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WE LOST ANNEKA
REWRITTEN ALMOST COMPLETELY ON WEDNESDAY, 1 JANUARY 2015. Chances are that you’ve never heard of Anneka. She and several Penthouse models were added to the cast after the last minute by presenter Bob Guccione. Like the others, she was a bit player in Caligula who did not have so much as a word of dialogue.
Since she remained friends with Caligula producer Franco Rossellini, we really wanted to chat with her. Further, she knew a great deal of information that nobody else on the planet knew, and that was further incentive for us to want to reach out and talk. We tried repeatedly to contact her, but she was impossible to locate. Any address or telephone number we found for her was defunct by the time we discovered it.
Then towards the end of 2011 there were two, and only two, news reports that Anneka had died. The reports strongly suggest that Anneka took her own life while in the midst of a massive bout of depression and paranoia and anxiety, the result of her having gone off her medications, which exacerbated the emotional trauma. If that is true, then it is as sad as sad can be. Yet there is something terribly wrong with these reports. A quick first reading seems to make some sort of sense, but the more one reviews these reports, the less sense they make. Further research reveals that these reports do not stand up to scrutiny.
After her traumatic experiences with the world of Penthouse, Anneka started life afresh, away from the limelight. Since she was away from the limelight, it’s really difficult to trace her life. We know that she worked in a computer shop for a while and we also know that she landed jobs as a cocktail waitress at a casino in the San Fernando Valley among other places (was Gardena one of those other places? would that have been the Normandie?). She maintained her membership in the Screen Actors Guild, apparently hoping for gigs that never materialized. We have also been able to determine that Sundance Capital filed a $4,393 lien against her in the Los Ángeles Municipal Court in August 1993. That would would appear to indicate that her casino earnings were slim and unable to support her rent. She enrolled at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Bárbara and earned a yoga-instructor’s certificate in 1995. She opened a branch of a franchise called The Forever Young Experience, Inc., in November 2000 in Ocala, Florida, together with her fiancé Philip Felice Vasta, Jr. (b. 31 August 1929). She and Vasta married on 21 June 2001 in Marion County, Florida. Her branch of Forever Young was dissolved in October 2002. In 2005 she sold a house in the San Fernando Valley at a handsome profit and we assume that it was the proceeds from that sale that allowed her to found The Anneka Thoreson Yoga and Wellness Corporation in Palm Beach, Florida (incorporated 2006, dissolved in September 2007). By 2009 her marriage was on the rocks. She lost her Palm Beach house in a foreclosure.
The San Diego Union-Tribune wrongly reported that Anneka was a Nursing Assistant, a position that at the time paid a modest but barely livable income of about $30,000/year. Fox News, on the other hand, reported that Anneka was a Certified Nursing Assistant. (A nurse friend tells me that her Certified Nursing Assistant days were torture. The CNA’s were burdened with all the worst duties.) Intrigued by this information, I went to Indeed.com to learn that the average salary was $96,000/year. That was probably an error, since that same web site now lists the average salary as $42,000/year, which would be a splendid salary in most of the country, but a rather low salary in Southern California, where all prices are inflated. Further research reveals that Fox’s claim is correct. Anneka did receive a license as a Certified Nursing Assistant, though I have not been able to determine when. We need to wonder how she managed to obtain this CNA license, which is probably not available to those with criminal backgrounds. Then we need to remember that Bob Guccione had done her a favor, though probably for his own benefit rather than Anneka’s: Back in 1973 he had assigned his lawyers to expunge her criminal past. That does not mean that every reference to her background was forever destroyed. Not at all. That means merely that a basic background check most likely would not reveal the criminal records. To discover those would require considerably more research terribly arduous research. Two sources have revealed to me that in the 2000s Anneka worked at an alternative-physical-therapy clinic in Van Nuys, a clinic that catered to returning soldiers suffering from extreme PTSD. In about 2009 Anneka and Philip Vasta divorced, and at about the same time Anneka lost her job at the clinic. I think the clinic closed not long afterwards. According to the sparse records I was able to turn up, Anneka’s Certified Nursing Assistant license expired on the last day of 2009. Apparently she had not renewed it. It may or may not have been her divorce proceedings that prevented her from renewing her license. I don’t know. The expiration of her license may well be the explanation for her loss of employment. Note that the news reports did not flat-out say that she was unemployed. The San Diego Union-Tribune chose its phrasing carefully: “Divorced and in and out of jobs....” That wording strongly implies that she was searching for new employment.
Anneka died on 2 January 2011 on the grounds of a Marine Corps facility. This was mysteriously kept out of the news until 22 October 2011.
The San Diego Union-Tribune story opens with a repeat of a photo and caption from 1980 (we’ll cover this below), and then goes straight to two small maps prepared by staff designer Aaron Steckelberg, based on maps provided by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Southwest Field Office and SanGIS, the San Diego Geographic Information Service. I don’t want to bother to ask for permission to reproduce the map, and so you can just click here to take a look for yourselves.
