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A Choice to Share Death : Final Act of Couple's Mystical Beliefs Confirmed 6 Years Later

April 01, 1989|DAVID FERRELL | Times Staff Writer

The wedding was unusual, even for Hollywood. The setting was a storefront occult shop near Hollywood Boulevard. The young bride and groom wore matching black sweat shirts with metal studs. In the glow of candles, they vowed to merge together into "the light."

A ceremonial priestess then conferred upon them a marriage of the spirits. They very much looked to be a couple: Both their heads, even their eyebrows, had been shaved.

Although they had known each other just a few months, Patricia Chilcote Lutz, 26, and Robin K. Waters, 31, seemed eager to share a lifetime together, according to one guest at the small ceremony in early 1983.

But instead, they chose to share death.

About three weeks later, the couple said farewell to their housemates and trudged off in Army fatigues and backpacks toward what the friends thought was a new home somewhere in the Sierra Nevada. A suicide note reached the friends a day or two later by mail. It alluded to the title of a song, "White Wedding" by rock singer Billy Idol, and it promised that the couple's remains would be found in Griffith Park.

Remains Found

That promise came true last week, six years after the housemates filed a missing-persons report. A skull and debris, found by hikers in a rugged ravine northwest of the park's observatory, were officially identified Monday as the remains of Lutz and Waters.

Occult symbols on rusted, weather-worn jewelry and a pair of .22-caliber handguns told only a part of a story of what appears to have been a death pact, the final expression of the couple's mystical beliefs, according to Los Angeles police investigators. One detective described it as a case of a popular young woman falling in with the wrong company--another life "lost to Hollywood."

Former roommates said Lutz, the daughter of a retired Baltimore police officer, seemed to have every reason for living. She was a trained chef, a student of yoga and meditation, and was dating recording-company executives and agents before she met Waters, a one-time professional dancer who claimed to have the power to contact spirits, recalled D. W. Cook, one former housemate.

Liked to Live It Up

Until she shaved her head, Lutz had beautiful red hair. She was a vegetarian who carefully guarded her health and who liked to live it up at Hollywood dance clubs, Cook said.

"Patricia didn't drink or do drugs," the former housemate recalled. "She ate papaya, she chanted, she did yoga. She laughed a lot. She was very outgoing, very gregarious. She seemed to come from a good home . . . from a nice family."

Rhonda Alexander, another roommate, described Lutz as "full of energy . . . a flit, an elf . . . giddy. She was light and airy, in some ways innocent. But she had seen a lot. She knew people. She had been places. Men were easily attracted to her."

Waters, too, attracted people, but for other reasons. His head was shaved, he was sallow and extremely thin, and he wore a dark goatee. His most striking feature, acquaintances recalled, were his eyes: a piercing, clear blue. He had had a tough childhood, mostly in California. He had once been married. He had rings and a belt buckle embellished with the designs of human skulls.

'Could Be Witty'

"He was withdrawn unless he knew you," one former acquaintance said. "But he could be witty, sociable. He was not a threatening monster. There was a definite fascination, a strange fascination, about him."

The brief romance between the two occurred largely by chance, five years after Lutz moved here from Baltimore. Her husband, who disliked Los Angeles, returned home in 1981, but Lutz found the city fascinating. In the fall of 1982, she was invited to join a small group sharing a house in Hollywood.

Three people--Cook, Alexander and another male--were sharing the four-bedroom house. They were all college buddies from the East, come West for jobs and adventure.

After Lutz moved in, the housemates ardently sampled social clubs, health foods, jobs, music and friends. They dabbled in mysticism and meditation.

Occasionally they walked to the Ram Center, a storefront occult shop, to buy candles, herbs and incense. They told their own fates with tarot cards.

"It was a very creative environment," Cook remembered of the house. "We were at that age where you want to taste everything, try everything. We were just playing Hollywood, having a good time."

In that spirit of adventure, the housemates said, Waters entered the scene. Alexander said she met him through a friend. Waters seemed to have an instant telepathic understanding of her, Alexander remembered.

"He had almost a shine in his eyes," she said.

Alexander introduced him to Lutz. Before long, all of the housemates came to believe that Waters could contact spirits in a calm, candle-lighted room.

Had Psychic Talents

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