A Torrance girl who wanted to change the world lies dead while Santa Cruz law officials wonder whether her killer is a man already charged with 10 murders [Herbert Mullin] or is still at large and unknown.
Alice Helen Liu, 21, had been reported missing Feb. 5. A week ago, authorities advised her parents that one of two bodies found at Santa Cruz might be that of their daughter. The possibility became stark fact Tuesday when Mr. and Mrs. James C. Liu were formally notified that dental X-rays and other evidence had confirmed the identification.
A car parked in the driveway of the Liu home at 22714 Fonthill St. still bears the UCI decal of Alice’s freshman year at the University of California at Irvine. Two years ago she had transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she was a junior.
“Originally she wanted to be a teacher but more recently she became interested in Oriental studies,” her father said Wednesday in a voice that fought to control his emotions.
James Liu never mentioned his daughter by name during the five-minute interview. The name would have caught in his throat.
Other names were avoided for another reason: to protect friends and relatives from prying reporters.
The records at Torrance High School, from which she graduated in 1969, show she was an active girl with wide-ranging interests. She was a member of the Future Teachers Club, served as treasurer of the California Scholarship Federation, was an officer in the Creative Writing Club, French Club and Interclub Council, and a member of the Tartar Ladies service organization.
Principal Harold Klonecky recalled her as a vibrant girl, who had appeared in the senior play and in modern dance recitals on behalf of the Youth for Nixon organization during the 1968 Presidential campaign.
“Alice was probably a sophomore when she was involved in the Indian project,” Klonecky said. “We brought a number of Papago Indian students here to Torrance High and she escorted them around. After they left she was active in collecting clothing and other items to send to them.”
In Alice’s high school file is this paragraph she wrote as part of a standard form for scholarship counselling:
“I want to change the world through government. I want to be involved with the core of people, and I can do both by being a political science teacher.”
Torrance City Councilman James Armstrong, a political science teacher at Torrance High, remembers her for those very reasons.
Armstrong said that the Torrance High political science teachers assign upper-classmen to become involved in the campaign of their choice as a class project during election years. He had these observations of her work in the 1968 campaign:
“She was interested in people, cared about all kinds of people. She understood about coming from a good home like hers and going to a good school and the difference it makes for those who don’t have the same advantages.”
“A death in these circumstances would be tragic enough with anyone,” he finished, “but with Alice you feel a real sense of loss and of waste.”
As a thousand University of California students listened in silence at UC’s open air amphitheater in Santa Cruz, Robert Edgar, provost of one of the colleges eulogized Miss Liu: “She was bright and lively. Like a bird, she was full of song. Struck down. I’m full of sorrow.”
Classes were canceled at Santa Cruz for the memorial convocation for Miss Liu and another coed found slain [Rosalind Thorpe].
Alice was last seen alive Feb. 5 in the college library. A week later her decapitated body and that of Rosalind Thorpe, 23, of Carmel were found near Castro Valley, a semirural area southeast of Oakland.
Santa Cruz authorities, continuing their marathon probe of the area’s 15 murders, are studying possible relationships between their deaths and those of two other coeds, Mary Anne Pesce, 19, and Cynthia Ann Schall, 19, and the disappearance of another girl, Anita Luchessa, 18. Pesce’s head was found on Loma Preita Mountain near Santa Cruz last August but her body has not been recovered. Parts of Miss Schall’s body were carried ashore by the tide near Santa Cruz and Monterey in January.
Miss Luchessa, a friend of the Pesce girl, has disappeared and is feared dead, but no traces of her have been found.
Meanwhile 10 murder indictments are being sought by Santa Cruz County District Attorney Peter Chang against Herbert W. Mullin, 25, of Felton. Mullin had already been arraigned on six counts and was in custody when four more bodies slain with the same two guns were discovered Saturday.
His fingerprints also were found in the confessional booth of a Catholic priest who was stabbed to death in Los Gatos, but no charges have been brought against him in that case.
Investigators have reported no links between Mullin and the four dead coeds, but are still examining that possibility.
Source: Slain Torrance girl praised; Santa Cruz probe continues, Independent, by Bob Andrew, Staff Writer, February 22, 1973