1980 was a bloody year in Los Angeles, with more than 1,000 killings for the first time in its history.
For the LAPD, homicides increased 30% from 1979 to 1,038 in 1980. The Sheriff’s Department also a reported a 7.9% increase to 424 homicides, according to a 1981 story in The Times, although the Sheriff’s Department now reports the 1980 homicide figure as 372.
In November 1980, Sheriff Peter Pitchess said the homicide rate for all of Los Angeles County was 1,557 for 1979, and noted grimly: “This year we are past the 1,500 mark already, the way we are going we’re going to be around 2,500. Pretty close. Some place above 2,000.”
But Los Angeles was not alone. Even its sedate neighbor, Orange County, experienced a 19.1% increase, from 93 to 122, according to The Times.
The Slaughter at Bob’s Big Boy occurred on the violent weekend of Dec. 12-14, 1980. But the 32 homicides failed to set a record. The LAPD had recorded 34 homicides on three previous weekends in 1980 (Aug. 1-3, Aug. 29-31 and Oct. 10-12) and from Dec. 28-30, 1979, recorded 36 homicides.
Amid the rising fear of deadly violence, Los Angeles was wondering why.
“Some attribute the rising homicide rate to what they believe are lenient judges, lenient legislators and a public acceptance of ‘doing your own thing.’ Others attribute it to poverty, child abuse, insanity and drugs,” The Times said in a January 1981 analysis.
It’s beyond the scope of the L.A. Daily Mirror to examine even a fraction of the more than 1,038 killings that occurred in the city of Los Angeles in 1980. It’s impossible to even examine in any depth all 32 homicides that occurred on the violent weekend of Dec. 12-14, 1980.
So we will look at one case: The Slaughter at Bob’s Big Boy.
To be continued.