr. Harold Kade of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Jean “put up a terrific struggle for her life,” noting that both hands were slashed from trying to grab the murder weapon.

Jan. 11, 1963, Robert Lee Nye

Bloody footprints led to and from the body, The Times said, and traces of blood were found in the adjoining garage.

Bloodstained clothing was found on the driver’s seat of Jean’s car and investigators speculated that the killer planned to steal the vehicle but was unable to open the electric garage door.

Arcadia Police Chief Robert E. Sears said a pair of bloody pants had been found next to railroad tracks near the home, and noted that the killer had apparently stolen a change of clothes from the victim’s home.

Attention focused immediately on  Robert Lee Nye, age 20 or 21, a transient who met Jean’s stepdaughter Susan, 16, at the Rose Parade and got Susan’s phone number and address. Nye, who had been convicted of forgery and DUI, visited the Doctorses’ home two days before the killing and met the victim.  He asked to take Susan out for a soda but was “refused permission,” The Times said.

Nye’s fingerprints were found on a coffee cup in the kitchen sink and on an ashtray, police said.

Aug. 9, 1963, Pershing Square

Nye was arrested in Phoenix later that month on charges of beating a companion with a pipe in a disagreement over a movie on television. He told investigators that he stopped at the Doctorses’ home while looking for a job and that the victim asked him to stay and watch the phone while she went out shopping.

While Jean was gone, Nye said, he stole some jewelry, put it in a paper bag and left it in the yard. When she got home from shopping, she went into the bedroom and returned “with a suspicious look on her face” and he left when she opened the door, he said. Nye claimed he came back to pick up the jewelry and sold it for $50.

He hitchhiked to Las Vegas and then went to Phoenix after hearing news reports on the radio that he was a suspect in the killing, he said.

On Aug. 8, 1963, Nye was sentenced to death in the killing. However, the California Supreme Court ordered a new penalty trial because jurors were improperly warned that Nye could be paroled if he was given life in prison.

Aug. 9, 1963, The Great Escape

In 1967, a second jury imposed the death penalty in the killing. Nye was scheduled to die in the gas chamber Nov. 5, 1969, but the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution.

In 1973, while at San Quentin, Nye was stabbed in the arm and stomach, but refused to identify his attacker. Nye was eventually released from prison and in 1989 was charged with threatening people while panhandling at San Jose’s Civic Center.

The Social Security Death Index lists a Robert L. Nye, a San Jose resident, born April 18, 1942, who died Dec. 29, 1992, but it’s unclear whether this is the same man.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1963, Art & Artists, Comics, Crime and Courts, Downtown, Film, Hollywood, Homicide, Religion, Vietnam and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Rose Parade Encounter Leads to Killing of Arcadia Woman

  1. JAMES says:

    So it was improper to tell the jury he might be let out on parole and then they let him out on parole. And he continues his life of crime until he dies. This is why we need the death penalty.

  2. Arye Michael Bender says:

    The ‘beautification’ make-over of Pershing Square consisted of removing the walkways and ALL benches in an attempt to ‘cleanse’ the square of humanity. I arrived in Los Angeles in May of 1963. Being from a metropolitan, people friendly city, Chicago, I immediately visited downtown to see if the Harold Lloyd view I carried in my mind of downtown Los Angeles was valid. In the harshest possible terms, it was not. The jolt I felt communicated that ‘car culture’ was a euphemism for locking the poor out of that California dream.

  3. Sam Flowers says:

    Nye is sentenced to death and gets a new sentencing trial because the jury was not instructed properly on parole possibilities for a life sentence. Pardon me but he was sentenced to death not life, his sentence should have been carried out. Lawyers never cease to maze me, they are kind of like telemarketers with a degree.

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