As an archaeologist, historian, and now murder investigator, the intellectual curiosity of Richard Carrico has no limits. Well researched and written, his new work, as with all good mysteries, takes us into unknown territories and keeps us reading well into the dark night.
—GEORGE H. HARWOOD, Author and Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
"Innocent victim brutalized by deranged killer.
Police have no leads. Lock your doors San Diego.”
In 1931, San Diego’s idyllic image as a beach town with peaceful suburbs concealed a harrowing reality: a series of unsolved crimes targeting women, fueling fear and vulnerability. MONSTERS ON THE LOOSE tells the tragic and true stories of three women murdered early that year: Virginia Brooks, Louise Teuber, and Hazel Bradshaw.
Local law enforcement, out-of-town criminologists, and investigators from what would become the FBI pursued hundreds of leads. Statewide, newspapers covered every angle and clue and sometimes played a role in the investigations. Yet, the killer(s) were never identified and brought to justice.
In MONSTERS ON THE LOOSE, award-winning author and historian Richard L. Carrico pieces fragments of evidence together for three cold cases, shedding light on a dark chapter in San Diego's history.
More than ninety years after the murders, Carrico emerges as an advocate for the victims, meticulously reconstructing their stories. Immersed in dusty files, long-forgotten oral histories, and newly discovered investigation records, his primary objective remains unwavering: to seek justice for the three young women. With no witnesses to the crimes, the significance of circumstantial evidence and speculation, both then and now, became paramount.
And he may have even solved one of the murders.
From the Book
The actual murder aside, did Diane know of her father’s conviction and jail time for taking and possessing nude photographs? Did she grow up close to her father or were they estranged? Would telling someone about him be cathartic? When I wrote my first polite letter of inquiry to Diane, who is living in Texas, I had twinges of guilt or at least a feeling of invading someone’s privacy—and for what purpose? Well, to get a little closer to the truth, of having contact with a living person who might have insights, photos, or letters—the very basis of historical research. In the Louise Teuber murder case, Diane not only offered facts and background from her own memory, but she also provided family photographs and, as we shall see, made several startling accusations.
After reading a short excerpt of the Louise Teuber murder that I wrote for a San Diego weekly alternative press newspaper, Thomas Jordan, a local man in his early nineties contacted me. Over the course of several telephone interviews Mr. Jordan astounded me with his knowledge of one of Louise’s boyfriends who he knew in the 1950s. The stories that Cyril Smith told Mr. Jordan about Louise and her murder literally sent chills down my spine.
With ten-year-old Virginia Brooks, I located a niece of the young girl murdered in 1931. Rowena Lux, the daughter of Virginia’s younger brother, shared information with me. Without hesitation she said that the murder literally tore her family apart. Something that Rowena told me about her father brought a powerful, evocative human element to the Virginia Brooks story. By contrast, the Hazel Bradshaw incident can be told only through the lens of contemporary accounts. For her, with one important exception, there can be little current narrative or documentation to fill out a more complete story.
About the Author
RICHARD L. CARRICO is an award-winning archaeologist, historian, and university instructor based in San Diego, California. With an emphasis on non-fiction, over three decades, he has published articles in professional and academic journals, authored four books, and written chapters in three others. His interests span from true crime to Spanish colonial history.