Cleophus Prince Jr.

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Cleophus Prince Jr.
Born (1967-07-25) July 25, 1967 (age 51)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names The Clairemont Killer
Occupation former Navy mechanic
Criminal charge
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status in prison
Conviction(s) 12 July 1993
Details
Span of crimes
12 January 1990–13 September 1990
State(s) California
Location(s) Clairemont Mesa and University City neighborhoods of San Diego
Killed 6
Date apprehended
3 March 1991

Cleophus Prince Jr. (born July 25, 1967, aka "The Clairemont Killer") is an American serial killer who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1993[1] for the rape and murder of six women in San Diego County, California from January through September 1990. Before these crimes, Prince was court-martialed in 1989 due to larceny, and when he was convicted and served his sentence, it was recommended that he be discharged from the United States Navy. Multiple books have been written on Prince and his crimes.

Crimes[edit]

Cleophus Prince was court-martialed in October 1989 and convicted of larceny; after serving a brief sentence he was recommended for discharge from the Navy. Two months later, he moved into the Buena Vista Garden apartment complex,[2] which was close to the location of the first three murder victims. He lived at the Buena Vista complex until 2 May 1990.[3]

Before his arrest, police characterized the then-unknown serial killer as a 'disorganized opportunist' for the common patterns in the crimes. In each case, Prince entered the female victim's residence during daylight hours through an unlocked door or window, surprising them during or just after bathing, and stabbed them to death with knives taken from the kitchen.[4]

Police also theorized Prince may have stalked some of his victims, including Pamela Clark at a nearby Miramar fitness club,[5] near his former girlfriend's residence.[3]

In addition to the murders, Prince was convicted of multiple burglaries and attempted burglaries from April 1990 through February 1991.[6]

Murder victims[edit]

  • Tiffany Paige Schultz, died (aged 20), lived in an apartment complex adjacent to Buena Vista Gardens.[3] Schultz's boyfriend was initially arrested for her murder,[7] but was released three days later.[6][8]
  • Janene Marie Weinhold, died (aged 21), also lived in an adjacent apartment complex.[3] Prince was tied to her murder through DNA testing.[6] Her parents donated money to purchase playground equipment at the South Clairemont Park and Recreation Center in her memory.[9][10]
  • Holly Suzanne Tarr, died (aged 18), was visiting her brother and staying at his Buena Vista Gardens apartment.[3][11][12] Tarr's slaying led police to believe a serial killer was stabbing women.[13] A ring belonging to Tarr was given to Prince's girlfriend in December 1990.[6][14]
  • Elissa Naomi Keller, died (aged 38), lived in the East San Diego apartment complex where Prince moved in May 1990.[3] A gold nugget ring belonging to Keller was traced to Prince.[6] Keller's mother and daughter did not suspect Prince.[15]
  • Pamela Gail Clark, died (aged 42), lived in University City.[3] Two of Prince's roommates testified he had been in possession of Clark's wedding ring.[6]
  • Amber Clark, died (aged 18), lived in University City with her mother Pamela.[3] At the time the bodies of the Clarks were discovered, Elissa Keller had not been identified as a victim of the same killer, but San Diego police characterized the case as the largest manhunt in the history of the force.[16]

Apprehension[edit]

A composite drawing of the killer was distributed in April 1990 based on an eyewitness description; a maintenance worker had seen the killer fleeing the apartment complex following Holly Tarr's death.[17][18] San Diego police initially focused their attention on an accused rapist in January 1991, citing similarities in the suspect's description, method and opportunity.[19]

Prince was caught in February 1991 after he tried to break into a Scripps Ranch house.[20] A woman, whom he had followed home from the Miramar Road health club, was getting ready to shower when she heard a noise at the front door. She ran from the house and sought help from a neighbor who came and confronted Prince. Prince claimed he was trying to find a female friend who had entered the woman's home[6] but eventually gave up and scuttled away. The eyewitnesses took down Prince's license plate number and identified Prince from photographs, and he was arrested on 4 February 1991 in the parking lot of a health club after police alerted health club workers to be on the lookout for Prince's automobile.[5][6] After his arrest, he agreed to provide blood and saliva samples, and the DNA results connected him to the murder of Janene Weinhold.[21] That murder connected him to the others by the pattern presented by the murders.[20][22]

