The kidnap and murder of 17 year old Lily Burk, daughter and only child of Southwestern University School of Law Adjunct Professor, Deborah Drooz, on the afternoon of July 26th casts a long shadow. Lily was picking up some papers for her mother at the landmark Bullocks-Wilshire campus in Los Angeles. When Lily approached her car, she was kidnapped by 50 year old parolee, Charlie Samuel. Samuel, just hours before, received a pass to leave a drug rehabilitation facility. Within minutes, surveillance cameras show him driving Lily’s Volvo away from the campus with her as a passenger. The aim of this kidnapping was presumably to secure cash from an ATM.
Footage taken at 3:35 p.m., about 30 minutes after she was abducted, shows Lily walking with Samuel up to a Union Bank on Second and San Pedro streets in Little Tokyo, where Lily tried, but failed, to extract money from an ATM using a credit card. Deeply troubling to police and many others is the fact that the bank video shows people walking past them, and even shows a customer using the ATM as they both walk away. Yet, through all this, Lily does not call out to them for help. The unsuccessful ATM outing presumably evoked Samuel’s wrath. Close to 4 p.m., Lily called her parents, asking how to withdraw money using a credit card. Lily’s parents advised her the card could not be used for that purpose.
At 4:52 p.m., police say Samuel parked Lily’s Volvo at 458 South Alameda Street, about five minutes away from the Little Tokyo Union Bank. Police believe Lily, who was about to star in her school’s production of David Mamet’s, The Boston Marriage, was dead by 5 p.m., due to blunt force trauma to her head. Fingerprints lifted from inside of the Volvo have been matched to Samuel, who reportedly made incriminating statements to detectives after his arrest. He has been charged with capital murder, kidnapping, and two counts of robbery. The Los Angeles District Attorney will determine whether to seek the death penalty. Officials believe Lily was killed within about 45 minutes of her last call to her parents, and hours before she was reported missing.
The questions pour freely from the masses. How could Lily be in danger at a university campus in broad daylight patrolled by security guards? This is also my alma mater, and due to the heavy security presence, I always felt so safe on campus. Will Samuel receive capital punishment? What could this incident mean in the wake of California lawmakers considering cuts to the state prison budget that could mean early release for more than 27,000 inmates? In this age of instant communication, why are we more vulnerable than ever? My prayers are with Lily’s parents, family and friends, and may justice be served swiftly!