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Crystal Spencer

Was foul play involved in the death of an exotic dancer?


Crystal Spencer


She had been dead in her apartment for a week

CASE DETAILS


Neighbors heard screams the night she died

Crystal Lene Spencer was raised in a small northern California town. At 17, she dropped out of high school and took a job to help support the family. In the summer of 1982, she moved to Los Angeles to chase her Hollywood dream. But she soon realized that stardom was not so easy to come by. Crystal reluctantly took a job as an exotic dancer to pay her bills. On a good night, she took home $400 in tips, but she never fully accepted the fact that she was basically a stripper. According to Crystal’s friend, Patti Jo Millhouse, the fact bothered Crystal:

“She would just start crying. Like she felt degraded about herself, of what she’d done.”

In May of 1987, friends invited Crystal to a barbeque. She was eager to socialize with people who might help with her acting career.  It was there that she met Anton Kline:


The autopsy report contained discrepancies

“There was something very alluring and compelling about Crystal that would readily catch your eye. She knew that she would become, not only an actress, but she’d become a very famous actress, and it was just a matter of time.”

Anton Kline was an aspiring screenwriter and Ph.D. candidate. He and Crystal came from totally different backgrounds, but they soon fell in love. Anton took it upon himself to help Crystal broaden her horizons. Anton says he introduced her to art galleries, museums, and concerts:

“She loved classical music. She loved fine art. She wanted to know more about these other wonderful things of life that she had never been exposed to before.”

Anton had no idea that Crystal worked as a stripper. She walked a fine line, discovering art and culture by day, and working Hollywood’s dark side by night. Patti Jo said Crystal did her best to keep her night job a secret:

“Crystal loved Anton very much. She was very scared about him finding out, and she said, ‘Well, I better quit dancing then before he finds out.’”


Anton spoke to Crystal shortly before she died

Finally, four months after they met, Anton says he found out about Crystal’s other life:

“A neighbor saw her dancing at the club by the airport where she worked. And he said, ‘I saw that girl on stage.’  I said, ‘No, you couldn’t have.’  He said, ‘That was her.’  Of course it was her. And I was shocked.”

According to Patti Jo, Anton forgave Crystal:

“He was very upset, but he said it was OK. He accepted it. Which shocked her, and she didn’t know what to say.”

On Wednesday, May 4, 1988, Crystal was home sick with the flu. Anton stopped by and they talked about an offer she had received to work in Japan. The next night, Anton said he spoke the Crystal on the phone and she said she was feeling better:

“The conversation lasted about fifteen minutes. I said, ‘I’ll be in touch’, and she said OK, and I hung up the phone, and that was the last time I ever spoke with her.”


Family and friends were upset with investigators

Three days later, Anton tried to reach Crystal by phone, but he kept getting a busy signal.  An operator told him the receiver was off the hook. Anton said he just assumed that Crystal had left for Japan without saying good-bye:

“I was expecting, any day, to receive a very excited phone call from Crystal saying, ‘It’s wonderful here.’ And instead, I got a phone call from the Burbank police department.”

On Friday, the 13th of May, 1988, police had discovered Crystal’s decomposed body in her apartment. She appeared to have been dead for almost a week. Anton Kline was questioned:

“They at first just said she was found dead at her apartment and they wanted to know when I’d last seen her. And I said I last saw her Wednesday. They asked, ‘And how was she?’  I said, ‘Well, she had a cold.’  And they said they believe she died of natural causes.”

An autopsy revealed no trace of drugs or alcohol in Crystal’s system. There were no obvious signs of foul play or suicide.  The coroner ruled that her death was a result of “undetermined causes.” Deputy District Attorney Robert L. Cohen:

“The body of Miss Spencer was in such an advanced state of decomposition, they were not able to ascribe the cause of death so they have no finding.”

Anton could not believe that Crystal had died of natural causes:

“When I last saw her, she was a young woman with a cold. I was suspicious because of the way I was told the body was found in an obscure corner of her apartment, nude from the waist down. And I learned that neighbors had heard terrible screams coming from her apartment, that someone had described as ‘the sounds of torture.’”

On May 7, three days after Crystal had been at home sick, two of her neighbors, Susan Akin-Taylor and Jet Taylor were woken up around 4 A.M. by a strange crying sound.  According to Susan:

“I laid there thinking, ‘Someone’s being tortured. Someone’s being hurt. Something’s going on.’”

Jet Taylor:

“Susan was very adamant about calling the police, but out of my fear of what I heard, I didn’t want to get involved.”

Susan Akin-Taylor:

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live with the fact that I didn’t call the police. If I had, maybe she would still be alive.”

Crystal’s body was discovered a week after her neighbors heard the screams. They finally told their story to the police. Jet Taylor said the police officer seemed disinterested:

“He just took my statement and my name, asked me for my driver’s license, and that was it. And he was just very nonchalant about it.”

Crystal’s family requested to view the body several times, but the coroner’s office continually refused, claiming the body was in no condition to be seen. Anton was denied access to the police records. However, in September of 1988, four months after Crystal’s death, he was able to obtain the autopsy report. Anton says he was shocked by what he found:

“Crystal Spencer was barely five foot tall. The autopsy report claimed that she was an amazing five foot seven. Crystal weighed approximately 105 pounds.  The autopsy claims the body is a well-nourished, 140 pounds.  I was stunned.  I said, ‘This is the not the body of Crystal Spencer. Where is the real body of Crystal Spencer?’”

