A Generous Man
They said it was easy to mistake David Allen Lucas for celebrity, and considered him to be a nice and generous man. And whilst he had a difficult time growing up no one who knew him would have thought him capable of what he did.
In 1984, on November 20th, Mr Swanke reported his daughter missing
The last he and his wife had heard from Anne, his daughter, had been a phone call to say she was setting off for home from her boyfriend’s house, less than 30 minutes away. But she never arrived.
It wasn’t long before her car was discovered. Out of gas but with a can of gasoline in the trunk, her keys, purse, and a lit flashlight. She had run out of gas and walked to a gas station, the attendant remembered seeing her at 1:45 am. It looked like she had made it back to her car and kidnapped before she could refuel and drive the rest of the way home.
Two days after Thanksgiving a hiker found Anne’s body near the Sweetwater Reservoir in Spring Valley. Her throat slashed from ear to ear. She was found fully clothed.
A Routine Computer Search
It wasn’t the hundreds of phone tips they received that eventually provided a lead but a computer search which turned up two other cases with similarities.
On October 23rd a babysitter, Rhonda Strang and her charge had been found dead. Rhonda was found fully clothed, and both had their throats slashed.
And on June 8th, a 34-year-old woman visiting the area, Jodie Santiago Robertson, had been kidnapped whilst walking to her brother’s home from a restaurant. Her attacker held a knife against her throat and drove her to a house where he tied her up, placed her on a bed, and choked her into unconsciousness. The kidnapper then slashed her throat and dumped her, leaving her for dead. But she survived.
If all these incidents were connected then the attacker was a local.
Detectives flew out to talk with Jodie, who was willing to do whatever she could to help catch the man. She gave them what she knew, in detail. A car. The house. And a description of the attacker.
Eventually, in December, a tip came in that seemed to fit -David Allen Lucas, a nice guy who ran a carpet cleaning business and lived not far from where Swanke had been found. And he had a record.
In May 1973 David Allen Lucas was charged with kidnapping, rape, and assault with a deadly weapon. Which he served four years in prison for. And psychiatric evaluations classified him as a sex offender.
Still, they didn’t have enough evidence. So they flew in Jodie Santiago Robertson to look at mugshots, the house, and the car. David Allen Lucas was arrested on December 15th and held without bail.
…He feels confident that he’ll be cleared. My guy is innocent. There was a lot of pressure on the sheriff to make an arrest in this case and they made one…. – D.A. G. Anthony Gilham, Startling Detective
David Allen Lucas Linked to Two Other Cases
Lucas was linked to another double murder. That of Suzanne Camille Jacobs and her three-year-old son, who were found dead in her Sand Diago home in 1979, on May 24th. She was clutching blonde strands of hair from her attacker in her hand.
And considered a suspect in the murder of Gayle Robert Garcia who was found dead, on December 8th 1981, in a vacant Spring Valley house she’d been showing to potential buyers. Her throat slashed.
The Trial Lasted Five Years
The Jurors found David Allen Lucas guilty, in June of 1989, of three first-degree murders: Suzanne Jacobs and Colin, her son, and Anne Catherine Swanke. And for attempted murder: Jodie Santiago Robertson. They then had to then decide on his punishment – gas chamber or life.
He was sentenced to death on September 19th, 1989
P.S. I first saw the story of David Lucas in Startling Detective (July 1992) written by Henry Radner. I have a few of these magazines kicking about so if you’re a collector and missing any, let me know which ones.
P.P.S. Read about Serial Killer here
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!