Lynne Knight Murder – In August 1979, Canadian nurse Lynne Knight’s murder in Torrance, California, sent shockwaves through the community. It took nearly three decades for police to gather enough evidence to identify who committed this act of violence. NBC crime show, ‘Dateline‘ season 23 episode 2, “The Wire” provides an in-depth overview of their investigation with interviews with detectives working on it as well as family and friends of Lynne Knight. If you’re curious about this case or the killer’s identity, this article will provide further details about both incidents.
Lynne Knight Murder Story – Who Killed Her?
D.L. Knight, born January 1st 1951, in Wetaskiwin, Canada, moved to Torrance, California, during the 1970s and lived in a studio apartment attached to someone’s garage on Enza Avenue. At Little Company of Mary hospital, she worked as a nurse caring for preterm babies; Richard Frank described Lynne as outgoing, attractive and a sports enthusiast – traits which unfortunately weren’t true when she was brutally murdered at her apartment in August 1979.
After Lynne’s neighbours heard a scream, police arrived to find her body covered in over 15 stab wounds, cut breast, and a severed femoral artery. Most disturbing was the deep slash around Lynne’s bare neck as she lay lying in bed. They discovered the murder weapon: an unconventional device made from a broom or mop handle with a wire connecting them both. At first, there were no leads or suspects identified; however, it is believed Lynne knew who attacked her.
Lynne’s investigation involved interviewing her close circle of friends, coworkers, acquaintances and ex-boyfriends. At that time, forensic technology wasn’t advanced enough to determine who the semen samples found on Lynne belonged to; Richard Frank was one person of interest but was ultimately cleared. Another ex-boyfriend Douglas Gordon Bradford was interviewed by police and made several incriminating statements; however, it took nearly three decades before they collected enough evidence against him to bring charges against him.
Investigation into the murder of Lynne Knight revealed two semen samples on her body, but at that time, the technology wasn’t advanced enough to identify who it was. Investigators spoke to Lynne’s close friends, acquaintances and ex-boyfriends to gather leads. Lynne had a large circle of male friends – many who were athletes – and she had previously dated Richard Frank. On their reunion water skiing trip on August 29th, Lynne cooked dinner for Joe Giarrusso, her former flame, before leaving for the hospital early the following morning. Joe stated that he saw Lynne alive for one last time at 11 p.m. on August 29th when she went into bed.
Joe was initially suspected of the murder due to his fingers being chopped up, but he passed a polygraph test and provided an alibi, eliminating him as a suspect. Richard later informed police about Douglas Gordon Bradford, one of Lynne’s former boyfriends, who visited her flat to return a borrowed lamp after they argued and eventually threw it over their heads. Lynne’s sister Donna mentioned receiving a note from Lynne regarding breaking up with Douglas and him not attending her wedding, leading investigators to focus on Douglas as being another potential suspect.
Douglas was arrested and found guilty of Lynne’s murder, with his DNA matching the semen samples found on her body. He received a life sentence for the crime. This case is an example of why it’s important to conduct an extensive investigation and collect witness information to solve crimes. Although forensic technology was limited at the time, investigators’ work together with witnesses provided crucial evidence leading to the conviction of the wrongdoer.
In 2007, a Cold Case Unit detective searched Douglas Gordon Bradford’s home and discovered a wire that matched the description used to construct his handmade garrote weapon. Despite lacking direct proof, Douglas was arrested in 2009, tried and convicted in 2014, and sentenced to 26 years to life imprisonment. Through police evidence-gathering efforts led to justice for Lynne and her family; finally, their perpetrator was held accountable. Douglas Gordon Bradford is currently serving his sentence at the California Men’s Colony, located in San Luis Obispo County.