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Man fatally shot by police three decades ago linked to unsolved 1978 killing in Canoga Park

April 27, 2011 |  9:48 am

Composite and booking photo of Richard Daniel Bower. LAPD detectives have linked a man shot and killed by police three decades ago to the unsolved 1978 slaying of a Canoga Park man in an apartment the victim shared with his son.

Despite a suspect composite, the man who stabbed 45-year-old Robert Rathbun to death while burglarizing his Canoga Park home went unidentified for more than 30 years.

Rathbun's son, 18 at the time and home during the burglary, apparently obeyed the intruder's demands and lay down on his stomach, though he was still stabbed in the back, an injury he survived.

Los Angeles police detectives reviewed the case last year and ran the crime scene fingerprints through a current database.

A match was made with Richard Daniel Bower, a Burbank man who was killed at the age of 20 during a 1981 shootout with Redondo Beach police. A photo of Bower resembles the composite from the unsolved killing, down to Bower's long, wavy hair and drooping right eye.

The witness who helped describe the suspect at the time was located by detectives, and she identified the photo of Bower as the man she saw more than three decades before, police said.

Archived reports and booking photos from Burbank police presented detectives with yet another chilling discovery: Bower was arrested both one week before Rathbun's murder and one week after, but a definitive connection was never made.

Police believe that a second suspect was involved in Rathbun's killing, but that person has yet to be identified.


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Photo: Composite and booking photo of Richard Daniel Bower. Credit: LAPD