A California deputy is shot to death during an attempted burglary of his home.

Smiling Charlie Anderson with a mustache

Charlie Anderson

The lifeless body of Charlie Anderson on the floor of his home

Charlie was shot inside his home

CASE DETAILS

On January 24, 1987, a deputy sheriff named Charlie Anderson was gunned down in his Burbank, California home. Anderson was a 14-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He distinguished himself as a highly skilled driver, teaching hundreds of officers how to handle themselves and their vehicles in dangerous situations. Sergeant George Grein was a close colleague of Anderson’s:

“Charlie was probably one of the most talented drivers that I have ever met. It was a natural talent for him. Charlie was able to get along with everybody. He was serious on the job. But he had a good sense of humor when he was around the rest of the staff.”

Gray tape recording machine

Who was the mysterious caller they recorded?

Charlie was also a dedicated father, never too busy to spend evenings and weekends with his two sons. To those who knew him, Charlie did not seem to have an enemy in the world—until he was shot and killed in his own home. Charlie’s wife, Beth, told Detective Roger Mason of the Burbank Police Department that on the night of the murder, the couple and their two sons arrived home around midnight:

“They arrived home, and because Mrs. Anderson was suffering from a back injury, her husband offered to go inside the house with their oldest boy first. He asked her to wait in the car and she did so. Charlie Anderson went in the house with the oldest son and, we believe, took him upstairs. A few moments later, Mrs. Anderson heard what sounded like backfires from where she was parked in the driveway. She was still seated in the car. Because the sound was unusual, she walked to the house and called in to see if there was anything wrong. She ran downstairs, picked up her younger son, and ran to a next-door neighbor’s house.”

Police at the scene found the Anderson’s older son unharmed. Their first impression was that Charlie had surprised a burglar and had been shot. But according to Detective Mason, there were other signs that the burglary had been staged:

“While they had selected certain items and placed them together to be taken from the house, they had overlooked other items that were much more valuable that were in plain sight. This led to a second theory that this might have been someone that perhaps knew Deputy Anderson that confronted him and shot him.”

A police investigator writting something on a note pad inside of Charlie's house

Police believed the robbery was staged

Charlie’s sister, Trish, was at the crime scene. She agreed with Detective Mason’s theory that the robbery was staged:

“But what really surprised me was the look on his face. He had a wide-eyed look as if he’d been shocked or betrayed. It’s something that lingers with me today.”

In the end, the evidence collected at the crime scene was ambiguous. The only identifiable fingerprints were from members of the family. Police were left with a murder victim and virtually no leads, until a mysterious phone call one day later:

“The man on the line was very, very, nervous. He was very concerned about his voice being taped, about… the call being traced or in any way the police identifying who he was.”

The call could not be connected to an unrecorded line. The detective had to ask the witness to hang up and call again. The man agreed. But the phone call never came.

Two police cruisers driving down a highway

Charlie was a skilled police officer

On January 31, 1987, Charlie Anderson was laid to rest with the full honors reserved for officers killed in the line of duty. Since then, a lack of evidence has dragged the investigation to a standstill. Detective Mason and the rest of the Burbank Police Department are still searching for the unidentified caller:

“We feel it’s very, very important to locate this caller because he was concerned enough to call us right at the beginning of the investigation. He has never been identified and we’re very, very interested in speaking to him, to find out what he does know about this case.”

Burbank Police firmly believe that the mystery witness is their last hope to close this case. A $25,000 reward is being offered and police have guaranteed confidentiality for anyone coming forward with information.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season six with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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47 Comments

