Serial Killer's Sentence Brings Some Closure to Victims' Families

The first of five Southern California slayings began in 1986 when a college student was stabbed 41 times

What to Know

  • The serial killings between 1986 and 1995 began with the stabbing death of a college student
  • The case went cold for years, during which the bodies of several women were found in Riverside and San Diego counties
  • Andrew Urdiales, 53, was arrested in three Illinois killings in 1996, then connected to the Southern California killings

Relatives say they felt like spectators watching the law unwind for decades.

This was the end of wondering when or if Andrew Urdiales' sentence would put him in prison without parole or on death row.

Prosecutors say the former Marine killed for enjoyment, by kidnapping, torturing and sexually assaulting women across Riverside, San Diego and Orange County.

One of the victims, Mary Ann Wells, was found dead, shot behind the ear in 1988.

"For 30 years it felt like nobody cared," said Steve Wells, the victim's son. "Don't feel that way anymore. Good feeling."

Tammie Erwin was 18-years old. Her father says she had just moved to California to get away from drugs.

"It's a long haul, but we got justice today," said Charles Erwin, the victim's father. "And we're all happy."

Robbin Brandley was 23 years old. Her father remembers the day she left for college and never came home.

She'd been stabbed 41 times. Her mother died in 2011, the same year Urdiales was extradited to California.

"It just takes a terrible toll 32 years of anger and mistrust anxiety and pain," said Jack Reilly, the victim's father. "I think that's what finally did my wife in, couldn't take it anymore."

For Jennifer Asbenson the memories are overwhelming. In 1992, Urdiales kidnapped her, put her in his trunk, but she got away.

"Never saw this date ever coming," Asbenson said. "I just feel like got my life back. There's justice."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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