Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Clairemont Killer

Death in the Afternoon

Canyon Ridge Apartment Complex
Canyon Ridge Apartment Complex

Tiffany Schultz was spotted sunbathing in a bikini one morning just inside the door of her apartment on the second floor of the Canyon Ridge complex. It was January 12, 1990, and the 21-year-old was in a position to see the recreation center, shared with the residents of the Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex across the street. She called a friend and spoke on the phone for half an hour.

Just as she ended that call, an African-American man approached the Canyon Ridge manager, Dorothy Curtiss, to request a hanger. He needed it, he said, to unlock his car, parked out on the street. She gave him the hanger but then watched him walk toward the complex rather than back to the street. This concerned her.

Canyon Ridge Complex Aerial View
Canyon Ridge Complex Aerial View

Residents who lived below Tiffany would later report that between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. they'd heard loud noises from the apartment overhead. They also reported the sound of running water and what they believed was someone being beaten.

Tiffany didn't leave her apartment that anyone saw, but she did not pick up the phone when a friend called her around 12:30 that afternoon. Her roommate arrived home later in the day and found Tiffany's lifeless body in her bedroom, lying face-up, clad only in bikini bottoms. Her left leg was extended under the bed and her right leg was posed at a 60-degree angle. There was blood on her crotch and torso, especially around her left chest area. A pathologist would later count 47 separate stab wounds, nearly half of which clustered around her breast. There were punctures going so deep they went all the way through the body. The other two areas that had sustained an attack were her neck and upper right thigh. From bruises, it was evident that the perpetrator had also smacked her across the face with something, as if to beat her into submission.

The police who arrived found no sign of forced entry, although there was blood on the doorknobs, and despite a seemingly erotic frenzy of stabbing, the victim was not sexually assaulted. The officers surmised that the intruder had left by way of the balcony, leaping from the second floor to the ground. On Tiffany's hand they'd found hair strands and managed to lift some skin samples for genetic testing.

The first obvious suspect was Tiffany's boyfriend, so he was arrested and interrogated. However, with no evidence to hold him, within days of his arrest he was released. Nothing else turned up to implicate him, so he was eventually dropped as a viable suspect. Since Tiffany worked part-time as an exotic dancer, investigators thought perhaps someone had followed her home. No one yet realized that this was the first of several such assaults in the area. The next one occurred about a month later.



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