  1. Lucas

    What a sad case. She definitely got away with it. Records shows Beth Anderson started a trust fund only weeks after her husband’s murder. She continued to live in the same house for years. I know I wouldn’t want to live in the same house that my husband was killed in by someone unknown. She lived in Burbank her whole life and after Charlie’s murder, started buttering everyone up with her Christmas décor, advertised banquets—not to mention her obsession with rotaries and charming the Burbank community. She clearly wanted to appear as someone who could never commit such an unspeakable act, but after Charlie’s murder, she never had to work a day in her life. Those pictures of her in Hawaii at her third wedding shows eyes colder than ice—just a blank, hollow, soulless face. Not to mention, look at that photo of her at the memorial service for her husband looking at her kid who just lost his father: HUGE SMILE. Her husband was just brutally murdered and she is downright giddy at the memorial service. She totally reminds me of one of those scandalous narcissistic sociopaths. I also wanted to point out, the sequence of events do not comport with surprising a burglar or intruder. If Charles had surprised a burglar or intruder, the intruder would have shot him when he had no chance of escape: when Charlie was walking up the stairs and down the hall to his son’s room. Charlie would have never made it to his son’s room but once he was in his son’s room, that would be the perfect time for a burglar to make a run for it out the back door. Instead, Charlie tucks his son in bed and this intruder decides to commit an act punishable by death by killing him when he could have just made a run for it while the son was being tucked into bed. This fits with someone who was there to get the job done; not someone caught in a house with no way out. Let’s not forget the half-arsed job they did at making it look like a robbery; expensive items were skipped over. Sounds like someone who is a very greedy, materialist person who didn’t even want to give up their most prized jewelry to create the most important diversion of a burglary. Sounds just like his materialistic, superficial wife didn’t want to part with some items. Yup, the chances this was a burglar or random crime is .00000000000001 %. It is so sad these boys lost their father and like many kids who lose one parent to murder, couldn’t help but be brain-washed by their uncooperative mother. I don’t necessarily believe karma is real, but her early demise at age 63 on Christmas morning really makes me wonder. Might have been all those years of fearing she’d be indicted. It’s clear the police were trying to put pressure on her with the couple of local articles stating that she never let them interview her again. Also, picture’s of the real wife were never shown on the Unsolved Mysteries episode. However, they did choose an actress that looks just like her. I think there was a reason for that. I agree with what the person said about being uncooperative with police, being the most important person to help solve the crime, she was impeding the investigation by not helping detectives and that is not symptomatic of someone who had trauma. If anything, helping put the killer behind bars would make most people get a decent night of sleep—including the fact this was her children’s father that was murdered. Not helping solve your husband’s murder is not a symptom of trauma. I do believe the person who pulled the actual trigger may still be out there somewhere but it is sad that she never faced justice in this life. I hope police take a good hard look at her friends list on Facebook. The hitman would definitely be one of her Facebook friends. Another sad fact of this case is Charlie’s father was so traumatized and overwhelmed by his son’s murder, he died suddenly only a year after the murder. Then Charlie’s mother died of a broken heart only a couple years after that. Then, in 2013, Charlie’s brother committed suicide. He was said to have never gotten over his little brother’s death. Just a sad case all-around.

    Reply

  2. Monica

    The only story that was given to the police was by the wife of this supposedly waiting in the car due to a back injury while he took one child into the house. What in the world would a back injury have anything whatsoever to do with her going into the house??? Sitting in the car with the other child makes no sense. She stayed in the car so that she was safe while her husband was killed. Then what she said about the “backfires” and subsequently going into the house makes no sense either. If one heard those, why would one decide THEN to go into the house and “find” the husband? I cannot believe they bought her story – everything she said stinks to high heaven.

    Reply

  3. Lesliecomelately

    In another episode covering this case it was revealed that the wife always refused to be interviewed after the murder. Gee … That’s not suspicious. (Cough … ). And as mentioned, she sure was capable of doing a lot of running after the murder despite her back injury. One comment mentioned the 4 year old son did it by accident. But did he hide the gun too, with all his 4 year old wisdom? (Cough … ). Note: The gun was never found. This case bugs the bleep out of me. And so sad, ’cause it sounds like he was a really great guy. And that mystery caller! Must have been someone that knew the wife was in on it, or knew the killer one way or the other, but didn’t want to be identified, and chickened out. What a coward. I’m surprised they couldn’t have subpoenaed the wife for a lie detector test. It’s really maddening. I understand the wife remarried shortly thereafter, and later divorced. Her divorced husband should consider himself lucky. I also understand she passed away recently at age 64, so maybe it’s all moot, but I still wish she could have been named accountable if she was in on it. The guy claiming to be her cousin down there on July 8, 2018 comment … Well if she really wasn’t involved, I never heard of past and current trauma being an excuse for not cooperating with the police. My heart goes out to all related (who aren’t guilty). Now that she’s gone, I wonder if the mystery caller has passed too? I wonder what the kids think about all this. I wonder too many darn things about this case. Like I said … maddening! Now I’ll tell you what I really think … Sumbudy stop meh!!!

