Details of Disappearance
Sol resided in Northridge, California with his wife, Elaine Salomon
; their daughter, Michelle Houchman
; and their son, Mitchel Salomon
. The family was from Israel and lived on Lassen Street at the time.
Sol was last seen with Harvey Rader, a British citizen, during the day on October 12, 1982. Rader owned Mr. Motors of London, a car dealership in Reseda, California at the time. Sol invested $20,000 into Rader's business during the year. Michelle and her three family members disappeared during the day and have never been heard from again.
Authorities discovered small splatters of blood in one room of the family's residence. A piece of carpet had been removed from the floor and covered with a bathroom rug. Water was running into the family's pool and a baseball bat was located near the bar.
Each of their beds had been made, which Elaine's mother, Margaret Malarowitz, described as uncharacteristic of the family. Some of the family's passports, wallets and photos were discovered scattered along the Antelope Valley Freeway near Acton, California on October 17, 1982, five days after the family disappeared.
Authorities received a break in the case in October 1983, one year after the family vanished. Ashley Paulle, a cabdriver from London, England and Rader's cousin, claimed that he witnessed Rader shoot Sol on October 12, 1982.
Paulle said that he and Rader buried Sol and the other family members in the desert near Acton, where their personal belongings were discovered after their disappearance. Paulle stated that Rader and Sol had an argument concerning Sol's investment. The other family members were murdered as well, since they knew Sol was with Rader the day he was reportedly killed.
Paulle demanded immunity in exchange for his testimony from prosecutors. Authorities believed that Paulle was more involved in the crimes after his request was granted and he took a polygraph exam. Investigators announced that Paulle failed the test and charged him as an accessory in the murders and revoked his immunity. The charges against him were eventually dropped and he returned to England.
Rader was arrested for the family's murders in August 1988, immediately after his release from an Arizona prison after completing a sentence for passport fraud. Paulle refused to return to the United States to testify against his cousin.
The evidence against Rader was circumstantial. Three defense witnesses claimed that they saw Sol in Carpinteria, California after the family vanished. One of the witnesses was a civilian dispatcher for the Carpinteria Police Department, who stated that she saw Sol inside a pharmacy after October 12, 1982. Her statement was supported by the pharmacist, who agreed that Sol was the person spotted inside the business.
Rader's defense attorneys claimed that Sol and Elaine were having marital problems in 1982. They also said that Sol was involved in illegal drug and firearms trades at the time he and his family vanished. Their loved ones and the prosecution denied the allegations.
Rader's case ended in two mistrials before he was acquitted of any involvement in July 1992. He continued to maintain his innocence in the cases afterwards. Rader sold his story and hoped to turn the events into a television film in 1992. He wanted to remain in the United States, as his former wife and their child reside in the country. Authorities considered deporting Rader back to Great Britain after the conclusion of his trial.
Rader was also the prime suspect in the 1982 California disappearances of Peter Davis
and his wife, Joan
. The couple's cases remain unsolved, but officials believe that Rader may have killed them after a business-related dispute. He was never charged in connection with their disappearances due to a lack of evidence.
Rader's cousin claimed that he assisted with the burial of the Salomon family's remains in the desert near Acton, California in 1982. Investigators conducted extensive searches in the area throughout the years, but no evidence related to the cases was uncovered. They family has never never been located and their cases remain unsolved.