Andrew Urdiales, 54, was convicted in May in the murders of five women in three California counties between 1986 and 1995

By Chris Harris
October 08, 2018 12:05 PM
Advertisement
Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register/AP

A former Marine, already convicted of murdering three women in Illinois, was sentenced to death on Friday after being found guilty of murdering five women in California, PEOPLE confirms.

Andrew Urdiales, 54, was convicted in May in the murders of five women in three California counties between 1986 and 1995 — most of them committed while he was enlisted in the Marines.

The jury that convicted Urdiales recommended he receive the death penalty, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. A judge agreed last week.

Before learning his fate, Urdiales apologized to the families of his victims, who were present for Friday’s hearing.

“When you think about the serial killings and terrible things he did, it’s hard to think of Urdiales as a person — he’s a human monster,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in the statement. “He doesn’t deserve to be on the planet with the rest of us.”

This is the second time Urdiales has been sentenced to death for his crimes.

In 2002, an Illinois jury convicted him of murdering three women in the ’90s after he moved from California. However, his sentence was commuted to life without parole earlier this year after the death penalty was abolished by state lawmakers. He remained behind bars in Illinois on Monday, detention records show.

Urdiales moved to Southern California in the mid-1980s, where he served as a Marine from 1984 to 1991, according to California prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the first of his victims there was 23-year-old Robbin Brandley, whom he stabbed more than 40 times in a parking lot one night in January 1986. Brandley had worked as an usher at a piano concert and was walking to her car when she was attacked.

In July 1988, Urdiales picked up 29-year-old Julie McGhee, shooting her in the head after having sex with her. He then dumped her body in the desert.

Two months later, in September 1988, Urdiales fatally shot Mary Ann Wells, 31, in the head after they had sex near a deserted industrial space.

In April 1989, Urdiales picked up Tammie Erwin, 18, and drove her to a remote area in Palm Springs, where they had sex. He then shot Erwin in the head and the left hip.

After his discharge from the Marines in 1991, Urdiales moved to Illinois. But in March 1995 he picked up 32-year-old Denise Maney while on vacation in the Palm Springs area.

He drove Maney to a remote desert area, according to the district attorney’s statement, and then “forced her to remove her clothes, tied her hands behind her back, and sexually assaulted” her. Maney was stabbed several times in the chest and shot once in the head.

Prosecutors said one of Urdiales’ attempted murder victims, Jennifer Asbenson, escaped from him in 1992.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Charles Erwin, Tammie’s father, wrote a statement that was read aloud during Friday’s sentencing. Charles wrote that Urdiales “not only killed my daughter, but he killed me inside. This has ruined my life. It has turned my physical being into pieces, my mental being into pieces.”

Tammie’s stepmother, Linda Erwin, described the family’s anguish in her own victim statement that was read in court on her behalf: “We can’t live our lives in a normal manner. We can’t let go. It’s like we are trapped in 1989.”

Asbenson, Urdiales’ surviving victim, offered her forgiveness to him and said that she “want[ed] to use the rest of my life to spread joy and empower women. When I am weak, they [the other victims] are my angels.”

For years, after Urdiales moved back to his native Illinois, the California murders baffled authorities.

A crucial break came in 1997, when Chicago police linked a gun recovered from Urdiales car during a traffic stop in Indiana a year earlier to the slayings of three women in Illinois: Laura Uylaki, 25, Cassandra Corum, 22, and 22-year-old Lynn Huber, all of whom were stabbed and shot in 1996.