Case File #0216
The Gaviota Beach Murders
The Santa Barbara County Murders
"Laughing Boy Sought in Sweethearts Slaying"
On 4 June 1963, a highway patrolman was called to the Gaviota Beach in Santa Barbara County, where the bodies of two high-school sweethearts had been found. The teenagers, Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards, had been shot numerous times and their bodies placed in a wooden shack, which the killer had attempted unsuccessfully to set on fire. Several days later two Santa Cruz teenagers were picked up by police due to their suspected involvement in several thefts, as well as the murder of a Lompoc quarry worker on 3 June. The boys admitted to perpetrating the crime spree, but denied any involvement in the murder, telling investigators that another teenager they knew only as "Sandy" had been responsible for the death of 63-year-old Vernon C. Smith. Police strongly suspected that "Sandy" had also been responsible for the double murder at Gaviota, and two composite sketches were created of the suspect by those who met him. Despite a thorough search, the youth was never apprehended. In subsequent years, investigators have drawn comparisons between the Gaviota Beach murders and the Lake Berryessa killings committed by the Zodiac Killer, and many armchair sleuths have theorised that "Sandy" and the elusive Zodiac were the same person, and that the slayings at Gaviota were possibly the first victims of the notorious serial killer.
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