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Headline: Michigan Woman Killed in Clairemont Apartment: Stabbing Death is Third in Area
An 18-year-old Michigan woman who was visiting her brother in San Diego was stabbed to death yesterday afternoon in his Clairemont apartment. The woman was the third victim of brazen daylight attacks that have
|terrorized a quiet middle-class neighborhood since January.
The victim in yesterday's attack was identified by neighbors as
|Holly Tarr, a high school student and budding actress from Okemos, Mich., which is an affluent suburb of East Lansing.
The young woman arrived here only last Friday with a girlfriend, to visit her brother, Richard Tarr, who lives at 3410 Cowley Way in the Buena Vista Garden apartment complex.
Moments after yesterday's noontime attack on Tarr, who was alone in the upstairs apartment, the assailant dashed outside, police said. Hoisting a knife above his head, the suspect then knocked down a maintenance worker who responded to calls from an 84-year- old neighbor who said she heard "this horrible scream," police and witnesses said.
The worker, Richard Williams, 58, said he saw the gravely injured Tarr, lying under a blood-covered towel, in the bedroom. Only a half-hour earlier, the young woman had been swimming in the apartment-complex pool, a neighbor said.
Witnesses said the suspect, described as a black man, about 18 years old and 5-feet-8, later was seen on foot near Clairemont Drive. But as of late last night, he had managed to elude a police dragnet, authorities said. The suspect was wearing a red shirt and black jeans -- clothing that matched the uniform worn by the apartments' gardeners.
No workers were characterized as suspects yesterday, however. Police officials yesterday declined to term the latest fatal assault on a young woman as the work of a serial killer." Any talk of related attacks would be sheer speculation," said Sgt. Dorothy Powell, a police spokeswoman.
But frightened residents of the usually placid neighborhood were not convinced. They feared that a murderer was living in their midst, and many said the latest attack on a young woman convinced them they should move from the area.
Last night, about 400 of them crowded into the complex's clubhouse to hear police talk about the attack and provide tips on personal safety. The mood was tense, as the residents repeatedly demanded from the police an accounting of what had been done to solve the previous homicides and prevent the most recent one. The problem for us is the uncertainty. There's been no closure with the other ones, and now this. Can't you tell us anything that will help?" asked one man.
Police officer Jim Watkins said the case was the highest priority for the police homicide unit, and said additional patrols were being added to the area. But the at appeared to be small comfort to most of those present, a mix of young singles and retirees drawn to the sprawling apartment complex for its moderate rents and parklike surroundings. Since January, tragedy has struck the neighborhood three times in four months, and the crime scene is becoming all too familiar to residents. Earlier in the day residents once again crowded around a yellow police tape -- this time along the courtyard of the sprawling 987- unit Buena Vista apartment complex.
The rash of violence began Jan. 12, when the body of
|20-year-old Tiffany Paige Schultz was found. Schultz, who was a dancer at the Les Girls nude club,
was repeatedly stabbed. Her body was discovered by her boyfriend in the Canyon Ridge apartment complex on Cowley Way near Dakota Drive. Police arrested the boyfriend on suspicion of murder and that relieved many residents. But authorities later released him after the district attorney's office did not issue a murder complaint.
But on Feb. 16, the body of
|Janene Marie Weinhold, an ambitious 21-year-old UCSD senior
was found in the bedroom of a Buena Vista apartment she shared with a lifelong friend on Clairemont Drive near Dakota Drive -- just two blocks from where Weinhold lived. Yesterday's attack also occurred within two blocks of Weinhold's apartment -- and on the same street as the Schultz slaying. The murders have affected the collective psyche of the apartment dwellers, several of them said. Several women residents complained about receiving anonymous, obscene phone calls. And one young man said he recently turned away someone who represented himself as a salesman.
Anyone could be a potential killer, the residents said. " It is real scary," said Kelly Shattuck, a 28-year-old Bible student who moved to the apartment complex a month ago. " I heard about the other two murders. But it didn't seem real. But now I'm standing here and there is a dead girl in that apartment over there."
