Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: William Overson

"At a Loss"

Overson, hit by two of the nine shots fired at him, was declared dead an hour later at a hospital, and detectives were left with a mystifying homicide. The attack did not seem to be a simple carjacking since the Mitsubishi was quickly abandoned. The getaway rendezvous indicated a carefully planned crime involving at least one accomplice.

William Overson
William Overson

It did not seem like a random attack. Other vehicles had passed the same spot moments before Overson without being set upon. But why would an attacker lie in wait at 9:00 a.m. at that particular location, and why would he target Overson?

"We were at a loss," one San Diego cop said.

Overson, one day short of his 71st birthday, was general manager of Tecolote Canyon Golf Course, an inexpensive par-three course adjacent to a nature park about a mile east of traffic-clogged Interstate 5, owned by the city of San Diego. Police scrutinized Overson's professional and personal life but found nothing to foretell violence. Overson had been born in Salt Lake City and raised in Washington. After a stint in the Army in the 1950s, he had built a successful life as a businessman in Burlington, Vt. Over the years, he had owned tire companies, a Dodge dealership and a real estate agency. He had two children, Mike and Kristin, and four stepsons. In the late 1980s, Overson and his second wife, Rosemary, traded New England's climate for sunny San Diego. She worked as a pediatric hemotology/oncology nurse, and he dabbled in real estate.

Tecolote Canyon Golf Course
Tecolote Canyon Golf Course

Overson decided to retire early when he turned 60, but he wasn't ready for a rocking chair. He had always been passionate about golf, and he took a job working a few mornings a week as a course ranger at Tecolote Canyon. The manager there recognized Overson's business skills and his tireless and personable personality, and offered him a full-time job. That led to a position as general manager at Lomas Sante Fe Country Club, a posh, private tennis and golf facility in Solana Beach, north of San Diego. After six years there, Overson returned to Tecolote Canyon in 2001 as general manager.

He and Rosemary were on the verge of retiring again in the spring of 2004. They had sold their house in El Cajon and had purchased a motor home, planning to fulfill Overson's lifelong dream of touring the country at a leisurely pace. But his dream was snuffed out by the bizarre ninja attack that April morning.

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