    Reply

  4. ArmchairDetective79

    I guarantee the wife was in on it. She stayed in the car due to an alleged back injury, while her husband took one of the children into the house… and yet when she found her husband shot she was able to not only RUN out of the house, but pick up the other kid that was in the car? And when she found her husband shot, wouldn’t her first instinct as a mother be to make sure to get her other child out of the house? I suspect she was screwing around on Charlie, and maybe wanted to get rid of him so she could move on with the new guy and get Charlie’s life insurance to boot. They should definitely take a closer look at her.

    Reply

  5. TJ

    Came across the story on youtube watching old episodes of course my first thought was the wife or at least someone that was known to them both. Look of shock is kinda circumstanstial I would think being surprised and being shot would do that to anyone. But for sure the story of the wife should of been more in depth. I am assuming there was a gun powder test done on the wife at the time of the killing.

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    Beth died this year at the age of 64. Case closed, IMO. According to police trying to solve her husband’s murder, Beth refused to talk to them in the last years of her life. I would really like to know what evidence they presented to the DA.

    Reply

  7. Dean

    So a guy is in a house and steals nothing,just kills the husband……the wife goes in the house and lives……how VERY odd…..she also remarried soon after…..now I know California people are “special” but I mere child would check into the wife……its plain as day she had something to do with this……i think she shot him….staged the seen…..thats why he had the look of shock in his eyes…….come on Mayberry police y’all can do better then this.

    Reply

  8. Bill Blaski

    A lot of this case stinks! This was a trained deputy sheriff that would’ve been prepared had he sensed danger. I guess the only outcome that makes sense is he walked in on a burglary. Could this have been a neighbor that knows their routine and surprised him. I hope this is one of the cases the new show spotlights.

    Reply

  9. Shawn

    I wonder if Charlies son accidentally shot him with his own gun thinking it was a toy or something. I think the L.A. should re-interview the Wife and look into the man that she married after Charlie died. I wonder if he would be willing to take a lie detector test including Charlie’s Widow. If they refuse the test then the Police should suspect deception on their part. The wife is definitely involved. Charlie Anderson may GOD help solve your case. I have a very strong feeling his case will finally be solved. The authorities should offer more money for information from the public.

    Reply

  10. Charles

    Full disclosure: the wife, Beth, is my cousin. Before Charlie died, she had gone through a lot of heartache due to the loss of a child. When he died, the tragedy was compounded. As to her flat emotional response, after all the crap she had gone through, I’d probably be pretty numb too. Just something to think about before all of the arm-chair detective-Ing starts.

    Reply

  11. Derek

    The wife was married not long after (since divorced) but she knows who did this. Her story is full of crap.

    Reply

  12. thinkingoutloud

    maybe it was the wife lol maybe she never sat in the car. they all went inside, put the babies in bed knowing they would be too young to understand any of it at the time, and shot and killed her husband which is why he had that look on his face. How do we know she even stayed in the car? the only witnesses were the 2 young kids.

    Or it was someone he trusted, maybe another cop coworker and they were having an affair and the cop murdered him.

    Reply

  13. Magdi

    After years of watching forensic files episodes, my senses are telling me that this is a murder-for-hire case, but the crime scene was staged to make it look like a burglary gone wrong. Either the wife manipulated and solicited someone using sex to have him kill the husband or paid cash up front to a hitman to do the work for her. Most likely, this is the work of a professional hitman, because police did not find any traces of foreign hair, skin cells, fingerprints, or any other form of DNA. Police may know that the wife had done it, but there is no a single solid physical evidence that ties her to the crime. Did the wife shoot and kill him? This is possible but unlikely considering poisoning is the feminine most common way to get rid of a male partner. What is the motive? Insurance money pay out.

    Perhaps, the killer gave the wife detailed instructions of what to do when she arrives to the crime scene and what to tell police afterwards. Did he suggest to her to act like having a back pain? Then why back pain in specific? This may give a clue that the killer may had suffered from some sort of back pain. The mysterious voice on the phone might be that’s of the killer or an accomplice. For some reason, this caller was trapped with guilt and remorse. Did the police cross-check any photo taken from the funeral? It is possible that the unidentified caller attended the funeral, or visited the victim’s grave.

