OCDA finally charges murderer responsible for 1986 Saddleback stabbing

Melissa Conser

January 18, 1986, former Saddleback student, Robbin Brandley, walked to her car after volunteering at a jazz concert in McKinney Theatre. Before reaching her car she was stabbed 41 times. Her body was found near her car by campus security just minutes after she had been seen leaving the theater at 10:45 p.m.

Jack and Genelle Reilley, Brandley’s parents, were concerned about the investigation which took place after their daughter’s death.

Apparently, the Sheriff’s investigation crew did not have the sprinkler system turned off, as a result much of the evidence was lost.

The lead detective of Orange County’s Sheriff’s department, Sgt. Stephany, “told us they [had] no clues and the investigators began questioning concert attendees, family, school officials, fellow classmates and friends,” said the Reilley’s.

Brandley’s murderer had escaped.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Andrew Urdiales, an ex-Marine from Camp Pendleton confessed to Brandley’s murder, along with several other murders in southern California and Illinois while being questioned in Illinois for suspicion of murder.

He reportedly drove north from Camp Pendleton in search of a victim the night of Brandley’s death. He soon found himself at Saddleback college looking for any life on campus when he happened upon Brandley.

When asked why he murdered Brandley, Urdiales responded that, “it could have been anybody. She “was just a random female,” (see Just A Random Female, www.ocweekly.com).

July 1988, Urdiales picked up prostitute, Julie McGhee. Urdiales admits that they had sex before he shot her with a .45 caliber pistol which he had bought from Camp Pendleton, and left her for dead in Cathedral City, California.

September 1988, similar to Julie McGhee, Mary Ann Wells was a prostitute. After Urdiales and Wells had sex, he shot her with aforesaid gun in San Diego.

April 1989, Palm Springs, Calif. Urdiales murdered Tammy Erwin, details match previous murders. After the murder he took his gun apart and disposed of the pieces in different parts of the country.

September 1992, Jennifer Asbenson from Palm Springs accepted a ride to work from Urdiales because she was running late and was in danger of losing her job. Urdiales took her to work and asked for her number so they might go out together. Asbenson gave Urdiales a fake number as she all ready had a boyfriend at the time. The next day, Urdiales kidnapped, raped and attempted to murder Asbenson before she escaped.

March 1995, Urdiales murdered Denise Maney of Palm Springs, Ca. Details match previous murders except this time Urdiales used a .45 caliber pistol he had picked up in Calumet City, Illinois.

April 1996, Urdiales picked up prostitute Laura Uylaki, after they had sex Urdiales shot her with a .38 caliber pistol which he purchased at the same gun shop in Calumet City. He then disposed of her body in Wolf Lake in Cook County, Ill.

July 1996, Cassandra Corum was found in the Vermillion River in Livingston County, Ill. Details match previous murder, except Urdiales stated that he also stabbed her repeatedly because he became “angry” with her.

August 1996, Lynn Huber was found in Wolf Creek. Details match previous murder, she had been shot 3 times and stabbed 28 times.

Now, in 2009 another wave of Urdiales-laced stories have popped up in all the local southern California newspapers as of early August. The reason for this resurgence is 12 years after his confession the Orange County District Attorney has finally charged Urdiales for the California murders.

So, does Brandley’s parents feel some sort of relief now that, over 23 years later, the murderer of there daughter has officially been charged? Not really.

“We believe [Urdiales] was an accomplice but not the person wielding the knife,” the Reilleys have stated on their website (www.whomurderedrobbinbrandley.com).

There are several reasons to believe that Urdiales did not act alone in the Brandley case. In his confession he used the word “we” several times when recounting the murder, he did not do this in any other confessions. No gun was used in Brandley’s murder. Brandley was a student and extremely involved in school activities whereas the other victims were prostitutes that he had picked up at random or in the case of Asbenson, had angered him.

For the Reilley’s, they’re fight to find the murderer(s) of their daughter is far from over.

“We have been given an estimate by the Senior Assistant Calif. Attorney General that Urdiales won’t come to California for another 10 years or more,” said the Reilleys. “Back in 2007, the prosecutor, Howard Gundy, said in print that extraditing Urdiales was more trouble than it was worth; all three DAs were – probably still are – content to let Urdiales sit in Illinois as long as possible.”

The extradition will depend on when Illinois’ and Urdiales’ defense attorneys finish the appeals process for his third murder conviction and death sentence in that state. It is a purposefully long, drawn out process.”

If and when Urdiales finally comes to California, we think the full truth will come out about why Robbin was murdered and who did it.”

Meanwhile, Saddleback has made many changes to make the campus a safer place for students. However, the Reilley’s are credited with one major change that effected all college campuses in California.

Carol Ziehm, a Saddleback instructor during 1986 said, “I remember that Robbin Brandley’s parents were very pro-active and pushed to get laws passed that improved lighting on college campuses.”

The campus was not a safe place to be at night. “On the night of Robbin’s murder, the parking lot was pitch black and the shrubbery was large enough for assailants to hide,” said the Reilley’s. “After Robbin’s murder, we worked to have legislation passed that improved campus lighting and set state wide lighting standards for all California universities, state universities and community colleges.”

Campus police have also steadily grown in technology and and man power since then. In addition to campus security there are two to four police officers on campus 24/7.

Students who feel unsafe at any time may call campus security and ask for a CP or security personnel to escort them across campus. The number is 949-582-4585.

If you are curious about crime on campus visit the campus police page on the Saddleback website. The “Your Right To Know” link has crime statistics for the campus. The “Crime Blotter” link is a listing of all crimes which took place on campus during a given week(CP and Emergency Information page).

If there is any immediate emergency contact the campus police emergency line
, 949-582-4444. “We respond in a matter of minutes [to campus emergencies],” said Officer Dan Lincoln, 64, a Saddleback officer since August 1991, “whereas [it would take a lot longer] if you were contacting an outside department.”

If you don’t have a cell phone available during an emergency, there are fifteen red, emergency phones located in all buildings and parking lots which will connect you directly to campus police.

Though Brandley’s murder took place over 23 years ago, Brandley has made a lasting impression.

Brandley was a disc-jockey on the Saddleback radio station, KSBR. She was a Communication major, and wrote for pleasure in her free time. She was involved in numerous school activities and functions.

Brandley was getting ready to transfer, she had been accepted at University of California in San Diego before her murder.

In response to the charges brought on Urdiales, Saddleback has issued the following statement,”we the community of Saddleback College will always remember Robbin Brandley and will always be affected by this tragic and heinous crime. We are relieved that Andrew Urdiales has finally been charged with Robbin’s murder and we are confident that he will be brought to justice.”

“It will always be difficult to talk about; she was talented and had such grace,” said instructor Julie Brady-Jenner, who was close with Brandley during her time at Saddleback. “The only thing we can hope for now is justice and maybe peace at some point for her family.”