Let’s look at the statements in the various articles, though in a different sequence.
Anneka was living near her sister Susan in Sherman Oaks. Though she resided in Sherman Oaks, she was in Los Ángeles when she headed towards Carlsbad, California, at about four o’clock in the morning. The article does not tell us why she was in Los Ángeles that morning rather than in Sherman Oaks, nor does it tell us precisely where in Los Ángeles she was. She drove a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan. Now, I am one of those rare people who barely knows one car from another. If it has four tires and a dash board, I can figure out that it’s a “car.” It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that that is the limit of my knowledge of makes and models. I need to know what a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan looks like, and, fortunately for me, there is a photo of one at Edmunds.com. Here it is:
“She was driving a maroon 2001 Mazda 626 sedan with many of her possessions loaded in the trunk and back seat.” How many of her possessions? What kinds of possessions? Did she normally keep many of her possessions in her car, or was this out of the ordinary? Was this really her car, or was she borrowing or renting it?
“Just before 6 A.M., Vasta rented Room 160 at the Motel 6 on Raintree Drive, near South Carlsbad State Beach. She never checked out, and there’s no evidence she ever used the room.” This is important information, but it’s not sufficient. First, let’s find out precisely where this Motel 6 is. It is at 750 Raintree Drive, Carlsbad CA 92011. It is adjacent to the
The news report leaves something out. Anneka checked in to Room 160, but for how long? Was this just a
“Vasta’s cellphone records show that she drove around until 8:30 that morning, making calls to family and friends.” That is very important to know, for multiple reasons. Why was she driving around? We do not know, but we can make a reasonable guess. We know that Anneka was a yoga instructor. As such, she probably would not have been happy with a morning meal consisting fried eggs, sausages, coffee, and doughnuts. That would not do the trick. I am not familiar with Carlsbad, and I have never even been there, but people who are familiar with that city assure me that at six o’clock in the morning no venue in Carlsbad would offer a meal healthier than the one I just described. If she wanted a nice breakfast, the best thing for her to do would be to drive back up north, to San Juan Capistrano or thereabouts, where offerings were likely more varied. That’s maybe a
“The last call was placed from the vicinity of the
Now, stupidly, I did not keep a copy of the Fox News report. I swore up and down that I downloaded it, but it’s not anywhere here. Drat! It was embedded on this page on the Los Angeles Times site, but it has since been removed from that page, and not even the WayBackMachine captured it. If you were smart enough to download a copy, please contact me immediately! The report was brief and consisted largely of interviews with Rachel McGranaghan and Jason Keller, both of the local NCIS. They looked and acted more like fashion models than investigators, but be that as it may. This video news segment mentioned that on Monday, 3 January 2011, Anneka’s family filed a missing-person report. If my memory is correct, then this is enormously important as well. Keep in mind that her sister Susan pointed out that Anneka “would talk the paint off the walls.” Here we can figure out what happened. Anneka had been on the phone off and on for hours, but then suddenly, just after 8:30 that Sunday morning, she would no longer make calls and she would not answer the telephone. If Anneka were in the habit of periodically going silent, then the family would not have filed a missing-report after a single day. Silence, and a refusal to answer the telephone, were entirely unlike her. Her family rightly got worried.
There is a gap in the story, and it is this gap that I have been trying to fill in. Anneka vanished until the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 January 2011, when “two joggers found the body of a woman washed up on a Camp Pendleton beach, in a restricted no man’s land where Marines train for battle.” If we were to take this report at face value, we would leap to the conclusion that the two joggers were military personnel stationed at the beach, for who else could possibly gain access to a “restricted no-man’s land where Marines train for battle”? Well, as we shall soon learn, this
Bearing all that in mind, let us think: What would make a 58-year-old look like a teen? Think harder: A 58-year-old who had drowned? Answer: Waterlogging! She was waterlogged, which made her age difficult or impossible to discern. I don’t know how long it takes for a body to get waterlogged.
“Federal agents have pursued the investigation for nine months, but they cannot say how Vasta got from the vista point, which sits atop 60-foot bluffs to the rocky sand about a mile south.” NCIS investigator Rachel McGranaghan emphasized that point: “The main unanswered question that we have is how she got from her vehicle to the water.” Let’s take that apart, piece by piece. The federal agents had been on the investigation for nine months. So for nine months (actually nine and a half months) this investigation was kept quiet. There was no announcement of Anneka’s death, and there was no obituary. Isn’t that just a little bit strange? (There was a single minor, unnoticeable, exception to this rule, which we’ll get to below.) The federal agents further could not say how Anneka got from her car to the beach a mile south. Why couldn’t they say? Is the reason simply that they didn’t know, that they had been unable to figure it out? Did something rule out the possibility of such a one-mile journey?
