Warning: This article includes graphic material, including naked and violent pictures of murder victims.
He was also the father of murder victim Tiffany Paige Schultz, the first of six women killed by Cleophus Prince Jr., better known as the ‘The Clairemont Killer.’ The 21-year-old San Diego State University student and exotic dancer was stabbed nearly 50 times on January 12, 1990.
The investigation into Tiffany’s death began as a ‘routine call’ for patrol officers to look into the report of a ‘woman down.’ The reporting party had found her in his bedroom covered in blood.
Once inside the apartment, officer’s could see Tiffany as she lay on her back, legs spread apart and her arms out on each side and elbows bent. It appeared she had been posed.
They could tell she had been stabbed multiple times in the upper part of her chest. She was clad in only her black bikini bottoms.
An autopsy showed she had been stabbed six times in the neck and another 20 times in the right breast. Her left breast was found to have been stabbed 10 times, with 11 more wounds found on her right thigh and severe bruising to her face.
Earlier that morning Tiffany was spotted sunbathing jus’ inside the door of her apartment on the second floor of the Canyon Ridge complex. Neighbors would later report that between 11 that morning and one in the afternoon, they heard loud noises from her apartment.
The police found no sign of forced entry, although there was a blood smear on a doorknob, and despite the vicious attack, Tiffany was not sexually assaulted. The officers believed the killer had left by way of the balcony, jumping from the second floor to the ground.
On Tiffany’s hand they’d found strands of hair and lifted some skin cells for genetic testing.
At first investigators suspected Tiffany’s boyfriend, who was arrested and questioned. But with no evidence to hold him, he was released and later dropped as a suspect.
However, since Tiffany worked part-time as an exotic dancer, investigators thought someone may have followed her home. No one yet realized that this was the first of several such assaults in the area.
Janene Weinhold lived on the second floor of the Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex. She and her female roommate were students at the University of California, San Diego.
On February 16, Janene drove her roommate to work around nine in the morning, with plans to pick her up later that afternoon. But Janene failed to show up.
Around 11:30 , neighbor who lived below Janene saw a black man sitting on the stairs. Not long afterward, she heard loud noises in Janene’s apartment overhead.
It was not until around eight that night the roommate made it home. She found Janene’s body on the floor of her bedroom, naked except for her bra and immediately called the police.
One leg was spread and there were multiple stab wounds to her chest. Over the right breast was a small cluster of deep wounds.
When they searched the apartment, they found blood on the door handle and a bloodstained knife in the kitchen sink, with the tip bent. The murder weapon belonged to the occupants.
Because there was no sign of forced entry, investigators believe Janene had either invited her attacker in or he had knocked and then pushed his way in when she answered the door. Janene had been sexually assaulted, so a semen sample was sent to the lab for a DNA analysis.
Semen was also collected from Janene’s jogging outfit, the carpet, and the bed spread.
A month passed and another woman reported a disturbing incident in the same apartment complex. Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie also lived on the second floor. On March 25, around noon, she left her apartment to walk to a nearby store.
On her way there, she saw a black man standing at a bus stop, but as she returned, she noticed he was no longer there. Assuming a bus had come by and picked him up, she returned home.
Then she saw him again, coming toward her.
He passed her and she hurried home. As she rushed up the steps, she heard a noise at the bottom of the steps.
When she looked over the railing, she realized the man from the bus stop had followed her. He looked up at her, and then bent down to tie his shoe.
She saw he was faking, because both of his shoes were already tied, so she went into her apartment and locked the door. She never saw or heard the man again.
Eighteen-year-old Holly Tarr lived in Michigan, but she was visiting her brother at the Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex that April with her friend, Tammy. It was her spring break and she and Tammy had decided to spend it in California.
Late on the morning of April 3, they played tennis in the recreation area, and then went to lie out at the pool. There they noticed a black male watching them from inside the complex athletic room.
