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Only the arms are found

In easily the most horrifying unsolved Tucson crime in recent years, 19-year-old Pima Community College student Diana Dawn Vicari was apparently murdered and her arms cut off in October 1992.

Her killer is still out there.

On the night of Oct. 22, Vicari went to a popular North Oracle Road Bar looking for someone and also asking people in the parking lot whether they knew of any parties being held, police said.

She last was seen alive at 12:10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in the parking lot of the Tucson Convention Center, where a rock concert just had ended.

Vicari’s mother reported her missing shortly after 5 p.m. Oct. 24.

About that time, police said, a woman searching for aluminum cans in a Dumpster in an industrial area just north of downtown, at North Ferro Avenue and East Seventh Street, found a woman’s arms protruding from a heavy, black plastic bag sitting at the top of the trash heap.

Vicari’s mother had had her daughter fingerprinted as a child and saved the fingerprint card, thus allowing police to identify the remains.

On Monday, Oct. 26, Vicari’s car was found parked in the 1200 block of West La Osa Street, a small residential area on the near North Side.

The rest of her body never has been found.

Tucson police Detective Sgt. James Gerrettie, head of the police homicide detail, said, “I don’t think a week goes by that we don’t talk to people and get leads to follow up’ in the Vicari investigation.

But, he said, “nothing has panned out yet.’

Concerning rumors of suspects in the case, Gerrettie said, “We have some people we have been looking at, but nothing that’s close to an arrest.’

5 found in storage shed

Shortly after 9 a.m., on March 27, 1989, a man and a woman looking for her husband walked into a storage shed behind a house in the 3300 block of South Mission Road. There they were startled by a gruesome sight: the bodies of five men, killed in what police later said was an execution-style drug murder.

Each man had been bound, gagged and stabbed to death.

Days later, blood stains still on the shed’s floor indicated one victim had been placed in each of the shed’s four corners and another against the middle of one wall. The odor of marijuana permeated the shed.

A year later police revealed that the killers had missed their intended victim by about two hours and ended up instead killing five of his associates found at the house. The intended victim had learned of the plot against him and avoided his home, police said.

Shortly after the killings the intended victim was arrested by sheriff’s deputies in connection with the kidnapping of two associates who, thinking the man was dead, stole 100 pounds of marijuana he had hidden in another house.

At that point, police said, the would-be victim-turned-kidnapping- suspect began cooperating with police in the murder investigation.

Police quickly developed a suspect, a man they said was linked to at least 20 murders in Mexico.

Detective Joseph Godoy said the suspect was arrested here and later convicted in marijuana and kidnapping cases. Godoy said the man still is serving prison time in those cases. Godoy did not know when he was due for release. Godoy said he expects when the suspect is released he will be returned to Mexico, where he is named in a murder warrant in the killing of a Nogales, Son., man.

But, police said, they never were able to gather enough evidence to try the suspect in the Mission Road murders and the case still is open.

Killed in lingerie shop

Police still hope to find the killer of lingerie shop owner Gale Green.

Green’s body was found late at night on Oct. 9, 1987, in Satisfactions, the shop she had opened about a year earlier at 2029 N. Country Club Road. She had been beaten to death with a heavy object.

Her body was found by her brother, who went looking for her after she failed to return home that night.

Detective Godoy was assigned to that investigation in December, 1987, after the original chief investigator retired.

Godoy said Green was killed during an attempted sexual assault. She fought her attacker, wounding him with the object with which she was beaten, Godoy said.

He said the killer’s blood is on the object and a partial hand print of his was found at the scene, evidence that would help if a suspect were found.

So far about 100 possible suspects have been looked at in the case, police said earlier.

Now, Godoy said, the investigative file fills four or five boxes.

He said he no longer gets calls offering tips on the case, but he has fingerprint comparisons made between the Green crime scene prints and those of all rape suspects arrested by police.

Godoy reviews the file on every anniversary of Green’s death and in addition tries to review it quarterly.

Dumped on side of road

On Aug. 11, 1980, sheriff’s homicide detectives were called to North Camino Verde, near West Ina Road, where two passers-by had found a woman’s nude, bound body dumped along the side of the road. She had been strangled to death either the night before or early that morning.

Virginia Daily – “Ginger’ to her friends – a bright, vivacious City Hall accountant, entered the Sheriff’s Department’s rolls of unsolved cases.

Daily was well-known by many in city government, who were stunned by her death.

After hundreds of interviews, detectives came up with a potential suspect in the case, a man with whom Daily recently had ended a romantic relationship.

