I had Mr. Pyne for English in my junior year.

I had Mr. Pyne for English in my junior year.

I had the good fortune of sitting at the same table as Louise Good Hernandez at the 45th Class Reunion, and for some reason,  the subject of former Burbank High teacher, Raymond Pyne, came up. He was my English teacher in my junior year and perhaps some of you had him for English, also. 1967 was apparently his first year at Burbank High. I recall coming home on weekends during my college years, and reading about a story in the Burbank Daily Review of a murder committed by a Burbank High teacher, but I couldn’t remember who it was. So it was Louise who gave me his name.

The Burbank Daily Review ceased publication in 1985, but is archived at the Burbank Public Library, where I sent my sister, Margo (BHS’70) to read the old microfilm. The story was on the front page of three consecutive issues, January 23, 24, and 25, 1970. Here’s what she found out.

Raymond Pyne was Sandy Wilkes’ 12th grade English teacher.  After she graduated, he asked her for a date.  At that time, he was age 28 and described as charming and jolly in public by the Wilkes family.  They married, and within two weeks he exhibited a violent, uncontrollable temper.  Pyne assaulted her by choking her, and threatened to kill her.  An arrest warrant for battery was issued. He once said he wanted his wife to die like Romeo and Juliet.

A few days before she was killed, Sandy filed for divorce.  Pyne had been roaming her parents’ neighborhood where she was staying, threatening to take his own life.  She talked him out of taking his own life and told him she loved him and would stand by him, but she was too afraid to live with him.

Sandra Wilkes Pyne, BHS'69

Sandra Wilkes Pyne, BHS’69, age 19, was murdered by her husband, former BHS teacher Raymond Pyne

She had been living with her parents for about two weeks.  On Thursday morning about 8 a.m., January 23, 1970, her father, Guy Wilkes, went to the backyard to start the car before taking Sandy to work at Technicolor, where they both worked.  Pyne pointed a rifle at Wilkes’ head and demanded to talk to Sandy.  After asking Guy for the keys to the house, Guy yelled to warn the family.  Mrs. Wilkes tried to phone for help, but the phone was dead.  Sandy, meanwhile, ran out the front door to head to a friend’s house.  Pyne heard the door slam, and ran to the front of the house.  He pursued her, aimed, then shot her in the head, killing her instantly. Guy Wilkes, who had followed Pyne, shot at him, but missed.  He later said he didn’t shoot again because there were other people standing around. He ran to help his daughter, and was holding her when she took her last breath. Pyne drove away in a leased 1969 black Cadillac.

The incident was witnessed by five teenage boys.

Police think Pyne may have spent the night on the back porch.  An army-type jacket, trench coat, flashlight, and tire iron were found there, plus numerous gum wrappers.

Pyne had resigned voluntarily from Burbank High School after his second year of teaching, and was to have started a new job the next day.  He surrendered to Burbank Police on Saturday afternoon. On February 21, 1971, he pled guilty to first degree murder and sentencing was set for March 26, 1971. He was incarcerated for years, but by 2010 he was paroled, according to Linda Mustion who writes a blog about deceased Burbank High Alumni. Apparently Raymond Pyne was also a Burbank High alum, class of 1959. Louise Hernandez remembered that the Pyne family moved from Kenwood Street before he became a teacher at Burbank High, and that there were other siblings.

I found Raymond Pyne’s obituary at redding.com:

Raymond Pyne, 72, of Cottonwood died Thursday at Mercy Medical Center in Redding. Arrangements are pending at Allen & Dahl Funeral Chapel in Redding. Published in Redding Record Searchlight on July 6, 2013.

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5 responses »

  1. Greg Horton says:

    My dad worked at Technicolor with Sandra’s dad. What a heart breaker it was for the employees who worked there when they heard the news. My dad was really upset and if I remember what he told me over the course of the trial, Pyne got off light and everyone was pretty bitter about that. Sad times.

    • j mills says:

      I was 2 when she died. She was my aunt, believe it or not I remember 1 night with her. She bought me a purple plastic vw car. My mom said she would take me in the real vw for rides to put me to sleep. This was a tragedy for our family, growing up my grandparents were never the same I was told. I miss them and her.

  2. Holy mackerel! Can I link this story to “Burbankia?” (http://wesclark.com/burbank/)

  3. Norine Gledhill says:

    I remember when this happened and was very saddened at the loss of Sandy who was always smiling in the sewing class we took together. I believe she graduated with me in 1969.

  4. Charlie says:

    Sandy and I grew up together; lived on Stanford Road – my first kiss. Her loss still saddens me. A reminder of how one evil person can devastate a wonderful family and affect so many others. Her memory remains a source of inspiration.

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