The Murder of Suzanne Thomas: Her Violent Killer Slipped Through the Net

Charles Anderson had brutally attacked six women before, so how was he free to take the life of another?

Verity Partington
6 min readMar 28, 2022


Suzanne Thomas, murdered in 1988 (Image: JanieWilkey via Find a Grave)

In July 1988, 16-year-old Suzanne Thomas from California was a carefree teenager who enjoyed doing what teens do, namely seeing her friends and going to parties in between schooling.

However, little did she know that someone she saw as a harmless acquaintance — someone she put her trust in — was actually a dangerous individual already acknowledged as a threat to women. This is her story.

A party — and a missing person

Suzanne breezily told her family she was heading to a friend’s house on the evening of July 20th 1988 and that she wouldn’t be more than a couple of hours. It was an evening like any other, and her parents undoubtedly thought little of it as they bade her farewell and carried on with their night as usual.

But when they awoke the next morning to find their daughter had never returned home like she said, panic must have set in. They quickly began asking Suzanne’s friends if they had seen the teenager and looked for her themselves, all to no avail.

Police joined the search, even as Suzanne’s sister Mandy tried to quash her growing alarm over what was now an official missing persons investigation.

“I was telling myself that Suzanne was out partying, she probably met somebody and she couldn’t get to a phone, or she just didn’t want to get yelled at by my dad,” she told the Oxygen TV series Buried in the Backyard.

A grisly discovery sparks a murder investigation

But on July 22nd 1988, Mandy’s hopes were dashed along with those of the rest of the family when a hiker in the Hollywood Hills was shocked to find a human foot protruding from the dirt of the ground. A subsequent dig confirmed the body was that of Suzanne Thomas.

Homicide detective Dennis Kilcoyne discovered the 16-year-old had suffered a terrifying ordeal, having been sexually assaulted and badly beaten before being strangled and stabbed to death with a hunting knife.



Verity Partington

A writer and author of crime thrillers living in the UK. Partial to books, stationery, papercrafts and walking. You can find her books on Amazon here: https://a