    Reply

  14. Anonymous

    Let’s see staged robbery, wife stays outside, then runs off to a neighbor leaving one child in the house?
    Shes in the driveway but doesn’t see anybody run out?
    And no one in the police can figure the Wifes lover or hiered help did this?
    Seriously

    Reply

  15. Anonymous

    Rest in peace, brother. You walk only with the angels. Also, I love ‘Unsolved Mysteries’. I remember having a sleepover with one of my friends when we were around 12 and we were watching a classic episode about a guy who apparently lived with his elderly mother and had human bones in his yard and a tattoo that said ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and then the host guy, the guy from the Untouchables, comes on at the end to advise that he was still on the loose, and suddenly the power went out in the house and it was really freaking scary.

    Reply

  16. Anonymous

    “They arrived home, and because Mrs. Anderson was suffering from a back injury,”
    “She ran downstairs, picked up her younger son, and ran to a next-door neighbor’s house.”
    So she stays in the car because of a back injury but can run down stairs and run to a neighbor’s house. Hmm, perhaps the wife did it, in the bedroom, with a pistol.

    Reply

  17. Anonymous

    If anyone is interested, in an article in the LA times it states that he carried his 5 year old son in while his wife waited in the car with the 1 year old daughter it also states that the son was upstairs in bed so how a sleeping 5 year old can kill his dad is beyond me

    Reply

  18. Anonymous

    “She ran downstairs, picked up her younger son, and ran to a next-door neighbor’s house.” I wonder how this was possible when her back injury was so severe that her husband offered to go inside the house with their oldest boy first. Hmmmm

    Reply

  19. Anonymous

    It might be another theory. The wife had a back injury, and she knew, her husband would offer to go into the house first. She is the one, who knew best him. She had a boyfriend, and wanted to get rid of her husband, She faked the back pain, the boyfriend, who was probably somebody Charlie knew well, a friend, a co-worker, was waiting for him. The woman trust her friend he will not do any harm of the child, so let Charlie take the child with him. If she hand’t done so, Charlie would have been suspicious.
    The case is still unsolved. It might be due to a man familiar with crimes, in other words, a cop. This, of course, only a theory. but not impossible.

    Reply

  20. Anonymous

    SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT HERE…
    Mr. Anderson let his wife wait in the car, because of her bed back, but then she’s able to “PICK UP her son,” and then “RUN to the neighbor’s house”?
    An amazing recovery??

    Reply

  21. Chester

    You guys have been watching too much TV. Of course it wasn’t his wife.

    Reply

  22. Milmstein 577

    I totally think it was the wife who did it. I don’t know how people can live with themselves after killing someone…..ESPECIALLY THEIR OWN SPOUSE!!!!!!

    Reply

  23. blue bird

    THATS wrong CHARILE DID NOT DESERVE NONE OF THAT STUFF HEY U KILLERS U LISTEN UP I HOPE U GET WHAT U DESERVE U TOOK CHARILES LIFE AND NOW GOD WILL TAKE YOURS ALSO

    Reply

  24. R

    This gives absolutely no information. What led them to believe it was staged? What did the caller even say?

    Reply

  25. Bill Blaski

    Any updates on this case?

    Reply

  26. anonymous

    The wife knows who did it even if she didn’t do it . What woman would sit out in a car with a little baby in the middle of the night faking a back injury but after her husband was killed she was immediately healed and had the strength to pick up the baby and run.

    Reply

  27. Brody

    The people saying the wife did it are crazy. If you see your spouse dead you’d be surprise what fear would allow you to do and/or not do. I would suspect a coworker before the wife in this case. Maybe he knew/seen too much and someone felt he had to go.

    Reply

  28. Anonymous

    It may be Domingo maybe

    Reply

  29. Anonymous

    Does the wife have any medical records etc. about her back injury? How long before the murder did this injury occur and how severe was it?

    Reply

  30. Maria

    My first instinct was that his wife shot him. I can’t believe that the Burbank Police Department would bypass this idea and not interview the wife. It’s all so strange how the wife sat in the car late at night while waiting for husband to come back down from putting their older son to bed. Why didnt he take the youngest to bed first?? I think this was planned because if the older son was left in the car while the wife goes inside the house the oldest son would be able to recount this if his mothe left the car…anyways, wife hears gunshots and physically manages to get out to the car go inside the house and scope out the scene. Then runs back downstairs with physical disability grabs her youngest son and runs to the neighbors house?!?!? That to me is a red flag. The shock and betrayed looked on police officers face is the look anyone would give if their own loved one kills them. The scene looked staged?? The evidence is right under these police officers noses. Wife did it and Burbank Police department knows it.

