If you really loved me, p.1

If You Really Loved Me, page 1


If You Really Loved Me

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If You Really Loved Me


  (Kirkus Reviews) AND HER



  "[Rule] conveys the emotional truth of the Green River case."

  —Los Angeles Times

  "Rule infuses her case study with a personally felt sense of urgency . . . she sketches the uniformly short, sad lives of the victims with poignancy. But her most riveting portrait is of Ridgway [the killer]...."


  "Perhaps Rule's finest work to date ... holds the reader in a firm grip."

  —Statesman Journal

  "Rule gives full, heartbreaking emotional weight to what America's most notorious serial killer truly wrought. A must for the author's legions of fans."



  "A convincing portrait of a meticulous criminal mind."

  —The Washington Post

  "Rule knows a good drama when she finds one. ... A real-life soap opera. ... [It will] keep readers turning pages."

  —Publishers Weekly

  "Fascinating and strange. . . . The sheer weight of [Ann Rule's] investigative technique places her at the forefront of true-crime writers."



  "Affecting, tense, and smart true-crime. ... A case study of the classic American con man crossed with the more exotic strains of the sociopath."

  —Washington Post Book World

  "Ann Rule has outdone herself."

  —The Orlando Sentinel (FL)

  "Absolutely riveting. . . . Rule excels at painting psychologically perceptive portraits."



  "Truly creepy. . . . This portrait of an evil prince needs no embellishment."


  "[Rule] might have created her masterpiece."

  —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

  "Even crime buffs who followed the case closely [will] gain new insights."

  —The Orlando Sentinel (FL)

  "[Rule] tell[s] the sad story with authority, flair, and pace."

  —The Washington Post


  "A must-read story of the '90s American dream turned, tragically, to self-absorbed ashes."


  "Impossible to put down. ... A tour de force."

  —Kirkus Reviews


  And Other True Cases

  Ann Rule's Crime Files: Vol. 9

  "A haunting collection . . . about love and obsession turned deadly. ... As compelling as a good novel."

  —Publishers Weekly


  And Other True Cases

  Ann Rule's Crime Files: Vol. 8

  "Spine-tingling. . . . Rule's portrait of Dr. Anthony Pignataro, a diabolical cosmetic surgeon, could win a place in any insomniac's heart."



  And Other True Cases

  Ann Rule's Crime Files: Vol. 7

  "Fascinating, unsettling tales. . . . Among the very small group of top-notch true-crime writers, Rule just may be the best of the bunch."



  And Other True Cases

  Ann Rule's Crime Files: Vol. 6

  "Gripping tales. . . . Fans of true crime know they can rely on Ann Rule to deliver the dead-level best."

  —The Hartford Courant (CT)





  Copyright © 2014, 1991, by Ann Rule

  All rights reserved.

  Printed in the United States of America

  This edition published in 2013 by:

  Planet Ann Rule, LLC


  Seattle, WA

  MOBI ISBN 978-1-940018-49-2

  Cover Art by Leslie Rule

  All rights reserved.

  First Printing: 1992 Pocket Books

  This book is dedicated to the memory of

  J. D. Newell and C. R. Stackhouse,

  the best of fathers—who gave their love

  with no strings attached.













  Afterword 2002


  If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

  If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

  If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be sharp.

  If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

  If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

  If a child lives with encouragement,

  he learns to be confident.

  If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

  If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

  If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

  If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

  If he lives with acceptance and friendship,

  he learns to find love and warmth.

  —Dorothy Law Molte,







  The phoenix is a mythic bird of surpassing beauty, large as an eagle, that soars triumphant, reborn, from the ashes of defeat and destruction. It can neither be diminished nor destroyed. With its plumes of brilliant scarlet and glowing gold, it represents new life in numerous cultures. Ancient tombs unearthed in Egypt have images of the phoenix rising from a bed of flames. A phoenixlike creature appears throughout Oriental mythology, and it is found in the coat of arms of King James, Queen Elizabeth I, and Mary, Queen of Scots.

  The rebirth of the phoenix symbolizes the resurrection of man. Down through the ages, it has also come to represent divine power, royalty, and survival against all odds. Over and over and over again, the magnificent bird bests its enemies and takes flight, whole again, from the embers of ruin.

  And yet the phoenix is only a dream, a myth, born of the imagination and of wishful thinking. It lives somewhere with the unicorn, the centaur, Pegasus, and all the mythic creatures of the mind. Even so, there are some for whom the image of the phoenix is an invisible cloak of armor, an escape hatch, a sure promise that no matter what sin a man may commit, he will always survive to fly free of his tormentors.

  It was so for David Arnold Brown. . . .





