The TV legal expert tells PEOPLE he thought his wife's death "was a dream"

By Frank Swertlow
October 17, 2005 08:00 AM

Daniel Horowitz, the high-profile attorney who found his slain wife, Pamela Vitale in their San Francisco Bay Area residence over the weekend, says that the couple allowed easy access to their residential compound – a fact that could widen the list of suspects in the case, say reports.

Horowitz, 50, who appears regularly on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News (and was a frequent commentator during the Laci Peterson murder trial), called 911 on Saturday evening to report that he found his wife, Vitale, 52, dead in the entryway of the mobile home where they were living while their house was being renovated.

Horowitz’s co-counsel and friend Ivan Golde told PEOPLE that Horowitz was so concerned about his safety that he owned a gun. The couple were staying in a mobile home on the property where their dream mansion was being built. It was an isolated area of Northern California, where neighbors are as far as a quarter of a mile from each other.

Golde said there were many strange people living in the area – “weirdoes and wackos” – and that Horowitz often had to take a gun out and drive trespassers off his property.

In his law practice, Horowitz defended drug dealers, death row inmates and other serious criminals. His wife worked with him, creating and managing databases.

On Monday, in his first in-depth interview, a distraught Horowitz told PEOPLE that he can’t believe his wife is dead. “I can’t let her go. I want to reach out and touch her and not let her go. A few hours ago I thought this was a dream, that deep down she was alive,” he said. “People say it will get better when they catch who did this….It can’t be better. Why didn’t the killer take me rather than her?”

Horowitz told PEOPLE that when he came home around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, he saw blood on the door of the mobile home. “I had been calling her all day. There was no answer. I saw the smear on the door, and it was dry, and then I opened the door and I saw her.”

Contra Costa County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said Vitale died from a blunt force trauma to the head. Police have not named any suspects.

On Monday, Lee said he hadn’t learned anything about a possible suspect or a motive for the killing. “We do have some leads that we are following up on, but I wouldn’t want to characterize something as we’re getting closer to an arrest,” he said.

Horowitz was interviewed as part of the investigation and was cooperative, said Lee, at a press conference late Monday afternoon. The couple’s neighbor, Joseph Lynch, was also interviewed.

Lynch, 54, told the Associated Press he has known Horowitz for more than a decade, and that they occasionally clashed. In a court filing seeking the restraining order against Lynch in June, Horowitz accused him of drug and alcohol abuse that made him “delusional, threatening, violent and dangerous.”

Horowitz told the San Francisco Chronicle however that he dropped the request for the restraining order because Lynch had started a drug rehabilitation program.

Vitale, who had two children from a previous marriage, was born in Texas and raised in Minnesota. She had a career that ranged from being an airline stewardess to a Hollywood producer.