Trick or Treat murder

Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times

The “Trick-or-Treat Murder” house, 13236 Community St., Oct. 27, 2007.

Oct. 31, 1957
Los Angeles

They had planned the murder for months as the vague wish turned into a solid, horrible truth. They played out each variation in the script again and again until every detail was polished and perfect. They thought of everything. One was the brains behind the killing and the other was the willing, gullible stooge. Neither could have done it
alone, but the odd chemistry formed a murderous bond between the two women.

The first step took more than a month as Joan laid the groundwork for the killing, continually telling Goldyne that the victim deserved to die. “She painted him as a vile, evil man who wanted to destroy all people around him,” Goldyne said. “Although I had never seen him, I built up an intense hatred for him.”

Next, they had to choose a method. They decided they couldn’t use poison or a knife. They needed a gun.

With a male friend, Goldyne went to a Pasadena gun shop to select a .38 Smith & Wesson “for home protection.” Three days later, Joan took
her to the store and gave her the money to buy the revolver and two bullets.

Now they sat outside the house on Community Street in the car Joan had borrowed from a friend, carefully rehearsing the final details as they
waited for the victim to turn out the lights. Goldyne was wearing the costume Joan had selected for her: Bluejeans, a khaki jacket, red gloves and makeup. She had the gun in a paper bag as if she
was trick-or-treating.

About 11:30 p.m., the bedroom lights went out. With Joan’s help, Goldyne put on the Halloween mask, then she walked to the door and rang the bell.

The man who had been turned into a symbol of evil answered the door. It took both hands, but Goldyne raised the gun, which was still in the bag, and pulled the trigger, shooting him in the chest. He died soon after.

She ran to the car and Joan drove back to return it to her friend, Margaret. They left the jacket in the car, but burned the rest of the costume. Joan’s parting words were: “Forget you ever knew me.”

Goldyne kept the revolver, so she checked it in a pay locker at a downtown department store.

The perfect plan unraveled in less than two weeks as detectives arrested Joan Rabel, 40, 7463 Willoughby Ave.,  in the “Trick-or-Treat Murder” of hairdresser Peter Fabiano, 35, who operated two salons in the San Fernando Valley.

Questioning of Fabiano’s wife, Betty, 36, revealed that they had recently reconciled after separating over her relationship with Joan, a former salon employee who worked as a freelance photographer.

Joan was released after being questioned, then arrested when detectives traced the murder weapon to hospital clerk Goldyne Pizer, 42, 1323 N. Vista St.,* and found the revolver in the pay locker.  Further
investigation showed that Joan had brought Goldyne to one of the salons several times so that she would recognize Peter Fabiano.

The Times, alas, is oddly silent about the friendship of Betty Fabiano and Joan Rabel, showing an unfortunate lack of curiosity about their relationship.

Recall that only 10 years earlier in coverage of the Black Dahlia investigation, lesbians were depicted as murderous degenerates, although the Los Angeles papers would never dare use the L-word in print, preferring tortured, oblique references that the women were “abnormal.” For that matter, the relationship between Joan and Goldyne is superficially dismissed as a “Svengali-like influence.”

Was this a love triangle? It’s simply unclear. All the women involved in this story were divorcees and Betty Fabiano had two children from a previous marriage. Perhaps one of the other local papers will have more information. Stay tuned.

Joan and Goldyne were convicted in 1958 of second-degree murder and sentenced to five years to life in prison. Goldyne was released from prison and by 1971 was an officer in the Miracle Mile chapter of the
Professional Women’s Club. According to California death records, she died in Los Angeles County in 1998 at the age of 83.

I can find no further trace of Joan Rabel.

[Note: You may read elsewhere on the Internet that the women spent the rest of their lives in prison. Caveat emptor].

A woman named Betty Fabiano died in Riverside County in 1999 at the age of 81.

In addition to his wife, Peter Robert Fabiano, 35, was survived by his father, Paul; two sisters; three brothers; and two stepchildren by his wife’s previous marriage: Judy and Richard.

Email me

*The Times erred in saying that this address is in North Hollywood.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in #gays and lesbians, Homicide, LAPD, San Fernando Valley and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Trick or Treat murder

  1. Joe says:

    This is like something out of a David Lynch movie. The missing information is more important than what we know, i.e. the nature of the relationships between all these people. But maybe it’s better left a mystery, open to endless speculation.


  2. The Ghost of Peter Fabiano says:

    Goldyne Pizer, 42, 1323 N. Vista St.,*
    *I cannot locate this address, which was supposedly in North Hollywood, and suspect it was a mistake.
    Zip 90046 (in LA proper, not North Hollywood) Go to and you’ll see Pizer lived just up the street from Joan Rabel. 7463 Willoughby is on the corner of N. Vista.
    –As I said, it appeared to be a mistake.
    –Thanks AT&T user and keep checking back!


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