Celebrating 96 years in operation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau hosted an open house in their new offices at 1 Cupania Circle in the city of Monterey Park.
The public was given a rare look inside of a 24-hour microcosm where some of the most heinous murders in Los Angeles County history were solved, and new cases are dissected daily. Although this bureau uses cutting-edge technology to help solve crimes, it hasn’t stopped these veteran investigators to use good, old fashioned, gum shoe techniques. Once a sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detective sinks their proverbial investigative teeth into a case, they never loosen their grip, which hence, earned them the nickname, the “Bulldogs.”
It was in 1921 when Sheriff William Traeger assigned special investigators from the Criminal Division to specifically handle homicide cases, and on Monday, December 31, 1923, the Homicide Detail was formally funded by the Board of Supervisors. It consisted of five detectives, a stenographer, and a newly-promoted captain named William Bright to command the seedling detail. As the population of Los Angeles County grew, so did the number of homicides.
Today, the Homicide Detail is known as Homicide Bureau and has approximately 60 of the most tenacious, hard-working investigators assigned to it. It functions as a centralized Detective investigative unit responsible for conducting criminal investigations each year involving murder, deputy-involved shootings where suspects are struck by gunfire, officer-involved shootings where suspects are struck by gunfire, inmate in-custody deaths, suspicious circumstance deaths, child deaths, work-related accidental deaths, suicides, deaths resulting from fire, and adult missing person cases. These services are provided to the residents of Los Angeles County residing within unincorporated county areas and contract cities for which the Sheriff’s Department provides policing services. These services are also provided to independent cities within Los Angeles County upon request by the Chief of Police.
Assistant Sheriff Eddie Rivero, Chief Earl Shields, and Captain Steve Katz welcomed guests to the open house event, and gave special recognition to former and current personnel. A tour of the new facility began by stepping into a hallway and facing the display of enlarged photographs on the walls, depicting homicide detectives working notable historical and current crime scenes, such as
El Segundo Murder – The murder of El Segundo Police Officers
Murder of a Model – The Linda Sobek Story
The Night Stalker – Richard Ramirez
Murder on Sunset — Mickey Cohen
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel
The Rattlesnake Murder
James “Bluebeard” Watson
The Tiger Girl
The Phantom Sniper
The Glamour Girl Slayer
The tour moved to the media room, dedicated to the memory of retired and highly-respected Homicide Bureau captain Ray Peavy, where poster boards for current cases were displayed. As the tour continued, story boards were displayed showing real-life investigations where forensic arts and composite sketches played a significant role; examples of such work were:
Murder at Zuma Beach
Death in Diamond Bar
The Mosley Murders
Rage on Rockenbach
While these were some of the most heinous crimes in Los Angeles County history, it is fascinating and interesting to remember these homicides were solved without today’s modern technologies and conveniences, such as DNA evidence. Technology does make the job easier but our longstanding “Tradition of Service” remains the same.
During the open house tour, numerous retired detectives who investigated some of the darkest depths of humanity and faces of trusted detectives seen on television over the years were present, all of them known for their professionalism, diligence and investigative talents.
Two retired detectives, in particular, who attended were Frank Salerno, Sr., lead investigator assigned to the Richard Ramirez “Night Stalker” case, and his partner, retired detective Gil Carrillo. They worked tirelessly together and cracked the case which haunted California during the mid-1980s. Captain Andres Ramirez, who was assigned to East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station as a deputy at that time and arrested the serial murder suspect before he was attacked by an angry crowd, also attended the event.
Interestingly, the family tradition of investigation was passed down to Mr. Salerno’s son, Detective Frank Salerno, Jr., who also joined the Department and became a Homicide Detective like his father. Now, Frank, Jr., is in the threshold of his career, about to retire.