(Page 2 of 2)

Tillman murder case re-opened

August 21, 2008|By Mary O’Keefe

“[Deputies] began working the scene [in the area the pet dog’s body was found] and found blood in the roadway, then located the graves on Feb. 9,” Jiles said. “The cause of death was strangulation.”

The graves were found near Oak Glen Road and 5th Street in Yucaipa.

The cold case detectives have little evidence to go on, but Jiles believes the murders were premeditated.

“Somebody had pre-dug [the graves the couple were found in]. They were three- to four- feet deep,” Jiles said. “Someone knew the area.

“Nothing was disturbed in the home. Whoever got them lured them out of the house. They wouldn’t have gone off on their own. They were taken out by someone they knew.”


The Tillmans’ attorney, Walter Kaye, said in phone interview late last week he is glad the case is being re-examined.

“The only thing I know is that they turned up in a couple of graves [in the desert],” Kaye said.

He added that he has thought of the couple often and wondered who would have murdered them.

According to reports, the Tillmans were involved in three civil disputes at the time of their murders. One case, a breach of promissory note, was close to being settled before their deaths. A second case alleged that the Tillmans embezzled more than $370,000 from a clothing designer and the third was a dispute between Joni Tillman and a relative.

Kaye said he was familiar with the embezzlement dispute and did not feel that would have had anything to do with their deaths.

“They had some land disputes,” he said. “But there was something else they were doing.”

He did not elaborate, and said that he was not privy to any information on other “deals” they were involved in.

“I think they just got themselves with the wrong people,” he said, adding that he feels the murders were professional.

“It does have tones of a professional killing,” Detective Jiles said.

Jiles said investigators are hoping that since so much time has passed, more people will be willing to talk.

“Relationships change; some who were afraid to talk [before] may not be now,” he said.

There have also been situations when people remember things that they didn’t think were important at the time, but have been bothered by them over the years. There may be someone who saw something related to the Tillman murders that they now think it is significant and worthy of reporting, he said.

Jiles is asking that anyone with information on the Tillmans contact the department. Any information is useful, he said.

“This is a tough case,” he added.

La Canada Valley Sun Articles La Canada Valley Sun Articles