Case closed: Sisters see justice

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas City“Robin was stabbed at work last night,” her cousin said of Castaneda’s sister. “Did she die?” Castaneda remembers asking. “Yeah, she did.” Looking back on that day, Castaneda said she was in shock, unable to fathom such overwhelming tragedy. Robin Hoynes, her 21-year-old sister, best friend, roommate and second pea in her pod, was brutally slain the night before at a Torrance Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that she managed. By Denise Nix STAFF WRITER The news came to Wendy Castaneda on Halloween 1984 when, dressed as a lion, the then-16-year-old was pulled from her biology class. Her cousin was waiting in the hall, crying. Robin’s death plunged her close-knit Whittier family, which included her three sisters, into grief and despair. Much later they would begin to heal. And 23 years later, they saw justice. Gilbert Kranke and Andrew Conahan were convinced they knew who killed Robin. The Torrance police officers, now retired, said the evidence against William Charles Marshall was mounting in the days after Robin’s murder. Marshall, who became assistant manager at the KFC in early October 1984, was the main suspect in two thefts at the restaurant that month. He was fired just days before Robin’s death. Within 10 days of the murder, Marshall appeared two times – late at night, wearing gloves – at a Fountain Valley KFC, where he previously worked. Conahan, who was part of the Police Department’s Crime Impact Team, watched Marshall on Nov. 10, 1984, as he drove erratically to the Fountain Valley restaurant and lurked around after closing time. “It just kind of sent chills down your spine,” Conahan said. All the officers thought it was unusual for a robber to try to pull off such a crime so soon after committing a similar one. Kranke, a retired homicide investigator, helped with Marshall’s arrest that night. Kranke found a boning knife in Marshall’s bag and thought he had uncovered the murder weapon. But Marshall was released. “In those days, it was pretty much you had to have an eyeball witness, direct evidence or a confession – and if you didn’t have any of that, it was pretty hard to get a case filed,” Kranke said. “The reasoning was if you don’t have a dead-bang case, then you hold on and maybe get some evidence down the line,” Kranke said. “It’s tough to take.” The Hoynes sisters were aware that the police had arrested someone but lacked enough evidence for prosecutors to file a case. “They pretty much thought that he would trip up at some point in his life – talk of it, mention it,” said Tricia Van Voorhis, who was three years younger than Hoynes. “As time went on, we just kind of thought, you know, that he’s not going to make the mistake we hoped he would,” she said. “We resigned ourselves to the fact that he’d have to answer to a higher power at some point in his life.” Religion had always been an important foundation for the Hoynes sisters. Though they were raised Catholic, all the girls became evangelical Christians. Robin, the second-oldest, was active in the college group at Calvary Church in Santa Ana. The freckled redhead participated in fasting marathons to raise money for the hungry, volunteered with the nursery schoolchildren at the church and, above all, enjoyed sharing her faith with others. “She was really on fire for God, for a lack of a better way of describing it,” Castaneda said. “She realized in those last few years that God really had a purpose for her life and she took it seriously and she wanted to share what she had with other people.” A fun-loving and friendly girl, Robin was always the first to extend an enthusiastic welcome and a warm hug, the sisters said. Robin’s death didn’t destroy the close family. But it certainly changed it. “It just left this huge void in our family,” recalled first-born Kim Hoynes, who was two years older than Robin. “But we worked through some things. It’s not that you get over it, you are just different from it and you move forward.” Things changed most for Castaneda. While she had always paired up with Robin, she suddenly felt lost, drifting through life and her home like a third wheel to her two sisters. “For two years, I was just completely lost in grief,” she said. “It was by God’s grace that I passed my junior year of high school.” Their parents took Robin’s death hard. As the oldest, Kim Hoynes said she put her life on hold to care for them. Their dad would wait for her sister to come down the hall, while their mom grieved privately. In 1995 their dad, battling emphysema and still distraught over his daughter’s murder, committed suicide. “He couldn’t deal with it anymore,” Kim Hoynes said. Moving on was difficult. Castaneda cried when she bought her first condo, feeling cheated that her sister and father couldn’t share in her accomplishment. Van Voorhis misses her sister and father every time one of her children, now 20 and 17, reach another milestone. Kim Hoynes, at a young age, took on responsibility for her entire family. Even now, she has returned to her childhood home and quit her job to care for her mother, whose health is declining. Nothing could compare, though, with what came in October 2003: a phone call from Torrance police that the case had been reopened. Detective Jim Wallace was placed on light duty after an injury at work. The desk job gave him an opportunity to look over some of the department’s 25 to 30 unsolved homicide cases. As always, the first thing Wallace did was review the evidence. In Robin’s case, he was intrigued by a mysterious, yellowish, soft object found at the crime scene. Wallace has a bachelor’s degree in design and a master’s in architecture. As he studied the object, something clicked. He went to the police evidence room and retrieved the hiking boots Marshall was wearing when he was arrested on Nov. 10, 1984. The leather collar around the top of one boot was