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Slain Student's Parents, Friends Honor Her in Children's Park

November 01, 1990|MICHAEL GRANBERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jean Weinhold stood a few feet away from her husband. She let him do the talking. He complimented the police and the city of San Diego, and she nodded. Then he started talking about their daughter--their only child, who's gone now--and softly, she began to cry.

A few cameras snapped. A few minicams moved closer.

Early Wednesday, Raymond and Jean Weinhold had flown from their home in Scottsdale, Ariz., to San Diego to donate $1,000 to a children's park in memory of their daughter, Janene Marie, who was slain just a few blocks away.

Hers was the second in a series of five slayings. She was a 21-year-old straight-A student at UC San Diego who wanted to be a lawyer. Minutes after baking cookies and doing her laundry, Janene Marie Weinhold was stabbed more than 30 times.

"Nothing more than a statistic, as far as most are concerned," the Weinholds wrote in a statement released to the press.

But now the couple had come to San Diego, to a city their daughter loved, in their words, "intensely." She had lived--and died--at 3301 Clairemont Drive, in a small, upstairs apartment.

Her mother said the apartment "meant everything to her, because it signified her first true independence. Independence and strength meant everything to Janene. Sometimes, it used to upset us when she would call from college. She always sounded so upbeat. We would say, 'Can't you sound a little bit homesick? It might make us feel better. We miss you.' "

The South Clairemont Park and Recreation Center, which will now honor Janene's memory, is at 3605 Clairemont Drive in a setting that seems as removed from investigations, serial killers and statistics as one can imagine.

As reporters pushed forward, the Weinholds stood before a background of swings, slides and jungle gyms. Three children passing by on the sidewalk wore Halloween costumes representing a Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtle, a scarecrow and Minnie Mouse--and stared at the gathering.

A television reporter asked Raymond Weinhold if he was aware of the weeks that separate the murders.

He looked puzzled. He asked for clarification.

It's been six weeks since the last one on Sept. 13, the reporter said, when 42-year-old Pamela Gail Clark and her 18-year-old daughter, Amber, were found stabbed to death in their home in University City, just a few miles away.

It's about time for the killer to strike again, isn't it?, the reporter said. So, does Mr. Weinhold "worry about that?"

From the back of the crowd, a young woman, a friend and UCSD classmate of Janene's, gasped, "My God!"

"You bet," Raymond Weinhold said quietly. "I worry about that."

Three murders have happened since Janene's, he said, and each time, "the semblance of a scab is torn off and opens everything up."

Weinhold, who heads the Scottsdale Memorial Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the city's hospital system, said he doesn't blame San Diego for the "unspeakable crime" that happened to his Janene. Furthermore, he's "only about 1,000%" behind the San Diego Police Department, which he thinks is doing a "superb job."

City Councilman Bruce Henderson was there Wednesday, shaking hands and saying the police were doing everything they can. Henderson, whose district includes Clairemont, where three of the killings occurred, cautioned young women to be more careful.

A pair of older women were there. Dolores Osterhaus, who lives five blocks from where Janene Marie Weinhold was murdered, said that, before the killings, she had never locked her door.

"But now I have it bolted every way I can," Osterhaus said.

Her friend, Ginger Nolan, said people in the neighborhood, especially women, "only go out in twos any more, and we usually rely on a security guard to escort us in." The management of the Buena Vista Gardens apartments, where Weinhold and one other victim was murdered, has made the service available.

Nolan said living in the area is sometimes like living in "a state of siege. . . . Whether it's right to feel that way or not, that's how a lot of folks feel."

Seven of Janene Weinhold's friends were there, huddled in the background. Some said they had no desire to talk to the media.

"We've been burned before," one muttered.

"We're afraid we'll lose it," another said.

Penny Spiekerman, Weinhold's roommate, was the one who discovered her friend's body. In a prepared statement, Spiekerman said Janene "would go out of her way to cheer up friends--by imitating them, singing off-key, writing a poem, etc."

"Obviously, her parents loved her very much," another friend said, fighting back tears. "We wanted a park--something innocent, something hopeful, something free--to help us remember a really special friend."

Jean Weinhold said most of her daughter's friends wished not to discuss the death "because they've talked about it so much and find opening up the sore again very hard. We've all been through this so many times. Today, Ray and I said to Janene's friends that they could speak, or not speak, whatever they wished to do."

For the most part, the mother of the victim said, coverage by the media, as well as the police manhunt, have been "fine." But it's a matter of focus , she said, on the killer rather than the victims. She's lost a daughter who, by almost everyone's standards, was "impeccable."

Another victim, Holly Suzanne Tarr, was a talented actress. Another, Tiffany Paige Schultz, wanted to teach English. Amber Clark had successfully battled drug addiction.

"But the focus of any coverage and any investigation loses sight of what an incredible tragedy this is--not to mention an incredible waste of life," Jean Weinhold said. "Five lives. I've asked myself a million times--why?--but I never come close to an answer.

"And I never will. You have no idea what it's like until it happens to you, but then, you always say, 'It will never happen to me.' And then it does, and, no matter how hard you try, you'll never forget it."

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