Real Name: Crystal Lene Spencer
Case: Suspicious Death
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 4, 1988
Details: Ever since childhood, Crystal Spencer planned on becoming a Hollywood actress. Sadly, her father died when she was eight. At seventeen, she dropped out of high school and took a job to support her family. In the summer of 1982, she went to Los Angeles to achieve her childhood dreams. Unfortunately, she had trouble finding more than a few bit parts. In order to make ends meet, she got a job has an exotic dancer. This job made her feel poorly about herself, but it also helped her make money.
In May 1987, friends invited her to an outdoor barbecue. She hoped to meet people that would help her further her acting career. While there, she met Anton Kline, a screenwriter and PhD student. Although they came from two different worlds, they soon fell in love. He brought her to various museums, art galleries, and concerts, introducing her to a finer world. However, he had no idea that she worked as a stripper.
Four months after they met, Anton's neighbor told him that he saw her dancing at a club. He was upset that she did not tell him, but he accepted it. The relationship continued to work well. Then, on May 4, 1988, Anton visited her at her apartment. She was ill with a cold, but the two talked for awhile about a promising job offer in Japan. The next evening, the two spoke to each other on the phone. She said that she was feeling much better. This was the last time she was heard from.
Three days later, he tried to call her. However, he received a busy signal and was told that the phone was off the hook. He went to the club where she worked and learned that she did not show up for work the previous day. However, he assumed that she had left for Japan and did not follow up on her absence.
On May 13, 1988, police discovered her decomposing body in her apartment. She had been dead for at least a week and the police believed that she had died of natural causes. An autopsy found no traces of drugs or alcohol in her body. There were no obvious signs of foul play or suicide. The coroner ruled that she had died as a result of "undetermined causes".
Anton and Crystal's family, however, suspect foul play. They do not believe that she died from the cold as she appeared better the next day. Also, they learned that her body had been found in a corner of her apartment, nude from the waist down. Possibly the most disturbing evidence was testimony from two neighbors who claimed to have heard screams coming from her apartment. At around 4 am on the night of May 7, Jet and Susan Taylor heard the loud screams. It appeared as if someone was being hurt or tortured nearby. They also heard choking and moaning sounds. Susan wanted to call the police; however, Jet did not want to get involved.
Crystal's family requested to view her body several times. The coroner's office refused, claiming that the body was in no condition to be seen. In September 1988, Anton was able to obtain a copy of the autopsy report. There appeared to be several discrepancies in the report. It claimed that she was 5'7", even though she was actually around 5'0". Also, it claimed that she weighed 140 pounds, when she actually weighed around 105 pounds. However, the coroner claims that it was a documentation error because fingerprints confirmed the identity of the body.
Two weeks after her body was found, Crystal's family and friends held a memorial service; her ashes were scattered below the Hollywood sign. Her family and friends are still searching for answers in her mysterious death.
Suspects: None known
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 20, 1991 episode. Susan Akin, who was Miss America in 1986, was interviewed for this case.
- Crystal Spencer on Unsolved.com
- Murder or Natural Causes? : Four years after Crystal Spencer's death, her case remains a mystery.
- Crystal Spencer at Find a Grave