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Who is the killer? For many homicides, the answer is clear-cut from the get-go, but not always. Sometimes the culprit’s identity is elusive and comes as a shock to loved ones and law enforcement alike.
That's exactly what happened in the case of Savannah Leigh “Sunny” Anderson, whose murder is the focus of one of the new episodes of “An Unexpected Killer,” premiering Friday, September 16 at 8/7c on Oxygen.
Born in Minnesota, 22-year-old Anderson was working as a secretary in Irvine, California in 1979. On Sunday, May 14, Mother’s Day, she and her boyfriend, Bill Mills, spent the day together. They made plans to see each other the following day.
But those plans would never happen. After she failed to respond to Mills’ calls, a welfare check was made at her residence at a Woodbridge apartment complex.
Officers found Anderson’s dead body in her bedroom. She had been bludgeoned, strangled, and sexually assaulted, according to a 1986 Los Angeles Times report.
The L.A. Times report added that “circumstances mirrored the deaths of at least eight other young women in six Orange County cities between 1976 and 1979," adding to the complexity of the case.
The autopsy determined that Anderson died of strangulation.
Investigators were able to formulate a timeline: Findings indicated that Anderson was killed just after midnight, following a phone call to her mother wishing her a happy Mother's Day, according to another Los Angeles Times report.
They also interviewed a number of potential suspects, including security staff at the victim’s apartment complex, per the L.A. Times report. They collected fingerprints, but couldn't match them conclusively.
The case hung in limbo for years — until a break in the case came and the fingerprints became an essential clue. Who was the man who killed this young woman whose whole life was ahead of her? And why?
To learn more about the case, watch “An Unexpected Killer,” premiering Friday, September 16 at 8/7c on Oxygen.
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