“Still, investigators believe that if Vasta jumped or fell from the bluffs below her car, the body would not have hit the water, because the tide isn’t high enough there.” That is another strange statement. Perhaps we should give the NCIS the benefit of a doubt here, for perhaps Steele or her editor garbled the NCIS’s statement. Take a look again at that little map. How could someone fall from the car to the beach? Anneka would have had to walk out about a thousand feet to the cliff face of the bluff to have fallen over or jumped over.
The news reports mention other oddities. The Union-Tribune stated: “When investigators discovered the car, her phone and purse were still in it. But the Mazda did show signs of trauma. A woman’s leopard-print blouse and a sports bra, stained with blood, were wrapped in a plastic bag the ice bucket liner from the Motel 6, investigators believe. A bloody steak knife was nearby, on the passenger floorboard. The blood belonged to Vasta. But it wasn’t enough blood to convince investigators that she was harmed in the car.” Now, I read that over and over and over, and I made some tentative conjectures about what may have happened, and in earlier versions of this web page I published those conjectures, which I now discover were entirely worthless — but wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait. A steak knife. Hmmmmmm. Anneka was a yoga instructor. As such she was unquestionably vegan. Yes, vegans have steak knives. I’m vegan and I have a steak knife. Steak knives are wonderful for slicing tomatoes and avocados. So, yes, Anneka surely possessed a steak knife — but in her car??? Why would she take a steak knife with her on a road trip? That makes no sense at all. I would be genuinely surprised to discover that the steak knife was hers, or that she had packed it into her car. That was somebody else’s steak knife, and it was introduced into the car after she hit the road.
It is time now to do an armchair investigation. We have a new tool called Google Maps. By looking at the details of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s little maps we can pinpoint precisely where this Las Flores View Point is, and precisely where Anneka was found. Go to Google Maps and look up “Oceanside CA.” Increase the size until the scale at the bottom of the screen indicates “500 ft.” Find the
From there you can zoom in and out and scroll all around to explore the area. To make your life easier, here’s a miniature of a composite that I did over several days:
You want the full-size image? Okay.
If you have Windows, right-click on the above image and choose to “Save Link As” to your desktop.
If you have a Mac, CONTROL+click on the above image and choose to “Save As” to your desktop.
The file is enormous, 104,524KB, about 73"×98", and so it will probably time-out on your first few attempts,
and the resulting image will be incomplete.
Once you do manage to download it, you’ll enjoy looking at the dolphins in the ocean.
Or are they sea lions? Maybe a few are even whales?
Now, because this map is from satellite images, and thus not merely two-dimensional but flattened horribly, the result is deceptive. This satellite image was taken sometime around New Year’s 2014, in the early morning, and so the sun is in the southeast, casting shadows in a northwesterly direction. Jutting in from the ocean seem to be a number of bluffs, higher than the surrounding landscape. That is not the case at all. What appears to be raised is actually sunken. The greenish land, filled with desert vegetation, is fairly level. Those sandy-colored intrusions are about 35 feet below (not 60), and the cliffs are sheer. Chances of surviving a fall down one of those cliff faces are about nil — but that applies only if one were to jump from the top and touch nothing until landing at the bottom. Depending upon the cliff in question, the fall can be broken. Take a look at this unsettling story from LAist: http://laist.com/2015/07/15/marine_teen_girls_cliff.php. Those two teen girls only went down 10 or 15 feet before coming to a stop. The cliffs are made of soft soil, and yet look how much damage a 15-foot fall onto soft soil can do!
Pay attention also to the ocean front: following it is a small brown dirt road that is similarly about 35 feet below the land that has the green vegetation.
Note that a simple look at this map makes one of the mysteries disappear: How did Anneka get from her car to the beach? The answer is obvious: She took the military dirt road, which goes exactly to the spot where she was found two days later. Why did the investigators and reporters make no mention of this road? Why did they suggest, through their carefully worded statements, that the only way to get from Las Flores View Point to the beach was by descending the cliffs and then traveling by water?
An armchair investigation, as important as it can be, is hardly a substitute for a firsthand survey of the site. I was far too chicken to make the journey alone. A friend, Soroosch Aidun, agreed to accompany me. I don’t have a car, and Soroosch’s car was in the shop. So a mutual friend, Reina Schmitz, who was also intrigued by this mystery, agreed to drive us to the site. She took her daughter Chris along for the adventure — and yes, it was an adventure.
We had to choose the right day to go. Anneka was last heard from on Sunday, 2 January 2011. That was holiday time. People did not start going back to work until the following day. To get as close as we could to the conditions of that day four years earlier, we had to choose the Sunday morning closest to New Year’s but still on holiday time. That date, near New Year’s 2015, was Sunday, 28 December 2014. That is the day we left, at four o’clock in the morning. I warned my three companions that the police would likely take a strong interest in us. “Oh great,” Soroosch moaned.