Around noon, Holly returned alone to the apartment to take a shower. Tammy, though stayed at the pool for another ten more minutes.
Once at the apartment door, she heard Holly scream and found the door locked. She also heard the telephone ringing inside the apartment, but no one answered.
Concerned because there was no answer, Tammy went to a neighbor for help, who called the maintenance man. He used his master-key, but found the chain on, so he was forced to break it.
As he entered the apartment, he was confronted by a man with a ‘white bag’ covering his head and a knife in his hand. Both Tammy and the maintenance man let the man run by them, thus avoiding being attacked themselves.
Tammy found Holly, still alive and gasping. She had been stabbed once through the chest. The wound was so severe that Holly died before emergency crews arrived.
Needless to say the police were called immediately.
They found Holly’s legs spread, wearing only panties and a bra.
Officers quickly located several key pieces of evidence. This included a shoe print of a Nike Air Jordan which didn’t match any from Holly’s brother’s closet.
A bloody impression from a knife was lifted from the door jamb, and a T-shirt and blood-stained knife were found dumped in a parking lot outside. The knife had come from the apartment and blood on the shirt would prove to be from Holly.
Tammy also told investigators that an opal ring Holly had worn that morning was gone from her finger.
Using Tammy’s description, officers checked the sign-in sheet of the weight room. Both girls’ names were on it, as was Holly’s brother and one more name: C. Prince.
They soon learned his full name: Cleophus Prince, Jr.
Within a day, police located Prince and asked him about his presence at the apartment complex. He said that he’d worked out until around noon and then went back to his apartment to get ready for work.
He claimed he had left at ten minutes before two in the afternoon. He also refused to be fingerprinted, and since there was no definite evidence against him, the police couldn’t arrest him.
Police also learned Prince shared an apartment with Robert and Robin Romo. He had told them that he’d been on a date with a woman, adding that he had raped her afterward.
When Robin told him about the recent murder at the Buena Vista Gardens complex, he said he had seen the victim at the pool that morning. Shortly afterwards, Prince moved out.
After that, no one was killed in the Buena Vista Gardens complex.
Profilers from Quantico were brought in to help the task force. They viewed the crimes as high risk for the offender, since they were perpetrated during the middle of the day when other residents could have spotted him and believed the killer was familiar with the apartment complex, perhaps living there.
The FBI knew the killer could enter apartments and slip out without being detected, though the Tarr case didn’t fit this profile, so he might have a record for breaking and entering. They also predicted Prince had approached or accosted other woman in the same area, before the start of the murders.
They added that the murders were possibly the result of a stressful incident in the killers life. Profilers also told the task force they should publicize the list of traits, along with the chance that the offender’s behavior would have changed somewhat since the first murder, which included things like greater substance abuse or secrecy.
People who knew him might recognize his involvement from behavioral clues and his absence during the times of the murders, and provide helpful information. Since he’d been spotted at this apartment complex, Douglas suggested he’d move on and find victims elsewhere.
What profilers anticipated during the first few months of the murder spree proved to be correct, as three more victims turned up in the next several months at two separate scenes. While unfortunate the killer had succeeded three more times, it provided more of a basis for analysis.
The attacks didn’t stop; they changed location.
It was early afternoon May 2, when a woman named Leslie H. was out on the beach near a home she was visiting. She walked back to the house and saw an African-American man standing at the door.
She asked what he wanted and he told her he’d once lived in the house. Then he walked away.
As she went inside, the man pushed his way in after her. He covered her mouth as they struggled, but she managed to get away.
She ran from the house, screaming, and he followed her. When he realized he couldn’t catch her, he ran away.
Less than three weeks later, a man entered the home of Elissa Keller, who lived with her eighteen-year-old daughter at the Top of the Hill apartment complex. The daughter was away, but she spoke with her mother on the evening of May 20.
When Elissa failed to show up at work the next morning, or answer the phone, the daughter went to see if she was all right. She found her mother in the bedroom, dead, under a blanket.