Some residents said they were arming themselves. One teenager said her mother bought a shotgun. Another woman said she already has a stun gun that she carries with her all the time -- even to do the laundry. Others lamented what they called the lack of private security and police patrols in the area.
Plastered on the window of a downstairs apartment within feet of where Tarr was killed was a Neighborhood Watch sign. "I don't worry about it, I can defend myself given the chance," said Paul Kotol, 20. "But this is ridiculous -- people getting killed in the middle of the day when they should be safe."
Last night Suzanne Rosborough, manager of the complex, told residents that two private duty guards had just passed the Tarr apartment five minutes before the attack. This is the sort of thing you lose sleep over," said an official for the private security company. "This is a quiet place. The best sort of people live here," he said, shaking his head."But we're only a presence. We don't guarantee anything; we can't," he said.
DeAnn Peterson, a single young woman who has lived in a nearby apartment for 10 months said: "Shoot, I used to leave my door open. Not anymore. I'm moving. There's no doubt about it."
Shortly after noon yesterday -- about a half hour after Elizabeth Langworthy saw Holly Tarr return from the swimming pool -- "I heard this horrible scream and something fall," Langworthy said.
Moments later, Tarr's friend, Tammy, was at her door, saying she was unable to get into Tarr's apartment because it was locked and Holly had the key, Langworthy said. The elderly woman said she then called the management office. When maintenance worker Williams responded, he heard screams from the apartment. He kicked his way through a link chain across the door. Suddenly, a man "was coming to meet me with a knife over his head," Williams said. "He ran out and I kicked at him and was pushed down on the stairs."
Later, the 84-year-old Langworthy said she went upstairs and found the victim on the floor, a blood-soaked towel on her chest. "She tried to say something, but couldn't," Langworthy said. "She just kind of rolled her eyes."
|Holly Tarr was the youngest of three children of Paul Tarr, who had served in Michigan state government and was active in community theater in the Lansing area.
Like her dad, sister Christy and brother Rick, Holly Tarr had an interest in acting.
"They asked me to find a file photo of Holly Tarr and something clicked in my mind," DeRuiter said. "I had just shot her picture for a story that hasn't even run in the paper yet. "It was a feature on teen-age sex and dating and she was sitting on the couch with her dad.
|She was a real bright-eyed beauty
and her father was the classic doting dad. He was crazy about her, no doubt about that. He couldn't say enough about her." In the wake of yesterday's slaying, Councilman Bruce Henderson, whose District 6 includes Clairemont, urged city officials and the Police Department to notify every single woman in the area of the incident so they can take the appropriate precautions.
"The best thing we can do is teach people how to protect themselves because we can't have the police in every home," Henderson said. "Now is the time to do it." Following two similar killings earlier this year, Henderson helped organize new Neighborhood Watch groups in the area and urged police to step up patrols.
Anyone having information about the slaying are asked to call homicide detectives at 531-2293 or Crimestoppers at 235-TIPS. Rewards of up to $1,000 from Crimestoppers and $5,000 from the Police Department are being offered for information leading to an arrest in the slayings. and her father was the classic doting dad. He was crazy about her, no doubt about that. He couldn't say enough about her."
In the wake of yesterday's slaying, Councilman Bruce Henderson, whose District 6 includes Clairemont, urged city officials and the Police Department to notify every single woman in the area of the incident so they can take the appropriate precautions. The best thing we can do is teach people how to protect themselves because we can't have the police in every home," Henderson said. "Now is the time to do it."
Following two similar killings earlier this year, Henderson helped organize new Neighborhood Watch groups in the area and urged police to step up patrols.
Anyone having information about the slaying are asked to call homicide detectives at 531-2293 or Crimestoppers at 235-TIPS. Rewards of up to $1,000 from Crimestoppers and $5,000 from the Police Department are being offered for information leading to an arrest in the slayings.
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