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The Mysterious Death of Anneka di Lorenzo


WE LOST ANNEKA


Photo credit: Sy Presten Associates


REWRITTEN ALMOST COMPLETELY ON WEDNESDAY, 1 JANUARY 2015. The only two news reports about Anneka’s demise are maddening to the nth degree. They strongly suggest that Anneka took her own life while in the midst of a massive bout of depression and paranoia and anxiety, the result of her having gone off her medications, which exacerbated the emotional trauma. If that is true, then it is as sad as sad can be. Yet there is something terribly wrong with these reports. A quick first reading seems to make some sort of sense, but the more one reviews these reports, the less sense they make. Further research reveals that these reports do not stand up to scrutiny.

Though we never knew Anneka, we were nonetheless rather fond of her, and so the news of her death comes as a blow. What is especially frustrating is that Anneka alone held the answers to many Caligulan questions, and we desperately wanted to reach out to her. Now we shall never be able to. For those of you who don’t know, Anneka was one of the bit players in Caligula who didn’t have so much as a word of dialogue.

It was not until well after the casting had been completed and the filming was underway that Anneka diLorenzo (birth name Marjorie Lee Thoreson, married name Anneka Vasta) and a few other Penthouse models were awkwardly added to the movie at the insistence of presenter Bob Guccione.


UPI Photo, 15 February 1980

Though she quickly became friends with producer Franco Rossellini and his mother Lina Pugni, a friendship she maintained for the rest of Franco’s and Lina’s lives, she had to suffer terrible consequences as a result of the movie. She had a heck of a tragic life and was swindled a thousand times over.

After her traumatic experiences with the world of Penthouse, Anneka started life afresh, away from the limelight. She worked as a cocktail waitress at a casino in the San Fernando Valley among other places (was Gardena one of those other places? would that have been the Normandie?). She maintained her membership in the Screen Actors Guild, apparently hoping for gigs that never materialized. Sundance Capital filed a $4,393 lien against her in the Los Ángeles Municipal Court in August 1993, which would appear to indicate slim casino earnings unable to support her rent. She enrolled at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Bárbara and earned a yoga-instructor’s certificate in 1995. She opened a branch of a franchise called The Forever Young Experience, Inc., in November 2000 in Ocala, Florida, together with her fiancé Philip Felice Vasta, Jr. (b. 31 August 1929). She and Vasta married on 21 June 2001 in Marion County, Florida. Her branch of Forever Young was dissolved in October 2002. In 2005 she sold a house in the San Fernando Valley at a handsome profit and with the proceeds she founded The Anneka Thoreson Yoga and Wellness Corporation in Palm Beach, Florida (incorporated 2006, dissolved in September 2007). By 2009 her marriage was on the rocks. She lost her Palm Beach house in a foreclosure. In an attempt to shed her previous notoriety, Anneka moved about constantly and was probably never listed in the phone book, which made her almost impossible to find.

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrongly reported that Anneka was a Nursing Assistant, a position that at the time paid a modest but barely livable income of about $30,000/year. Fox News, on the other hand, reported that Anneka was a Certified Nursing Assistant. (A nurse friend tells me that her Certified Nursing Assistant days were torture. The CNA’s were burdened with all the worst duties.) Intrigued by this information, I went to Indeed.com to learn that the average salary was $96,000/year. That was probably an error, since that same web site now lists the average salary as $42,000/year, which would be a splendid salary in most of the country, but a rather low salary in Southern California, where all prices are inflated. Further research reveals that Fox’s claim is correct. Anneka did receive a license as a Certified Nursing Assistant, though I have not been able to determine when. We need to wonder how she managed to obtain this CNA license, which is probably not available to those with criminal backgrounds. And then we need to remember that Bob Guccione had done her a favor, though probably for his own benefit rather than Anneka’s: Back in 1973 he had assigned his lawyers to expunge her criminal past. That does not mean that every reference to her background was forever destroyed. Not at all. That means merely that a basic background check most likely would not reveal the criminal records. To discover those would require considerably more research — terribly arduous research. Two sources have revealed to me that in the 2000s Anneka worked at an alternative-physical-therapy clinic in Van Nuys, a clinic that catered to returning soldiers suffering from extreme PTSD. In about 2009 Anneka and Philip Vasta divorced, and at about the same time Anneka lost her job at the clinic. I think the clinic closed not long afterwards. According to the sparse records I was able to turn up, Anneka’s Certified Nursing Assistant license expired on the last day of 2009. Apparently she had not renewed it. It may or may not have been her divorce proceedings that prevented her from renewing her license. I don’t know. The expiration of her license may well be the explanation for her loss of employment. Note that the news reports did not flat-out say that she was unemployed. Jeanette Steele chose her words carefully: “Divorced and in and out of jobs....” That wording strongly implies that she was searching for new employment.

Anneka died on 2 January 2011 on the grounds of a Marine Corps facility. This was mysteriously kept out of the news until 22 October 2011. Military-beat reporter Jeanette Steele of The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story, which was syndicated and picked up by countless news outlets. The Daily Mail was one of these, and it ran an abridgment of Steele’s report with some added background in a sidebar. Fox News offered the only other report that I know about, and it has to be seen to be disbelieved. Unfortunately, the Fox News report has since been removed from the Internet. Let us examine these stories.

The San Diego Union-Tribune story opens with a repeat of a photo and caption from 1980 (we’ll cover this below), and then goes straight to two small maps prepared by staff designer Aaron Steckelberg, based on maps provided by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Southwest Field Office and SanGIS, the San Diego Geographic Information Service. I don’t want to bother to ask for permission to reproduce the map, and so you can just click here to take a look for yourselves.

Let’s look at the statements in the various articles, though in a different sequence.

Anneka was living near her sister Susan in Sherman Oaks. Though she resided in Sherman Oaks, she was in Los Ángeles when she headed towards Carlsbad, California, at about four o’clock in the morning. The article does not tell us why she was in Los Ángeles that morning rather than in Sherman Oaks, nor does it tell us precisely where in Los Ángeles she was. She drove a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan. Now, I am one of those rare people who barely knows one car from another. If it has four tires and a dash board, I can figure out that it’s a “car.” It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that that is the limit of my knowledge of makes and models. I need to know what a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan looks like, and, fortunately for me, there is a photo of one at Edmunds.com. Here it is:



“She was driving a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan with many of her possessions loaded in the trunk and back seat.” How many of her possessions? What kinds of possessions? Did she normally keep many of her possessions in her car, or was this out of the ordinary? Was this really her car, or was she borrowing or renting it?

“Just before 6 A.M., Vasta rented Room 160 at the Motel 6 on Raintree Drive, near South Carlsbad State Beach. She never checked out, and there’s no evidence she ever used the room.” This is important information, but it’s not sufficient. First, let’s find out precisely where this Motel 6 is. It is at 750 Raintree Drive, Carlsbad CA 92011. It is adjacent to the I-5. Heading south, take Exit 45, turn right on Poinsettia Lane, turn right on Avenida Encinas, and turn right again on Raintree Drive. The Motel 6 is walking distance from the Pacific Ocean.

The news report leaves something out. Anneka checked in to Room 160, but for how long? Was this just a one-night stay? A two-night stay? A one-week stay? In order for us to make sense of all that happened, we need to know this, and yet this information is being withheld.

“Vasta’s cellphone records show that she drove around until 8:30 that morning, making calls to family and friends.” That is very important to know, for multiple reasons. Why was she driving around? We do not know, but we can make a reasonable guess. We know that Anneka was a yoga instructor. As such, she probably would not have been happy with a morning meal consisting fried eggs, sausages, coffee, and doughnuts. That would not do the trick. I am not familiar with Carlsbad, and I have never even been there, but people who are familiar with that city assure me that at six o’clock in the morning no venue in Carlsbad would offer a meal healthier than the one I just described. If she wanted a nice breakfast, the best thing for her to do would be to drive back up north, to San Juan Capistrano or thereabouts, where offerings were likely more varied. That’s maybe a 30-minute drive each way, which in the US, and especially in California, is not an off-putting onus. On the contrary. Californians enjoy driving such distances and do so at the drop of a hat. By the time she drove 30 minutes north, the sky would have been bright, and sunrise that day was at 6:53 A.M. We need to consider what else that sentence in Steele’s news report means. Anneka was not hiding out. She was not on the run. She was not keeping her journey a secret. She was openingly chatting with family and friends during her little journey. We can also deduce that the phone conversations were nothing out of the ordinary. Had Anneka’s statements been foreboding, worrisome, threatening, fearful, overflowing with anguish, the news media would have picked up on that and run with it. The media did no such thing, and so we can safely conclude that her conversations were perfectly normal and caused nobody any worry. It would be enormously helpful if we could know what the conversations were about. In all likelihood, these conversations would tell us what her plans were, why she had checked into a motel in Carlsbad, what she was expecting to do there, and when she expected to be back in Sherman Oaks. This information has not been divulged. I would hazard a guess that she was there for a job interview scheduled for the following day. But that’s only a guess. A friend pointed out that it is highly unlikely that someone would rent a motel room just to prepare for a job interview. But think about it. Suppose you live in Sherman Oaks, California. Suppose you have a job interview scheduled for eight o’clock Monday morning in Carlsbad, California. That’s a hundred miles from where you live. In light traffic, the journey by car would be two hours, which means that, in daytime traffic on a Monday, the journey could be up to four or five hours. So if you want to arrive at your job interview promptly at eight o’clock and you want to feel clear-headed and refreshed, would it make sense to start your journey at four o’clock that very morning, risk arriving late, and make it a near certainty that you’d be tired and frustrated during the interview? If I had such a job interview, I would undoubtedly arrive a day early and stay at a motel, to ensure that I would be at my best while potential employers are gilling me. Wouldn’t you?

“The last call was placed from the vicinity of the I-5 vista parking area.” That, too, is very important to understand. The vista parking area has a name: “Las Flores View Point on the El Camino Reál.” (Judging by the ungrammatical name, I assume that this portion of the I-5 more or less follows the historic Camino Reál.) For civilians, the only vehicular entrance to Las Flores View Point is from the southbound lane of the I-5. That proves that she had been further north (San Juan Capistrano?) and was now headed back south towards Carlsbad. Why did Anneka go to Las Flores View Point? First of all, as the news reports say, the view is breathtaking, and Anneka, in her post-Penthouse life, was no doubt deeply affected by nature’s beauty. Maybe that was why she stopped there. If so, that would suggest that she had made this journey before and had discovered Las Flores, which prompted a return visit. Or maybe not. It could also be that she wished to make a telephone call and saw the sign on the highway announcing a turn-off to a rest area. Perhaps she simply turned off because it was a convenient place from which to place a call at 8:30 that morning.

Now, stupidly, I did not keep a copy of the Fox News report. I swore up and down that I downloaded it. But it’s not anywhere here. Drat! It was embedded on this page on the Los Angeles Times site, but it has since been removed from that page, and not even the WayBackMachine captured it. If you were smart enough to download a copy, please contact me immediately! The report was brief and consisted largely of interviews with Rachel McGranaghan and Jason Keller, both of the local NCIS. They looked and acted more like fashion models than investigators, but be that as it may. This video news segment mentioned that on Monday, 3 January 2011, Anneka’s family filed a missing-person report. If my memory is correct, then this is enormously important as well. Keep in mind that her sister Susan pointed out that Anneka “would talk the paint off the walls.” Here we can figure out what happened. Anneka had been on the phone off and on for hours, but then suddenly, just after 8:30 that Sunday morning, she would no longer make calls and she would not answer the telephone. If Anneka were in the habit of periodically going silent, then the family would not have filed a missing-report after a single day. Silence, and a refusal to answer the telephone, were entirely unlike her. Her family rightly got worried.

There is a gap in the story, and it is this gap that I have been trying to fill in. Anneka vanished until the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 January 2011, when “two joggers found the body of a woman washed up on a Camp Pendleton beach, in a restricted no man’s land where Marines train for battle.” If we were to take this report at face value, we would leap to the conclusion that the two joggers were military personnel stationed at the beach, for who else could possibly gain access to a “restricted no-man’s land where Marines train for battle”? Well, as we shall soon learn, this no-man’s land is not restricted at all!!!!! Let us jump now to The Los Angeles Times, which, gives us a few more details, which were possibly in the original San Diego Union-Tribune wire story, though, if so, they were omitted in the original San Diego Union-Tribune publication. Anneka “was found naked, face down in the sand on a stretch of beach used by the Marine Corps for training.” The Los Angeles Times provides a name for this beach: “Gold Beach.” The Los Angeles Times mentions: “But it remains unclear how Vasta got down to the beach from a 50-foot-tall bluff and why she had checked in to a motel in Carlsbad.” These are two unrelated concepts tied together into a single sentence. As for “why she had checked in to a motel in Carlsbad,” why didn’t the investigators use the information from the telephone calls Anneka had made with family and friends? But let’s skip that and go back to the earlier part of the sentence: “it remains unclear how Vasta got down to the beach from a 50-foot-tall bluff....” We should wonder why the news reporter and/or investigators believe that Anneka made her way down the cliff face of the bluff. She couldn’t have. Impossible. We shall see why below. The San Diego Union-Tribune story notes that, prior to drowning, Anneka had suffered a broken back and broken neck. So she had sustained these injuries while she was still alive, as Steele explicitly wrote in her San Diego Union-Tribune article. The Los Angeles Times confirms this: “An autopsy later concluded that she had suffered a broken neck and back before she drowned.” The news story by Laurie Whitwell in the Daily Mail (adapted from Steele’s original wire story) emphasizes something else as well: “Police are trying to work out how Vasta got from her car, parked on a vantage point above the beach, [to be] washed up more than a mile south despite their [sic] being no tide at the first location,” and “Vasta parked her car by a vantage point 60 ft over the idyllic beach, but police are trying to work out how her body came to be a mile south as there was no tide.” This bit about there being no tide is less important than it seems, and is probably not important at all. One more statement has never received its proper due: “though 58, her slender form was youthful enough that military police initially thought she was a teenager.” She was in fine shape, as we can see from the photos in the news stories. She was slender, yes, and it has been reliably (though anonymously) reported that, from the back, with her confident bouncy walk, her firm figure, and her youthful head of hair, she could easily pass for a teenager. But once she turned around the illusion would have been broken. As you can see by the lead photo above, by her late twenties her baby fat was depleted. When she reached her fifties, her face showed her age. Bearing all that in mind, let us think: What would make a 58-year-old look like a teen? Think harder: A 58-year-old who had drowned? Answer: Waterlogging! She was waterlogged, which made her age difficult or impossible to discern. I don’t know how long it takes for a body to get waterlogged.

“Federal agents have pursued the investigation for nine months, but they cannot say how Vasta got from the vista point, which sits atop 60-foot bluffs — to the rocky sand about a mile south.” NCIS investigator Rachel McGranaghan emphasized that point: “The main unanswered question that we have is how she got from her vehicle to the water.” Let’s take that apart, piece by piece. The federal agents had been on the investigation for nine months. So for nine months (actually nine and a half months) this investigation was kept quiet. There was no announcement of Anneka’s death, and there was no obituary. Isn’t that just a little bit strange? (There was a single minor, unnoticeable, exception to this rule, which we’ll get to below.) The federal agents further could not say how Anneka got from her car to the beach a mile south. Why couldn’t they say? Is the reason simply that they didn’t know, that they had been unable to figure it out? Did something rule out the possibility of such a one-mile journey?

“Still, investigators believe that if Vasta jumped — or fell — from the bluffs below her car, the body would not have hit the water, because the tide isn’t high enough there.” That is another strange statement. Perhaps we should give the NCIS the benefit of a doubt here, for perhaps Steele or her editor garbled the NCIS’s statement. Take a look again at that little map. How could someone fall from the car to the beach? Anneka would have had to walk out about a thousand feet to the cliff face of the bluff to have fallen over — or jumped over.

The news reports mention other oddities. The Union-Tribune stated: “When investigators discovered the car, her phone and purse were still in it. But the Mazda did show signs of trauma. A woman’s leopard-print blouse and a sports bra, stained with blood, were wrapped in a plastic bag — the ice bucket liner from the Motel 6, investigators believe. A bloody steak knife was nearby, on the passenger floorboard. The blood belonged to Vasta. But it wasn’t enough blood to convince investigators that she was harmed in the car.” Now, I read that over and over and over, and I made some tentative conjectures about what may have happened, and in earlier versions of this web page I published those conjectures, which I now discover were entirely worthless. But wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait. A steak knife. Hmmmmmm. Anneka was a yoga instructor. As such she was unquestionably vegan. Yes, vegans have steak knives. I’m vegan and I have a steak knife. Steak knives are wonderful for slicing tomatoes and avocados. So, yes, Anneka surely possessed a steak knife. But in her car??? Why would she take a steak knife with her on a road trip? That makes no sense at all. I would be genuinely surprised to discover that the steak knife was hers, or that she had packed it into her car. That was somebody else’s steak knife, and it was introduced into the car after she hit the road.

It is time now to do an armchair investigation. We have a new tool called Google Maps. By looking at the details of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s little maps we can pinpoint precisely where this Las Flores View Point is, and precisely where Anneka was found. Go to Google Maps and look up “Oceanside CA.” Increase the size until the scale at the bottom of the screen indicates “500 ft.” Find the I-5 and follow it north. About ten miles north of the Oceanside city limit you’ll find where the roads and the outlines of the bluffs match what’s pictured in the Union-Tribune maps. It will look like this:

From there you can zoom in and out and scroll all around to explore the area. To make your life easier, here’s a miniature of a composite that I did over several days:


You want the full-size image? Okay.
If you have Windows, right-click on the above image and choose to “Save Link As” to your desktop.
If you have a Mac, CONTROL+click on the above image and choose to “Save As” to your desktop.
The file is enormous, 104,524KB, about 73"×98", and so it will probably time-out on your first few attempts,
and the resulting image will be incomplete.
Once you do manage to download it, you’ll enjoy looking at the dolphins in the ocean.
Or are they whales?

