Lucky Murder Case
By Mark Riddering
One rainy graveyard shift in patrol my good friend John Crombach, (the present Chief of Police at Oxnard PD), and I were the only ones working at little PHPD. It was a very rainy night complete with thunder and lightning. John and I had agreed to meet for coffee each hour for a quick break to keep ourselves refreshed. It was very quiet that night and little did we know that it was about to become more interesting. At this time John and I were younger officers with about three years on the job each. About fifteen minutes after one of our breaks, in the early morning hours, John radioed that he was with a subject and asked for me to assist him.
John had found a woman running through the rain in her nightgown hysterically screaming. She repeated the same words over and over, “Lucky killed his wife”. Eventually she led John to her parents house still repeating, “Lucky killed his wife”. The woman’s parents couldn’t get much out of the nightgown-clad woman either. The woman’s mother asked her daughter where was their daughters baby at —the parents grandchild. The woman was described as a single Mom living by herself. She seemed in shock and didn’t answer her mother. The woman’s mother agreed to accompany us to the woman’s residence just blocks from where we were to point out the residence and try to locate the baby.
We traveled to a two-story condominium complex. The neighborhood was made up of nearly identical quadraplexs several blocks square. As we walked to the front door the rain poured, the crackling of thunder grew louder, and the lightning was impressive. It was like something out of a horror movie, but this was real and we were living it. The front door pointed out by the grandmother was standing open with no lights visible on in the inside of the residence.
John and I approached tactically and slowly. When we were on either side of the open door staying out of the doorway —the kill zone, our grandmother ran by us saying she was going for her grandchild. She hurried us a bit. The condo was a two-story deal with the bedroom upstairs. Downstairs was a small kitchen and living room. In the living room was a couch/convertible sofa. The bed was opened up and lying on top was a sleeping naked man with biker tattoos. I followed the grandmother upstairs as John watched the pillar of the community downstairs. The baby was found asleep upstairs in a crib and the grandmother took the baby to a police car. Some inside lights were turned on and the grandmother didnâ€™t recognize our sleeping beauty in the living room.
On the floor next to the roll out bed was a blood stained shirt and jeans. We tried to verbally wake the man with no results. We kicked the bed and this awakened the man. He said his name was “Lucky Philips”. He asked if he could put his pants on. After we searched the clothing he put on the bloody clothing. He asked if he could smoke a cigarette as he told us a story. He said, “now don’t get excited at what I tell you and draw your guns our”. We started to explain his constitutional rights and he said, “No need to explain I did time with Miranda (the name of the case requiring police officers to advise arrestees of their rights) and I know all about my rights”. Lucky sat on the bed puffing away and said, “Gentleman tonight I killed my wife. We had a fight and I killed her”. He was emotionless and unconcerned like he was talking about an everyday activity like his laundry. He was arrested and he led us two blocks away where he pointed out his condo. The door was standing open. We found Lucky’s wife badly beaten with a bullet wound to her skull. She was arranged with her hands folded, like you find a person in a coffin. Two young girls living next to this condo were contacted as possible witnesses. The girls answered the door asking if their neighbor was dead. They explained they moved in the condo the day before and heard the woman next door being beat up all evening but their phone had not been hooked up yet. The neighborhood was a little rough and it was raining so they didn’t go to a coin phone blocks away to call the police. They were very upset.
Lucky was on parole and after beating his wife he felt he had to kill her to keep her quiet. The victim left a detailed account of her abuse over the years by Lucky in her diary. After killing his wife Lucky went to his girlfriendâ€™s house —the woman running in the rain that John had found. After having sexual relations with his girlfriend Lucky shared he’d killed his wife. Lucky was convicted for murder and sentenced to 25 years to life.