  Long before Walt Disney saw his dream blossom into Disneyland, Orange County, California, was a spot much sought after. Independent, perhaps even a bit feisty, Orange County seceded from Los Angeles County a century ago. The area known as the Santa Ana Valley became a whole new county, eventually the third most populated in California. Orange groves thrived, vineyards proliferated, and the new county beckoned to those who would come west to begin a new life. But a prickly distrust lingered between Los Angeles and Orange counties. Los Angeles County is bigger, glitzier, smoggier, and its meaner streets are statistically more dangerous. The stargazers and the starlets, the baby moguls and the legends, live there, clawing for fame and fortune, at least according to those south of the "Orange Curtain." Conversely, Orange County residents
are deemed priggish, plastic, conservative—even "nerdy" by some of the more urbane Los Angelenos. Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda in northeast Orange County, and some of the L.A. contingent contend that says it all.

  In reality, Orange County is wealthy and high tech, predominantly Republican, with a population so young and upwardly mobile that many who live there cannot possibly envision what it must have been like when citrus groves and vineyards spread out endlessly. The boom hit after 1950. Anaheim, now home to Disneyland, huge convention centers, and the California Angels, had fewer than fifteen thousand residents forty years ago; today, there are a quarter million. In the last twenty years, Orange County's overall population has mushroomed to 2,280,400. There is precious little true "country" left. City lines simply merge. The same streets run through Anaheim and Santa Ana, through Huntington Beach and Irvine. Only the changing colors of street markers indicate city borders.

  Orange County is rife with diverse lifestyles existing side by side. The poor live among and between the rich. In a matter of blocks, neighborhoods change. Three-room houses give way to lovely homes with flourishing gardens and then to walled estates. Santa Ana, the county seat, was once sedate and graciously upper-middle class. Now, it is a melting pot.

  Young Hispanic parents walk along Santa Ana's streets, carrying their proudest possessions—beautiful babies and children, oddly bundled against the heat. Cinco de Mayo is a major holiday, albeit a noisy one, in Orange County.

  The old Orange County Courthouse, its red-rock exterior burnished by sunlight, exists only as a museum, dwarfed and outdated by the near-skyscrapers in the Civic Center Plaza. Lovely old homes along Broadway house attorneys' offices, and one—a bank. The grounds of the Orange County Civic Center Plaza draw the movers and the shakers, the attorneys and politicians, but the plaza is also a dwelling place for the homeless, young druggies, middle-aged dropouts, and the elderly poor, all attracted to Orange County by the moderate climate or simply for their own ethereal reasons. Their shopping carts, overflowing with possessions, are parked in militarylike lines in the shade of the courthouse—Building 30.

  Drive-by shootings occur almost daily in Santa Ana, and exquisite small parks reverberate with curses and fights far into the night. Police wryly call convenience stores "stop and robs". But other Santa Ana parks are safe and serene, and state-of-the-art shopping malls rival any in America.

  Life can be good in Orange County; the median household income is close to $50,000 a year. The median-priced home sells for close to $250,000. Even the most rudimentary house with two bedrooms and one bathroom will bring $150,000.

  Orange County smells of eucalyptus and dusty olive trees, of orange blossoms, jasmine, wild plum, Mexican food, the Pacific Ocean (when the wind is right), suntan lotion, the sweat of runners, and freeway exhaust. Geraniums and impatiens bloom year-round, along with the fuzzy red pokers of bottlebrush trees. The violet billows of the jacaranda tree last for months. The median strips of every freeway bloom with scarlet, pink, and white oleander bushes, ten feet high. Yellow daylilies crowd the sidewalk near the Orange County Jail, and the entrance to the Coroner's Office is like a garden with feathery ferns, salvia, lobelia, and the majestic stalks of light-blue allium.

  In 1985, 13,031 deaths were recorded by the Orange County Coroner's Office. That office investigated 6,047 of those deaths and determined that 112 were homicides.

  One of those homicides occurred on Ocean Breeze Drive on March 19 in the city of Garden Grove.

  Ocean Breeze Drive is a one-block street, minutes from police headquarters, a charmingly misnamed street where any wafting of sea wind would be highly unlikely short of a major storm; the Pacific Ocean is a dozen miles away. Ocean Breeze is a pretty street, sandwiched between Pleasant Place and Jane Street. There are six houses on either side, all constructed in the sixties on large lots. All have shake roofs and stucco-and-brick exteriors, and some are identical save for color, trim, and landscaping. Each would sell today for a quarter million dollars.

  The yard on the southwest end of the block has pink cabbage-rose bushes behind a curving, white picket fence. Another front lawn features a circular fountain edged with pansies, and colored lights play over it at night. Lawns are always mowed, but trees and bushes have grown tall in the last twenty-five years, and the houses on Ocean Breeze are shaded from the sun and reassuringly private. The residents are mostly professional people, middle-aged. Family people.