completely detached. The other was only partially torn. And the padding was missing from both collars. “When I found the foam connection, I had such an `aha’ moment,” Wallace recalled. While scientific testing did not confirm that the foam came from those boots, the link was made by Marshall’s ex-girlfriend, Yvonne Williams. Williams, who had lied to police and provided Marshall an alibi, finally admitted in September 2005 that Marshall had confessed to her. He also pulled the piece of foam from one boot after she told him detectives showed her a picture of a similar object. “I never expected that kind of detail from her,” Wallace said. Wallace brought the case to Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, a prosecutor with a history of victories in cold cases based on circumstantial evidence. Marshall, who had become a father and a fire captain for the state Department of Forestry, was indicted on a murder charge in September 2006 and arrested. “I had never seen the guy before, so to put a face with the person that killed my sister was just so surreal – you can’t even imagine,” Kim Hoynes said. Robin’s sisters and mother, wearing jewelry adorned with her photograph, attended every day of his trial last month in Torrance Superior Court. Leaving behind their civilian lives temporarily, a handful of retired officers testified about the details of their two-decade-old investigation. Conahan’s memory of the surveillance was detailed – a fact he attributes to how unique this case was and how much it had bothered him for years. Kranke added, “It was hard, but gratifying.” Some of the evidence, including crime scene photos showing the bloody slash marks on Robin’s face and neck, moved the family to tears. Other details were enlightening. The family knew that detectives believed Robin let her killer into the restaurant, but they never understood why or what he was doing there. “When we found out in court that he had left his briefcase and needed to return his uniform, it was like, `Oh my gosh, that makes perfect sense,”‘ Van Voorhis said. Robin, expecting Marshall, likely let him in through the employee entrance. When her back was turned, he stabbed her. Then he moved to a floor safe, but managers had changed the combination, and he couldn’t open it. That’s when he returned to Robin, the evidence suggests, and slashed her throat to ensure she would die and not be able to identify him. A jury deliberated about one day before convicting Marshall of murder and the special circumstance of killing during an attempted robbery. He returns to court Oct. 26, when he will be sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. “You don’t end up doing these cases for anybody but the victim’s family,” Wallace said. “As we worked through this case, I saw the chains come off on these lives.” With the verdict, Castaneda said, maybe everyone can move forward now. Robin would have wanted it that way, she believes: together, happy. “It’s such a tragedy that William killed my sister,” Castaneda said. “But what a greater tragedy it would be if he killed my sister and completely destroys my family.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Otis Chandler remembered at memorial

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “The best. No two words better describe him,” said Tom Johnson, who succeeded Chandler as publisher and retired as chairman and chief executive of CNN News Group. “He excelled at almost everything he set out to do.” Chandler, who came from a family wielding financial and political power in Los Angeles, succeeded his father as publisher of the Times in 1960 while in his early 30s. Hiring top reporters and editors, and opening bureaus all over the world, within a few years Chandler took a narrow and conservative paper and made it into an internationally respected publication. During Chandler’s 20 years as publisher, and five subsequent years as editor in chief, the paper won nine Pulitzer Prizes, according to the Times’ Web site. Former New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Sr. said the revamped West Coast paper quickly got the attention of New York Times editors and reporters. PASADENA – Friends, family and journalism colleagues on Monday remembered former Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler as a fiercely competitive man who exercised incessantly, drove as fast as possible and used hunter instincts to lift the newspaper from relative obscurity to among the nation’s best. Chandler died last week at age 78. He had a degenerative brain disorder known as Lewy body disease. Though his professional legacy includes helping to build a newspaper that today competes with top national publications, many of the 500-plus people at the memorial said they also remembered Chandler as an outstanding athlete, hunter, car racer and surfer who enjoyed the waves well into his 60s. That larger-than-life persona was emphasized by a life-size portrait of Chandler at the All Saints Church entrance. “Chandler was taking our Pulitzers,” said Sulzberger, who attended the memorial. “He forced us to be better.” Louis D. Boccardi, retired chief executive of The Associated Press, said he repeatedly encouraged Chandler to write a memoir, which never happened. “But maybe he understood that not everybody had to leave a book,” said Boccardi, a longtime Chandler friend. “You could, as he did, leave a newspaper and it would speak volumes.” Living with someone so intense and successful, however, wasn’t always easy for his family. “My father thought good parenting was setting good examples,” said son Harry Chandler. “He was often too busy, or too self-absorbed to come to soccer games or get involved with career events.” But Harry Chandler said his father was always there when his children needed him, was able to apologize when he did wrong, and knew when his competitive spirit wouldn’t be enough to win. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more