David Allen Lucas, an East San Diego County carpet
cleaner, fatally slashed the throats of two women, including a USD co-ed,
and a 3-year-old boy. The case lasted five years, including a yearlong
effort to introduce blood evidence linking Lucas to one of the victims
through serological testing, a precursor to DNA testing.
November 24, 1984: The body of
University of San Diego student Anne Catherine Swanke was found in a
remote area of Spring Valley four days aftr she disappeared after her
car ran out of gas at a La Mesa intersection. In 1989 David Allen Lucas
was convicted of killing her and two other people.
David Allen Lucas
June 12, 1989
With a tightly clenched fist, Dr. John Swanke threw a wicked left
hook into the courthouse air as he heard for the first time that the
verdict was in.
David Allen Lucas had been found guilty of murdering Swanke's
daughter, Anne, 22, who was killed more than four years ago.
Trying to hide mixed emotions, Swanke said he was pleased with the
verdict and only sorry that he could not get to the courthouse in time
to see and hear it for himself.
"I really wanted to be in that courtroom to hear it," Swanke said. "It's
been a torturous, hellish time for the family."
Earlier yesterday afternoon, Swanke had been home, 12 miles from the
downtown courthouse, tuning his string bass for an upcoming summer
pops concert at the Balboa Park organ pavilion, when he got the call
to head to Superior Court Department 14. The jury would be filing in
around 4 p.m.
"I had just tuned up the F scale and was practicing `Bye Bye Birdie'
when the phone rang," he told a courthouse corridor gathering. "I
jumped in the car and sped down the freeway; must have been going 70.
"A highway patrolman started following me, and I thought I'd get
stopped, but the officer pulled over somebody else."
Swanke still did not make it to the courthouse in time to look into
the face of David Lucas as the verdict was read.
"I didn't get to see his face when they convicted him," Swanke said,
wondering aloud whether there would be any expressions of remorse.
Nevertheless, he showed his approval with the flying left look. In
his right hand he strummed a set of small index cards as if they were
The cards were study aids, he later explained.
"I always take something to study," he said.
In the years he has had to think about the killing, Swanke, a
philosophy professor at University of San Diego, concluded that if his
daughter's killer was remorseful one life should not be traded for
another in the California gas chamber.
With death-penalty deliberations next for the jury, Swanke was asked
by several reporters whether he favored execution for Lucas.
"I have my opinion, but I don't want to say right now, while the
jury is deliberating," Swanke said.
Of the penalty phase of the trial, he said: "I'm going to have to go
through all this one more time," he said, looking over the crush of
reporters wanting to talk to him. "Then perhaps I can go back and kind
of remember the good things about my daughter's life instead of the
tragic end. Now maybe I can finally bury her."
Miss Swanke was an honor student at USD when she disappeared Nov.
20, 1984. Her abandoned 1974 Dodge Colt, which had run out of gasoline,
was found at a La Mesa intersection. Her body, throat slashed, was
discovered in a remote area of Spring Valley.
Police said she had walked back to the Grossmont Center Shell
Station and bought fuel in a can.
An hour later, police officers found her car where she had left it,
the gas can sitting behind it, the gas cap and her keys lying on the
trunk. Her purse and wallet were untouched inside the automobile.
There was no sign of a struggle.
Miss Swanke had dreamed of being a professional opera singer and had
learned to play the piano to accompany herself. An opera score was on
her desk at home the night she was killed.
David Allen Lucas
July 12, 1989
Jurors deciding whether David Allen Lucas should be sent to the gas
chamber or prison for life heard a psychologist testify yesterday that
the convicted murderer has a personality disorder that causes him to
fear men and both love and hate women.
Dr. Alvin Marks was called by attorneys for Lucas to testify during
the penalty phase of Lucas' trial before Superior Court Judge Laura
Palmer Hammes. The same jury that found Lucas guilty of three first-degree
murders must now determine his sentence.
Lucas, 34, was convicted June 21 of the May 4, 1979, murders of
Suzanne Jacobs, 31, and her 3-year-old son, Colin, in their Normal
Heights home; and of the Nov. 20, 1984, murder of University of San
Diego student Anne Catherine Swanke. He was also convicted of the June
1984 kidnap and attempted murder of Jodie Santiago Robertson, 34, a
Seattle resident who was abducted as she was walking home from a La
Mesa nightclub. All of the victims had their throats slashed.
Marks testified yesterday that he reached his diagnosis of Lucas
after talking with Lucas and members of his family. Marks described
factors in Lucas' life that Marks said caused the personality disorder,
characterized by "lifelong maladaptive behavior."
Marks said that Lucas suffered from asthma as an infant and was a
thumb-sucker and bed-wetter. Lucas' father was a "very brutal, iron-
handed workaholic" who ruled the household while Lucas' mother worked
nights and often beat the boy, Marks said.
He said Lucas served as a church altar boy and loved children and
animals. Lucas can feel remorse, but has difficulty expressing his
emotions, Marks said.
When Lucas was 16, he got his girlfriend pregnant, but she aborted
the child. The abortion devastated Lucas, Marks said.
"He told me from that instant on he hated women. Of course, he
didn't. He loved and hated them," Marks said.
Later, Lucas married but was concerned about the way his wife was
raising her son, saying she abused the child, Marks said.
"He had all this conflict about women, searching for the perfect one,"
Marks said he believes Lucas suffers from minimal brain damage
because he once fell out of his stroller when he was a baby and was in
an automobile accident when he was 16.
David Allen Lucas
September 26, 1989
David Allen Lucas, sentenced to death for three throat-slashing
murders, will not face a second trial for two slayings in which a jury
was unable to reach a verdict.
During a hearing yesterday, Deputy District Attorney Daniel Williams
asked Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos to dismiss murder charges
involving the Oct. 23, 1984, slayings of Rhonda Strang, 23, and Amber
Fisher, a 3-year-old girl Strang was baby- sitting in her Lakeside
home. Exarhos granted the request.
On June 21, a Superior Court jury convicted Lucas of first- degree
murder in the May 4, 1979, slayings of Suzanne Jacobs, 31, and her
son, Colin, 3, in their Normal Heights home; the Nov. 20, 1984,
slaying of University of San Diego student Anne Catherine Swanke, 22;
and the attempted murder of Jodie Santiago Robertson, 35, of Seattle,
on June 9, 1984. The jury also recommended the death penalty.
Jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction in the murders of
Strang and Fisher. They acquitted Lucas of the Dec. 8, 1981, murder of
real estate agent
Gayle Garcia, 29, who was slain in a Spring Valley home she was
showing to prospective buyers.
Superior Court Judge Laura Palmer Hammes formally sentenced Lucas to
death Sept. 19.
Prosecutors could have chosen to retry Lucas on the Strang- Fisher
murders, but Williams said the district attorney's office decided
"We have accomplished the goal we have set out to accomplish -- and
that is justice," Williams said.
Fisher's aunt, Rebecca Fisher, who attended much of Lucas' trial,
said she was satisfied by the decision.
"There's not much more that can be proven. I'm just glad it's over
with," she said. "Maybe we can get our lives back together.... We know
he did it."
Lucas' attorneys, Alex Landon and Steven Feldman, said the decision
to dismiss the charges against Lucas was appropriate.
"At this point, the case is over," Feldman said.
An appeal of Lucas' conviction has been filed, and Landon said
lawyers will have to be found to handle what is expected to be a
Rape-slayer of women and children.
Condemned on three counts, 1989.