A native of Los Angeles, born in 1949, Tholmer was 26 years old at the time of his arrest for assaulting a police officer.
A charge of rape was added, when his fingerprints were matched with those recovered from the apartment where a 79-year-old woman was attacked on October 22, 1975, and Tholmer later pled guilty to that crime, blaming his actions on an LSD "high."
Suspected, but never charged, in a series of ten murders committed by the elusive "West Side Rapist," Tholmer spent three years in Patton State Hospital, undergoing treatment as a mentally disordered sex offender.
Released in October 1979, he continued treatment as an out-patient at a rehabilitation center in suburban Silver Lake. Memories of the West Side Rapist were revived from 1981 to '84, as homicide investigators probed the violent deaths of 32 elderly women around Los Angeles. Eighty-year-old Rose Lederman was one of the first to die, her body discovered in her Silver Lake home, within walking distance of Tholmer's rehab center, on August 13, 1981.
It was November 1984 when task force officers examined Tholmer's file and noted similarities between his old M.0. and the procedures of their latest maniac-at-large. Surveillance was initiated on November 6, and Tholmer was arrested one day later, poised outside the bedroom window of an 85-year-old paraplegic.
Evidence collected by authorities linked Tholmer to merchandise stolen from Rose Lederman in 1981, and one of his shoes matched a footprint found at the home of 69-year-old Wolloomooloo Woodcock, murdered in August 1982.
Suspected of 34 slayings in all, strongly connected with 12 through circumstantial evidence, Tholmer was ultimately charged with only four.
A jury convicted him on all counts -- including charges of rape, sodomy, arson and burglary -- on July 25, 1986. Sentenced to four consecutive terms of life imprisonment, he is unlikely to be prosecuted for numerous other suspected murders.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Man Convicted of Raping and Killing
Four Elderly Women
By Paul Feldman - Los Angeles Times
July 26, 1986
The prime suspect in a series of slayings of more
than a score of elderly Los Angeles women between 1981 and 1983 was
found guilty Friday of four of the five murders with which he was
Brandon Tholmer, 29, who once served a Patton State
Hospital sentence as a mentally disordered sex offender, will face
either the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The jury that
convicted him after two weeks of deliberations will hear evidence in the
penalty phase of his trial beginning Aug. 5.
Tholmer was found guilty of slaying four elderly
women who lived within a two-mile radius in the East Hollywood-Silver
Lake area. The victims were: Rose Lederman, 80, strangled in her Silver
Lake home in August, 1981; Wolloomooloo Woodcock, 69, strangled and
beaten in her East Hollywood home in August, 1982; Dorothy Fain, 70,
stabbed in her Hollywood home in August, 1983, and Mary Pauquette, 72,
beaten in her Monroe Street apartment in September, 1983.
The jury also found that during the course of the
murders, Tholmer also committed rape, sodomy, arson and burglary--special
circumstances that make him eligible for the death penalty.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clarence A.
Stromwall declared a mistrial on two other counts on which the jury
deadlocked: An attempted burglary and the murder of Lorraine H. Wells,
76, who was smothered in her Hollywood bungalow apartment in May, 1983.
After Tholmer's arrest in November, 1983, Los Angeles
Police Chief Daryl F. Gates said Tholmer was a suspect in some of the 34
unsolved slayings of elderly Los Angeles women between 1981 and 1983.
Since then, police have closed the book on investigations of 12
homicides they believe were linked to Tholmer.
Would Stake Out Victims
Murder charges, however, were filed only in the cases
where there was the most evidence, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Lance Ito,
who prosecuted Tholmer.
Authorities speculate that the tall, lanky defendant
staked out his victims while hanging out at two supermarkets where his
girlfriend worked. He then broke into the women's homes late at night to
attack them, authorities theorize.
Suspect Is Arrested In Hollywood
The New York Times
November 8, 1983
A convicted rapist was
arrested today in connection with the murders of
two of 32 older women killed in the last two
years in Hollywood.
The suspect, Brandon Tholmer,
27 years old, had been under 24-hour
surveillance since Nov. 2 after detectives
identified him as a potential suspect because of
his conviction in a 1975 rape of an elderly
woman, Police Chief Daryl Gates said. Mr.
Tholmer served three years in a mental hospital
and was released in 1979.
Mr. Tholmer, who was held
without bail, was charged with the murders of
Lucille Pyle, 82, and Mary Pauquette, 73. Both
women had been raped.
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE:
MO: Rape-slayer of elderly women;
victims also robbed
DISPOSITION: Four consecutiva
life terms, 1986.