A San Francisco vice cop is found murdered in his car and witnesses report seeing him with two women just before his death.
Walnut Creek, California, is an affluent suburb of San Francisco. On the morning of July 11 th , 1988, a shopping center groundskeeper noticed a Corvette sitting alone in the parking lot. A man seemed to be napping behind the wheel. But the man wasn’t asleep, he was dead.
The victim was identified as Lester Garnier, an undercover vice officer with the San Francisco Police Department, who lived in nearby Concord. Detective Jerry Whiting of the Walnut Creek Police Department:
If he was off duty, Lester was usually behind the wheel of his prized 1984 Corvette. He enjoyed the good life, but was also devoted to his parents. Jean Garnier is Lester’s mother:
Those who knew him said Lester had a reputation as a ladies man. His natural charm with women also came in handy on the job. His beat was San Francisco’s Mission District, the neighborhood he was born and raised in and an area with its share of streetwalkers. According to Detective George R. Willis of the Walnut Creek Police Department, Lester often duped prostitutes by posing as a customer:
Before his murder, one of Lester’s final assignments was to stake out a San Francisco brothel said to be patronized by civic leaders and police officers. After it was raided, Roger Boas, a local mayoral candidate, pleaded guilty to charges of having sex there with underage prostitutes. Several police officers were also investigated, but only one was charged and later fired. Rumors circulated that corrupt members of the police force had Lester murdered in retaliation for his work in busting the ring. According to Det. Whiting, that theory was investigated:
On the evening of his death, Lester left his home to meet a friend for a movie in San Francisco. Less than 20 minutes later, according to Det. Whiting, he called from his car with a message:
Det. George Willis:
The witness described one of the women as being in her late 20s, about 5’6″ and said she weighed about 110 pounds. The other was described as being in her mid 30s, tall, with a slender build. Det. Whiting:
Under hypnosis, the second witness helped police create a composite drawing of the blond-haired woman. Her appearance was similar to the other eyewitness description.
Det. Whiting showed the composite to the carpet layer:
There is one other clue suggesting this woman might be involved in the murder. Police used a fingerprint found in Lester’s car to identify the blonde-haired woman seen by the witness. She is a Scottish national who’s lived in the United States since 1985. Although she’s been named as a suspect, authorities don’t have enough evidence to file charges.
The mayor’s office in San Francisco is offering $250,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.