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THE CROSS SHOWS the place where the body of Miss Senteney was found in lonely Toro Canyon. Investigators believe the murder took place at another spot and that the body was moved.


Leonard Kirke


other signs of a fight, though investigators believed at the time there was no indication the murder happened in the spot the body was found. That was partially because certain important evidence went missing from the actions of a respected police officer who first arrived at the crime scene. Apparently, beside her ran a set of lone tire tracks and footprints on the dirt road. But Leonard Kirkes, 36, a minister’s son from Carpinteria, churchgoing family man, and an eight-year California Highway Patrol officer, bright, respected and a top scorer in police tests, was caught by another officer clumsily trampling over most of the tracks in the dirt. That officer, Undersheriff John Ross, was the son of the prominent sheriff and Kirkes’ friend. Ross told Kirkes to guard the body while he radioed for backup, but upon returning, found the dirt tracks gone. One finding that compounded the situation further was a series of markings on Senteney’s right


IT SHED LIGHT ON KIRKES’ UNCHARACTERISTIC UNIVERSITY GRADUATE, AT THE TOP OF HIS


leg. Where they came from was anybody’s guess; with the imprints in the dirt gone, who might have killed her, or why, has remained a mystery.


The discovery of Senteney’s body came as a shock to the small community of Carpinteria. One longtime resident who wished to remain anonymous was a third grader at Aliso School and remembered when Charles Senteney, custodian there, learned of his daughter’s death.


“I can remember him going into the office, coming back out screaming with his hands on his head,” she said. Senteney ran out to the Aliso front lawn, banging on the grass in shrieked screams of “No!”


SHERIFF ROSS, found: a grey car.


VICTIM’S LEG, shown in this piece of photogenic evidence, was dimly crossed with lines impressed in the flesh. This pattern, the technicians from the police laboratory testified, was identical with the pattern that would be made if the body lay on compartment floor mat of a 1939, 1940 or a 1941 Ford.


30 CARPINTERIAMAGAZINE


A FLOOR MAT VANISHED Nearly a week passed when Ross received a phone call from an alarmed liquor dealer. Harry Liebler told Ross that an agitated and nervous Kirkes had visited his Carpinteria store the day of the murder. Kirkes confessed to Liebler


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