from Lights! Camera! Murder! by Loni Emmert
We’re speaking with Det. Rick Martinez of the Los Angeles Police Department. Rick joined the LAPD twenty years ago, spending ten of those years in a patrol car, four of them in vice busting hookers and johns on the infamous Sunset Strip, and the last six tackling murders in homicide.
Det. Martinez, tell us about this case.
This was a very high profile case involving the murder of a star from a daytime soap opera, Lovers’ Lane. Everyone from the show was a suspect: the director, other actors, even some of the crew members. The media loved that celebrities were involved and reporters were all over the crime scene. The pressure coming down on the department was pretty intense as the studio execs where the production was filmed and the producers of the show wanted the murder solved fast even though the crime was making the formerly low ratings shoot through the roof. Because of the media coverage surrounding the case my job seemed to be on the line every day.
But working in Los Angeles, especially Hollywood, you must see a lot of cases that involve celebrities.
Not really. Most of the homicide cases that I have investigated are the same that you’d find in any large city. Gang killings, domestic violence that goes too far, plenty with money as a motive but not in large amounts like you’d probably guess. Often someone will kill for just a few dollars.
Was there anything that made this particular case hard to solve?
The murder of Dirk Saunders became difficult to solve due to the sizable amount of potential suspects. Plus, he was bludgeoned to death which pretty much told me that it was a very personal and emotionally driven crime but that didn’t narrow down the suspects. There had been a lot of pressure on my supervisors for a resolution from high-powered, wealthy people which put my investigation in the spotlight. Also, this was a difficult case because of constant threats on the lives of other individuals surrounding the victim and television show. A second murder occurred, as well as several attempted murders.
Did anyone outside of the police department help you solve this case?
Yes. The primary person of interest who at first seemed to be my best suspect, Abigail Whitefeather, was instrumental in solving the case. Abigail had been on a date with Dirk Saunders the night he was killed so being the last person, besides the killer, to see Saunders alive put her at the top of my list as someone to interrogate. She had also been working on the set of the show and had a lot of access to the cast and crew. Several of the people involved in with Lovers’ Lane wanted Dirk dead and out of their way. Abigail used opportunities to find out what was going on behind the scenes and acquired information that proved crucial to solving the case, though I must say that I do not condone citizens becoming involved in police investigations.
Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Yes, and that also made the case more difficult. During the investigation it became clear that I was developing feelings for Abigail, which brought me uncomfortably close to not
only a possible suspect but also to someone whose life was in danger. Once I realized that we could be headed toward a more intimate relationship it obviously became clear to my supervisors and I was taken off of the case.
Sounds like you have a problem separating your personal life from your work.
Trust me, this is the only time that something like this has happened in my career. I tried hard not to let my feelings for Abigail taint my judgment. And nothing really happened between us until after the case was turned over to the D.A. Everything was kept at a professional level.
Thank you Detective Martinez. We’ll keep a lookout for any other high profile Hollywood cases that Abigail may get you involved in.
Loni Emmert lives in Southern California, works in entertainment, and loves to write murder mysteries. Lights! Camera! Murder! was released in October 2010. It is the second cozy mystery written by Loni Emmert. It is the first in the Abigail Whitefeather Mysteries and explains how Abigail finds herself alone at forty and moves to Hollywood to follow a long-forgotten dream: become an actress. Lights! Camera! Murder! can be purchased through Amazon.com, Hilliard & Harris, or the author’s website: