Cold case warms, then cools

Signal file photo The search for CalArts student Constance Marsh was called off in April 1974. In December of that year, her skull was found near Texas Canyon Road.

When Detective Richard Lopez was recently handed an old photo carried around these past 45 years by CalArts students who remember with fondness their friend and fellow student artist Connie Marsh, there was a flicker of hope in the “cold case.”

Lopez, who works for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau, had long since run out of leads in following the Marsh murder.

“It’s unfortunate, but all the leads have been followed,” he said last week.

The old friends of Connie Marsh had, for more than four decades, wondered who it was in a group photo who none of them could identify — and didn’t he look like serial killer Ted Bundy?

So much so, that a CalArts alumnus shared the photo with Lopez.

“We’ve had a few people look at the photo. We’ve compared the photo against every file photo we have. There’s no match,” he said.

He even compared it to photos of Jeffrey Dahmer. No match.

Marsh went missing April 3, 1974.  

Her unfinished painting was found near her car on a rugged hill off of Pico Canyon Road. Her purse and wallet were found on the front seat.

Deputies at the time said they found no signs of a struggle, not even a footprint. In the days that followed the discovery, deputies scoured the hills on horses and dogs.  

There was no trace of Connie Marsh.

Then, on Dec. 15, 1974, between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., Lawrence Brown of San Pedro was hunting quail and trudging through the brush near Texas Canyon above Vasquez Canyon Road when he found a skull, later determined to be that of Connie Marsh.

To reach the area where the skull was found required driving off Vasquez and then up Lost Creek Road, past an old hog farm.

Investigators with the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner determined in subsequent tests that Marsh died of blunt force trauma to the head — murder.

The location of the skull and the spot where Marsh’s car had been found are 10 miles apart.

Lopez was asked last week if he believes she was murdered near the car or where the skull was found.

“Right now, I can’t determine if it was either,” he said. “There’s no indication she had been killed in either place.”

He’s no further ahead in his investigation than he was before Marsh’s friends came forward with a photo of their mystery man.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS