The GodPlay Dare

(Foreword)

 
By

Sergeant William L. Goddard

(NewLima CA Police Department: Retired)

When I was asked to write the foreword to this book, my first response was a very quick “No thank you.”  The events that are depicted on these pages detail the last days of a criminal investigation that I was relieved to see come to an end.  The outcome of the story you are about to read dramatically impacted many lives.  A few of those lives will never be the same. 

 

Although completely wrong, a commonly held belief is that the detectives and other professionals who deal in the grim reality of these types of cases are easily capable of moving on after they get solved.  We are just expected to go on with our lives, clear-headed and without any mental baggage.  I am stating matter-of-factly for you right now: this is not the way things usually end up.  Especially when a case like the one recounted on the following pages is the subject.

Therefore, you are probably wondering what made me change my mind and decide to write this preface.  There are four relevant explanations:

1) The story needed to be told so the officers involved will hopefully one day be absolved of the allegations that continue to be made against them.  There is a lot more at play here than all the misunderstood facts that the media frequently reports.

2) The author of the book, Daron Jones, reached out to me personally and asked me to be part of this project.  My wife, Daria, and I have been fans of Mr. Jones’ freelance journalism work for a long time.  Unlike many in his profession, he has always conducted himself with a high level of integrity and with a determination to see the truth come out in his reporting.  His involvement on this project was very important to us.  I believed that if anyone had the ability to tell this story the right way, he was the appropriate author.  After all, he did ride shotgun on this case for most of the twelve long years it ran.

3) For reasons I still cannot fully explain, this, more than any other case I have ever worked, continues to haunt me.  Not only because of the disturbing and unexplainable nature of the subject matter, but also because the life of one of the best detectives I ever had the pleasure of supervising was permanently changed by what happened.  I am hopeful that my involvement here may shed some light on the parts of the case that continue to baffle me.

4) My faith in GOD, that I would previously have said was resolute, has been tested by what was revealed during the investigation.  I still have not decided whether if what we uncovered strengthened or strained my core belief system.  My hope is that by authoring this foreword, I will somehow be able to obtain the closure I need.  I am hoping this will allow me to put this chapter of my life to rest and return to my normally uninteresting but mostly peaceful existence. 

So, with that said, let me begin.

 

The story you are about to read covers the final weeks of the investigation into the reign of the serial killer commonly known as Bedroom Friday.  You may recall that, beginning about fifteen years ago, this predator terrorized the Northern California city of NewLima and its surrounding communities for nearly a dozen years.  As you are probably also quite aware, California, particularly Los Angeles and to a lesser extent Northern California’s Bay Area, has experienced the dread of numerous serial killers over the years. 

 

At one time, for example, in the 1980s it was estimated that more than five serial killers were active in Los Angeles County alone, and all at the same time.  In order to add some context to the prosecutorial environment that was prevalent when this story began, anyone writing this foreword would be negligent not to briefly summarize a recent history of several of these gruesome accounts.  Here is a small sample of some of the more famous cases (and the human monsters they each depict) listed chronologically:

 

The Zodiac Killer from the 1960s, who, after killing 5 young couples, is perhaps one of the most notorious murderers ever to evade capture;

Charles Manson, who in 1969, through a combination of his charm, charisma, and ability to manipulate, oversaw a mass-murder spree committed by his band of loyal cultists;

Juan Corona, the man who killed at least 25 migrant workers in the early 1970s and later confessed to those murders with the only explanation being that they were all just “trespassing winos”;

 

William Bonin, LA’s famous Hitchhiker Killer from the 1970s, who admitted to killing 21 victims, mostly young boys, after committing violent sexual acts against each one;

 

Angelo Buono, Jr., the Hillside Strangler, who, along with his cousin, posed as a law enforcement officer, then raped, tortured and murdered his many victims, finally dumping their mangled bodies on the hillsides of Highland Park, CA throughout the 1970s.

The 1980s were again a particularly violent time with respect to the prevalence of serial killers in California.  There was Randy Steven Kraft, the Scorecard Killer, who is speculated to have raped and murdered as many as 61 young men in Southern California between 1972-1983;

 

Charles Ng of Leonard Lake CA, who in 1985 was said to have tortured and murdered over a dozen members of several local families in his hometown, many children among them;

 

Richard Ramirez, the more famous Night Stalker, who also during the mid-eighties terrorized the LA and NewLima areas for many years, killing at least 13 men and women and torturing a dozen more;

 

Lonnie Franklin, Jr., better known in the media as the Grim Sleeper, who in the early 1990s is speculated to have murdered as many as 10 women, making him one of the most prolific serial killers of women in US history;

 

Wayne Adam Ford, the truck driver who killed several sex workers (and one hitchhiker) then turned himself in along with the severed breast of a woman who was later identified to be his last known victim;

 

And more recently, in 1999, Cary Stayner, the Yosemite Killer, who assaulted and killed a woman, her daughter and a friend while they were visiting the Yosemite Valley. 

These are only some of the more famous historical accounts of the serial killings of these butchers in the State of California.  Sadly, this just begins to scratch the surface of what was really happening back then.

The reason I’ve summarized all these cases is not to prove some broad point that we live in a violent world and that we should all think twice before leaving our homes.  It is simply to provide the background context that my department and everyone who was appointed to handle the Bedroom Friday Investigation was operating under. 

 

The chronology listed above should also serve to demonstrate that in recent years the activity of serial killers is statistically, and thankfully, declining (after peaking in the United States in the mid-1980s).  This has largely been attributed to the dramatic evolution of technologies related to crime scene investigation, principally DNA testing. 

