SoCal Woman Fights to Keep “Evil” Killer Behind Bars in 1977 Slayings

A woman whose father and sister died in an Orange County shooting spree in 1977 faced their killer, a man she described as "evil," to urge a 15-year parole denial on Friday for one of the worst serial killers in the county's history.

"This is hard, but living with him out on the street is going to be a whole lot harder," Lynette Duncan said of Brett Matthew Paul Thomas, who was 18 years old when he shot and killed Duncan's family members.

"So I will continue to appear at every parole hearing until he dies or I do," Duncan said as she joined prosecutors in court.

Thomas and a partner, Mark Wayne Titch, who was 17 at the time, rampaged through Orange County on a nine-day killing spree. The two pleaded guilty abruptly in October 1977 as jurors were awaiting to be seated for testimony in their trials.

On Friday, Prosecutors and relatives of the victims headed to a San Diego courthouse for the hearing to urge the parole board to grant a 15-year window before Thomas, now 56, can appear before them again. He was denied parole for five years in October 2012, but he was able to petition for an earlier hearing.

"When you do this, you relive all the pain, it comes right out onto the page," Duncan said Friday. "Then I've gotta sit 15 feet from evil and be in the same room as evil ... It's hard."

Under Marsy's Law, the Board of Parole Hearings is required to "consider the entire and uninterrupted statements of the victims" when determining whether to release a prisoner on parole.

In 1977, Thomas and Titch were neighbors in a Stanton apartment complex nicknamed by authorities as "The Zoo" because of its crime issues.

The pair's four victims began with 20-year-old Laura Stoughton, who interrupted the pair Jan. 21, 1977, as they were breaking into her Garden Grove home, according to prosecutors. The two abducted the potential witness, put her in the trunk of their car and drove her to an abandoned field in Orange, where Titch tried to sexually assault her, prosecutors said.

Clutching a rosary and in a fetal position, the victim escaped death as Thomas tried to shoot her with a stolen gun that misfired, prosecutors said. Titch, however, executed her at close range with a stolen .22-caliber rifle.

Their next victim was 35-year-old Ephraim Jacob Christian on Jan. 24, 1977, at Rockview Dairy in Garden Grove. Thomas was the triggerman in the robbery, but the pair failed to get a cash register open and fled.

On Jan. 29, 1977, the duo planned a robbery of a billiards hall, the Cue and Cushion. They followed the owner, Aubrey Duncan, home to Anaheim where Thomas gunned him down, prosecutors said.

The victim's wife, Nadine Duncan, heard the gunshots and opened the door only to be met by Thomas' stolen shotgun, prosecutors said. Her 18-year-old daughter, Denise Duncan, who was standing behind her mother, was shot in the heart and died in her home, but Nadine survived.

Lynette Duncan, who was 17 at the time, and another sister, who was also home at the time, survived unharmed. Another sister, just 11 at the time, was at a neighbor's home.

The gunmen returned to the Cue and Cushion to burglarize it but fled when someone pulled up to the business.

Police caught up with Thomas and Titch in February 1977 in a stolen car in San Bernardino, and evidence of their crime spree was found.

"This inmate refuses to rehabilitate while in prison," Rackauckas said. "He's racked up 56 prison rules violations, including many for force and violence. He's spent two decades participating in a white supremacist gang."

Despite an admonishment from parole board officers to behave in prison if he ever wanted to win his freedom, Thomas grew violent while disobeying a correctional officer, Rackauckas said.

Titch died in San Quentin State Prison last year of natural causes.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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