The reason I assumed that the police would be watching us was simple. This is Southern California. If you’ve never driven in Southern California, and especially if you’ve never parked on the streets, you won’t understand how Southern California works. Say if you find a parking spot beneath a sign that announces “No Parking after 6:00 P.M.” You will feel safe in parking your car at noon, but when you come by to drive away at 5:40 P.M. you will find to your dismay that there is already a ticket under your wiper, falsely stating that you were still parked there at 6:00 P.M. Of course, that doesn’t always happen. Not all parking officers are quite that mean. So you might get back to your car at 6:00 P.M. on the nose to witness a parking officer in the process of writing your ticket. The parking officer didn’t wait until 6:01, or even until 6:00:01. The parking officer cites your car at exactly 6:00:00. No grace period. Also, stand anywhere and watch the traffic officers and other police cruise by. They are perpetually making their rounds, everywhere. They are forever prowling, looking for trouble, and rejoicing when they find it. We would be four peculiar characters hanging around a vista point for hours, looking the wrong way, and taking notes on everyone else’s activities. This could hardly fail to arouse suspicions.
We arrived at Las Flores View Point in the darkness at about ten minutes before six o’clock. I had never been to this site before, and I was surprised by what I could barely see. Judging from the Google Map, I had assumed that a thousand feet to the west all I would see were cliff walls, but I was wrong. I could just barely make out the ocean in the distance. The Google Map made it look as though the parking area were level with the surrounding landscape. In fact, just as the news reports stated, the parking area rests atop a small bluff.
I had just purchased from Staples some Tally Counters (Cosco Industries, Made in China, Item #065118). As with anything, if you get one, it will break. If you get two, both will work. It’s a law of physics, as you know. I got two. I would keep count of the southbound traffic on the
The first discovery was that we were almost never alone. There were almost always other cars parked by us. In the darkness, people pulled over to take brief cat naps, or to shoot the breeze, or to switch drivers.
Here is the southbound
Here is Soroosch’s tally of the visitors to the rest area:
There were a few lulls, most dramatically between 7:56 and 8:07, when we were the only people in the area. At about 8:30 it became clear that the people who started crowding in knew the place. They knew the view, and they were in love with it.
I was dead wrong about the police taking an interest in us. No police patrolled Las Flores View Point. We saw the occasional police car zip down the highway, but there was no attention paid to the parking area. Why?
Chris propped her telephone against the car window
and made this little time-lapse video.
If this doesn’t display, download the video here: MP4 or OGV.
Since nothing at all was happening on the military road or on the surrounding land, Reina and Chris gave up and took a walk down the military road to the beach where Anneka had been discovered four years earlier, leaving Soroosch and me to keep to our tallies. As we were keeping our counts, Soroosch turned to me and said, “Nothing happened to her here.” That came as a shock. Of course something must have happened to her here. How else can one explain the bloodied clothes and the knife? I didn’t express my outrage at his denial of my firmly implanted ideas. I just asked him why he said that. The highway was right in front of us. The cars traveling down the highway may as well have been in our laps. Everyone on the highway not only could, but would see Las Flores View Point, but would anyone pay attention? It is true that two hundred drivers could whiz by at 65mph and catch a glimpse of some untoward activity off to the side of the road, but such a vision wouldn’t even register. It would be too brief. That wasn’t the problem, though. How could a marauder get someone out of her car and carry her far away without getting caught, especially after 8:30 when the place is filled with sightseers? It would be impossible. He was right. Nothing happened to her here. She must have been lured away. Soroosch went one further: He was not convinced that Anneka’s car remained parked at the site all three days. He suspected that her killer drove it off for a while before returning it. That was certainly within the realm of possibility, but why would Soroosch even think of that? What purpose would such a joy ride have served? Of course, as usual, he proved that he’s twenty times smarter than I am, as we shall see below.
We locked the car (accidentally knocking over Chris’s phone-camera in the process) and decided to take a walk. The steel gate that bars vehicles at Las Flores View Point from entering the military road is easily passable by pedestrians. Even had someone not snipped away much of the barbed wire, it would have been easy to get around. We simply walked through the gate, between the bars, where the barbed wire was missing, and decided to head down to the cliff edge of the nearest bluff. Soroosch solved another mystery for me. He and his brother frequently go surfing in this general area. Not at Las Flores View Point or at Camp Pendleton, of course, but in the general area. He assures me that, tide or no tide, the ocean current is always southbound. When they go for a day of surfing, after they set up camp by the beach they need to trek northwards to get into the water. The current will carry them back south where they can retrieve their belongings. So a body placed into the water would indeed float a mile south and wash ashore, even in the absence of tides.
While Soroosch and I were traversing the landscape, Reina was taking some photos of her own. These further demonstrate the popularity of Las Flores View Point.
Now let us return to my journey with Soroosch.