So, when Bedroom Friday first showed up, an overwhelming flood of biased opinion regarding the nature of these kinds of killers still existed and was immediately applied to the case.  Everyone went with what they understood to be the most probable model.  That degree of prejudice would not likely occur if a case like this were to show up today.  But it did seem, for all intents and purposes, to be material to the investigation back then.

What this all meant was that the immediate perceptions that were formed in this case heavily influenced the early direction that the investigators took, including those from the FBI.  The prejudice from those past criminal investigations left no wiggle-room to fairly assess what we were really dealing with.  And, in hindsight, what we were dealing with was something entirely unprecedented.  Therefore, I believe it is unfair to pass judgement on how the process ultimately turned out.  Likewise, it is very easy to criticize the actions taken by my department, our officers, and the other agencies without first taking into consideration that what we assumed we were after was a textbook perpetrator.  To state it again, however, I now believe that what we were really dealing with was a very different kind of phenomenon.  This point cannot be overstated.

It is important to note that instead of documenting the case over its entire twelve-year span, the author wisely chose to limit the book to coverage of the latter part of the eleventh-hour of the twelve-year-old investigation.  This short period of time was when many of the obscure angles of the case were lining up and its questions were being answered.  That said, it would be careless not to mention something more about the public sentiment that was widespread at the point in time when this story picks up. 

From the public’s perspective, Bedroom Friday had avoided capture for so long he had almost become a legendary figure.  This was especially true since he was the only publicly-known serial killer still in operation in Northern California at the time.  As previously mentioned, the details of this case were very different than anything else we had ever come across.  The facts and evidence were, in my opinion, unique.  Characteristics that are normally observed in the criminal activity of these types of predators were not present in this case. 

 

Usually, these deranged individuals tend to prey on easy targets who come from low income backgrounds: sex workers and prostitutes, runaway children, hitchhikers and the homeless, illegal aliens, etc.  Additionally, these men usually engage in some form of ritualistic torture and/or acts of cannibalism.  It should be noted that none of those characteristics or behaviors were ever documented during the entire time Bedroom Friday was active. 

For the more affluent segment of our society, the profile that these killers usually target tends to provide an ironic sense of comfort.  The belief is that members of their own class would likely never become a victim of the killer.  But all that changed when Bedroom Friday arrived in NewLima.  From his earliest days, it was apparent that the victims he selected were consistently middle-aged, attractive, affluent female residents of the local communities.  Sometimes they were married.  Most often they were divorced.  But they almost always came from well-to-do backgrounds.  In the early days of the case this was tremendously frightening for the women and families of the local upper-class.  And they had good reason to be afraid.

As the years went by and the killer continued to avoid capture, he began gaining a new kind of notoriety as some sort of mythical figure.  Suddenly, he was something more than a standard serial murderer.  Three dominant portrayals of him began emerging in media reports and from word on the streets:

1) There was the conventional mainstream point of view, which was the only one accepted by the task forces assigned to the case.  They claimed that he was an uncommon serial killer who ritualistically strangled certain types of women in their beds on Friday nights.  It was theorized that he targeted his victims out of some sadistic yet unclear craving.  The so-called experts, however, remain divided over the numerous competing theories that have been proposed as explanations for motive.

2) What likely got started as a simple rumor soon became well circulated and widely believed.  It was told that the killer was the bastard child of an undocumented immigrant hotel worker who had been raped by a wealthy Caucasian businessman while she was tending to his room.  The woman later died giving birth to the male child whom resulted from the rape.  The boy grew up intent on exacting vengeance on the upper-class segment of NewLima society.  He was said to be targeting “the mothers of privilege.”  The story also told that his victims were all dreadful women, and that each one deserved their horrible ending. 

And 3) an even more nightmarish fable began to emerge, and it quickly became urban legend.  It was said that the killer was some sort of phantom, like a ghostly vampire.  But instead of draining his victim’s blood, he would steal the air they breathed and leave them to suffocate in their beds while they slept.  With these rumors came numerous media reports of women frequently having dreams about the killer.  The dreams were sexual in nature, paranormal and almost always horrifying.  In most of these reports the women would wake up short of breath and confident that they were being suffocated while having intercourse with some obscure male figure.  The psychiatric profession regularly concluded that these accounts were the effects of some type of mass-mania.  Even today, we are not sure how else to explain this phenomenon.

Before I conclude this preface, I would like to comment on the author’s decision to write this book as a fiction novel told in the third-person.  My understanding is that the first of Mr. Jones’ attempts at writing this book was a non-fiction, investigative journalism styled manuscript.  But as the details of the case continued to come out, he began to have a different idea.  With all the unusual witness accounts and the bizarre testimonies of the key players, Mr. Jones finally decided that the only way to accurately capture the feeling of the story would be through a third-party retelling.  Now I can finally report that, after reading the final draft, I completely agree with this decision.

Lastly, without passing judgement on any of the conclusions that were reached in the book (or any left open to interpretation), I believe that Mr. Jones was very successful at describing the witness accounts of everyone involved during those final weeks.  Short of personally going through the experience, the proceeding story is a bold and explicit depiction of what took place, as told from many individual points of view.  I do believe, however, that at times Mr. Jones had to take creative liberties regarding certain particulars of the story that are less factually based.  But I also believe that because of his deep understanding of the case, he most likely got it 99% correct.  The reader has to decide whether or not they believe the events described in this book are factual.  My hope is that at the very least the city of NewLima and its outlying communities will finally be able to heal and move forward with some sense of peace and dignity.

 

Sincerest Regards,

Bill Goddard

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