NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Wire’ narrates how Douglas Bradford murdered 28-year-old Lynne Knight, a Canadian native, in Torrance, California, in August 1979. Her only fault was to decline his love and break off their relationship — a situation he could never cope with. So, who is Douglas, and how did he get caught almost three decades after committing the crime? Also, where is he now? Let’s find out the answers to all these questions.
In his late 20s, Douglas Gordon Bradford was an engineering student at California State University, Long Beach, California, in 1979. He stayed at his mother’s residence and dated 28-year-old Diane Lynne Marie Knight, who went by Lynne, for a couple of months. Originally from Canada, the Nurse lived in a rented studio apartment on Enza Avenue in Torrance, California. According to reports, Douglas met Lynne on a skiing trip in early 1979 and asked her out. Former Deputy District Attorney John Lewin stated the young couple dated until about June of that year when Lynne began feeling he was getting much more serious.
When Lynne broke up with Douglas in June 1979, he stewed about the break-up, with his mother testifying how hard he took it. According to reports, he stalked Lynee for days and even confronted her on June 2, 1979, when he discovered she was with another man, Richard Frank. The latter recounted how Douglas had dropped in on the pretense of returning a borrowed lamp but got angry and threw the light over his and Lynne’s head in anger.
According to Richard, Douglas had even called Lynne “a whore” before in his bright orange Datsun 280Z — the same car witnesses would report seeing outside her apartment on the night of August 30, 1979. Neighbors heard screaming from her apartment sometime around 3:00 AM and called 911. When the police arrived, they found the 28-year-old Nurse had been brutally murdered — strangled with a homemade garrote and stabbed more than 15 times.
After learning about the bad blood between Douglas and the victim, the police interviewed him in 1979. According to multiple pieces of evidence discovered at the crime scene, the investigators were sure the perpetrator knew Lynne, and Douglas seemed to fill the profile. His incriminating statements and shaky alibi soon confirmed their suspicions. According to police reports, Douglas said, “I don’t have any reason to—to see her again, or want to see her again. You know, she’s d—dead and something I want to put out of my mind.”
Where is Douglas Bradford Now?
The investigators found it concerning since they had never mentioned Lynne’s death to Douglas and had told him she was missing. Furthermore, he stated he had gone out sailing at night with no running lights on August 30 and could not return before 3:00 AM because the wind died. Douglas claimed he had to row his 4,600-pound boat back into the marina with a four-foot oar. Consequently, the investigators did not have enough evidence to arrest him on murder charges, and the case turned cold. Yet, Douglas remained the primary person of interest in the homicide.
The investigation was suspended in 1982 due to lack of evidence and not reopened until 2000. In 2007, the detectives executed two warrants to search Douglas’ home in Costa Mesa and his mother’s residence, where he resided in 1979. The officers found the wire used by his mother to hang paintings was similar to the one used in the murder weapon. According to experts on the show, this rare type of wire accounted for about 1-6% of picture wire sales. One of the investigators said, “It’s that rare, yet that’s what’s being used to build a garrote, and that happens to also be what Doug had access to because of his mom’s painting.”
While most of the evidence against Douglas was circumstantial, the police arrested him, in his late 50s, on May 13, 2009. He employed famed attorney Robert Shapiro—who once successfully defended O.J. Simpson—as his defense counsel in court. Nevertheless, the prosecution succeeded in getting him convicted, and he was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison in December 2014.
Douglas, then 62, continually professed his innocence during the trial and sentencing. He claimed, “I did not murder Lynne Knight. I am an innocent man wrongfully convicted. I am mad as hell. I am paying for someone else’s crime.” The 71-year-old is presently incarcerated at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo County. His inmate records state he will be eligible for parole in July 2030.
Read More: Lynne Knight Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?