An apartment was turned into a bloody crime scene when a vibrant young nurse named Lynne Knight was found murdered and covered in her own blood on one of the mornings in 1979. In the episode titled ‘The Wire’ of ‘Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,’ the details surrounding the gory murder case of Lynne Knight are explored as the detectives were haunted by it for decades. It also gives us a glimpse into the investigation that followed and how the perpetrator was captured. So, if the case intrigues you and makes you curious to learn about the identity and whereabouts of the culprit, here are all the necessary details you might require!
How Did Lynne Knight Die?
Diane Lynne Marie Knight was born on January 1, 1951, in Alberta, Canada, to Lillian Kononuk Knight and Clair Knight. She was raised alongside her elder sister Donna Knight Wigmore. Passionate about helping others, the 28-year-old used to work in the neonatal unit to take care of small babies. After finishing nursing school, she decided to move to California and it didn’t take long for her to get accustomed to the sunny lifestyle along the coast. Known to have led a healthy and active life, apart from work, Lynne also used to indulge in some outdoor sports, such as marathon running, scuba diving, or racquetball.
Moreover, by the summer of 1979, she joined an area ski club that was known to hold several athletic events regularly like water skiing, snow skiing, and volleyball. While being a member of this club, Lynne also met 32-year-old Richard Frank for the first time. He was the publisher of an independent community newspaper and had described her using words like “attractive,” “gregarious,” and “outgoing.” After getting to know each other, Richard and Lynne started dating intensely for several months before the former broke off the romance. However, as the summer of 1979 was coming to a close, after several months of staying apart, the pair rekindled their romance and got back together again.
All seemed to be going well, but in the early morning hours of August 30, 1979, with her throat nearly severed, Lynne Knight was found dead and covered in her own blood at her apartment. She was reportedly strangled with a homemade garrote made of an 18-inch-long wire tied between two small pieces of wood before getting stabbed at least 15 times. The police authorities arrived at the crime scene after neighbors called 911 upon hearing some loud screams from Lynne’s apartment. They noticed an overturned chair near the entrance and a trail of bloody footsteps that led back to the bedroom, which is where the young victim was found naked and drenched in her own blood.
Who Killed Lynne Knight?
Upon launching an investigation and interrogating neighbors and acquaintances of Lynne Knight, the investigators discovered that she had a friendly personality and friendships with several men in the area. Just a few hours before her death, she had her ex-boyfriend Joe come over to her apartment for dinner, where they shared a meal and drink before he left around 11:30 p.m. Given the circumstances, Joe was brought in for questioning but had a reasonable alibi, which was backed by a polygraph test.
After interrogating multiple men that were in Lynne’s life, the investigators came to a dead end as all of them seemed cooperative and willing to do anything to find her killer. However, her boyfriend at the time of her death, Frank, remembered one particular ex-boyfriend named Douglas Bradford, who was upset with her a few months earlier. Following this revelation, the authorities questioned Bradford and found one suspicious thing that stood out in the conversation. They only mentioned that Lynne was missing, but he referenced her death during their conversation.
What made Bradford all the more suspicious was his unusual alibi for the night Lynne was murdered, claiming that he was sailing in Long Beach all alone in the middle of the night and only came home just before 3 a.m. A witness even reported spotting Bradford’s car right outside Lynne’s apartment a few days before her murder. But given a lack of concrete evidence, the investigators couldn’t make an arrest and for decades, the case had remained unsolved. However, Detective Jim Wallace brought in a fresh perspective on the case, and finally, the investigators were able to find the evidence they could use.
Wallace began by taking a closer look at the handmade garrote, which was used to strangle Lynne, and wondered why the wire connecting the two wooden rods had been doubled. He came to the conclusion that the culprit might have used what was available to him and doubled the wire to make it stronger. Without wasting any time, the police served Bradford with a search warrant for his current residence at the time and another one for the house that he lived in at the time of Lynne’s demise. During their search, they learned from his mother, Norma, that she had always been into painting and her house was always decorated with several of her handmade pieces of artwork.
The works were hung on the walls with thin wires that were the same kind the investigators found in the garrote used to strangle the victim. Apart from that, the authorities’ extensive search also led them to a stock of old broom handles, one of which looked very similar to the wood used to make the murder weapon. With all the new evidence in play, they were able to make the arrest of Douglas Bradford in May 2009 for the homicide of Lynne Knight. He hired the famed lawyer Robert Shapiro to defend him in court but to no avail as he was finally convicted of Lynne’s murder in August 2014, more than three decades after the crime, and was sentenced to 26 years to life imprisonment in December of the same year. In March 2017, despite Bradford and his team’s appeal to review the case, the court refused to do so.