Now, because this map is from satellite images, and thus not merely two-dimensional but flattened horribly, the result is deceptive. This satellite image was taken sometime around New Year’s 2014, in the early morning, and so the sun is in the southeast, casting shadows in a northwesterly direction. Jutting in from the ocean seem to be a number of bluffs, higher than the surrounding landscape. That is not the case at all. What appears to be raised is actually sunken. The greenish land, filled with desert vegetation, is fairly level. Those sandy-colored intrusions are about 60 feet below, and the cliffs are sheer. Chances of surviving a fall down one of those cliff faces are about nil. Maybe not quite nil, but not much better. The brown dirt road that follows the ocean front is similarly about 60 feet below the land that has the green vegetation. Note that a simple look at this map makes one of the mysteries disappear: How did Anneka get from her car to the beach? The answer is obvious: She took the military dirt road, which goes exactly to the spot where she was found two days later. Why did the investigators and reporters make no mention of this road? Why did they suggest, through their carefully worded statements, that the only way to get from Las Flores View Point to the beach was by descending the cliffs and then traveling by water?

An armchair investigation, as important as it can be, is hardly a substitute for a firsthand survey of the site. I was far too chicken to make the journey alone. A friend, Soroosch Aidun, agreed to accompany me. I don’t have a car, and Soroosch’s car was in the shop. So a mutual friend, Reina Schmitz, who was also intrigued by this mystery, agreed to drive us to the site. She took her daughter Chris along for the adventure. And yes, it was an adventure.

We had to choose the right day to go. Anneka was last heard from on Sunday, 2 January 2011. That was holiday time. People did not start going back to work until the following day. To get as close as we could to the conditions of that day four years earlier, we had to choose the Sunday morning closest to New Year’s but still on holiday time. That date, near New Year’s 2015, was Sunday, 28 December 2014. That is the day we left, at four o’clock in the morning. I warned my three companions that the police would likely take a strong interest in us. “Oh great,” Soroosch moaned.

The reason I assumed that the police would be watching us was simple. This is Southern California. If you’ve never driven in Southern California, and especially if you’ve never parked on the streets, you won’t understand how Southern California works. Say if you find a parking spot beneath a sign that announces “No Parking after 6:00 P.M.” You will feel safe in parking your car at noon, but when you come by to drive away at 5:40 P.M. you will find to your dismay that there is already a ticket under your wiper, falsely stating that you were still parked there at 6:00 P.M. Of course, that doesn’t always happen. Not all parking officers are quite that mean. So you might get back to your car at 6:00 P.M. on the nose to witness a parking officer in the process of writing your ticket. The parking officer didn’t wait until 6:01, or even until 6:00:01. The parking officer cites your car at exactly 6:00:00. No grace period. Also, stand anywhere and watch the traffic officers and other police cruise by. They are perpetually making their rounds, everywhere. They are forever prowling, looking for trouble, and rejoicing when they find it. We would be four peculiar characters hanging around a vista point for hours, looking the wrong way, and taking notes on everyone else’s activities. This could hardly fail to arouse suspicions.

We arrived at Las Flores View Point in the darkness at about ten minutes before six o’clock. I had never been to this site before, and I was surprised by what I could barely see. Judging from the Google Map, I had assumed that a thousand feet to the west all I would see were cliff walls. But I was wrong. I could just barely make out the ocean in the distance. The Google Map made it look as though the parking area were level with the surrounding landscape. In fact, just as the news reports stated, the parking area rests atop a small bluff.

I had just purchased from Staples some Tally Counters (Cosco Industries, Made in China, Item #065118). As with anything, if you get one, it will break. If you get two, both will work. It’s a law of physics, as you know. I got two. I would keep count of the southbound traffic on the I-5, and I gave my three companions their instructions. Soroosch would keep tabs on visitors to the rest area: when each vehicle arrived, how long it stayed, and when it left. Reina and Chris were to keep track of any activity on or near the military dirt road below us.

The first discovery was that we were almost never alone. There were almost always other cars parked by us. In the darkness, people pulled over to take brief cat naps, or to shoot the breeze, or to switch drivers.

Here is the southbound I-5 traffic talley. The times are not exact to the second, but close enough for what I needed.

Time Span # Vehicles
From 5:52 to 6:00 57
From 6:00 to 6:05 72
From 6:05 to 6:10 66
From 6:10 to 6:15 42
From 6:15 to 6:20 71
From 6:20 to 6:25 53
From 6:25 to 6:30 82
From 6:30 to 6:35 68
From 6:35 to 6:40 59
From 6:40 to 6:45 62
From 6:45 to 6:50 49
From 6:50 to 6:55 82
From 6:55 to 7:00 72
From 7:00 to 7:05 72
From 7:05 to 7:10 78
From 7:10 to 7:15 79
From 7:15 to 7:20 90
From 7:20 to 7:25101
From 7:25 to 7:30 99
From 7:30 to 7:35 95
From 7:35 to 7:40107
From 7:40 to 7:45116
From 7:45 to 7:50 98
From 7:50 to 7:55123
From 7:55 to 8:00118
From 8:00 to 8:05146
From 8:05 to 8:11119
From 8:11 to 8:15116
From 8:15 to 8:20128
From 8:20 to 8:25174
From 8:25 to 8:30145
From 8:30 to 8:35159
From 8:35 to 8:40204

Here is Soroosch’s tally of the visitors to the rest area:

ArriveLeaveNotes
5:49 5:53 SUV
6:02 6:03 SUV, switched drivers
6:06 7:45 Small SUV
6:21 7:10 Car
6:26 6:26 Small SUV
6:34 6:51 Two cars together
6:55 6:55 Vons truck, drove in and right back out
6:59 7:01 Small car
6:59 7:45 Small car
7:01 7:09 Small car
7:03 7:05 Small car
7:04 7:09 Small truck
7:05 7:12 Small car
7:07 7:09 Small car
7:21 7:26 Small car
7:23 7:30 Pickup
7:26 7:30 Small car
7:32 7:37 Small car
7:34 7:46 SUV
7:37 7:39 SUV
7:37 7:48 Pickup
7:39 7:48 Small car
7:45 7:48 Pickup
7:51 7:56 Sports car
7:56 7:56 Car, in and out
8:07 8:09 Car
8:09 8:22 Small car
8:11 8:13 Van
8:13 8:20 Small car
8:13 8:19 SUV
8:16 8:20 Small red car
8:17 8:36 SUV
8:18 Small car
8:21 Small car
8:24 8:30 Van
8:27 8:30 Small SUV
8:33 8:36 Car
8:36 Car
8:39 SUV
8:39 Small SUV
8:39 Mustang

There were a few lulls, most dramatically between 7:56 and 8:07, when we were the only people in the area. At about 8:30 it became clear that the people who started crowding in knew the place. They knew the view, and they were in love with it.

I was dead wrong about the police taking an interest in us. No police patrolled Las Flores View Point. We saw the occasional police car zip down the highway, but there was no attention paid to the parking area. Why?


Chris propped her telephone against the car window
and made this little time-lapse video.
If this doesn’t display, download the video here: MP4 or OGV.

Since nothing at all was happening on the military road or on the surrounding land, Reina and Chris gave up and took a walk down the military road to the beach where Anneka had been discovered four years earlier, leaving Soroosch and me to keep to our tallies. As we were keeping our counts, Soroosch turned to me and said, “Nothing happened to her here.” That came as a shock. Of course something must have happened to her here. How else can one explain the bloodied clothes and the knife? But I didn’t express my outrage at his denial of my firmly implanted ideas. I just asked him why he said that. The highway was right in front of us. The cars traveling down the highway may as well have been in our laps. Everyone on the highway not only could, but would see Las Flores View Point. But would anyone pay attention? It is true that two hundred drivers could whiz by at 65mph and catch a glimpse of some untoward activity off to the side of the road, but such a vision wouldn’t even register. It would be too brief. That wasn’t the problem, though. How could a marauder get someone out of her car and carry her far away without getting caught, especially after 8:30 when the place is filled with sightseers? It would be impossible. He was right. Nothing happened to her here. She must have been lured away. Soroosch went one further: He was not convinced that Anneka’s car remained parked at the site all three days. He suspected that her killer drove it off for a while before returning it. That was certainly within the realm of possibility, but why would Soroosch even think of that? What purpose would such a joy ride have served? Of course, as usual, he proved that he’s twenty times smarter than I am, as we shall see below.


6:38 A.M. Facing east.
At about this time Soroosch took a little photographic tour, after first asking if I could do double duty for a few minutes. And so I did double duty for a few minutes. I’m glad I did!

6:39 A.M. Southeast.

6:39 A.M.

6:39 A.M.

6:39 A.M.

6:39 A.M.

6:40 A.M. Facing west.

6:40 A.M.

6:40 A.M. Near the center of the frame you can see the yellow gate
that prevents vehicles at Las Flores View Point from entering the military road.

6:58 A.M.

8:44 A.M. The edge of the parking area is at the edge of a bluff. It’s about a 30-foot tumble to the bottom, but you wouldn’t make it to the bottom. The desert shrubs would break your fall quite instantly.

8:44 A.M.

8:44 A.M.

8:44 A.M. Here you can see that the parking area at Las Flores View Point
is truly at the edge of a bluff.

8:44 A.M. Facing north, we can see more of the bluff, along with a safety fence.

8:45 A.M. Facing southwest.

8:45 A.M. At the north side of Las Flores View Point, facing south.

We locked the car (accidentally knocking over Chris’s phone-camera in the process) and decided to take a walk. The steel gate that bars vehicles at Las Flores View Point from entering the military road is easily passable by pedestrians. Even had someone not snipped away much of the barbed wire, it would have been easy to get around. We simply walked through the gate, between the bars, where the barbed wire was missing, and decided to head down to the cliff edge of the nearest bluff. Soroosch solved another mystery for me. He and his brother frequently go surfing in this general area. Not at Las Flores View Point or at Camp Pendleton, of course, but in the general area. He assures me that, tide or no tide, the ocean current is always southbound. When they go for a day of surfing, after they set up camp by the beach they need to trek northwards to get into the water. The current will carry them back south where they can retrieve their belongings. So a body placed into the water would indeed float a mile south and wash ashore, even in the absence of tides.


8:46 A.M. On the other side of the fence, looking back to Las Flores View Point.

8:47 A.M. North of Las Flores View Point, down a small slope, we arrive at the Old Pacific Highway Trail, just where it turns west to go under the I-5. To my surprise, this part of the Old Pacific Highway Trail is only for military vehicles and bicycles, and the tunnel under the I-5 is so narrow that only one vehicle can get through at a time.

8:48 A.M.

8:48 A.M. Down the military road, just west of the Old Pacific Highway Trail,
looking back at the tunnel underneath the I-5.

8:48 A.M. Soroosch is ahead of me on the military road.
There were no signs anywhere forbidding such a stroll through the countryside,
which I find astonishing.
Note the tire tracks. Some seem to belong to pickup trucks,
and others appear to belong to enormous military ATVs.

8:49 A.M. These tire tracks are not fresh. They are at least a week old, probably older.

8:51 A.M. From the military road, looking back up at Las Flores View Point.

8:51 A.M. Zooming in.

8:51 A.M. This is when Reina and Chris returned from their stroll.
Reina reported that she had found a fully loaded shell
as well as an empty bullet down at the beach.
Soroosch handed Reina her car keys,
and Reina and Chris returned to the parking area while we replicated their stroll.

8:52 A.M.

8:54 A.M. Soroosch gets brave and heads towards the oceanside bluffs.

8:54 A.M. We can begin to see how sheer the bluffs’ cliffs are. As I learned this day, there are different types of bluffs, so different that I find it surprising that the same word is used to describe different geological features. One type of bluff is a sedimentary deposit on top of a plain, such as the bluff upon which rested the parking area. Another type of bluff is erosion that forms a cliff.

8:54 A.M. Turning around and looking back again at Las Flores View Point’s parking area.

8:55 A.M. Once we get about this close, the ground begins to sound distinctly hollow.
Underneath the topsoil, the earth has largely eroded away.
This ground can easily support the weight of a rabbit, maybe even two rabbits.
But we are risking our lives by getting this close.
The ground could easily give way under us.
Fortunately the ground was dry that day.
I’d hate to make this journey during a heavy rain.

8:55 A.M. Nonetheless, we inch our way a little bit closer.
Here we can see where some ground has recently given way.

8:55 A.M.

8:55 A.M. More ground that has recently given way.

8:56 A.M. We decide it would be best to back off. Now, this is approximately where the news reporters, and maybe the investigators too, guessed that Anneka may have jumped or fallen. If she had done so, yes, she would have broken her back and neck at the very least. Chances that she would have survived the fall are slim indeed. She did not jump. And she did not fall. I’m certain of that.

8:56 A.M.

8:56 A.M. Ours are not the only shoe prints here.

8:57 A.M.

8:57 A.M. Soroosch compares his shoe to the old shoe print.

8:57 A.M. We cannot resist taking a few more looks at the bluffs,
but we try to avoid hollow-sounding ground. Here we are looking northwest.

8:57 A.M.

8:57 A.M. I turned around and pointed the camera southwest.

8:58 A.M. What is the difference between bravery and foolhardiness?
Scroll to the bottom of this web page to see Soroosch’s photos. His foolhardiness paid dividends.
8:58 A.M. A little further south is another bluff.

9:01 A.M. Enough of looking at bluffs. We get back onto the military road.

9:04 A.M. What is that in the distance?
How did anyone anchor it into the ground without causing an avalanche?

9:04 A.M. We zoom in. What is that thing?

9:07 A.M.

9:07 A.M.

9:09 A.M. Here is another structure right at the edge of the bluff.
Its construction and anchoring seem to defy all laws of physics.

9:09 A.M. I zoom in. I cannot make out what it is, but whatever it is, it isn’t anymore.
It isn’t an is, it is a was, and it is on the verge of collapse.

9:10 A.M. I turn around and look back at Las Flores View Point’s parking area.

9:10 A.M. Zooming in.

9:16 A.M. Here the military road is dry. It is rocky sand.

9:16 A.M.

9:16 A.M.

9:18 A.M. We can see the size of the tire tracks.
These belong to vehicles that we do not wish to encounter.
By about this time a military helicopter has flown out to hover above us.
There are no cameras that we can see anywhere on the ground,
and so the military must have a live feed of this area from a satellite.
The satellite must have sufficient sensors that it can detect motion even through cloud cover. After less than five minutes the helicopter flew away and vanished into the distance.

9:18 A.M. So far the military road has more or less paralleled the I-5.
Now it descends into a gulley, where it will make a sharp right towards the ocean.

9:18 A.M.

9:19 A.M. Once we are in the gulley, walking becomes a bit challenging.
Stay on the left and lose your balance. Stay on the right and get muddy.
Stay in the middle and risk not being able to get out of the way of a charging armored tank. Now, let me tell you more about this gulley. It is filled with audio illusions. At certain spots the traffic from the I-5 sounds like more than merely traffic. The added sound, which is LOUD, is exactly that of a gigantic vehicle racing towards us from behind, crunching the dried mud along the way. My heart leapt into my mouth. I turned around each time, but there was nothing behind us.

9:21 A.M. I declined to take a photograph of something here.
On the cliff face on the left there was a little tube filled with some sort of oil,
and its small conduit led into the ground.
I assume this is some sort of environmental check.
I wanted that image, but I chickened out.

9:21 A.M. Here is where the road veers right.

9:23 A.M. Soroosch pointed out that there is a bird in this scene.
I had trouble locating it. At last I did and snapped a photo.

9:23 A.M. I zoom in.

9:23 A.M. We get closer.

9:24 A.M. I zoom in again. The bird is fearless and couldn’t care less about our presence. (Is it some sort of a shag? Someday I’ll learn about The Birds of the Americas. Someday.)

9:24 A.M. Soroosch steps off the road and looks east towards a storm-drain tunnel underneath the I-5 where someone, for some reason, dumped a lot of rocks from a quarry. I assume that’s to prevent the storm runoff from forming a pool? This little arroyo bed is filled with tire tracks, and that mystifies me. What could travel along that soft sand? Only the smallest recreational ATV, I should think. I wish this photo were 3D, because in this 2D image we cannot see that another arroyo to the right empties into this one.

9:24 A.M. I turn around and face towards the ocean. The arroyo is on the left, and the military road is on the right. We notice something entirely unexpected in the distance.

9:25 A.M. Why is there graffiti here? Who put it here? The soldiers don’t do this, of that we can be certain. High-school kids are responsible for this, surely.

9:25 A.M.

9:26 A.M.

9:26 A.M.

9:26 A.M.

9:27 A.M. A flag pole. Surely this is for military maneuvers.

9:27 A.M.

9:28 A.M.

9:29 A.M. 73? This couldn’t have been carved in 73.

9:29 A.M. This is the spookiest thing of all. There are countless crevasses in this cliff wall. Then we notice that there are countless crevasses in many of these cliff walls. With a sufficient supply of food and blanketing, it would be possible to live here for months without being found.

9:29 A.M.

9:29 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

9:31 A.M.

9:31 A.M.

9:31 A.M. Again, 2D just doesn’t do this image justice. Soroosch here played a magic trick on me. He took one step to the right and disappeared before my eyes. When he came back out, he said, “He could have kept her down here for who knows how long. Her last hours must have been horrible.”

9:32 A.M. This is the crevasse that Soroosch disappeared into.

9:32 A.M. The beach where Anneka was found. Look at the size of those tire tracks.

9:33 A.M. The news said that this beach consists of rocky sand.
Wrong. It is fine, soft sand. Very soft.

9:33 A.M. There was another oil test somewhere around here,
but it had been broken by vehicles running over it.
Again, I was uncomfortable about photographing it.

9:33 A.M. Looking up the part of the military road that hugs the shoreline.
We can see the intimidating cliff face of the bluffs stretching out to the distance.

9:33 A.M.

9:33 A.M.

9:34 A.M.

