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Still unsolved 10 years later

The shocking murders of La Cañada residents Harold and Joni Tillman took place 10 years ago this week.

February 17, 2010|By Seth Amitin

It was 10 years ago this month that a man in Yucaipa walking his dog early one evening discovered the bodies of two La Cañadans, in an infamous case that remains unsolved.

Harold and Joni Tillman were abducted from their home on Bramblewood Road on Feb. 6, 2000, and murdered. Their bodies were found near Oak Glen Drive and 5th street in Yucaipa the next evening.

“It was a frustrating case,” said Assistant Police Chief Rick Ells of the Highland Police Dept.; Ells was one of the four detectives with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department who worked the case when it was reopened in 2008. “It was unusual and I always felt like we were lucky to just have found their bodies.”

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What made this case particularly jarring, Ells said, was that the Tillmans seemed like a normal couple. Harold was an accountant and Joni was a housewife.

“[In San Bernardino County,] you tend to work a lot of drug and gang cases and people who have disputes in the world the Tillmans lived in. Gangs take care of business like this. But in the world of accounting, you don’t see people resolve issues [by murder]. People litigate.”

According to the initial report in The Valley Sun, the case began to unfold when the body of the Tillmans’ dog, Teddy, a Maltese, was discovered by the hiker at 5:30 p.m. The dog’s tags were from a La Cañada home, which the Sheriff’s Dept. called, leaving a message on the answering machine.

Concerned after not being able to reach the Tillmans, friends went to their house to check on them and found the San Bernardino the call on the answering machine. They returned the call and reported the Tillmans missing.

On investigation, law enforcement personnel found the Tillmans’ bodies near where their pet had been found.

It was determined the Tillmans, residents of La Cañada for the previous three months, were last seen with friends at J.J. Steakhouse in Pasadena the night of their disappearance.

“You couldn’t have called the Spiegel catalog and ordered better neighbors,” said Bramblewood Road neighbor Michael Miller in the Feb. 24, 2000 issue of The Valley Sun.

Miller said he had seen the Tillmans’ Dodge Durango pulling into their driveway on Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. Their car was discovered in Van Nuys five days later.

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