Does a notebook contain clues to the disappearance of a Los Angeles model?

Smiling Kimberly Pandelios

Kimberly Pandelios

Police search party stumble upon Kimberly's body in the woods

Kim’s remains were found in the woods

CASE DETAILS

Just outside Los Angeles, nearly seven hundred thousand acres of wilderness covers the sprawling Angeles National Forest. On February 29, 1992, a dedicated off-road enthusiast, who we’ll call Jeff, was exploring a campground area in the Angeles National Forest when his curiosity led him into a mystery. Jeff drove into a campsite and saw an attractive blonde woman sitting on the ground close to a fire:

“I’d noticed this one little road off to the side and I saw that somebody had set up a camp there. As I pulled up, directly in front of me there was an old panel van. To the left of that was a tent. To the left of the tent there was a very attractive girl sitting by herself. Her hair was done up; it was curly and long. She appeared to have make-up on. She was looking down and she very slowly raised her head and we had eye contact.”

Group of men approaching a person driving a VW beatle

The witness was chased off by a group of men

Suddenly, Jeff was ambushed by three men who began pounding on his car, demanding to know what he wanted. Jeff immediately left, assuming that the men were just being protective of their camp:

“I never thought about calling the police, nor did I think that these guys were really dangerous to anybody. I thought they were being protective of their camp.”

News article with photos of Kim and David that read 'Sex Offender Arrested in Models Slaying

David was convicted of Kim’s murder

A year later, on March 3, 1993, the Los Angeles County Coroner was called to investigate a possible murder site in the Angeles Forest. A partial set of skeletal remains were found only fifty yards from the spot where Jeff had seen the young blonde woman. When the coroner checked dental records of missing people in the Los Angeles area, he found a match. The remains were identified as those of 20-year-old Kimberly Pandelios, who had disappeared a year before. When she disappeared, Kimberly was living in Southern California. She was taking business classes and worked part-time as a model.
According to her mother, Magaly Spector, it was a tragic end to a promising young life:

“She was loved by everybody in the family. And she was so sweet, so kind. The very end of her life, I don’t want to even think about it.”

After the remains were identified, Kimberly’s story made headlines on the local news. By coincidence, Jeff, the off-road enthusiast was watching:

“The TV was on and I said, ‘that’s the girl. That’s the girl I saw sitting there.’ In my mind there was no doubt that the girl on TV was the same I saw in the camp…”

Jeff immediately contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and accompanied two deputies to the spot where he had seen the woman. But far too much time had passed. There was not a single clue to the strange disappearance and death of Kimberly Pandelios. The coroner could not determine what caused Kimberly’s death. Police only knew that she was no longer a missing person. Her case was now re-classified as a probable homicide. Sergeant John Laurie of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department learned that the day before Jeff saw Kimberly in the makeshift camp, a burned-out car was found near a campground in the Angeles Forest:

“The fire was started in the passenger compartment on the passenger side of the front seat. We were able to determine that the front seat was pulled forward in a position that would be as if she drove to that location.”

Investigators found the charred remains of a spiral notebook in the car. It belonged to Kimberly Pandelios. After running a DMV check on the plates, the police were able to contact Kimberly’s husband, who had already reported his wife missing. A few weeks later, two hikers found a second notebook under a nearby bridge. It was Kimberly’s “dayrunner”. However, the dayrunner yielded no additional clues. Apparently, a third notebook is still unaccounted for. The day after Kimberly was reported missing, her son’s babysitter told Sergeant Laurie that a man named Paul had telephoned for Kimberly the day she disappeared:

“The notebook that Paul has is probably the most valuable notebook. That might have her appointments or contacts for later that day. There’s a possibility that Kimberly went up into the mountains to meet someone and that appointment might be in her book.”

Kimberly told her husband that she was scheduled to do an outdoor photo shoot. According to Sergeant Laurie, she had responded to an ad in a local newspaper:

“A theory is that she drove to that location by herself and met someone to do an outdoor shoot. And that once she was there, she was taken off the road, back into the area that she was ultimately found.”

Authorities believe Kimberly was abducted sometime on Thursday afternoon. When Jeff drove up, it was just past noon on Saturday:

“In retrospect, she might have been drugged, but you just had no idea. If she would’ve cried out, if she would’ve said something. If she would’ve given me an indication she was in trouble, of course I would’ve done something. But I didn’t know. It just gets to me that I didn’t do something right then and there to help her. This person basically died because of my inaction or my ignorance. You can’t bring the girl back, but I would like justice to be done.”