9:34 A.M. It was about here that Anneka was found. This, I guess, is Gold Beach. A friend, after reading an earlier draft of this web page, did some Googling and found some jaw-dropping information: Everybody knows about this beach. It’s a popular tourist retreat, and even nudists have tested the law by shedding their bathing suits here. I am having difficulty registering this information. But here are the links:
Hiking Scenic San Onofre State Beach — From Nukes to Nudes!,”
Nudists, Park Rangers Battle over Camp Pendleton Beach,”
Camp Pendleton Beach at Center of Fight over Nudism,”
HMH-462 Builds a Brotherhood with Warriors Night,”
Coming Home: A Rare Camp Pendleton Surf with the United States Marines.”
So, let us think this through. This is a military camp, designated for use as a military training ground, and yet it is a popular hiking, bathing, and even naturist destination????? I am having trouble understanding this. Furthermore, given the popularity of the site among hikers, surfers, and sunbathers, why do the NCIS investigators pretend to have such difficulty figuring out how Anneka reached the beach? They make it sound like an impossible and unprecedented journey.

9:34 A.M.

9:34 A.M.

9:34 A.M.

9:35 A.M. She could have been hidden anywhere in here, for an hour, a day, two days.

9:35 A.M.

9:35 A.M.

9:36 A.M. Soft sand.

9:36 A.M.

9:36 A.M. We start to head back. I tell Soroosch,
“I don’t think that helicopter was for us.”

9:36 A.M.

9:37 A.M.

9:37 A.M.

9:37 A.M.

9:37 A.M.

9:37 A.M.

9:38 A.M.

9:40 A.M.

9:41 A.M.

9:41 A.M. The remnants of a portable outhouse.

While Soroosch and I were traversing the landscape, Reina was taking some photos of her own. These further demonstrate the popularity of Las Flores View Point.


9:43 A.M.

9:43 A.M.

9:43 A.M.

9:43 A.M.

9:43 A.M.

9:43 A.M.

9:44 A.M.

9:44 A.M.

Now let us return to my journey with Soroosch.


9:43 A.M. The bird is still there.

9:43 A.M.

9:44 A.M. The arroyo bed.

9:44 A.M. I zoomed in to get the image of the other arroyo emptying into this one.

9:44 A.M.

9:44 A.M.

9:45 A.M. The bird is still there, and it still doesn’t care.

9:45 A.M. Soroosch asked me, “Are you still convinced it was a military person who did this?” Well, after all these years of pondering the news stories, I had become almost totally convinced of that. But now, after seeing what I had seen with my own two bespectacled eyes, I was no longer so sure. As a matter of fact, now I was quite sure it was not a military person at all. It was just some civilian, a doofus, a goofball, a nobody who had done this.

9:45 A.M.

9:50 A.M.

9:53 A.M. There’s that little structure again.

9:53 A.M. Zoom in.

9:54 A.M. Here is a little sign telling us not to leave the road. Just as we were reading it, Soroosch decided to leave the road anyway and take a look at that little structure. Before he could take more than a few steps, I told him to come back. He didn’t understand why. “There’s a helicopter behind us.” He came right back. The helicopter was circling around the beach, examining the spot where Anneka had been found. So that first helicopter had been for us after all. The military knew what we were doing and why. The military brass had long been expecting someone to do an onsite inspection of the crime scene. After circling around the beach, the helicopter approached and hovered, watching us. I wanted to snap a photo, but decided against it. Some things just aren’t worth the trouble. After maybe five minutes the helicopter flew away towards the San Onofre Nuclear Reactor (made famous in Naked Gun) and vanished from sight.

9:55 A.M. Oh well. I’ll live out the rest of my days never knowing what that structure is. In a few years it will surely be gone, because the ground underneath it will collapse to the shoreline 60 feet below.

9:55 A.M.

9:58 A.M. Looking towards Las Flores View Point parking area.

10:01 A.M.

10:01 A.M. We can see how popular this Las Flores View Point is.

10:04 A.M.

10:04 A.M.

10:08 A.M.

10:08 A.M.

10:09 A.M.

10:09 A.M.

10:09 A.M. Here we can see the safety fence at the bottom of
Las Flores View Point’s bluff.

10:11 A.M.

10:11 A.M.

10:11 A.M.

10:11 A.M.

10:12 A.M.

10:12 A.M. This gate is rusty from the sea salt, not from age.
I presume that this gate was not installed until after Anneka’s death.

10:13 A.M.

10:15 A.M. We get back to see that Reina has straightened out her car and parked it properly. Well, it turns out that she has done more than merely that.

10:19 A.M. She drives us down the highway to the nearest exit,
the 62 offramp leading to Las Pulgas Road.
She stops the car along the shoulder to point something out to us,
something she discovered while Soroosch and I were involved in our peregrinations.
There is construction work here.

10:19 A.M. I zoom in as best I can. These are little barracks (I think), just sitting on the ground, not anchored and without foundations. They are not level. They will be anchored to foundations soon enough, though. I assume this is part of the military operation.

10:20 A.M. This is the gate at the end of Las Pulgas Road
leading to the above barracks.

10:20 A.M.

10:20 A.M. We go under the I-5 to get onto the 62 onramp to take us back home.
Reina points out something else.

10:20 A.M.

10:20 A.M. There is construction work going on here too.
So the little Las Flores View Point is not so isolated as one would at first imagine.

10:20 A.M.

What are we to make of all this? The beach is unquestionably a practice ground for military maneuvers. And yet anybody can walk along the military road and reach it. And anybody can take along a little ATV and race through the arroyos. And high-school kids can come in and party and carve and paint graffiti all along the cliff walls. Am I the only one who thinks this is strange? Despite the dangers of the area — the ease of ground giving way and dropping a tourist 60 feet down to a painful death, the countless crevasses where anybody can hide indefinitely, the possibility of getting run over by a tank — the police do no patrolling of the area. Human activity on the grounds will sound an alarm that scrambles helicopters to the area, but only to take a look and then fly away again. I don’t know how to make sense of this. To me it’s sort of like building a school’s playground in the middle of a trench during wartime.

Now that we know the lay of the land, it is time to go back to the news stories and pull more quotes, but again, not in their published sequence. “Vasta was known for being open, too open, to strangers.” Her sister Susan elaborated: “She’s like a little girl out in the street. A stranger could walk by, and she’ll pick up a conversation with them.” Again, this is very important to know. In earlier years, when Anneka was attempting to break into showbiz via beauty contests and nude layouts in men’s mags and working in strip joints and hooking, she was quite uppity and would not deign to speak with those beneath her. But now, in her enlightened maturity, those days and those feelings and those goals were definitively over. She decided to be true to herself, and her true self was open, sociable, gregarious.

Based on the above information alone, shall we attempt to invent a possible scenario? Let’s do that. Suppose that Anneka decided to raise her spirits by taking a look at the beautiful morning view of the oceanside from Las Flores View Point. Suppose that as soon as she parked there, she decided to pick up her mobile telephone and call a relative or friend. Suppose that, right after her phone conversation, she started chatting with someone else at Las Flores View Point in her open, friendly way, remarking how wonderful it would be to walk right up to the shoreline. Suppose that the person chatting with her said, “That’s easy! Nobody patrols this road. Anybody can walk down to the beach. People do it all the time.” Suppose that this person seemed completely trustworthy. Suppose that Anneka trusted him implicitly. Once they were by the cliffs at the beach, nobody would be watching. This guy would be able to do anything he wanted, for as long as he wanted. Nobody was patrolling Las Flores View Point, and so nobody would notice if some cars were parked there for too long. He started jabbing Anneka with a steak knife to get his point across, and finally beat her and dumped her into the ocean. He walked back alone, taking her clothes with him as trophies. He had her keys and could easily get into her car, and even drive away if he so chose. Maybe he did drive away. If only we could obtain the satellite images from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of January 2011, we could see if the maroon Mazda was parked at Las Flores View Point all three days. I don’t know how to get those satellite images.

Now we come to the most puzzling mystery of this case. Why were her bloodied leopard-print blouse and sports bra placed into a plastic bag and put into the car, and why was the bloody steak knife placed on the passenger-seat floor? The speculation was that the plastic bag was the ice-bucket liner from her motel room. Why would she take an ice-bucket liner from her motel room before traveling up north for a breakfast or whatever reason it was? This whole episode, it seems to me, is smoke and mirrors. This is tampering of evidence, or misreporting of evidence, designed to puzzle us and distract us from the real clues, to throw us off the scent. Nonetheless, we need to confront this evidence, however tainted it is. Let us think this through. But to do this, we should examine more passages from the news reports.

“They know she drowned. They just don’t have enough information to know if it was suicide — which her family vehemently denies — or if the emotionally fragile woman met someone on that New Year’s Eve weekend who led her toward harm on the Marine Corps base. There’s no explicit evidence of foul play.” Here Steele paints a picture of an “emotionally fragile woman” who may have committed suicide. Steele goes on: “The days before Vasta’s death in San Diego reveal that the former actress continued to lead a somewhat troubled existence. Divorced and in and out of jobs, Vasta was living near her sister Susan Thoreson, a Sherman Oaks resident with whom she was close. Thoreson said her sister began showing symptoms of shaky mental health about six or eight years ago. There were bouts of paranoia and massive anxiety. One of those bouts apparently brought Vasta to San Diego County. ‘When Anneka got paranoid, she would run away,’ Thoreson said. ‘It was that fear or flight stuff.’ ”

How are we to interpret that? There is an elision in the above passage, and I want to know what was chopped out. Did Anneka show symptoms of shaky mental health six or eight years before? Perhaps she did. And if she did, we need to keep in mind a lesson I have learned through my decades on this planet: If someone is paranoid or anxious, there’s often a pretty darned good reason for it. Anneka had lived through a protracted hell at Penthouse, made even worse by the years-long legal proceedings, during which she suffered through a lengthy smear campaign. I never had it as bad as Anneka did, but I can assure you, based on my firsthand experiences, that several years of that sort of treatment can truly drive you totally batty. Your friends really will think that you’re off your rocker. On top of that, she had recently gone through a divorce, and divorces, I am led to understand, can lead to tremendous, even debilitating, emotional turmoil. Furthermore, if my sources are correct, Anneka had spent some years at a therapy clinic that dealt primarily or exclusively with returning soldiers suffering from severe PTSD. That would drive anyone batty as well, and probably no friend or relative would be able to understand. With that history hovering in the background, we should temper our view that Anneka was having mental or emotional problems. Anxiety was only to be expected. The carefully placed cues about “shaky mental health” that open the news reports and that are hammered home more and more and more as the reports proceed are, in my opinion, more smoke and mirrors. Anneka had lived through decades of torment, and she surely reacted in strange ways, as anybody would, but she came out of it just fine, and was a warm, talkative, open person eager to befriend every stranger. Now, Steele goes so far as to report that “One of those bouts” of “paranoia and massive anxiety” is what “apparently brought [Anneka] to San Diego County.” How does Steele reach that conclusion? Anneka had her ear glued to her phone, chatting away with family and friends during her road trip, and it really wasn’t much of a road trip: two hours or so from Los Ángeles to Carlsbad, which, for California drivers, is an everyday routine, not out of the ordinary in any way at all. So for the life of me, I don’t see where “paranoia and massive anxiety” come into play here. A friend pointed out to me that the time of her drive down the highways would indicate some emotional problems, since it was hardly likely that a well-adjusted person would set forth on a journey at four o’clock in the morning. The evidence we saw did not bear out that assumption. The I-5 was rather populated at four and five o’clock on the morning we retraced her steps.

Fox News took the money story a step further, saying that Anneka had hit hard financial times. How hard were those financial times if she was still driving a car, renting a room at a motel, and chatting endlessly on the telephone? Would her family have abandoned her to bankruptcy and homelessness? Surely Fox exaggerates. Yes, she was out of work, but she was not unemployable, and, from what I can gather by reading between the lines, she was actively seeking new employment. Fox also described Anneka as “unstable,” whatever that means.

Let’s look at more quotes. “Lithium, for mood disorder, and an empty bottle of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, were found in the car. But an autopsy showed no drugs in the dead woman’s body. The medical examiner reported shallow cuts on Vasta’s wrists, consistent with a halfhearted suicide attempt. She also had two stab wounds on her chest. All of those wounds, the deepest of which was a half-inch, were not serious enough to kill her.” This is not objective reporting. It is leading. We do not know how long the lithium and the empty Xanax bottle were in her car. They could have been there for ten years as far as we know. Considering all she had lived through, I would be surprised to find out that she had never been prescribed mood-altering medications. Heck, I’ve been prescribed Xanax. After what I lived through under my dangerous psychoboss and then three psycho-sado police officers, I sure needed some assistance. I went to the doctor to find out why I couldn’t sleep for an entire week, why every time I began to doze off I leapt from my bed and dashed to the corner of the room in abject terror. This was not a deliberate action, but entirely involuntary. She asked me if anything dramatic had happened in my life. I started to explain recent events, and less than 20 seconds later she cut me off to say, “You have post-traumatic stress disorder,” and prescribed Xanax, which I had never heard of before. She explained that the pills were extremely dangerous and highly addictive, and that she would give me only eight and would not refill. I took, I think, five over the next few weeks, felt fine, and tossed the remaining three in the garbage. So I suppose, by Steele’s standards, I am “emotionally fragile” and suicidal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Steele is good enough to admit that “an autopsy showed no drugs in the dead woman’s body.” So there. How emotionally fragile and suicidal was she if she didn’t need to take medications?

For the sake of argument, though, let us say that she did need to take those medications and simply refused, leading to massive suicidal depression. Okay, maybe, but that does nothing to explain her friendly, outgoing, garrulous, sociable nature and her keeping relatives and friends on the telephone that morning for what were, we can only conclude, friendly chats.

Now let’s get to the “shallow cuts“ on Anneka’s wrists, “consistent with a halfhearted suicide attempt,” and the “two stab wounds on her chest.” What? Huh? Run that by me again. Let’s talk about suicide. Suicide does not come out of the blue. Suicidal depression builds slowly over time. The suicidal person will drop more and more hints. A literate person committing suicide will leave a note or a message of some sort as a final explanatory message. But according to this article, a sociable, friendly, talkative person, who speaks for hours on the telephone with family and friends, conversations that cause nobody any alarm whatsoever, just suddenly slits her wrists and stabs herself in the chest and jumps off a cliff. HUH??????? That’s not the way it works. Ever!

Now we are ready to review again some claims that we already quoted above. As you will recall, there was speculation that Anneka jumped off a 60-foot bluff and presumably broke her back and neck upon impact. If so, how did she get into the ocean to drift a mile south? Did she decide that a broken neck and broken back were not going to deter her from going for a swim? In January? Yes, the news story really does get that absurd. Susan was distraught, and it didn’t help that investigators and reporters were demanding explanations from her, explanations that she could not possibly provide. She was breaking down under this treatment, which is why she made some bizarre conjectures. “Thoreson says it’s possible that her sister, alone or with someone she met, somehow tried to go swimming and was overcome by the cold winter surf.” Utterly preposterous. That’s the sort of half-baked answer that a distraught person would make when suddenly confronted with horrifying news similtaneously with demands for explanations. It is not a well-thought-out answer, nor could it have been, and I’d be willing to wager that Susan had never been to Las Flores herself. Susan also said, “I think Anneka did make suicidal gestures to herself.” Steele puts that comment into context, saying that those “suicidal gestures” would have occurred “that night.” What night? As I say, I’m certain that Susan was breaking down under pressure, which explains why she was speaking nonsense.

Again, for the sake of argument, let’s go with the suicide hypothesis. After all, as Fox News said, “They’re pretty sure it’s a suicide.” Depression, anxiety, delusions, can make one do the most unexpected things. I have no quarrel with that. So perhaps Anneka’s multiple telephone conversations with family and friends that morning were filled with gloom. Perhaps she did tell her family and friends “You won’t need to worry about me much longer” and so on and so forth, the typical resigned distress calls of one who has given up. Suppose she stopped at Las Flores View Point for the sole purpose of ending it all. Suppose she carried the steak knife for the singular purpose of carving herself up. Suppose she took along the ice-bucket liner for the sole purpose of wrapping up bloody items to prevent them from soiling the car, which either belonged to somebody else or which she had bequeathed to somebody. This hypothesis might seem to make some sense until you examine the site in person. After you examine the site, you would discover that the hypothesis really runs like this: Anneka slit her wrists, but inefficiently, and stabbed herself in her chest (despite her silicone breast enhancements), removed her bloody blouse and sports bra and placed them in a plastic ice-bucket liner that she had thought to grab from her motel room even though she hadn’t settled into it yet, and dropped the bloody knife onto the floor. Then, topless and bleeding profusely, she walked north to the pedestrian exit alongside the highway, down the military road, and then a thousand feet down the plain to the cliff, in front of a large audience of sightseers, not a single one of whom noticed her. Arriving at the cliff’s edge, she would have jumped off the 60-foot cliff, breaking her back and neck upon landing, but then nonetheless walked or crawled another few hundred feet to the shoreline to swim in the ocean. Her pants, socks, and shoes just disappeared. Presumably they disintegrated or evaporated or just dematerialized, which of course happens because we see it happen on Star Trek all the time. I don’t buy that story, no matter how it is rearranged or harmonized with an imagined reality. Because the NCIS was instrumental in releasing this balderdash, after keeping the news a secret for nearly a year, I was long convinced that it was a military person who had murdered Anneka and that the military was protecting one of its own. After touring the site, my opinion has changed almost entirely.

The cover story does not work at all. Even if Anneka had gone to Las Flores View Point determined to do herself in, she would have found the situation impossible and would have sought out a better site, more secluded, where she could end it all. She would not have — and could not have — committed suicide at Las Flores View Point. The only hypothesis that seems to make sense is that she walked with a stranger to the beach, and was then attacked by that stranger. Why then would the military try to keep this under wraps and close the case without sufficient investigation, concluding probable suicide? Here’s a possible reason. As the four of us learned on Sunday, 28 December 2014, the military monitors the area constantly, surely by a live satellite feed. Whoever was stationed in front of the computer monitor on the morning of Sunday, 2 January 2011, goofed, and goofed big time. He/she/they should have noticed that something was awry with those little two-legged dots crawling across the screen. The next day he/she/they/someone else failed to notice that odd motionless little lump on the beach. Normally, I would guess, the military would be able to explain that away, and very simply: The video monitor did not depict anything clearly enough to reveal a murder in progress. And that would be a perfectly reasonable explanation. Or maybe not. I don’t know. No matter how reasonable the explanation, this would be a public-relations disaster. Something had to be done to make this go away. So Anneka was kept out of the news for nine and a half months, and those nine and a half months were long enough for the strategists to come up with a mysterious story suggestive of suicide. Then when all was said and done, they could say that they had been actively pursuing the case all along since “Information-wanted signs posted along I-5 from late January to April didn’t provide a single response.” What’s more, according to the Fox News report, the NCIS “wanted to go public over the summer” — half a year after her death! — “but her family asked not to.” Fox News went even further: “In the nearly eleven months since Vasta died, NCIS says it has followed a series of leads.” What leads? Who provided leads? Who could have provided leads if her death was kept a secret, except for the posters that produced no responses? Rachel McGranaghan told Fox: “This is our last appeal to the media, to the public.” She did not bother to say that this was also the first appeal to the media, to the public. If someone goes missing, why ask the public about it nine and a half months later? Who could possibly remember the face of a stranger momentarily glimpsed nine and a half months before? Give yourself a test: Try to remember the face of a perfect stranger that you momentarily glimpsed on the morning of 2 January 2011. Can you do it? I sure can’t. The Fox reporter then said on the narration track: “NCIS says if this last appeal for information leads nowhere, the case’ll be closed.” My, how thorough! Anyway, those are mere subtleties. The story is good enough. Problem solved. Well, problem solved, yes, except that a few people like me get agitated by this sophistry and decide to do their own investigations.

Now let’s get back, yet again, to that plastic bag with the bloody blouse and bra, and that bloody knife on the passenger floorboard. How did they get there? If Anneka, bleeding profusely, did not walk topless in front of a crowd of sightseers to leap over a cliff, and if she did commit suicide, then how did her bloodied blouse and bra come to be wrapped in plastic and placed in her car along with the bloody knife? Given this chain of events, we can only conclude that after she drowned in the ocean, she went back to Las Flores View Point to put her bloody clothes and the bloody knife in her car. I don’t buy that either. Shall we try for a better guess? Her attacker souvenired her clothes as trophies. He carried them back to her Mazda, drove that Mazda to the Motel 6, and entered Room 160. What was to stop him from doing so? He had all the keys he needed to do this. Just to throw investigators off, he put her blouse and bra into Room 160’s plastic ice-bucket liner, and put that liner and the knife into the car. He drove back to Las Flores View Point, switched cars, and drove off in his own car with the pants, socks, and shoes. Why did the killer do this? Or did he do this? If he wrapped the bloody blouse and bra in the plastic bag, and if he dropped the bloody steak knife onto the car’s floorboard, then he did so only to confuse the evidence. Nonetheless, I’m not convinced that this is the case. I’m almost certain that the report about the bloodied clothes and bag and knife is fractional, and that the most important details were left out of the news stories. The reports mention nothing about fingerprints. If my guess is correct, the killer’s fingerprints should have been on the plastic bag, on the knife, on the door handles, on the keys, on the steering wheel, and in Room 160.

Admittedly, this is all just guesswork. It is not based on anything other than an attempt to fill in narrative gaps, and this is the only explanation I can think of. Well, no, I can think of one other: Maybe he left Anneka’s car where it was and drove his own car to the Motel 6. He used her motel key to get into her room and tamper with the evidence, then drove back to Las Flores View Point to dump some of that evidence into her Mazda, and dashed away again in his car. Either variation would fit the known evidence equally well. If you can think of something equally good, or better, I would love to hear from you. If my guesses are correct, would that mean that the maniac is still wandering the streets? I strongly doubt it. I bet he’s in prison, but for a different crime. What if the military, upon discovering Anneka on the beach, went back to its satellite records? If so, their investigative personnel probably worked out which car belonged to the murderer. Apparently satellite imagery can detect amazing detail. The military’s solution was simple: Find out who drives that car, check him out, find out what else he’s done, and get him behind bars so that he won’t do this again and give the base even more headaches. Release a cockamamie story to the press, and all the problems are solved — at least to the military’s satisfaction. There’s still the problem of sexual assault, though. How to take care of that? Simple: “Jason Keller, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and fellow agent Rachel McGranaghan said that nothing in numerous interviews with Vasta’s friends and relatives suggested that the Sherman Oaks resident had met with foul play.” Not so! Let’s listen to Susan: “I think something happened when Anneka couldn’t maybe fend for herself.” Let’s listen some more: “Vasta’s family isn’t ruling out the possibility that someone lured her somewhere and harmed her.” Let’s listen to Susan again: “Here’s my fear. What if there is a perpetrator out there, who is going to do this to someone else’s sister or mother?” Reporter Julia Greenberg of the International Business Times paraphrased Jeanette Steele’s wire story, and she seems to have had access to a few lines deleted from the original San Diego Union-Tribune publication: “family members worry that she may have been in the car with someone she had met that New Year’s Eve weekend.” (I’m certain no one else was in her car with her, though I don’t rule out the possibility that she and her assassin were traveling together in separate cars.) But now let’s take the Keller/McGranaghan conclusion at its most literal: Yes, it is true that Anneka’s family had no firm evidence, and could not identify who may have done this to her. How could they identify a person who didn’t come into the picture until a few moments after her 8:30 phone call, after which there were no more phone calls? So, in a literal sense, it is true that “nothing in numerous interviews... suggested [Anneka] had met with foul play.” True, but entirely misleading. The NCIS would not leave it there, and added more: “Investigators say there’s no hard evidence of someone with Vasta in her final hours, and no sign of sexual assault.” But this is not enough. No. The investigators and/or reporters needed to add a topper, which should take care of the problem of her being found nude and should take care also of the failure to make a convincing case for suicide: Just get bogus “readers” to add nonsense to the comments section:

Sil Peña: “How sad, why must our lives end in a why we can’t find an answer?”

Rob Viskil: “Sounds like she might have swam out in the ocean and just drowned herself! and they found her body washed up on the shore.”

Mike Bishop: “I’m very sympathetic to her family, but come on. Her body has a number of hesitation wounds, she’s emotionally unstable, and sometimes a suicide is just a suicide — no matter how much disbelief the family may have.”

Alan Phillips: “Most likely it was a suicide, but we’ll probably never know for sure.”

Sharon Golden: “...I read the article and I personally feel from the evidence collected that she tried to kill herself.... It also sounds like she was bi polar because she was took Lithium but none was found in her blood, clearly one can conclude she most likely tried to end her own life....”

Lisa Merrill: “Mental illness. It is rampant and to me this is what it sounds like.”

Mark Allen: “Sounds like suicide to me, and the family is in denial....”

VaLori Michel Haver: “While it would be wonderful if anyone who had a child never harmed themselves, it just isn’t so.... It’s a shame this woman didn’t have a trusted therapist or more mental health assistance when her family noticed her mental deterioration.... A person whose only value had ever come from being nude may very well strip before exiting.”

Were those real readers submitting real comments? Why do I have my doubts? The good news is that those comments have been deleted from the current version of the web page. But if you still want to bask in the lunacy, click on the WayBackMachine!

If we scour the Internet, we do find real comments from real people who knew or met Anneka. I find it telling that these comments are anonymous, or nearly so. Let’s look at them. On a blog called Venus Observations we find a comment dated 13 August 2011 from a friend who signed herself “jOaNnE.” Now this one is most interesting, for “jOaNnE” apparently knew of Anneka’s death before the information went public. Here is her comment: “... NaMaStAe BeAuty ... lOvE & MiSs YoU ... SOo VeRy MuCh ... ....... fOrEveR iN mY hEart ... jOaNnE ... X.” On a different page of Venus Observations there is a comment, dated 14 February 2012, from another of Anneka’s friends, someone who signed herself, simply, “Carole”: “Anneka was a dear friend. We had so many laughs. She loved to laugh. She was so much fun. We were so sad when we heard the news. Carole.” On this page there is yet another comment from Joanne, dated 26 July 2013: “Anneka was a rare beauty, so full of love & life, vivacious, exciting, charismatic, enchanting, so many twists & turns ... on this earth plane, she is free now ... To continue her journey ... & the immortal soul lives on ... & ... On ...& on ... I love you dear Anneka ... Joanne x.” On a web site called The Catacombs we find a friend’s anonymous comment dated 5 January 2013. This particular friend stands firmly with the family in denying that Anneka was in any way suicidal. On the contrary, she confirms that Anneka “was one of the strongest people I have had the pleasure to have in my life.” I would so much love to chat with Joanne and Carole and Anonymous. How can I reach them? Finally, on a web site called Jim Fisher True Crime we find an anonymous comment, dated 25 October 2013, from someone who had met Anneka at an event in 1975. Since he didn’t really know her, there was little he could say. That’s the extent of the reminiscences. Why is there so little?

Not only would I love to chat with Joanne and Carole and Anonymous, I would love to chat with any and all of Anneka’s family and friends. I also need to learn all I can about a mysterious Joseph A. Davis (African-American, once resided at the Landmark Apartments, 7047 Franklin Ave, Hollywood CA 90028, tried to pass himself off as a “rock-concert manager,” supposedly died in November 2013). Related to that, I need to learn all I can about a mysterious corporation called Naturally Unlimited, Inc. Anyone who has any leads is encouraged to contact me right away. Multiple thanks!


