Crime - Sacto 911

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: Was 1960s kidnap, slaying of Sacramento supermarket clerks solved?

Back in the mid-’60s, I worked the overnight shift at the Marysville post office. We heard a news story on KFBK of a grocery store robbery on Broadway near Stockton Boulevard. The two male employees were also kidnapped in the commission of the robbery. One employee’s name was Michael McCandless. What was the outcome of this case and the two employees?

– John, Carmichael

What became known as the Latimer-McCandless case – named for the victims, 21-year-old Phillip Kirk Latimer and 16-year-old Michael McCandless – remains unsolved.

According to stories in The Bee, on July 11, 1965, the two were clerks at the Food Emporium supermarket at 5901 Broadway, and it was their job to close up that Sunday evening. Customers remembered seeing Latimer unlock the door for two men who rushed up just as he had locked it at the 10 p.m. closing time.

The next morning, Latimer and McCandless were nowhere to be found. A strongbox in the store’s safe was missing $1,200, and the keys to the strongbox were found in Latimer’s car, which had been abandoned not far from the store.

Then, a Japanese air force officer on temporary duty at McClellan Air Force Base called police to report finding bloodstains and a strange pair of horn-rimmed glasses in his car. The car had been moved from where he had left it parked on Friday while visiting friends in midtown.

The glasses turned out to belong to McCandless, whose body was found late the following Wednesday, floating in the Sacramento River downstream from the Freeport Bridge. Latimer’s body surfaced in the same area the next morning. Both victims had been shot in the leg. Latimer also had been shot in the head, and McCandless had suffered a severe blow to the head.

Police said the case was particularly difficult because there was no known murder scene and little physical evidence.