  A weeknight in March in such a neighborhood was usually a quiet time for police, especially as the hours crept toward morning. Garden Grove patrol officer Darrow Halligan was nearing the end of his "evening's" watch at 3:26 A.M. on March 19, 1985. After a heavy daytime rain, the weather was cold and clear, somewhere near forty to forty-five degrees, and Halligan kept his heater going. Winding down from his eight-hour shift, he was driving near Brookhurst and Lampson Avenue when he heard the radio call directing him to a "possible 187" (homicide) at 12551 Ocean Breeze Drive.

  He knew the street well. The north end abutted Lampson; he was only a few blocks away.

  The street had no streetlights, and it was very dark as he inched along, shining his spotlight on the houses to find "12551." Bushes grew so high around many of the homes that Halligan couldn't even see the numbers. The house numbers had been painted on the coved curbing, but not recently and the ciphers were pretty well worn off. Finally, he made out the "12551" on a green stucco and brick bungalow on the west side of the street.

  It was so quiet, so unlike the usual homicide call. No shouting or screaming, and nobody out in the street to wave him in. Odd. Quiet enough to make the muscles tighten in the back of Halligan's neck. Maybe it was only a prank call, but "possible 187" was not a call any California cop wants to hear, especially at three-thirty in the morning with no backup in sight. Halligan had arrived so rapidly that he knew that the suspect, if any, might very well still be nearby.

  His radio crackled with the information that the victim was inside the house with a gunshot wound, but that the dispatcher had no further information, and no description at all of a suspect.

  "The suspect is not in the residence," the Garden Grove Communications Center updated. "I have the informant on the phone with me now."

  "Well, have the informant meet me at the front of the house, would you?" Halligan responded, with some relief.

  The porch light was out, but he could see lights on in the front window. A man, short and heavyset, opened the door. He stood, silhouetted, in the backlighting from the living room.

  Halligan stepped in—alone—to a situation about which he had precious little information. The man was clearly tense and distraught, his face streaked with tears. Nearby, a young blond woman held a crying baby in her arms and sobbed hysterically.

  "I think my wife's been shot," the man said, stuttering with emotion. "She's in the bedroom. I'm afraid to go look, Officer. Would you?"

  He hadn't looked? Maybe that did mean a false alarm. Halligan asked where the bedroom was and the stocky man pointed toward the southwest corner of the house.

  The young woman sobbed even louder, and the man seemed frightened. His voice trembled when he asked Halligan to check on his wife. Halligan had no time to ask him why he believed she'd been shot when he hadn't seen her. But whatever his reasons, the guy was getting more and more agitated.

  "Sit there on that couch, both of you," Halligan instructed. "I'll check the bedroom."

  He moved in the direction the man was pointing and found himself in a den or office. He switched on his flashlight as he moved deeper into the house. The hall beyond the den was very dark. He moved the beam of his flashlight along the corridor until he spotted a half-closed door to the left of the den.

  As he nudged the door open with his shoulder, he heard some sound, a gasp—no, a gurgle. He knew better than to touch a light switch and contaminate any fingerprint left there. He could make out a bed opposite the door. His flashlight swept over a figure lying there, feet toward the door.
br />   Halligan moved swiftly toward the person on the bed, the cone of light fixing on a female with longish light hair. He could see a massive amount of still-wet blood on her chest. She lay on her back with her right arm trailing off the side of the bed and her left hand raised to her ear.

  She could not be dead. He rejected that because he could still hear the choking gurgle in her throat as she struggled to draw in air. Halligan put his fingertips to the carotid artery where it ran up the side of her neck. He felt nothing. No reassuring pulse where there should have been a steady beat.

  He leaned toward the young woman, who lay on flowered sheets, placing his left ear next to her nose. He felt no breath. He looked to see if her breasts rose and fell with any intake of air.

  They did not.

  Blood stained the woman's lips and chin, blood that had almost certainly come up from her lungs, Halligan saw that the blue blanket covering her from the waist down was smooth and flat; there could have been no struggle, It was quite possible that she had not even wakened to see a gun pointed inches away from her breasts,

  Almost simultaneously other Garden Grove police officers and paramedics began to arrive at the green bungalow. If there was a chance that the victim still lived, they had to act. Conversation with the couple who huddled on the couch in the living room would have to wait. Who they were or their relationship to the victim would come later. The man had said that the injured woman was his wife. He looked much older than she, but then he was under tremendous stress. Grief and fear change people.

  Officer Scott Davis, Patrol Sgt. Dale Farley, who would take over control of the crime scene, and Halligan stood near the bed, helpless. Patrol Officers Alan Day and trainee Andy Jauch joined them as they watched the victim for some sign of life. The woman was so desperately injured that no one short of paramedics could treat her.

  The police had to have a picture of the woman on the bed; it might be the only tangible proof they had later of how she had been found. It might appear uncaring, but it was not. Day had brought a Polaroid camera in with him, and although the memory of that moment haunts Sergeant Farley today, he handed it to Halligan and said, "The light's not good, but get as many exposures as you can before she's moved."

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