Charlie Anderson

Charlie Anderson

Charlie Anderson

A California deputy is shot to death during an attempted burglary of his home.

On January 24, 1987, a deputy sheriff named Charlie Anderson was gunned down in his Burbank, California home.  Anderson was a 14-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  He distinguished himself as a highly skilled driver, teaching hundreds of officers how to handle themselves and their vehicles in dangerous situations.  Sergeant George Grein was a close colleague of Anderson’s:

“Charlie was probably one of the most talented drivers that I have ever met.  It was a natural talent for him.  Charlie was able to get along with everybody.  He was serious on the job.  But he had a good sense of humor when he was around the rest of the staff.”

Charlie was also a dedicated father, never too busy to spend evenings and weekends with his two sons.  To those who knew him, Charlie did not seem to have an enemy in the world—until he was shot and killed in his own home.  Charlie’s wife, Beth, told Detective Roger Mason of the Burbank Police Department that on the night of the murder, the couple and their two sons arrived home around midnight:

“They arrived home, and because Mrs. Anderson was suffering from a back injury, her husband offered to go inside the house with their oldest boy first.  He asked her to wait in the car and she did so.  Charlie Anderson went in the house with the oldest son and, we believe, took him upstairs.  A few moments later, Mrs. Anderson heard what sounded like backfires from where she was parked in the driveway.  She was still seated in the car.  Because the sound was unusual, she walked to the house and called in to see if there was anything wrong.  She ran downstairs, picked up her younger son, and ran to a next-door neighbor’s house.”

Charlie was shot inside his home

Charlie was shot inside his home

Police at the scene found the Anderson’s older son unharmed.  Their first impression was that Charlie had surprised a burglar and had been shot.  But according to Detective Mason, there were other signs that the burglary had been staged:

“While they had selected certain items and placed them together to be taken from the house, they had overlooked other items that were much more valuable that were in plain sight.  This led to a second theory that this might have been someone that perhaps knew Deputy Anderson that confronted him and shot him.”

Charlie’s sister, Trish, was at the crime scene.  She agreed with Detective Mason’s theory that the robbery was staged:

“But what really surprised me was the look on his face.  He had a wide-eyed look as if he’d been shocked or betrayed.  It’s something that lingers with me today.”

In the end, the evidence collected at the crime scene was ambiguous.  The only identifiable fingerprints were from members of the family.  Police were left with a murder victim and virtually no leads, until a mysterious phone call one day later:

“The man on the line was very, very, nervous.  He was very concerned about his voice being taped, about… the call being traced or in any way the police identifying who he was.”

The call could not be connected to an unrecorded line.  The detective had to ask the witness to hang up and call again.  The man agreed.  But the phone call never came.

On January 31, 1987, Charlie Anderson was laid to rest with the full honors reserved for officers killed in the line of duty.  Since then, a lack of evidence has dragged the investigation to a standstill.  Detective Mason and the rest of the Burbank Police Department are still searching for the unidentified caller:

“We feel it’s very, very important to locate this caller because he was concerned enough to call us right at the beginning of the investigation.  He has never been identified and we’re very, very interested in speaking to him, to find out what he does know about this case.”

Burbank Police firmly believe that the mystery witness is their last hope to close this case.  A $25,000 reward is being offered and police have guaranteed confidentiality for anyone coming forward with information.