Long Beach police officials have announced a potential suspect in the 1975 shooting death of Officer Franke Lewis.
The suspect is described as a black male with a medium build and black hair who went by the name of Bobby and was living in Central Long Beach during the time of the murder.
The man spoke of killing a police officer in 1975 or 1976 but did not say when or where it happened, according to detectives who received the information.
Authorities said it is possible Bobby drove a black top over blue 1970s Pontiac Bonneville or Fleetwood Cadillac.
Detectives also learned that other black males and females were present with Bobby when the murder happened, and another person of interest is described as a black female who would have been 18 to 20 years old at the time, and known by the nickname “Spider.”
According to authorities, on December 13, 1975, Lewis was driving home at about 3:00AM after having completed his shift when he spotted suspicious activity in a car parked a few doors down from his Long Beach house in the 6200 block of Cantel Street, police said.
Investigators think Lewis parked his car and walked toward the disturbance to investigate and was shot as he approached.
The gunman had attacked a man named Denis Gitschier—a teacher at the time and graduate of Cal State Long Beach— who pulled off the freeway to sleep after feeling tired.
According to Gitschier, he was knocked unconscious after the first blow to his head. He had left his door unlocked, thinking no one would try to steal it while he was inside.
Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Months later, on March 12, 1976, Lewis’ police badge, badge holder and identification were recovered from a vacant home on 1915 South Acacia Avenue in the city of Compton. His duty weapon remains outstanding, officials said.
Authorities said they received several tips regarding the suspect vehicles, possible vehicle owners, and possible suspects since publicly announcing the reopening of the case during a November 3 news conference.
The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) also announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Lewis’ murder, with a possible $25,000 increase pending approval by the Long Beach City Council.
On November 4, officers distributed flyers and canvassed the Compton neighborhood where Lewis’ badge and police identification were recovered.
Long Beach police urge anyone who recognizes “Bobby” or who knows the identity of “Spider” to contact Long Beach Homicide Detectives T. Johnson, S. Robertson, or M. Bigel at 562.570.7244. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call 1.800.222.TIPS (8477), or text TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.
Photos courtesy of LBPD.