The coroner found that Elissa had been stabbed, leaving a cluster of nine wounds on her chest. She had also been beaten in the face, as well as choked
Her blood-stained underwear lay next to her body, turned inside out.
Investigators believed that the intruder had entered through a window left partly open, leaving scuff marks and a shoe print on the floor nearby. Bloody marks on the bathroom counter bore a strange pattern as well, which served to help make a match if a suspect were developed.
It was the same pattern they had seen at several earlier murder/rape scenes.
The daughter also reported that her mother wore a ring adorned with a gold nugget and that it was missing. Police put out the word to pawn shops, hoping it would turn up.
Later that summer, at the same complex, an apartment was burglarized, and money was taken, both in the form of American and Italian currency. However, before that occurred, there was another murder, this time in a private home in the San Diego neighborhood of Universal City.
Pamela Clarkson left home around eight in the morning of September 13, to go to the Family Fitness Center on Miramar Road. Her husband left shortly afterwards, but their daughter, eighteen-year-old Amber, was still in bed.
A neighbor later told police, she heard Amber having words with someone inside the home. The other voice belonged to a man.
She heard Amber cried out, but then nothing more, so there seemed little reason to be alarmed. Pamela drove in around 11.
Later in the day, when Pamela failed to show up for work and a phone call to the home went answered, a colleague decided to go over to find out if Pamela was all right. It was this woman who came across her body in the entryway of the home.
Pamela was on her back, nude, with her arms spread out at 90-degree angles to her body. She had been repeatedly stabbed, with eleven deep wounds to the upper left chest area.
The woman called the police, and they discovered the second victim Amber.
She lay on the floor in an adjacent bedroom. Her breasts were exposed, and she, too, had eleven wounds in a cluster to her upper chest.
Blood from her wounds had also been smeared onto her torso. Another knife lay on the bathroom floor.
A search inside Pamela’s purse revealed that money had been taken. Her wedding ring was gone as well.
Police found a screen removed from a dining room window and the sliding door with marks on it that appeared to have been made by a tool. There were also shoe prints from a male athletic shoe under the dining room window.
While not initially linked to the other murders, it didn’t take long for detectives to tie the string of stabbings together.
Around this time, Prince told friends he was dating an older white woman, a massage therapist. He had a wedding ring he said was hers, and he added that he was having sex with the woman’s daughter as well.
He told the same story to the foreman at the job where he was working. Prince even offered the foreman and a coworker several pieces of jewelry.
It would later be learned that he was taking a sixteen-year-old boy with him as he committed burglaries in the area. He would put socks, jimmy the door locks with a credit card, then take a knife from the kitchen if he needed it.
Prince often followed women from the gym where he had a membership, learning where they lived. He’d watch their homes for the chance to enter and take something.
The teen did not know about Prince’s other activities.
Several people saw Prince motoring away from apartments he had burglarized, driving an older model bluish-gray vehicle with a noisy muffler. The police soon traced it to someone who came to the Family Fitness Center on Miramar Road.
They asked employees to tell them the next time they spotted a car of this description. They hit the jackpot on February 4, 1991, when an employee called to say a man had just driven a 1982 Chevy Cavalier through the parking lot.
That driver was sitting there in his car when officers arrived fifteen minutes later. Officers searched his car and found black leather gloves and wool gloves, along with a steak knife with an eight-inch blade and two folding knives of different sizes.
He had once been listed as a member of the fitness center but had canceled his membership. He had no business being in the parking lot, although people at the club said they had seen him there multiple times.
He gave a reason for his presence there that failed to check out, so they placed him under arrest. It was Cleophus Prince Jr.
Police took fingerprints and a blood sample, questioned Prince, and released him. It would take several weeks to get results, and they had nothing with which to detain him.
Prince quickly left the state, to visit his mother in Birmingham, Alabama. He would soon get himself into trouble there.
