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Man Admits to 1980 Bludgeoning Deaths of Elderly Santa Monica Couple
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 6, 2016 -- A man being prosecuted in Los Angeles County Court for the killing of a 79-year-old Hollywood woman has reportedly admitted that he bludgeoned an elderly couple to death in 1980 in Santa Monica.

Harold Holman, 69 and on trial for a different killing, told detectives he killed 67-year-old Gertrude Forst and her 72-year-old husband, Otto, in 1980 in their high-rise apartment in Santa Monica, according to City News Service.

The story said jurors did not learn that Holman was serving a 45-year sentence in connection with the killings of the Forsts and a string of high-rise residential burglaries in the 1980s.

In her opening statement Friday, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman reportedly told jurors that Holman confessed to Los Angeles police detectives during a 2014 interview in state prison that he was involved in a series of other similar crimes, including the Santa Monica killings.

Holman’s defense attorney contends there is “reasonable doubt” about his client’s involvement in the deaths of the Forst couple.

But a published review of the Santa Monica Police Department’s activities during that time recalls the Forst incident much differently.

It says Holman was found hidden 30 feet under the foundation of a West Los Angeles home by Pascha, a Santa Monica police dog used in the hunt for Holman on the night of January 18, 1980.

“Pascha courageously went in after the man (Holman) and 'persuaded' him to surrender,” the SMPD publication said. “Witnesses said that Holman’s only concern was Pascha: “Get that dog off me. He’s trying to eat me.”

It said SMPD officers were dispatched to assist Los Angeles police with the search that night for Holman, "whose criminal modus operandi had earned him the titles 'Balcony Burglar' and 'West Side Rapist,'" the SMPD publication said.

Holman is also blamed in the police review for the murder of 64- year-old Mayne Halperin before his capture and arrest for the Forst killings.

Greg Risling, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, told the Lookout News on Tuesday that Holman “is not facing any other additional charges” than those involving his current trial for the death of Helen Meyler on August 27, 1972, in Hollywood.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman also told jurors that Holman was involved in two other break-ins in January 1980, according to City News.

In one, he reportedly shot and killed a woman’s 12-year- old Dachshund and in the other a woman locked herself in a bathroom and screamed for help.

Silverman said DNA evidence from a blanket found at the scene of Meyler’s killing was linked to Holman after the Los Angeles Police Department’s Cold Case unit re- opened an investigation into the crime, according to the City News report.

The widow lived alone in a second-floor apartment in a secured building. She was found dead in bed with a pillow covering her head and apartment ransacked, Silverman said.

She noted there were no eyewitnesses to Meyler’s killing. It occurred before DNA was used by law enforcement.

If convicted, Holman faces up to life in state prison, the DA’s Office said.


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