LAPD: Parker Center Cop Shop Files

March 28, 1977, William Harber, Constance Thorn

June 23, 1976: William C. Harber and Constance Thorn are found beaten to death in an apartment at 3416 Manning Ave. The case has never been solved.


Several weeks ago, I was given a box of material that was cleaned out of the old press room at the LAPD’s Parker Center headquarters, sometimes called “the cop shop.” The box was a jumble of press releases, photographs, artists’ sketches and other items dating from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. I am organizing and cataloging the material and I’ll be posting selected items on a weekly basis.

March 29, 1977: This is a haunting case and curiously enough, not much was written about it. I only find two articles in The Times.

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3550 Wilshire Blvd. via Google Street View.


William C. Harber, 38, and Constance Thorn 28, worked at 3550 Wilshire Blvd. He worked for IBM and she worked for Bowest Mortgage Corp. She was apparently divorced and they had been dating for several months. He was born in Oklahoma and she was born in Ohio, according to California death records.

They were found beaten and stabbed at 3416 Manning Ave., a large apartment complex, June 23, 1976, but apparently had been dead for several days, according to the flier, which gives the death date as June 21, 1976.

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The Casa Serena apartments in the 3400 block of Manning Avenue, via Google Street View.


1977_0329_william_harber 1977_0329_william_harber

A 1977 Times story says that “Police held Miss Thorn’s ex-husband as suspect but later dropped charges when he presented an alibi.”

A later story quotes Detective Buck Murray: “It appeared to be a hate type of thing.” The mutilated condition of the bodies indicated “an emotional kind of murder.”

What’s especially peculiar in The Times story is this line: “An autopsy showed Harber had died of stab wounds. An autopsy on Miss Thorn was not completed.” Does that mean no autopsy was performed or that one was started but not finished?

 

March 30, 1977, William C. Harber

Oct. 23, 1977, Harber killing

Oct. 23, 1977, Harber Killing

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1976, 1977, Cold Cases, LAPD, Parker Center Cop Shop Files and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to LAPD: Parker Center Cop Shop Files

  1. Santos L. Halper says:

    Fascinating. Occam’s razor: jealousy. I would suspect perhaps a coworker of Ms. Thorn’s. Someone who spent enough time around her to develop an insatiable crush, but also had exposure to her boyfriend in the same building. Always so deflating to read that the police have a suspect but not enough evidence to make the collar.

  2. Eve says:

    Was Dr. Hodel still alive in 1976?

  3. Anthony Sperl (Stanton PD) ret. says:

    I lived in this neighborhood and remember this case. As a retired Police Officer and well known Private Investigator I would concentrate on neighbors, the Ex Husband and Friends. It is strange that “One Suspect” could over power and Kill Two People, hence, there was more than one suspect.

    • lmharnisch says:

      Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Santos L. Halper says:

      One thing I noticed is that June 21, 1976 was a Monday. Most couples I know keep it pretty low-key on a Monday night. Perhaps this was a hot prowl and they were ambushed asleep in bed? I just find it hard to see 2 suspects in what appears to be such a blatant crime of passion. Also did EAR/ONS have any activity in this part of LA County around that time? I believe he was suspected in several nighttime murders of couples in Orange County. Wish there was more information on the crime scene itself, objects used, etc.

  4. Santos L. Halper says:

    Sorry, for some reason it won’t let me reply to your reply… East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker, a serial rapist/murderer whose crimes in, respectively, Sacramento and Southern California were linked via DNA in the past decade. His M.O. was to hot prowl homes with couples asleep in them and then assault and/or murder them. Although he used ligatures and (mainly) firearms and looking back on the case info now, his period of activity was ’79 to ’86 and the portion with murders were largely in Orange County. No LA County cases linked to him, I believe. Although the 405 is a quick shot down the 10 from Manning…

    • lmharnisch says:

      Ah thanks…. The vast majority of material in the Cop Shop Files is from the 1970s, with a bit in the late 1960s and just a little bit in the early 1980s. Mostly the Ed Davis era.

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