He had jus’ been arrested March 1 for a burglary where he took money from a cash register at a dance club and had been released on bond. Unfortunately, three hours later, the Birmingham police learned about San Diego’s interest in him.
They contacted Prince’s bondsman, who then alerted Prince to turn himself in. Surprisingly, he came in, accompanied by his parents.
As this was unfolding, Prince’s biological samples were sent to Cellmark Diagnostic, a DNA analysis center in Maryland. Along with them went samples and items from some of the crime scenes.
Three weeks later, the police learned that there was a match between Prince and the semen samples from the Weinhold rape/murder. It was time to make an arrest.
When officers went to Prince’s last known address, which turned out to be next door to building where the fourth victim was killed, they learned he was gone. Nevertheless, they searched the apartment, turning up an opal ring that matched the description of the one removed from Holly Tarr when she was stabbed.
They learned only 63 such rings had been manufactured and none had been distributed in California. They also got a tip on where he’d gone and alerted the police Birmingham.
He was detained for extradition to California.
At the time, police had linked only five of the murders to him. But a background check soon showed he had lived at the Buena Vista garden apartments during the times of those murders and that he had been dating a woman who lived near Universal City at the times of those two murders.
Furthermore, the shoes Prince owned matched several of the footprint impressions found at the scenes. Following searches turned up the ring that matched missing from Elissa Keller.
She was added to the victim list.
However, DNA evidence was lacking in some of the cases, so the task force met again with profilers at Quantico and they went over the evidence in all six cases. FBI profilers, who were already working the case, were asked to help with providing proof with evidence and psychology that the six cases were related.
The victims all fit a similar type: white and physically fit. Most had been brunette and four between 18 and 21.
The killer had entered each residence via an unlocked door or window, all of them had been stabbed, and five were killed around the same time of day. All were left face-up on the floor of their homes, nude or mostly nude.
Three lived in the same apartment complex and three used the same fitness center. Jewelry was removed from three of the victims, but most telling was the way the deepest stab wounds had been concentrated in the chest area, revealing a focused and controlled rage. Only Holly Tarr had a single wound, but that crime had been interrupted.
In five of the cases, the knife used was from the residence.
The profilers, using information about the race of the victims, their geographic location, the used in entering their homes, the use of a knife, the time at which the murders generally occurred, and the tight circle of puncture wounds left on the chest area. The results indicated there were no other crimes, aside from these six, anywhere near this area, and none around the country with this particular type of wounding pattern.
What was odd for the FBI profilers was having a black serial killer, especially one who crosses racial lines, murdering white women.
Those who knew Prince claimed he was obsessed with sex and often bragged about his relationships with white women. Yet there was no evidence that he’d had any trouble with a white woman that might have made him angry enough to kill.
Investigators learned his father, Cleophus Prince, Sr., had a criminal record. He’d served time in prison for second-degree murder (which he told reporters had been done in self-defense,) and had been arrested after he got out for rape, later reduced to assault.
So, Prince had a role model.
However, both of his parents insisted that the police had the wrong man. Their son, they said, was not capable of murder, let alone serial murder.
They were certain he was being framed. In fact, he had shown no anxiety at all, the police had admitted, during the hour and a half he’d been questioned upon his initial arrest.
Prince’s attorney, Roger Appell, claimed that Prince looked nothing like the composite drawing made from a woman who’d been accosted by a man police believed was also the killer. But the claim that he was the first known serial killer to have crossed racial lines, in the hope to show the improbability of the situation, was not true.
The trial began in the summer of 1993, but not without some problems. Apparently, Prince is a non-secretor, meaning he fails to secrete a blood enzyme in his biological fluids that is present in 75-percent of the male population.
Since the tests did not pick it up, the semen analysis from Prince’s second murder victim, Janene Weinhold, mistakenly showed the offender’s blood type was ‘O.’
Prince, however is type ‘A.’ It took a year to discover and correct the mistake.
