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Title: 1970 Lass, Donna 09/06/70
Description: Stateline NV 26 YO

PorchlightUSA - July 27, 2006 12:41 AM (GMT)

Donna Lass
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Donna Lass was a nurse and a possible victim of the Zodiac Killer.

Donna Lass was the daughter of James P. Lass (August 28, 1897 March 30, 1973) and of Frances Mary (Kukar) Lass (November 24, 1900 August 5, 1982). Lass' father had been a farmer in the area of Beresford, South Dakota. Donna resided in California before moving to the area of Lake Tahoe, Nevada in May of 1970.

Donna Lass worked as a nurse at the Sahara in Stateline, Nevada. On September 6, 1970, the twenty-five year old nurse signed her last entry in her log book at about 1:50AM. Lass was never seen leaving the Sahara; but, her car was found at her apartment complex at Stateline. Lass was never seen again.

The next day, Lass' landlord and employer were both received calls from an unknown male. He told them that Lass was ill and had left because of a family emergency; but, the call proved to be a hoax. A month later, a paste-up postcard was received by the San Francisco Chronicle, hinting that Lass' disappearance was connected to the Zodiac Killer. Six months later, another paste-up postcard was received by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Francisco Times. In spite of the postcards, there was no solid evidence to connect Donna Lass' disappearance with the Zodiac Killer

PorchlightUSA - July 27, 2006 12:45 AM (GMT)
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Donna Lass was a pretty twenty-five year old woman with frosted blonde hair and blue eyes. She worked as a nurse at the Sahara hotel in Stateline, Nevada and was by all accounts a "good girl". On Labor Day, September 6, 1970 Ms. Lass disappeared and some believe she was abducted from work by the Zodiac killer. The following day, a man called the Sahara Hotel to say that Ms. Lass was sick and would not be coming in. This man also called her landlord to tell him that she was leaving and not coming back. It was reasoned that the man who called had something to do with her disappearance, but authorities were at a loss to determine her whereabouts and feared the worst.

One month later the San Francisco Chronicle received a postcard paste-up. There were 13 holes (each one representing a victim) and a cross drawn with human blood on the card. (Ms. Lass' ?) Six months after she vanished another paste-up postcard was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Times. On the back of the card was a picture of Incline (death?) Village
in the area of Lake Tahoe. The pasted-on words read: "Sought victim 12," "Pass Lake Tahoe areas," "Sierra Club," "Peek through the pines," and "around in the snow." As time passed, the disappearance of Donna Lass faded from memory.

In 1976, Mr. Otto Fredericks, the retired Postmaster of Norden, CA, was hiking just past Claire Tappan Lodge (very near Norden) when he discovered a circle of wood on the side of the path that was 14 feet in diameter. On the inside there was a square arrangement of wood and in the center of that, a triangle with a cross, composed of 13 stones.

The postcard that was sent to the newspapers shortly after Ms. Lass' disappearance stated, "Pass (Past/Path?) Lake Tahoe areas" and "Sierra Club". The Tappan Lodge was owned by the Sierra Club and built by them in 1934. The 13 stones comprising the cross fit with the October 1970 postcard that had 13 holes punched in it and a cross that was drawn in human blood.

Mr. Fredericks carefully photographed the "gravesite" but it wasn't until several years later that his discovery was revealed to Harvey Hines, a former police investigator. Later, Hines informed Dave Peterson, a Zodiac expert and retired police reporter. Peterson later excavated the site. A pair of woman's crushed sunglasses were found about 14 inches under the soil. The sunglasses were
entirely green (frame and lenses) and were the same type supposedly worn by Ms. Lass. Earlier, when Peterson saw the photos of the site he immediately identified the structure ( of wood and stone) as Rosicrucian symbols, a society with which Charles Manson and Zodiac suspect Bruce Davis were very familiar. Peterson later mulled over the possibility that Ms. Lass' killer rhymed Donner Pass (the site was on Donner Summit) with Donna Lass. Zodiac had concocted a "poem" that referred to murder victim Cheri Jo Bates and inscribed it on a desk in 1966.

Another point of interest is the fact that a former wife of Roman Polanski (husband of Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the Manson Family) was a Polish actress who's name was Lass.

PorchlightUSA - December 27, 2006 07:49 PM (GMT)

Donna Ann Lass

Above: Lass, circa 1971

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: September 6, 1971 from South Lake Tahoe, California
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: November 3, 1944
Age: 26 years old
Height and Weight: 5'4, 135 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Lass was last seen in South Lake Tahoe, California on September 6, 1971. She worked as a registered nurse at the first aid station at the Sahara Hotel-Casino and her last logbook entry was timed at 1:50 a.m. Lass's car was found parked near her apartment in Stateline, Nevada, but nobody saw her leave the casino.
The day after Lass's disapperance, an unidentified male called her place of employment and her landlord to say she would be absent due to a family emergency. Lass was not actually having a family emergency at the time. The caller has never been identified. All of her personal belongings were left behind at her home, except her purse and the clothes she was wearing the night she vanished.

