After her mother died in 2015, Karrie Johnson reached out to let people from her mother’s past know. One of the people she tried to get in touch with was Alan Lindley. Karrie’s mother had taken care of Alan’s brother, Brian, for a while after he’d been in a terrible car accident.
In her search to reconnect with her old friend, Alan, Karrie came upon a short article that took her by surprise. Alan Lindley was dead -- had died in his home in Claremont, California in 2009 at the age of 60. The manner of death was homicide. “First of all,” Karrie told Dateline, “I was, like, ‘Is this the Alan Lindley I know?’” It was the Alan Lindley she knew. “I just thought it was insane.”
Karrie told Dateline she reached out to the Claremont Police Department when she learned the news to see if there had been any updates in Alan’s case. There were not. And there still aren’t.
Karrie said that if this had happened to someone Alan knew, he would never let it rest. “He would keep at it and keep at it,” she said. “That’s the kind of person he was. No stone unturned.”
As years passed with no updates, Karrie reached out to Dateline’s Cold Case Spotlight team. “Even if this doesn’t go anywhere, I feel good that somebody is concerned,” Karrie told Dateline. “Somebody is walking around this world, free as the air and it’s just not right.”
The Lindley brothers grew up in the California sun. Alan was the oldest, followed by Merle a little over a year and a half later, and then the youngest, Brian.
“We grew up pretty much in Glendora, California. And we were there since the early 50s,” Merle Lindley told Dateline. He and his family were no strangers to tragedy. “We lost our mother in 1955 from cancer. And lost our dad in ‘74 up there in Pasa Robles,” Merle said. “He fell off a horse -- or the horse reared up -- and he was wearing tennis shoes and his feet, you know, just got tangled in the stirrups, and he just hit his head on the ground behind him and just had a brain bleed that took him.”
Then there was Brian. “Within a year after Dad’s accident, Brian had an accident and he drove off Cuesta Grade up there by San Luis Obispo,” Merle told Dateline. “He ended up in a coma for like three or four months, and basically was quadriplegic and lost his speech ability -- kind of like a stroke victim does -- and spent the next 40 years, you know, in convalescent hospitals.”
It was during that time that Karrie Johnson’s mother took care of Brian. “My mother took care of Brian for a long time,” Karrie told Dateline. “Being a widow, she just always took people in. She was a registered nurse, and so when Brian was having -- when he was in between facilities -- my mom said, ‘I’ve got a three bedroom house here, just bring him up here.’”
Karrie said her mother took care of Brian until he was transferred up to a facility in Oregon.
Brian died in 2020.
But one of the toughest losses for Merle Lindley was his big brother, Alan. “It took me a long time to get over that. I mean it was – it was a big loss,” Merle said. “Basically, at this point in my life, I've lost every blood relative, except for some first cousins.”
Merle told Dateline that Alan attended Citrus College right out of high school for two years and then quit for a bit. Merle said his brother eventually applied to Cal Poly and went back to school. Alan got involved with the radio station there, but left before graduating, “He had everything done except his senior project,” Merle said. “And he just decided that he didn't need that piece of paper.”
Merle told Dateline, his brother’s passion was always music. Alan had been collecting records since before junior high. “In fact, I've got the first two records that he got,” Merle said. “I got the King of Kings album and the Ben Hur album. Those were the first ones we bought. I remember when we bought those. The one that kind of impressed me the most was he had the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields,” Merle remembered. “And the whole album was nothing but Strawberry Fields – different cuts of it – as they were making the song or something. That was, you know, I never even heard of such a thing.”
Old friend, Karrie Johnson, also recalled Alan’s passion for music. “He had walls lined with albums. He was very artistic that way,” Karrie told Dateline “He had jazz, rock, country, just the whole genre – everything you could think of. He was amazing, he just had such a talent.”
It's no surprise that Alan got into the audio business. He wound up working at Riverton Productions in Los Angeles for nearly two decades.
Patrick Flynn, the recently retired owner of Riverton, told Dateline that Alan was his employee for 18 years, from the mid-80s through the early 2000s. “We had Universal as a client for 25 years, and that was his main client,” Patrick said. “We worked for the advertising department. I have an audio recording business and this was one part of it – doing transfers of feature films and audio and, uh, whatever the editors needed to make the advertisements.”
Patrick had nothing but praise for Alan. “He was a terrific person, a very hard worker, extremely conscientious,” he said. “And loyal to every one of his friends.”
Patrick recalled how Alan liked to spend his spare time. “He made the rounds of different CD shops and vinyl shops – he collected albums and CDs,” Patrick said Alan’s collection was astounding and that his taste in music ran the gamut. “He liked eclectic and he liked alternative and he just liked a lot of different music,” Patrick remembered.
Richard McCurdy did business with Riverton, and met Alan there. “We shared a common interest in film scores. He had been collecting them for a number of years,” Richard told Dateline. “He had a very avid interest in film, film scores.”