As investigators learned more about Prince, they learned he had never had a brush with the law. He completed high school, and had joined the Navy in 1987, being stationed at the Miramar Naval Air Station.
After being dishonorably discharged for stealing, Prince got a job but was soon laid off, so he’d turned to burglary. He enlisted some accomplices, and they donned socks to go in and rob homes without leaving fingerprints.
When prosecutor Daniel Lamborn requested that both Douglas and Ankrom take part in the trial, the court conducted a lengthy pre-trial hearing about their qualifications. Douglas was going to take the stand to provide background about the profiling analysis, while Ankrom would specifically address the series of Clairemont-area crimes.
Defense attorneys protested that they were not psychologists and should not be allowed to make any psychological assessments. The court concluded that the witnesses’ experience and training failed to qualify them to express an opinion about the perpetrator’s probable state of mind, so that aspect of their testimony was excluded.
However, the court accepted that they had enough training and experience in crime scene investigation to testify about analyzing the scenes. It was also deemed probable that the jury would not have the requisite knowledge to understand such concepts as “signature analysis” and linking similar crime scenes, so using an expert to explain it was acceptable; however, because it bordered on psychological motive, they were not allowed to actually use the word, “signature.”
In the end, the prosecution decided to use only Ankrom, since he had been more extensively involved in the case.
When Special Agent Ankrom took the stand, he testified that all six victims had been slain by the same person; his judgment was based on the commonality of the wound pattern and his experience with other such series of crimes. This included recounting the particular details that linked the cases.
Under cross-examination by Barton Sheela, Prince’s attorney, got Ankrom to admit he did not get information involving knife attacks on area women who had survived. He also did not get information on murders in other neighborhoods.
There was an unsolved homicide of a white woman stabbed in her home in the San Diego area, committed after Prince was arrested, and Ankrom had not investigated the crime.
Also, Prince’s roommate testified about a night when Prince came back, with fresh blood on his jeans, to the apartment they shared. He gave a story that he’d gotten into a fight with his girlfriend.
However, he’d often bragged about his burglaries and said he’d stabbed some people to death. He recalled Prince talking about stabbing them in the heart.
They had lived next door to the building where Elissa Keller was murdered. This person had even been involved in some of the burglaries, and he testified about wearing socks on their hands.
He also recalled woman’s jewelry that Prince had in his possession.
As for profiling, an offender’s method of committing a crime can show certain aspects of his personality. However, there’s also the behavior not necessary to accomplishing the crime; a signature.
Prince’s signature is piquerism
He enjoyed stabbing and gouging with a sharp instrument. He aimed at the heart and left breast, stabbing deeply many times. He was stimulated by violence and the knife became a substitute for penile penetration.
Prince was a characterized as a sadist, having sunk the knife in slowly, with satisfaction. In fact, he stabbed his victims to the depth of an erect penis.
Sheela pointed out the eyewitnesses who could not identify Prince as the man they’d seen in the vicinity of the murders. In most of the cases, he said, there was no physical evidence against his client. He described the many differences among the crimes, insisting that they could not be viewed as a whole.
In closing, Lamborn made the case that Prince was a sexual pervert who enjoyed watching blood flow from women’s breasts, and Lamborn emphasized the brutal similarities among the crimes. Then it went to the jury.
The jurors deliberated nine days before they returned a verdict on July 13, 1993. Prince was found guilty of murdering not only Tiffany, but also Janene Weinhold, Holly Tarr, Pamela Clark, Amber Clark, and Elissa Keller, as well as twenty burglaries and a number other charges.
The special circumstance of ‘multiple murder’ was sufficient grounds for giving him the death penalty. He is on death-row at San Quentin.
In May 2007, the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence; in a 159-page ruling they dismissed the legal briefs Prince’s attorneys had presented. He can appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tiffany’s mother, Ramona Saunders, of Auburn, passed away September 13, 2013 at her home following a long battle with cancer. She was born in 1931 to the late Denzil and Gladys Bronson in San Francisco, California.