What are we to make of all this? The beach is unquestionably a practice ground for military maneuvers, and yet anybody can walk along the military road and reach it, and anybody can take along a little ATV and race through the arroyos, and
Now that we know the lay of the land, it is time to go back to the news stories and pull more quotes, but again, not in their published sequence. “Vasta was known for being open, too open, to strangers.” Her sister Susan elaborated: “She’s like a little girl out in the street. A stranger could walk by, and she’ll pick up a conversation with them.” Again, this is very important to know. In earlier years, when Anneka was attempting to break into showbiz via beauty contests and nude layouts in men’s mags and working in strip joints and hooking, she was quite uppity and would not deign to speak with those beneath her. Now, though, in her enlightened maturity, those days and those feelings and those goals were definitively over. She decided to be true to herself, and her true self was open, sociable, gregarious.
Based on the above information alone, shall we attempt to invent a possible scenario? Let’s do that. Suppose that Anneka decided to raise her spirits by taking a look at the beautiful morning view of the oceanside from Las Flores View Point. Suppose that as soon as she parked there, she decided to pick up her mobile telephone and call a relative or friend. Suppose that, right after her phone conversation, she started chatting with someone else at Las Flores View Point in her open, friendly way, remarking how wonderful it would be to walk right up to the shoreline. Suppose that the person chatting with her said, “That’s easy! Nobody patrols this road. Anybody can walk down to the beach. People do it all the time.” Suppose that this person seemed completely trustworthy. Suppose that Anneka trusted him implicitly. Once they were by the cliffs at the beach, nobody would be watching. This guy would be able to do anything he wanted, for as long as he wanted. Nobody was patrolling Las Flores View Point, and so nobody would notice if some cars were parked there for too long. He started jabbing Anneka with a steak knife to get his point across, and finally beat her and dumped her into the ocean. He walked back alone, taking her clothes with him as trophies. He had her keys and could easily get into her car, and even drive away if he so chose. Maybe he did drive away. If only we could obtain the satellite images from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of January 2011, we could see if the maroon Mazda was parked at Las Flores View Point all three days. I don’t know how to get those satellite images.
Now we come to the most puzzling mystery of this case. Why were her bloodied leopard-print blouse and sports bra placed into a plastic bag and put into the car, and why was the bloody steak knife placed on the passenger-seat floor? The speculation was that the plastic bag was the
“They know she drowned. They just don’t have enough information to know if it was suicide which her family vehemently denies or if the emotionally fragile woman met someone on that New Year’s Eve weekend who led her toward harm on the Marine Corps base. There’s no explicit evidence of foul play.” Here Steele paints a picture of an “emotionally fragile woman” who may have committed suicide. Steele goes on: “The days before Vasta’s death in San Diego reveal that the former actress continued to lead a somewhat troubled existence. Divorced and in and out of jobs, Vasta was living near her sister Susan Thoreson, a Sherman Oaks resident with whom she was close. Thoreson said her sister began showing symptoms of shaky mental health about six or eight years ago. There were bouts of paranoia and massive anxiety. One of those bouts apparently brought Vasta to San Diego County. ‘When Anneka got paranoid, she would run away,’ Thoreson said. ‘It was that fear or flight stuff.’ ”
How are we to interpret that? There is an elision in the above passage, and I want to know what was chopped out. Did Anneka show symptoms of shaky mental health six or eight years before? Perhaps she did. If she did, we need to keep in mind a lesson I have learned through my decades on this planet: If someone is paranoid or anxious, there’s often a pretty darned good reason for it. Anneka had lived through a protracted hell at Penthouse, made even worse by the years-long legal proceedings, during which she suffered through a lengthy smear campaign. I never had it as bad as Anneka did, but I can assure you, based on my firsthand experiences, that several years of that sort of treatment can truly drive you totally batty. Your friends really will think that you’re off your rocker. On top of that, she had recently gone through a divorce, and divorces, I am led to understand, can lead to tremendous, even debilitating, emotional turmoil. Furthermore, if my sources are correct, Anneka had spent some years at a therapy clinic that dealt primarily or exclusively with returning soldiers suffering from severe PTSD. That would drive anyone batty as well, and probably no friend or relative would be able to understand. With that history hovering in the background, we should temper our view that Anneka was having mental or emotional problems. Anxiety was only to be expected. The carefully placed cues about “shaky mental health” that open the news reports and that are hammered home more and more and more as the reports proceed are, in my opinion, more smoke and mirrors. Anneka had lived through decades of torment, and she surely reacted in strange ways, as anybody would, but she came out of it just fine, and was a warm, talkative, open person eager to befriend every stranger. Now, Steele goes so far as to report that “One of those bouts” of “paranoia and massive anxiety” is what “apparently brought [Anneka] to San Diego County.” How does Steele reach that conclusion? Anneka had her ear glued to her phone, chatting away with family and friends during her road trip, and it really wasn’t much of a road trip: two hours or so from Los Ángeles to Carlsbad, which, for California drivers, is an everyday routine, not out of the ordinary in any way at all. So for the life of me, I don’t see where “paranoia and massive anxiety” come into play here. A friend pointed out to me that the time of her drive down the highways would indicate some emotional problems, since it was hardly likely that a well-adjusted person would set forth on a journey at four o’clock in the morning. The evidence we saw did not bear out that assumption. The
Fox News took the money story a step further, saying that Anneka had hit hard financial times. How hard were those financial times if she was still driving a car, renting a room at a motel, and chatting endlessly on the telephone? Would her family have abandoned her to bankruptcy and homelessness? Surely Fox exaggerates. Yes, she was out of work, but she was not unemployable, and, from what I can gather by reading between the lines, she was actively seeking new employment. Fox also described Anneka as “unstable, whatever that means.
