Senator Robert F. Kennedy speaks to campaign workers, June 5, 1968, shortly before he was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy speaks to campaign workers, June 5, 1968, shortly before he was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. AP Photo
The 2010 conference of the California Homicide Investigators Association at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas had offerings on the program such as "Serial Killers and Media Management" (apparently we need to be managed when we begin to ask questions about people like Jeffrey Dahmer.)
But if that weren't enticement enough, a special exhibition promised to give investigators a backstage look at some of the past century's most notorious homicides.
"Behind The Scenes: The LAPD Homicide Experience" was billed as a conference highlight. Advance publicity said the exhibition would show photos and objects that were rarely seen inside, let alone beyond, the courtroom.
Photos and evidence from several notable moments in Los Angeles history were gathered in a huge exhibition that included video, artifacts and even vintage automobiles.
O.J. Simpson's infamous watch cap and gloves ("If it doesn't fit, you must acquit") are on display. So is the rope that was tied around actress Sharon Tate's neck when Charlie Manson's followers killed her and six other people 40 years ago.
When the Kennedy family complained, the shirt, jacket and tie Robert Kennedy wore when Sirhan Sirhan mortally wounded him in pantry of the Ambassador Hotel were removed before the exhibition officially opened .
Sharon Tate's sister, Deborah, says she plans to complain, too. "A little warning would have been nice so we could prepare ourselves emotionally,"
Tate told AP correspondent Linda Deutsch. (Chief Charlie Beck has apologized to the Kennedy family representative, saying it was never the LAPD's intention to traumatize victims' families; rather, they were seeking to educate the public on the nature of criminal investigators' jobs.)
Also included, to the dismay of some and the grim satisfaction of others: photos from Marilyn Monroe's bedroom the night she died.
The Los Angeles coroner reluctantly ruled Monroe's death a suicide, since an autopsy revealed she was full of the barbiturate Nembutal.
But initial police reports indicated Monroe had neither injected nor swallowed the pills, and conspiracy theorists have long posited her death was actually a homicide presented as a suicide.
Why? Many remain convinced her alleged affair with John F. Kennedy was about to become public and that someone on his behalf — or his brother, the Attorney General — had silenced Monroe.
Including her death in "Behind The Scenes" won't do much to put those theories to rest, and in fact might have given them new life.
(Karen is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR.)