Update:

In the case of Kimberly Pandelios, justice has finally been served. Twelve years after Kimberly’s disappearance, a convicted sex offender, David Rademaker, was arrested for her murder. Authorities tied Rademaker to Kimberly using phone records and were able to make the arrest, thanks to the testimony of a teenage girl he had been harassing. A judge sentenced Rademaker to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


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

12 Comments

  1. Laura

    This is so crazy. I knew David. He was a good guy. I don’t see how this is even possible. I knew him after he supposedly killed this girl. Is he guilty of other things? Yea, for sure. He definitely liked his girlfriends on the younger side…But murder? Na. I don’t believe it.

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  2. Soccer Mom

    Hello I just wanted to leave a post to let you know I know Dave rademaker personally We went ice skating at Pickwick ice arena in Burbank. I went to Junior High and high school with him he lived only a block from my house. We hung out at his house and he hung out at mine. So everything in the story is correct. I don’t know about the three men at the campsite maybe one of them was Dave maybe it’s all made up I don’t know. The campground that he was at is the Monte Crisco in the Angeles Forest. I’ve been there I’ve seen it it’s isolated it’s off the main road. I don’t know why he snapped and did what he did he was never like this when I knew him. But he ran a prostitution ring had relationships with young girls sold drugs. It’s very very sad when it’s someone you know that committed these crimes. I lost touch with him for many years until I came back into California in 1998. I tried to get in touch with him but he was nowhere to be found. But then to move ahead in 2004 I heard about his arrest on the news and was shocked and very sad . He took a young girl’s life so senseless I wish I knew why he did when he did but now he will be in jail for the rest of his life and he’s only 56 years old . I wanted to add as far as the Sobek case someone made a comment if this was connected. They thought that the man who killed Miss Sobeck had killed Kimberly. I think that was one of Dave’s outs He probably thought he would not get caught because the similarities with Miss sobecks death. But he was wrong it’ll always catch up with you somehow

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  3. Soccer mom

    Hi again. Yes she was very young and it was very sad. Dave like younger girls like I said in my other posting he had prostitutes he sold drugs to them he had relationships with them. I have no idea is all the years knowing him like I said he was never like this in high school he had girlfriends but something made him snap. I knew his parents well the sister well and I’m not making excuses but I’m trying to explain this in the post because other people that have posted never knew him personally. Well he’s in jail now for the rest of his life and I really really hope he is thinking long and hard what he did and he’s only 56 years old.

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  4. Frisco Sanyu

    Yeah I’m sorry this case was just a “quick close” for them it seems. I have to say it’s this “Jeff” man… the way he expressed his “guilt” for not saying anything the day he just saw these people in the trails is slightly too much… a person that commits a crime is usually going to put themselves on the case in some way or another and this was his perfect fit. He also emphasized how beautiful she was more than necessary. The man they arrested is just another individual seeking attention. He brags about the harm he has caused her and tells this other girl he saw the story on unsolved mysteries which I feel is a red flag for fraud. What do y’all think?

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  5. Jenny from the Block

    Maybe Jeff is actually the Paul character and is the murderer.

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  6. thinkingoutloud

    weird that these men who had Kimberly clearly had no intentions of letting her go free, but when a random stranger shows up to the campsite they let him go freely. if they were holding her captive and planning to murder her, why let a witness get away? i agree with boomer, he was either mistaken or lying. he notices a private campsite out in the middle of nowhere and decided to proceed and pull up? doesn’t make any sense.

    the girl was clearly held without her consent as her husband reported her missing and then sadly murdered.

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  7. Charles

    The only mystery remaining is the two accomplices. Perhaps the driver was mistaken or Rademaker refused to name them.

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  8. Boomer

    Sounds like this guy Jeff was either mistaken or lying. Sadly i believe he was flat out lying. He seemed so adamant that the “girl” he saw was Kim. It obviously was not her, there was never even any “girl”.

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  9. Bernard Short

    I’ve watched this story 20Something years ago & I thought it was the then 3 men in the desert who’d been involved during the time that this man had seen them at a camp just hours before the murder & now after all of those years passed now they’ve arrested one man with the help of telephone records & all I see that this case is officially over.

    Reply

  10. Kevin Thompson

    Were the three men at the camp connected to her murder?

    Reply

  11. randy bailey

    how sad she was so pretty and young !

    Reply