Let’s look at more quotes. “Lithium, for mood disorder, and an empty bottle of Xanax, an
For the sake of argument, though, let us say that she did need to take those medications and simply refused, leading to massive suicidal depression. Okay, maybe, but that does nothing to explain her friendly, outgoing, garrulous, sociable nature and her keeping relatives and friends on the telephone that morning for what were, we can only conclude, friendly chats.
Now let’s get to the “shallow cuts” on Anneka’s wrists, “consistent with a halfhearted suicide attempt,” and the “two stab wounds on her chest.” What? Huh? Run that by me again. Let’s talk about suicide. Suicide does not come out of the blue. Suicidal depression builds slowly over time. The suicidal person will drop more and more hints. A literate person committing suicide will almost certainly leave a note or a message of some sort as a final explanatory message. Yet according to this article, a sociable, friendly, talkative person, who speaks for hours on the telephone with family and friends, conversations that cause nobody any alarm whatsoever, just suddenly slits her wrists and stabs herself in the chest and jumps off a cliff. HUH??????? That’s not the way it works.
Now we are ready to review again some claims that we already quoted above. As you will recall, there was speculation that Anneka jumped off a
Again, for the sake of argument, let’s go with the suicide hypothesis. After all, as Fox News said, “They’re pretty sure it’s a suicide.” Depression, anxiety, delusions, can make one do the most unexpected things. I have no quarrel with that. So perhaps Anneka’s multiple telephone conversations with family and friends that morning were filled with gloom. Perhaps she did tell her family and friends “You won’t need to worry about me much longer” and so on and so forth, the typical resigned distress calls of one who has given up. Suppose she stopped at Las Flores View Point for the sole purpose of ending it all. Suppose she carried the steak knife for the singular purpose of carving herself up. Suppose she took along the
The cover story does not work at all. Yes, it is possible to commit suicide after parking at Las Flores View Point. By traveling down the military dirt road and heading towards the beach, there are plenty of secluded spots that would be splendid for ending it all. That’s provably not what Anneka did. The only hypothesis that seems to make sense is that she walked with a stranger to the beach, and was then attacked by that stranger. Why then would the military try to keep this under wraps and close the case without sufficient investigation, concluding probable suicide? Here’s a possible reason. As the four of us learned on Sunday, 28 December 2014, the military monitors the area constantly, surely by a live satellite feed. Whoever was stationed in front of the computer monitor on the morning of Sunday, 2 January 2011, goofed, and goofed big time. He/she/they should have noticed that something was awry with those little two-legged dots crawling across the screen. The next day
Now let’s get back, yet again, to that plastic bag with the bloody blouse and bra, and that bloody knife on the passenger floorboard. How did they get there? If Anneka, bleeding profusely, did not walk topless in front of a crowd of sightseers to leap over a cliff, and if she did commit suicide, then how did her bloodied blouse and bra come to be wrapped in plastic and placed in her car along with the bloody knife? Given this chain of events, we can only conclude that after she drowned in the ocean, she went back to Las Flores View Point to put her bloody clothes and the bloody knife in her car. I don’t buy that either. Shall we try for a better guess? Her attacker souvenired her clothes as trophies. He carried them back to her Mazda, drove that Mazda to the Motel 6, and entered Room 160. What was to stop him from doing so? He had all the keys he needed to do this. Just to throw investigators off, he put her blouse and bra into Room 160’s plastic
Admittedly, this is all just guesswork. It is not based on anything other than an attempt to fill in narrative gaps, and this is the only explanation I can think of. Well, no, I can think of one other: Maybe he left Anneka’s car where it was and drove his own car to the Motel 6. He used her motel key to get into her room and tamper with the evidence, then drove back to Las Flores View Point to dump some of that evidence into her Mazda, and dashed away again in his car. Either variation would fit the known evidence equally well. If you can think of something equally good, or better, I would love to hear from you. If my guesses are correct, would that mean that the maniac is still wandering the streets? At first I strongly doubted it, concluding he was likely in prison, but for a different crime. Now, though, I really do think that he’s still wandering the streets, and that he’s still making trouble, and that he probably has political protection. Until recently, I reasoned thus: What if the military, upon discovering Anneka on the beach, went back to its satellite records? If so, their investigative personnel probably worked out which car belonged to the murderer. Apparently satellite imagery can detect amazing detail. The military’s solution would have been simple: Find out who drives that car, check him out, find out what else he’s done, and get him behind bars so that he won’t do this again and give the base even more headaches. Release a cockamamie story to the press, and all the problems are solved at least to the military’s satisfaction. However desperately