LA Forensics: West Hollywood Hustle
Riley already knew that both of his brother's cars a 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL and a 1988 four-door beige Honda Civic were missing, as were his car keys from the key ring and his ATM card. That was helpful, since both could be tracked if the killer used them. Riley also pointed out that the ties used to bind and strangle his brother had been Raymond's own design.
The Mercedes was soon located at a shop where Bayis had left it, so now detectives had only to look for the Honda. They also learned more about the victim's lifestyle and background.
Bayis had moved from Vegas to Los Angeles nearly three decades earlier, aspiring to build a clothing business. His expensive gowns had been popular among wealthy older women, going for as high as $5,000 per original creation. Among his clients were Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rhonda Fleming, and the LA mayor's wife.
His associates said he had no enemies and was apparently well regarded. Several acquaintances said they could not imagine anyone wanting to harm him. Even so, some people in fashion circles knew he was having financial difficulties, according to the LA Times. That week the very day of his murder the IRS had seized his Melrose Avenue dress shop to pay delinquent taxes of $60,000. He also had another shop in downtown Los Angeles, but one person said he'd lost interest in the fashion business.
On the day following the murder, detectives learned that Raymond's former lover had stolen one of the cars on September 11, but had returned it three hours later, full of remorse. Although he appeared to be a good suspect, further checking indicated that at the time of the crime, he had been in a drug rehab center.
As officers learned about Bayis' risky habit of picking up male prostitutes, they looked for his type in the areas he was known to cruise and put together a collection of photographs of potential suspects. An associate who knew Bayis well looked them over but eliminated them all; none were the right type.
Another friend of Bayis' supplied police with a description of some missing jewelry that Raymond always wore: a gold pendant on a chain and a gold ring decorated with a two-peso gold coin. Flyers with descriptions were prepared for various police divisions and departments. If they turned up in a pawn shop, they would be easily identified.
Thanks to a tip, on September 25, the LA Sheriff's Department recovered the missing Honda, found on 96th Street, near Central Avenue in South Central LA. It was locked and there was no key inside. The car was impounded to dust for prints and to search for items that might belong to someone other than Bayis. Investigators found no witnesses who had seen someone in the vehicle, but it had been in that spot less than two days. That meant someone had been driving it.
Two days later, SID reported that there were seven identifiable latent fingerprints in the victim's residence and two in the vehicle. On the floorboard, they had found a piece of paper with a name, "Carlos," and a number written on it, so the number was dialed. The person on the other end said his name was not Carlos and he did not know the victim. Thus, the immediate leads dried up, but SID was still processing evidence.
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