But, the man said he had been at a concert the night Daily was killed, an alibi detectives could not disprove. Furthermore, comparison tests of hair samples taken from the man and hair found on Daily’s body were inconclusive.

Now the case has grown cold.

Detective Sgt. Michael Downing, head of the sheriff’s homicide detail, said the last time a potential lead came in the case was some time in 1983 or ’84.

That, Downing said, was someone who several years later thought they recalled seeing something suspicious at the place and around the time Daily’s body was found.

The lead never panned out, Downing said.

Downing feels there only is a “very slim’ chance anything will come up in the case after 14 years.

The case is no longer assigned to a detective, Downing said, explaining he is having all unsolved murders under sheriff’s investigation reviewed, starting with the present and working back.

His detectives so far have gotten back to 1989.

Child slain in Littletown

In 1988, sheriff’s Detective Stephen Gardner thought he had gotten the break he needed in the 1979 murder of Robert Craig Stevens, 13, whose body was found in the Littletown neighborhood south of Tucson, where the boy lived.

A serial child killer had talked to a Millville, N.J., police officer about killing a child in Arizona. That conversation took place in 1980, but the lead was never followed up until Gardner got the case.

He won approval for a trip to New Jersey to interview the man, Malcolm Joseph Robbins Jr., who had confessed to killing boys in Dallas, Durham, Maine; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Millville between Dec. 27, 1979, and Nov. 17, 1980. Robbins was convicted of murder in those cases as well as sexual molestation in the California and New Jersey cases.

During a three-hour interview, said Gardner, Robbins told him he had traveled through Arizona with another man at the time of Stevens’ death .

But, Gardner later said, he felt Robbins was holding back information and the lead never developed to the point anyone could be charged in the case.

Stevens disappeared Sept. 30, 1979, after leaving his home near South Craycroft Road and Interstate 10 to ride his bicycle.

Two weeks later his decomposed body was found under a mesquite tree, a thong, knotted in two places, around his neck. It could not be determined if he had been sexually molested.

That case, Downing said, was closely reviewed about two years ago.

Additional information had come in on the killing, “a good lead,’ but it didn’t work out, Downing said.

“We haven’t given up on that one,’ Downing said, adding, “It’s a real tough one.’

Counting runaway children, there are thousands of missing persons cases in Tucson and Pima County each year.

But, police and sheriff’s detectives said only about 15 a year look truly suspicious and most of those turn out to be people who have decided to run away from their lives. Some later are found suicides in the desert or mountains around Tucson.

Others, however, remain a mystery and go down on the books as unsolved cases.

UA senior disappears

One mystery case investigators would like to solve is the disappearance Jan. 21, 1986, of Lorne Karl Landeen, a 22-year-old University of Arizona senior.

Landeen had been a cross country runner during the four years he had attended Sabino High School on the far Northeast Side.

He returned to run there the day of his disappearance. His wallet and keys were found locked in his car in the school parking lot. Only the ignition key was missing. In high school Landeen had been known to tie the ignition key to one of his shoelaces when he ran.

Sheriff’s deputies, family and friends searched nearby Santa Catalina Mountain canyons and trails near the school for two weeks after Landeen vanished.

No trace of him was found.

Landeen’s parents later learned their son’s grades had plummeted and he had not registered at UA for what would have been his last semester.

But, the night before he disappeared he and his girlfriend had celebrated two years of being together. Landeen’s mother said the relationship was serious and the couple had begun looking at wedding rings.

In October 1989, a hiker found human bones scattered in a remote area of the Catalina foothills.

Deputies speculated they could be Landeen’s, but it turned out they were not.

George Ruelas, a sheriff’s homicide detective assigned to also work missing persons, said the Landeen case remains open.

“It’s one of those case unless we receive a call, unless we receive a lead, it kind of marks time,’ Ruelas said.

He regularly reviews the case along with notifications of unidentified bodies found in other areas of the country.

Also, Ruelas said, he keeps Landeen’s listing current in state and national law enforcement computer systems and has had an encoded description of the youth’s dental records entered in the national system.

But, the young man’s fate remains a mystery.

“It’s really sad,’ Ruelas said of the Landeen case and others like it.

“The hardest part about these things,’ Ruelas said, “is for the parents; they never know.’

No trace of the `baby’

City police still are working a case involving the June 12, 1991, disappearance of a then-12-year-old boy, Jimmy Hendrickson.

For more than a year, family members refused to give up hope of finding “the baby of the family,’ going before the media with their story and handing out fliers around town with a description of the boy and his photograph.