Patrick remembers enjoying listening to Richard and Alan when they started talking about music. “Richard and Alan would sit in the room and talk for hours about different composers and what kind of music they had,” Patrick said. “And what music they were working on for movies at the time.”
Alan left Riverton in the early 2000s. Just a few years later, in early 2009, Patrick Flynn got the shocking news that Alan had been found murdered in his Claremont, California home. “To hear that this happened tore my heart apart,” Patrick told Dateline. “Because he was such a good person. For him to go in the way that he went, is just unbelievable.”
Patrick broke the news to Richard McCurdy. “Patrick called me a couple of days after it happened,” Richard told Dateline. “It’s just very mysterious, and I was as surprised as anybody would be.”
It’s just as mysterious today. “As far as I can tell,” Richard said, “in the area of cold cases, this is about as cold as a case gets.”
It was sometime after January 30, 2009, when Merle Lindley got the news about his brother’s murder. It was the middle of the night, Merle told Dateline, around 2 or 3 a.m. “Three of them came in. They were all detectives and, you know, they told me about it,” Merle said, “and started asking questions and I was really shook up.”
Merle said the police told him that when Alan hadn’t shown up for his job at Costco, one of the employees was sent to check on Alan, and that’s who discovered him and called the police.
Alan was found in the living room of his home in Claremont. “He was sitting in his lounge chair in front of the TV,” Merle said. “That's where all the blood was – was on the floor behind the lounge chair and on the lounge chair. So whatever happened to him, happened to him in that chair.”
Alan had been stabbed to death and, according to Merle, the weapon still has not been recovered. Merle said that he got the coroner’s report and that “they basically said he was stabbed like 50 times or something like that, actually.”
It is unclear exactly what day Alan was killed, but authorities believe it was between January 28 and January 30. According to an entry about Alan on the Cold Case Homicides page of the Claremont Police Department website, “The victim suffered multiple puncture wounds to his lower abdomen and chest area.”
When Karrie Johnson learned that her old friend had been stabbed so many times, she immediately had a theory about Alan’s murder. “It was up close and personal,” Karrie said. “Whoever it was that came into that house and did that to him, knew him. It had to be somebody he knew.”
Merle said that was one of the theories the police told him, too. “They said there were two trains of thought,” Merle explained. “Part of it was: It was kind of a, like, a home invasion. And the other part was: It was a crime of passion.”
When Dateline asked if it looked as if anything had been stolen from his brother’s home, Merle said that he wasn’t sure about Alan’s belongings, since he didn’t live there, but there was something missing since the last time he’d been over. “There was this butter tray that was full of quarters. All those state quarters were coming out at that time and he collected those,” Merle told Dateline. “In fact, every time he came over here he went through my change and collected all those quarters of all the different states. And that butter tray was empty. But there was a list of them and I -- I totaled it up and there was $250 worth of quarters there basically and that was missing.”
Merle said he gave that information to the Claremont Police Department investigators when he spoke with them, but doesn’t know if anything came of it.
In the early days of the investigation, when Merle went down to the Claremont Police Department to talk to investigators, he told Dateline they took his fingerprints. “They had evidence of a fingerprint,” Merle said. “And I could see that in the house, there was bloody -- a bloody fingerprint on one door and I think there was another one somewhere else. And it was labeled with a number – evidence number. So they had that -- and I'm surprised after 13 years they still haven't been able to associate that with somebody.”
Merle also said that DNA was collected at the scene for testing. “They said they were waiting on DNA for months,” Merle told Dateline. “And then finally they said the only DNA they had was Alan's.”
Merle found that strange. “You sit there and watch these programs and stuff that happened 30 years ago, they’re pulling up DNA. You know, so why couldn’t they find any DNA?”
Dateline reached out to the Claremont Police Department to learn more about Alan’s case.
“It’s an active investigation,” Lieutenant Karlan Bennett told Dateline. “It’s under investigation, and I’m not going to share any information.”
Merle Lindley says he was told the same thing. “They told me right from the get-go that there's no such thing as a cold case,” he said. “And that they're always active.”
Still, Alan Lindley is an entry on a page called Cold Case Homicides. According to the Claremont Police Department’s site, there are six homicide victims in Claremont whose cases are considered cold. They date back to 1985. Alan Lindley is the most recent addition to that list.
The top of the page states, “These cases are placed on this site with the purpose of gaining information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible for these crimes. We, and the victim’s [sic] families, know that, in each of these cases, there are people who know who killed these victims.”
Merle Lindley and Alan’s friends are hoping someone comes forward with answers.
“He didn’t deserve to die that way, nobody deserves to die like that,” Alan’s friend Karrie Johnson said. “He was a very awesome person. He would take anybody in, give the shirt off his back. You know, he was a caregiver. A very kind, giving person.”
The Claremont Police Department Cold Case Homicide page states that anyone with information can contact them at 909-399-5421. You can also provide tips anonymously to the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers who will forward your information to law enforcement. The tip line is available 24/7 at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.lacrimestoppers.org.