Anneka had moved away from Barham about a year earlier.
Just today (25 February 2015) I received an anonymous message:
“Anneka would have been disgusted if she knew that [Davis] was using her name.
He used an address on Layton that was not his house.”

As I noted above, the comment from “jOaNnE” predated the news stories. So she was indeed a friend, and probably a friend of the family as well. Something else predated the news stories: Find a Grave!!! As early as 8 January 2011, Find a Grave posted its memorial. We learn here that Anneka was cremated. We learn something else as well, and this solves another mystery. Her birth name was Marjorie Lee Thoreson, and yet the Forms 1099 for her Penthouse Films work for the years 1976 and 1977 gave her name as Anneka De Lorenzo. That led me to think that she probably changed her name legally. The Find a Grave memorial page confirms that this was indeed the case. Anneka was a fan of the Pippi Longstocking stories, and as early as 1972 decided to adopt a variant of the name of one of the characters, Annika. The surname “De Lorenzo” (or d’Lorenzo, or de Lorenzo, or Di Lorenzo, or di Lorenzo, or diLorenzo) was Bob Guccione’s creation. She did not entirely abandon that surname until about 1994. Her suit against Guccione (1981–1992) was filed under her birth name.

Anneka’s case is not a stand-alone. We need to offer a broader perspective, for what happened to Anneka is in no way unusual. Murdered women are often not considered worth an investigator’s time of day. It is common to dismiss these women as sex workers, whether they were or not, who brought their misfortunes upon themselves, and to attribute their deaths to “NHI”: No Humans Involved. There was a gallery in San Diego that devoted itself to the NHI women of that city. The gallery exhibit was sponsored by Deborah Small, Elizabeth Sisco, Carla Kirkwood, Scott Kessler, and Louis Hock. The project opened with billboards featuring the face of Donna Gentile. Deborah Small’s web site tells Donna’s story: “Gentile was the second victim in the string of murders. A sex worker and police informant, Gentile was found strangled to death, her mouth stuffed with gravel, a month after she testified against two police officers.” Small told of the media reaction to the gallery exhibit: “The media coverage of the project perpetuated the myth that all the slain women were prostitutes, drug addicts, and transients.” By smearing the victims, the police, the courts, and the media have a much easier time making these problems just go away, finally concluding their investigations with “NHI.” Anneka was murdered in the County of San Diego, not far from the City of San Diego. That is not to imply that proximity is the issue here, for this pattern is in no way unique to the City and County of San Diego. It is prevalent throughout the US.


For the sake of completeness, let us return to that opening photo and caption in the San Diego Union-Tribune story. The above photo, credited to “A Photo/Bocklett,” is of Anneka diLorenzo with H.R. Giger posing in front of one of his paintings. Many of the news outlets that picked up this story have included this photo as well. There has been some concern about the propriety of including a photograph of Giger in the widely published story of an unrelated death. There’s nothing to worry about. Apparently there is a dearth of available vintage photographs of Anneka, and this is simply the best of the batch. But now that we’re on the topic of this photo, we see that it’s most curious. What is its provenance? Let’s do some investigating. According to the various web sites, this photograph was taken in New York City on the opening day of a Giger exhibit, Monday, 8 April 1980 — but the 8th of April 1980 was actually a Tuesday. The New York Times and other contemporary local newspapers make no mention of any such exhibit. With the help of Film Sketcher and Museum HR Giger, we learn that this was indeed sometime in early April 1980 in Manhattan, at the Hansen Galleries, Giger’s American agent at that time. The Hansen Galleries were closed Mondays, and so this photograph was most likely snapped on Tuesday, 8 April 1980. The only details I have been able to garner come from the poster and from an advertisement in New York magazine, volume 13 number 15, Monday, 14 April 1980, p 11.

   
This exhibition was sponsored by Bob Guccione and was entitled “H.R. Giger — Paintings and Graphics: Giger’s Alien Filmdesign, 20th Century Fox.” Guccione’s sponsorship would have entailed almost no cost, firstly because Giger was already on his way to the US since he had been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Alien, and secondly because the Hansen, being Giger’s agent, needn’t have paid an arm and a leg for his services. Further, the concurrent April 1980 issue of Penthouse had a large section devoted to Giger, which was essentially free advertising, piggy-backing on the success of someone else’s hit movie. Guccione’s sponsorship would also explain Anneka’s presence, as he was using her at the time to promote a number of his ventures. For what it’s worth, the Hansen Galleries (41 E 57th St) were a mere four blocks from the Penthouse East cinema (969 3rd Ave) where Caligula was playing, which, in turn, was only three blocks from Penthouse headquarters (909 3rd Ave), which was just a mile from Guccione’s Manhattan townhouse (14–16 E 67th St). When you casually read about these things, all these separate sites seem to cover a dauntingly vast area and give the impression of a massive enterprise. But when you explore a little more you find they can all fit into the palm of your hand.

Okay, we’ve gotten that photograph out of the way. Now let’s all get moving and solve the riddle of Anneka’s death. As I hope you are now convinced, the official story simply does not work — at all.


Anneka diLorenzo, director Tinto Brass, and Lori Wagner between takes


The Soroosch Collection

It is unfortunate that, in porting these images from the phone to a computer, all the original time stamps vanished.

































































Chris and Reina heading out on their safari.












A panoramic shot made without benefit of a tripod.


























If this doesn’t display, download the video here: MP4, OGV, MOV.






































A little over a year ago a friend of mine was planning to write an investigative piece on Anneka. Everything went wrong as he was stonewalled at every turn. Then when his publisher was bought out, that spelled the end of that. He handed me a list of residences he had discovered. It is not complete by any means, and I supplemented it somewhat, though I don’t feel the need to include Guccione’s townhouse (14–16 E 67th St, Manhattan NY 10065) in this mix. She resided there in fact, but not officially, as part of his harem, from June 1973 through 21 November 1980, when he booted her out for insubordination. (I’m so glad she was finally insubordinate. It was about time.) I have found references to three further addresses, one in Sherman Oaks, California, one in Boynton Beach, Florida, and one in Henderson, Nevada. But since I can’t verify them, I don’t include them. You’ll notice that this list is rather strange, as it provides multiple simultaneous residences. There could be a thousand perfectly legitimate reasons for that. Perhaps she was traveling and using them all at various times, renting these rooms from relatives? Or perhaps she was subletting? Who knows? Here goes:


1971? – 1973?

1601 E Katie Ave Apt 212
Las Vegas NV 89119-5674


1971? – 1976?

Landmark Apartments
(formerly and subsequently the Landmark Motor Hotel)
7047 Franklin Ave Ste [???]
Hollywood CA 90028


1973?

3674 Barham Blvd Apt [???]
Los Ángeles CA 90068


1973? – 1981?

8 E 63rd St
Manhattan NY 10021 (now 10065)
(This was a five-story row house where Bob Guccione had resided for a few years up to about 1980. Among the previous residents had been Judy Garland, who lived there from 9 June 1967 through late January 1968. Garland had rented it from Dr. Murray Banks.)


Sep 1976

14350 Addison St Apt 117
Sherman Oaks CA 91423-1871


Sep 1976

Tyrone Terrace
4949 Tyrone Ave Apt 7B
Sherman Oaks CA 91423-1128


1981?

303 E 83rd St Apt [???]
Manhattan NY 10028


1981? – 1995?

Mystery. I presume she was staying with others
in NYC, Florida, and Southern California.


1996 – 1997

Tyrone Terrace
4949 Tyrone Ave Apt 10B
Sherman Oaks CA 91423-1177
(818) 501-0233



Mar 2000 – Feb 2005

7003 Rubio Ave
Van Nuys CA 91406-3716
(818) 787-8411



2000 – 2005

2901 SW 41st St Apt 2613
Ocala FL 34474-7431

(352) 369-9680, (352) 291-5218


Jul 2002 – Nov 2008

13351 Riverside Dr Ste D Apt 158
Sherman Oaks CA 91423-2542
(818) 990-8400



2005 – 2009

137 Hamilton Ter
Royal Palm Beach FL 33414-4351
(561) 784-3326

(purchased in Anneka’s name,
next door to the below,
lost in a foreclosure)


2006 – 2008

139 Hamilton Ter
Royal Palm Beach FL 33414-4351
(561) 400-7958

(Phil rented this from a relative,
and purchased it after he and Anneka split)


Nov 2008 – Nov 2009

The Plaza at Sherman Oaks
4470 Ventura Canyon Ave Apt F106
Sherman Oaks CA 91423-3709
(818) 400-7958


Unknown

2713 Quail Roost Way
Las Vegas NV 89117

(built in 1989, last sold in 1993.
Note also: “Ownership of this property
was transferred via a quit claim deed
on March 30, 2005. This may have been
an intra-family transfer of the property,
a refinancing event, or some other transaction
that was not a full value sale
.”)


Unknown

15045 Archwood St
Van Nuys CA 91405-4504
(818) 787-8411
(Built in 1953.)


Unknown

Museum Terrace Apartments
600 S Curson Ave Apt 606
Los Ángeles CA 90036-3666


Original research copyright © 2014, 2015 by Ranjit Sandhu

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