But, police at that time already were saying they feared Jimmy was dead.

Jimmy’s sister, Tammy Dalton, said a year after the disappearance that she did not agree with police that her little brother could be dead, “They don’t know for sure. Jimmy could be out there somewhere,’ she said.

Jimmy had spent the night before his disappearance at the home of an adult friend in the 700 block of West Paris Promenade.

Initially police thought he may have left early to walk to his home in the 200 block of East Delano Street and that he was seen by a witness at a convenience market at North Oracle and West Grant roads. That sighting has since been discounted by investigators.

There has been no trace of the boy since the night he disappeared.

Detective Sgt. Debra Edwards, head of the police dependent child detail, said now “the whole thing is being reinvestigated.’

She said, without elaborating, that there were a few suspects in the case, but, from what other detectives say, there is no strong case yet against any of them.

Edwards said the case also is being reviewed by detectives and the Pima County Attorney’s Office in an effort to determine whether anything can be done to enable a successful prosecution in the disappearance.

Police agree that those cases involving human life, whether they are murders or disappearances, draw the most public and official attention.

But they are not the only such cases here that evolved into major unsolved crimes.

Bank robbers `hard-core’

On Nov. 13, 1991, at about 10 a.m., a Plymouth Voyager van pulled up to the First Interstate Bank of Arizona branch at 7001 N. Oracle Road.

While one man waited outside the bank at the steering wheel of the stolen van, four other armed, masked men ran into the bank, pistol-whipped two people and ordered everyone to lie on the floor.

The gunmen then looted teller stations and an open vault, escaping, law officers said, with $120,000.

While the identity of likely suspects was learned shortly after the robbery, said sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Keith St. John, the loot was never recovered.

St. John, head of the sheriff’s robbery, assault detail, said three of the men later were imprisoned in other cases. Two of the five robbers have not been identified, St. John said.

But, there is not enough evidence to convict the suspects in the robbery, St. John said, adding “They’re hard-core and you’re never going to get a confession.’

The case was assigned to a detective who transferred from the detail and has not been reassigned. It has been shelved, St. John said, until such time as new, workable information comes in.

Armored car robbed

In another robbery outside a bank, a gunman and his getaway driver held up an armored car driver, escaping with what one high-ranking law officer said was between $250,000 and $300,000.

As a matter of policy, bank and armored car officials and detectives would not specify how much money was taken in either case.

In the Aug. 15, 1991, heist, a man walked up to a Loomis Armored Inc. guard as he walked from his truck to the First Interstate Bank of Arizona branch at 634 W. Valencia Road, took the guard’s revolver, two bank bags and fled.

The getaway car, stolen the night before from a near North Side couple, was found abandoned at an apartment complex parking lot shortly after the robbery.

FBI agents and police said that while they had leads, none was solid.

Tucson Detective Capt. Paul Hallums recently said, “A case as significant as this is never really closed.’

And, he said, the investigative file on the armored car robbery still is periodically reviewed, even though no arrests are expected any time soon.

UA art theft baffling

A quiet, bespectacled man and woman on Nov. 29, 1985, pulled off one of the biggest art thefts in Arizona history. And it remains unsolved.

The couple walked into the University of Arizona Museum of Art, and after browsing an estimated five or ten minutes, walked to the museum’s second floor. There, the couple cut a 30-by-40-inch painting from its frame, turned around and walked away unseen into the realm of unsolved mysteries.

The piece was “Woman-Ochre’ by Willem de Kooning, the noted Dutch-born post-war abstract expressionist.

Its value, according to UA officials: $400,000.

It since has increased in value to more than $800,000.

Peter Bermingham, director of the museum when the painting was taken, said later it may have disappeared into the underground art world, where valuable paintings sometimes circulate for years with out ever surfacing in legitimate markets.

“There is no one investigating the case right now,’ said Sgt. Salvatore Celi, head of investigations for the UA police.

He said the painting has been included in an FBI file on stolen artworks in case it pops up somewhere, but, Celi said, there has only been one lead in the last five years – and that one did not pan out – and no tips have come in on the case in the last several years.

PHOTO ONE: Citizen file photo/A wall in a downtown area, where the severed arms of Diana Vicari were found in a dumpster, has been turned into a shrine by the victim’s loved ones, who have spray-painted messages of affection and loss amid the graffiti. Vicari was last seen alive Oct. 23, 1992, and is presumed dead.

PHOTO TWO: Citizen file photo/Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre,’ now valued at $800,000, was stolen in 1985.

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