    Reply

  31. Christine

    I just watched this episode last night 4/25/16. I immediately thought of the wife. It was her words against the husband. He is dead. Did she get a life insurance? Did she have a boyfriend right away or during the marriage? Irononically, right after that show was the show of Scott Peterson killing his wife and baby. They never found actually concrete proof, however, he was found guilty and put on death row. Which was right. So they need to investigate the wife more.

    Reply

  32. Latoya Hubbard

    The position of the home where this officer was located tells me that, his wife set this murder up. Faked a back injury, coming home late hours from being out. The children aren’t capable of identifying any one. The perp new the layout of the home. He new he would be bringing the child in for bed while the wife waited out in the car. Anderson was surprised that he new his killer, and was shocked in disbelief that this person was capable of murder. Sorry to say his wife is responsible for this. No valueables were taken so we rule out robbery as a motive. The wife should of been made top suspect !

    Reply

  33. Daniel

    No doubt the wife did it. None of it makes sense-my wife would never leave our child alone with a killer, nor would I. Too bad she was not prosecuted.

    Reply

  34. Louise Bradley

    It was the wife. No doubt about it.

    No mother would leave her child potentially in the house with a gunman who has just murdered her husband.

    Can’t believe she’s been allowed to get away with that.

    Soooooo obvious

    Reply

    • [email protected]

      I agree with you 100 percent,why would she leave the older son in the house with a potential murderer still in the house…and how where there no signs of a intruder any where or a break in…And his shocked look on his face tells the whole story ….he obviously knew his killer!

      Reply

    • fgsfds

      Yeah. Agreed. Obviously it was her (or had some part of it). Plus she had a back injury and managed to go to the house, go to her husband and run down the stairs to her neighbor’s house? And considering her “injury” she would’ve been an easy target. Come on.

      Reply

    • Alyssa

      Defiantly have a feeling it was the wife.

      Reply

  35. GINGER

    OF COURSE HE WAS SHOCKED

    Charlie was also a dedicated father, never too busy to spend evenings and weekends with his two sons. To those who knew him, Charlie did not seem to have an enemy in the world—until he was shot and killed in his own home. Charlie’s wife, Beth, told Detective Roger Mason of the Burbank Police Department that on the night of the murder, the couple and their two sons arrived home around midnight:

    “They arrived home, and because Mrs. Anderson was suffering from a back injury, her husband offered to go inside the house with their oldest boy first. He asked her to wait in the car and she did so. Charlie Anderson went in the house with the oldest son and, we believe, took him upstairs. A few moments later, Mrs. Anderson heard what sounded like backfires from where she was parked in the driveway. She was still seated in the car. Because the sound was unusual, she walked to the house and called in to see if there was anything wrong. She ran downstairs, picked up her younger son, and ran to a next-door neighbor’s house.”

    Reply

  36. Anonymous

    How old was his son at the time?

    Reply

    • CAMI

      HIS SON WAS ABOUT 3 OR 4 AT THE TIME MAYBE YOUNGER
      BUT HE WAS IN A CARSEAT SO WAY TOO YOUNG TO BE CONSIDERED FOR MURDER

      Reply

  37. renee pettigrew

    The police should question his wife

    Reply

    • Aleisha

      I believe the wife may have had her son kill his father. Ive watched stories on Investigation Discovery where mothers/parents had brain washed the kids and were able to get them to do unthinkable crimes. I believe both mom and son should both be located and separated immediately for police questioning.

      Reply

  38. Rebecca

    This sounds like someone who was very familiar with him, someone that knew the ins and outs of his home. He was being watched, the person knew he was out with his family so he let himself in and waited for him to arrive, it could have been one of his own colleague, it seems personal, no one else was hurt so he was the intended target. I was hoping the caller would have called back, maybe this crime would have been solved or some important lead the police would be able to go on,. May he rest in peace this family need closure I hope the caller would come forward.

    Reply

    • Mike Roy

      I have a feeling it was revenge of some sort of payback. From a previous arrest he made yhe suspect wanted to get even. So he followed stalked and planned this killing. The mysterious caller was probably an accomplice. Perhaps a getaway driver knows all about the killing. But is scared and intimidated by the killer.

      Reply