Serendipity credited for Russian Hill murder arrest

November 8, 2010 6:53:01 PM PST
A combination of luck and instinct helped San Francisco police capture a parolee suspected in the Russian Hill murder of a socialite.

Police arrested Scott Gary Holland for the murder of 46-year-old Kathleen Horan in her home on Oct. 29.

Holland had been hanging around Point Lobos and 48th Avenue near Sutro Park. Witnesses say he acted like he was homeless and spaced out. The arresting officers wondered if he needed medical help, not knowing he would later become the suspect in a high profile murder.

Holland was a parolee convicted of attempted murder 11 years ago in Fresno. On Oct. 29, police say Holland dressed up as utility worker, entered an apartment building on the 900 block of Chestnut Street and knocked on Horan's door.

"This defendant was a true predator and put him out in a position of trust to this victim so she opened that door," District Attorney Kamala Harris said.

Police sources say Horan was brutally beaten.

Holland has been charged with murder, robbery, burglary and attempted rape.

ABC7 has learned that his arrest last Friday at Sutro Park was a combination of serendipity and good police work.

"Right there, a few feet away from the tree, just lying in full view of customers here," Seal Rock Inn manager Rick Landerman said.

Landerman says Holland was sleeping across the street from the hotel cafe the day police caught him and earlier in the day, Holland even came into the hotel lobby.

"He looked a little out of it and his demeanor when he was standing across the street was sort of looking out at the distance spaced out," Landerman said.

Police Captain Rich Correia happened to be eating at the cafe at the time.

"We asked him to take a look at that person and have him move on," Landerman said.

Correia confronted Holland, asking if he was homeless and needed help. He learned Holland was a parolee of a violent crime.

Police will not say what led to his arrest on the murder charge, only that he acted suspiciously. Landerman says Holland did have visible wounds.

"His face had scratches on it and that his hand looked like it was bandaged," Landerman said.

Landerman added that Holland was not dressed as a utility worker the day he was arrested.

Horan's parents told ABC7 last week they were confident police would find the killer.

"The city should be proud of what they have in their law enforcement; they're remarkable people, they're dedicated people," Bill Horan said.

The Horan family is now home in San Diego, but Horan's uncle asked that ABC7 convey their gratitude to the city and police department.


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