It was December 29th, 1977. The man’s name was Ambrose Griffin. He was 51, an engineer, and the father of two sons. He had been yelling at something or someone, his wife reported to homicide cops in the emergency room, and he’d turned and just dropped right there in front of her. She’d heard two odd popping noises, but had given them no thought.
They had just returned from a shopping trip and Mrs. Griffin had opened the trunk of the car and taken out the bag of potatoes. Her husband had followed with two sacks of groceries and had been on his way back to the car when he had dropped, presumably from a heart attack.
Soon she would learn a more horrifying truth. Her husband had been shot in some sort of random, drive-by attack.
One of the Griffin boys reported having seen a man with a rifle walking around in their East Sacramento neighborhood. They tailed him and then called the police, but he turned out not to be their man. His gun was not the .22-caliber murder weapon.
The following day, a news crew found two spent shell casings on the pavement near the Griffin residence. Detectives followed up on reports of a suspicious car driving around the neighborhood, but could get no clear description.
On the afternoon after the Griffin shooting, a twelve year-old boy reported that a man with brown hair, seemingly in his mid-twenties, had shot at him from a brown Pontiac Trans Am as he rode his bike. He was put under hypnosis and recalled a license plate number, 219EEP. It led nowhere.
Routine police work turned up a report from a woman who said that a shot had been fired into her home on December 27th. She lived only a few blocks from the Griffins. A search of her kitchen produced a .22-caliber slug. It proved to have been fired from the same gun that had killed Ambrose Griffin.
At that point, all leads dried up.
Tags: the first victim