Pamela Clark regularly exercised at the Miramar Road health club before noon, and a swimming pool attendance log placed Prince in the vicinity of Holly Tarr.[5] Prince struck when he knew his victims would be showering and thus be less attentive to their surroundings. He later bragged about the killings to a friend[21] and took to wearing the dead woman’s wedding ring on a chain around his neck. He gave another ring to his girlfriend as a Christmas present after taking it from Tarr.[12][21]

Arrest[edit]

Prince was arrested on 3 March 1991 in Birmingham, Alabama, where he had returned to visit family following his discharge from the Navy. He had been arrested on an unrelated theft charge and had just been released on bail.[23] Birmingham police, East Precinct, Officer Steven Lampley, contacted Prince by phone and told him to come in to complete some documents from the prior arrest (Birmingham Police Department Arrest Report 910313853). When he returned to the station with his mother, he was taken into custody.[24] He was extradited to San Diego where the trial was held.

Trial[edit]

After viewing physical evidence, a judge ordered Prince to stand trial in March 1992. The defense argued unsuccessfully that Prince should be cleared of three murder charges from lack of evidence.[22] Prince was found guilty on 15 July 1993 on all six counts of first-degree murder and 21 other felony charges.[25] After later deliberations, the jury rendered a verdict of death.[26] and the judge handed down the death sentence on 5 November 1993.[1]

He is now on death row at San Quentin.[27] Prince appealed his sentence, claiming that extensive media coverage had created a presumption of guilt in the jury pool, but the Supreme Court of California denied his appeal in 2007.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Convicted serial killer gets death sentence". Lodi News-Sentinel. Associated Press. 6 November 1993. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Granberry, Michael (5 March 1991). "Burglary Try Led Police to Troubled Suspect". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Man charged in 5 San Diego murders investigated in sixth". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. 6 March 1991. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "San Diego area gripped by fear as police search for serial killer". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. 15 October 1990. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Platte, Mark (15 March 1991). "Health Club Link Probed in Serial Slayings". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i People v. Prince, 57 Cal. Rptr. 3d 543 (Supreme Court of California 30 April 2007).
  7. ^ Granberry, Michael (17 January 1990). "Slain Dancer Felt Trapped, Friends Say". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Granberry, Michael (12 March 1992). "Fiance of First Alleged Prince Victim Tells of Finding Body". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Granberry, Michael (1 November 1990). "Slain Student's Parents, Friends Honor Her in Children's Park". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Granberry, Michael (3 November 1990). "Slain Woman's Father Mad at Mayor's No-Show". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Okemos senior slain during a visit to California". The Argus-Press. Associated Press. 4 April 1990. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Serial killer's sentencing hearing cut short". The Argus-Press. Associated Press. 5 August 1993. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Granberry, Michael (8 April 1990). "Michigan Residents in Shock Over Slain Teen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Platte, Mark; Granberry, Michael (7 March 1991). "Suspect Allegedly Had Slain Woman's Ring". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Platte, Mark (4 March 1992). "Woman Describes Finding Mother's Body". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Granberry, Michael (13 January 1991). "Serial Killer's Hand Is Still Felt a Year After First Slaying". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Police release sketch of suspected killer". Ludington Daily News. Associated Press. 14 April 1990. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Granberry, Mike (1 November 1990). "Serial killers: most vexing of all". Gainesville Sun. Los Angeles Times. pp. 1A, 8A. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  19. ^ Montes, Eduardo (16 January 1991). "Slayings probe focuses on alleged rapist". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Moran, Greg (1 May 2007). "Death sentence is not overturned for 1990 S.D. murders". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c "Genetic tests tie Alabama man to murder". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. 4 March 1992. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Alabama man will stand trial for six murders". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. 12 March 1992. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "Manhunt for suspected murderer ends in Alabama". Gadsden Times. Associated Press. 4 March 1991. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "Arrest in San Diego slayings". Lodi News-Sentinel. Associated Press. 4 March 1991. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Greenberg, Brigitte (15 July 1993). "Alabama man faces death penalty for serial killings". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Jury set to begin deliberations on fate of convicted serial killer". Gadsden Times. Associated Press. 12 August 1993. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  27. ^ Ramsland, Katherine. "The Clairemont Killer". truTV Crime Library. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]