the military authorities wished to make this story go away, though, there’s still that nagging problem of sexual assault. How to take care of that? Simple: “Jason Keller, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and fellow agent Rachel McGranaghan said that nothing in numerous interviews with Vasta’s friends and relatives suggested that the Sherman Oaks resident had met with foul play.” Not so! Let’s listen to Susan: “I think something happened when Anneka couldn’t maybe fend for herself.” Let’s listen some more: “Vasta’s family isn’t ruling out the possibility that someone lured her somewhere and harmed her.” Let’s listen to Susan again: “Here’s my fear. What if there is a perpetrator out there, who is going to do this to someone else’s sister or mother?” Reporter Julia Greenberg of the International Business Times paraphrased Jeanette Steele’s wire story, and she seems to have had access to a few lines deleted from the original San Diego Union-Tribune publication: “family members worry that she may have been in the car with someone she had met that New Year’s Eve weekend.” (I’m certain no one else was in her car with her, though I don’t rule out the possibility that she and her assassin were traveling together in separate cars.) Now let’s take the Keller/McGranaghan conclusion at its most literal: Yes, it is true that Anneka’s family had no firm evidence, and could not identify who may have done this to her. How could they identify a person who didn’t come into the picture until a few moments after her 8:30 phone call, after which there were no more phone calls? So, in a literal sense, it is true that “nothing in numerous interviews... suggested [Anneka] had met with foul play.” True, but entirely misleading. The NCIS would not leave it there, and added more: “Investigators say there’s no hard evidence of someone with Vasta in her final hours, and no sign of sexual assault.” This is not enough, though. No. The investigators and/or reporters needed to add a topper, which should take care of the problem of her being found nude and should take care also of the failure to make a convincing case for suicide: Just get bogus “readers” to add nonsense to the comments section:
Were those real readers submitting real comments? Why do I have my doubts? The good news is that those comments have been deleted from the current version of the web page, but if you still want to bask in the lunacy, click on the WayBackMachine!
If we scour the Internet, we do find real comments from real people who knew or met Anneka. I find it telling that these comments are anonymous, or nearly so. Let’s look at them. On a blog called Venus Observations we find a comment dated 13 August 2011 from a friend who signed herself “jOaNnE.” Now this one is most interesting, for “jOaNnE” apparently knew of Anneka’s death before the information went public. Here is her comment: “... NaMaStAe BeAuty ... lOvE & MiSs YoU ... SOo VeRy MuCh ... ....... fOrEveR iN mY hEart ... jOaNnE ... X.” On a different page of Venus Observations there is a comment, dated 14 February 2012, from another of Anneka’s friends, someone who signed herself, simply, “Carole”: “Anneka was a dear friend. We had so many laughs. She loved to laugh. She was so much fun. We were so sad when we heard the news. Carole.” On this page there is yet another comment from Joanne, dated 26 July 2013: “Anneka was a rare beauty, so full of love & life, vivacious, exciting, charismatic, enchanting, so many twists & turns ... on this earth plane, she is free now ... To continue her journey ... & the immortal soul lives on ... & ... On ...& on ... I love you dear Anneka ... Joanne x.” On a web site called The Catacombs we find a friend’s anonymous comment dated 5 January 2013. This particular friend stands firmly with the family in denying that Anneka was in any way suicidal. On the contrary, she confirms that Anneka “was one of the strongest people I have had the pleasure to have in my life.” I would so much love to chat with Joanne and Carole and Anonymous. How can I reach them? Finally, on a web site called Jim Fisher True Crime we find an anonymous comment, dated 25 October 2013, from someone who had met Anneka at an event in 1975. Since he didn’t really know her, there was little he could say. That’s the extent of the reminiscences. Why is there so little?
Not only would I love to chat with Joanne and Carole and Anonymous, I would love to chat with any and all of Anneka’s family and friends. I also need to learn all I can about a mysterious Joseph A. Davis
As I noted above, the comment from “jOaNnE” predated the news stories. So she was indeed a friend, and probably a friend of the family as well. Something else predated the news stories: Find a Grave!!! As early as 8 January 2011, Find a Grave posted its memorial. We learn here that Anneka was cremated. We learn something else as well, and this solves another mystery. Her birth name was Marjorie Lee Thoreson, and yet the Forms 1099 for her Penthouse Films work for the years 1976 and 1977 gave her name as Anneka De Lorenzo. That led me to think that she probably changed her name legally. The Find a Grave memorial page confirms that this was indeed the case. Anneka was a fan of the Pippi Longstocking stories, and as early as 1972 decided to adopt a variant of the name of one of the characters, Annika. The surname “De Lorenzo” (or d’Lorenzo, or de Lorenzo, or Di Lorenzo, or di Lorenzo, or diLorenzo) was Bob Guccione’s creation. She did not entirely abandon that surname until about 1994. Her suit against Guccione (19811992) was filed under her birth name.