A postcard purportedly from the serial killer nicknamed the Zodiac implied that he had killed Lass. The Zodiac sent many written messages to newspapers and police claiming responsibility for disappearances and murders, but Lass's abduction does not fit his profile and the postcard was later found to have been forged by a police investigator. The Zodiac has never been identified. He is still considered a possible suspect in the 1970 disappearance of Robin Graham, however.

Lass's case remains unsolved. She is missing under suspicious circumstances.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
South Lake Tahoe Police Department

Source Information
California Attorney General's Office
The Zodiac Killer
Enter the World of the Zodiac Killer
The Doe Network
The San Diego Union Tribune

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

Last updated March 25, 2006; details of disappearance updated.

Charley Project Home

PorchlightUSA - December 27, 2006 07:50 PM (GMT)

PorchlightUSA - September 2, 2009 06:56 AM (GMT)
Garrido in Reno when Tahoe woman vanished in 1970
By Frank X. Mullen Jr. September 1, 2009

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Del.icio.usFacebookDiggRedditNewsvineBuzz up!TwitterThe sister of a 25-year-old woman who was abducted from South Lake Tahoe in 1970 said she wonders if the suspect in the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard is connected to the 39-year-old mystery.

"As soon as I heard about the (Dugard) case last week, I thought that this could be something related to my sister's disappearance," said Mary Pilker of Sioux Falls, S.D., the sister of Donna Ann Lass. Lass was a nurse at the Sahara Hotel-Casino who vanished Sept. 6, 1970, after leaving work at the casino and never arrived home.
Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, is charged with the kidnapping and rape of Dugard, who was then 11 years old and waiting for a school bus near her South Lake Tahoe home when she was forced into a car. Garrido allegedly imprisoned Dugard in his backyard in Antioch, Calif., for 18 years.
In 1976, Garrido kidnapped a 25-year-old woman from a South Lake Tahoe parking lot and raped her in a Reno warehouse in a space he prepared for the crime. An hour before that woman was abducted, police said Garrido attempted to kidnap another woman from a South Lake Tahoe parking lot.
Garrido's relatives, contacted Monday, said Phillip Garrido moved to Reno from California when he was about 19 years old. That places him in the area when Lass disappeared in 1970.
Lt. Les Lovell of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said late Monday that Lass' disappearance "has haunted the Tahoe Basin" for 39 years. He said the news that the suspect in the Dugard case was reportedly in Reno in 1970 may be a good lead.
Lovell said he will discuss the matter with FBI agents assigned to the Lass case.
"There are a lot of similarities among these cases," Pilker said Monday. "I've been trying to get through to the South Lake Tahoe police to look into this."
Previous reports on the Lass case have linked her disappearance to the Zodiac killer, but no connection has ever been proven. The Zodiac was a serial killer who terrorized the Northern California in the late 1960s.
The Reno police detective who worked on the 1976 kidnapping and rape case that put Garrido in federal prison in Kansas for 11 years said he recalled Garrido's name as soon as he heard it on the news last week.
"I looked him up and there he was in my 'attaboy' file" said former Reno police Detective Dan DeMaranville, now a federal security officer. "I remember (Garrido). He was a tall, nice-looking young man, but he was one sick puppy."

Garrido, who was 25 in 1976, had prepared a space in a Reno mini warehouse with rugs, a spotlight, a movie projector, pornographic magazines and sex toys. He kidnapped a 25-year-old casino worker, brought the victim to the warehouse and raped her.
He was arrested when Reno police officer Clifford Conrad, who saw a car parked next to the warehouse and a broken door lock, entered and interrupted the crime.
"(Conrad) was on the ball," DeMaranville said. "I was proud of him. I'm still proud of him today."
He said the Garrido didn't strike him as a killer, but it was uncertain what Garrido planned to do with his 1976 victim after he raped her.
Ron Garrido, the suspect's brother, told the San Francisco Chronicle this week that the brothers grew up in Brentwood, Calif., with their parents, Manuel and Pat Garrido. Their childhood was relatively unremarkable, he said, until Phillip Garrido began acting out, using LSD and dealing drugs.
Phillip Garrido graduated from Liberty High School in 1969 and moved to Reno shortly afterward, his brother said. He fled California after learning that fellow drug dealers "had a contract out on him," Ron Garrido said.
Phillip Garrido would have been 19 years old when Lass disappeared. By 1976, he was living on Market Street in Reno, court documents said.
Authorities in California are looking at Garrido in connection with the murders of prostitutes in the 1990s and also in connection with abductions of young girls that occurred after Garrido was paroled in Nevada in 1988. He served seven months in Nevada State Prison for the sexual assault connected with the 1976 kidnapping.
He came back to Nevada to serve a 5 years to life sentence after serving 11 years in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. He was eligible for parole before he arrived in the state, officials said, and was released in 1988 as a federal parolee.
"I doubt if (the 1976 kidnapping) was his first sex crime," Pilker said. "If he was in Reno in 1970, you need to see if he was connected to my sister's disappearance."

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