Deputy District Attorney Robert L. Cohen:

“We do have the remains identified by fingerprints from two different agencies, and those really eliminate any possibility of the coroner’s autopsying the wrong remains.”

Anton has come to the conclusion that the police know more than they’re admitting:

“I was told by one law enforcement official, ‘Bad things happen to bad girls.’  And I said, ‘You mean, bad girls die of natural causes?’ And he said, ‘You know what I mean’, and hung up the phone on me.”

Two weeks after Crystal’s body was found, family and friends gathered for a private memorial service. Crystal’s ashes were scattered beneath the famous Hollywood sign.  Anton Kline is still searching for the truth:

“I am angered that they are attempting to suppress the police reports in this case forever.  We need to know what happened to her. It’s important to all of us who cared about her to learn the truth. That’s all we want, is the truth.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.

 

Comments

Dahlia's picture

I believe someone killed her.

John Cain's picture

Strangled

Robbie's picture

What get me about this case is the police didn't want to let anyone see her saying her body in four days was badly decompose. Second four months later the autopsy shows it wasn't Crystal, her weight and height didn't match. Third her boyfriend didn't check on her for a week or maybe if I remember she suppose to had left to Japan? So the body was not Crystal then who was it and where is Crystal? All I can say a women with a name like Crystal, first three letters are CRY. The blood spilled will cry for justice. The boyfriend, police have a lot of questions to answer.

Debbie's picture

Crystal was my best friend in grammer school. It upsets me every time I think about how botched the investigation went. This was foul play and sadly; justice for her untimely death most likely wont occur in this lifetime. However the person guilty of the crime wont forget what they did on that fateful day. That truth will never change and it always catches up to them, at some point.

Carissa's picture

I would like to know why Anton let so much time lapse between contact.
Also if the body cremated was not Crystal's then who did it belong to?
Praying that this case gets solved.

Yvonne Waterloo's picture

I love you and miss you Crystal I think about you often.

Anonymous's picture

What was the name of the unsolved mystery segment and can it be viewed anywhere?

unsolved's picture

It is simply titled "Crystal", and it is airing in episode #SP105 on Lifetime and Escape.

Brittany's picture

Shoot me an email Britt.tadd.@gmail.com

Bill's picture

Do you have a date for the airing and if it's lifetime or Escape?

unsolved's picture

Hi Bill - please use this link to see the latest schedules: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialUnsolvedMysteries/app/1456205291187388/...

LaineyT's picture

Bill its just been shown on CBS Reality on Sky 146

Bill's picture

Thank you for your help. It appears that episode is not on any of the networks anytime soon. Is it available on a DVD or is there any other way to view it sooner? Can it be purchased? Thank you again.

unsolved's picture

Unfortunately this segment is not currently available for purchase. Lifetime sends us new dates every week, so please check back and hopefully it will be on the list soon!

Anonymous's picture

Do all of the people quoted in the story above appear on camera for interview in the episode?

unsolved's picture

Yes, they do.

Tommy B 's picture

Is there anywhere online where this episode (S3E29-SP105) can be seen?

unsolved's picture

Hi Tommy - unfortunately there hasn't been a streaming service yet that wants to show the episodes, so for now they are only on TV on Lifetime and Escape.

Samantha's picture

This really a shame because there are a lot of people that loved the old episodes with Robert Stack and would love to view them again. Also quite a few of the cases are still unsolved so they still need resolution---and getting them out there again to the public can only be a good thing.

Bill's picture

Any updates on when this episode SP 105 might air on Lifetime or Escape? It doesn't look like the episode schedules or times have been update on the Facebook page. Thanks

unsolved's picture

Hi Bill - the schedule for Lifetime typically updates on Fridays, and Escape updates once a month or so. Right now it looks like SP105 is scheduled for March 31, 2016 on Escape. Please check your local listings for the time.

Katy's picture

The "Crystal" Episode appeared on Lifetime HD 4-19-2016, at 5 am., on Direct TV. Does anyone know the specific city where she was born and also her age & birthdate?

Joy's picture

Does anyone know what commercials Crystal was in?

Nancy C's picture

Does the reruns on tv have up to date statuses? I know the series ended in 1999. Pls help! I may have seen someone recently but need to know how up to date these reruns are kept. Thank you!

unsolved's picture

Hi Nancy - we try to keep our website up to date, but the show only gets updated about once a year or so. Please email us any information you have at unsolved@unsolved.com, send it to us through the tip form at http://unsolved.com/content/tips or through our app. Thank you.

joey 's picture

Any updates yet

Want to be anonymous's picture

I too think the boyfriend knows more than what he's saying. Did anyone confirm the Japan trip? I don't think crystal would have left without letting others know especially her boyfriend. Also was time of death accurate? Why didn't boyfriend go to her apartment when he found out her phone was off the hook?

Anonymous's picture

Don't act like a detective or if you know these people personally to make such a judgment, I doubt you have any skills in such things.

Annie's picture

Was the person that told Kline his girlfriend was an exotic dancer identified AND questioned?

Justin's picture

Any update on the next airing date for this episode? I can't find a schedule by episode.

unsolved's picture

Hi Justin - this case is in episodes SP105 on Escape. The next scheduled airing is on December 19, 2016. Please check your local listings to confirm the time.

Joe's picture

If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream it there. It's Season 3 Episode 20

Mitzy's picture

The part where the neighbors talk and say that they didn't call the police because they didn't want to get involved makes me boiling mad! I hope that someday, somebody doesn't want to get involved" when THEY need help!!

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