Anneka’s case is not a stand-alone. We need to offer a broader perspective, for what happened to Anneka is in no way unusual. Murdered women are often not considered worth an investigator’s time of day. It is common to dismiss these women as sex workers, whether they were or not, who brought their misfortunes upon themselves, and to attribute their deaths to “NHI”: No Humans Involved. There was a gallery in San Diego that devoted itself to the NHI women of that city. The gallery exhibit was sponsored by Deborah Small, Elizabeth Sisco, Carla Kirkwood, Scott Kessler, and Louis Hock. The project opened with billboards featuring the face of Donna Gentile. Deborah Small’s web site tells Donna’s story: “Gentile was the second victim in the string of murders. A sex worker and police informant, Gentile was found strangled to death, her mouth stuffed with gravel, a month after she testified against two police officers.” Small told of the media reaction to the gallery exhibit: “The media coverage of the project perpetuated the myth that all the slain women were prostitutes, drug addicts, and transients.” By smearing the victims, the police, the courts, and the media have a much easier time making these problems just go away, finally concluding their investigations with “NHI.” Anneka was murdered in the County of San Diego, not far from the City of San Diego. That is not to imply that proximity is the issue here, for this pattern is in no way unique to the City and County of San Diego. It is prevalent throughout the US.
For the sake of completeness, let us return to that opening photo and caption in the San Diego Union-Tribune story. The above photo, credited to “A Photo/Bocklett,” is of Anneka diLorenzo with H.R. Giger posing in front of one of his paintings. Many of the news outlets that picked up this story have included this photo as well. There has been some concern about the propriety of including a photograph of Giger in the widely published story of an unrelated death. There’s nothing to worry about. Apparently there is a dearth of available vintage photographs of Anneka, and this is simply the best of the batch. Now that we’re on the topic of this photo, we see that it’s most curious. What is its provenance? Let’s do some investigating. According to the various web sites, this photograph was taken in New York City on the opening day of a Giger exhibit, Monday, 8 April 1980 but the 8th of April 1980 was actually a Tuesday. The New York Times and other contemporary local newspapers make no mention of any such exhibit. With the help of Film Sketcher and Museum HR Giger, we learn that this was indeed sometime in early April 1980 in Manhattan, at the Hansen Galleries, Giger’s American agent at that time. The Hansen Galleries were closed Mondays, and so this photograph was most likely snapped on Tuesday, 8 April 1980. The only details I have been able to garner come from the poster and from an advertisement in New York magazine, volume 13 number 15, Monday, 14 April 1980, p 11.
This exhibition was sponsored by Bob Guccione and was entitled “H.R. Giger Paintings and Graphics: Giger’s Alien Filmdesign, 20th Century Fox.” Guccione’s sponsorship would have entailed almost no cost, firstly because Giger was already on his way to the US since he had been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Alien, and secondly because the Hansen, being Giger’s agent, needn’t have paid an arm and a leg for his services. Further, the concurrent April 1980 issue of Penthouse had a large section devoted to Giger, which was essentially free advertising,
Okay, we’ve gotten that photograph out of the way. Now let’s all get moving and solve the riddle of Anneka’s death. As I hope you are now convinced, the official story simply does not work at all.
POSTSCRIPT, SUNDAY, 27 DECEMBER 2015: I went back this day with yet another friend. We left at about 3:40 in the morning, stopped at Las Flores sometime maybe a little after 4:30, we saw another car there with its driver resting inside, and then we went further down the road to the Motel 6 in Carlsbad (18.2 miles, if that means anything). We turned around and went back up to Las Flores, enjoyed the scenery, and then took our leisurely journey. Amazingly, no helicopters followed us. There was a jogger on the military dirt road. I could not find those little soil-testers or whatever they were. They’ve probably been removed. When we got to Gold Beach we slowly walked northwards up the beach for maybe a mile. The sand is dreamily soft. To my amazement, the water was warm. Yes, it was warm, perfect for a swim. Last year I ridiculed the idea that Anneka or anyone else would swim here in
Anneka diLorenzo, director Tinto Brass, and Lori Wagner between takes
The Soroosch Collection
A little over a year ago a friend of mine was planning to write an investigative piece on Anneka. Everything went wrong as he was stonewalled at every turn. Then when his publisher was bought out, that spelled the end of that. He handed me a list of residences he had discovered. It is not complete by any means, and I supplemented it somewhat, though I don’t feel the need to include Guccione’s townhouse
Original research copyright © 2014, 2015 by Ranjit Sandhu