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Thirty years ago, a serial killer struck three times in Riverside County—once, in Cathedral City and twice, in the City of Palm Springs.
On July 17, 1988, he murdered 29-year-old Julie McGhee in Cathedral City; on April 16, 1989, he took the life of 20-year-old Tammie Erwin of Palm Springs; and nearly six years later, on March 11, 1995, he tortured and killed 32-year-old Denise Maney, also of Palm Springs.
These murders and the murders of two other California women including the 1986 murder of 23-year-old Robbin Brandley at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, and the killing of 31-year-old Maryann Wells on Sept. 25, 1988, in San Diego remained unsolved for years.
The mystery of their deaths took a sudden turn following a traffic stop in Indiana in 1996. The driver, Andrew Urdiales was linked to the deaths of three women in Chicago.
As investigators grilled him about the Chicago murders, Urdiales suggested they also ask him about similar murders in California.
In June, after years of delay, families of the murdered California women received the justice they’d longed for when jurors found Urdiales “guilty” and recommended the death penalty. On Friday, Judge Gregg Pickett agreed with those jurors and sentenced Urdiales to death.
According to NBC News, Urdiales spoke in court and said he understood the jurors’ decision and would have voted the same way. He also offered what he claimed were “sincere apologies” to jurors, the judge, prosecutors, victims’ families and his own family for having to hear the “gory” details of his crimes.
At least three members of the victims’ families offered impact statements. The father of one of the Palm Springs victims, 20-year-old Tammie Erwin said in part, ““[Urdiales] not only killed my daughter, but he killed me inside. This has ruined my life. It has turned my physical being into pieces, my mental being into pieces.”
Urdiales was initially sentenced to death for the Chicago murders, but when Illinois abolished the death penalty in July 2011, he was re-sentenced to life without parole.
Header Photo: Andrew Urdiales