Murder-Suicide Occurs in Chatsworth

January 3, 2000

Monday, January 3, 2000
On Thursday, December 30, 1999, at 8:55 p.m., West Valley officer’s responded to an "ambulance shooting" radio call in the 9300 block of Hanna Avenue in Chatsworth. The responding officers were met by the daughter of Ms. Judy Ann Bitting. The daughter advised the officers that she had been attempting to reach her mother by telephone all day without success. The daughter and a friend then drove to her mother’s home to conduct a welfare check. They entered the single-family home of the 49-year old woman and discovered her body lying dead in her bed. The daughter stated that she also found the body of Mr. Jerry Steven Lankin, her mother’s 43-year old common-law-spouse, lying dead on a couch in the family room.

LAFD personnel entered the residence and noted that Ms. Bitting was dead, having sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the upper back. Mr. Lankin was dead from an apparent self-inflicting gunshot wound to the head. A 357-caliber revolver was still clutched in Mr. Lankin’s hand.

West Valley Homicide detectives were contacted and conducted an investigation, which has disclosed that Ms. Bitting had been in very poor health for several months, suffering from a variety of ailments. She reportedly had been advised that she was going to have to be hospitalized in the near future for multiple sclerosis. Ms. Bitting’s common-law husband, Mr. Lankin, had been living with her in the Hanna Avenue address for the past four years.

A suicide note was found within the residence. The evidence indicates that Mr. Jerry Steven Lankin shot and killed his common-law wife, Judy Ann Bitting, then turned the gun on himself.

Please contact Media Relations Section for any further questions or information regarding this matter at 213-485-3586.

For Release 10:55 am PST
January 3, 2000