October 9, 2011
Los Angeles, California
Today is the 21st anniversary of my ex-partner’s murder. Here is his story IN MEMORIAM:
I knew and worked with many highly dedicated and decorated cops over the decades. Dozens of names come to mind. Men and women who served in silence–unsung heroes. Most are long retired, and many have passed on. There is one, in my eyes, who stands a little taller and straighter than the rest–Detective III Russell Lee Kuster. At Hollywood Homicide, during the 1970s and 1980s, Russ was my friend and partner, and later promoted to Detective III and became my supervisor.
Old Hollywood Police Station and Hollywood Receiving Hospital circa 1969. Ironically, this station, my and Russ Kuster’s duty assignment for 17 years, was the same police station where in 1950, a total of 18 LAPD and DA investigators were “staked out” — 24-7, listening to, and recording, Dr. George Hodel’s conversations. Telephone lines were leased and ran from our Franklin House to the basement of this police station, a distance of– 2 ½ miles. The six-week surveillance (Feb 18-March 27, 1950) ended abruptly, only because George Hodel fled the country, leaving the detectives with their bugs and microphones still concealed inside the residence walls. The DA/Hodel File consists of 146 typed pages of summarized conversations from over one-thousand man hours of police surveillance.
Four years after my 1986 retirement, Russ was off-duty, about to have dinner at a Hollywood Hills restaurant, when Bela Marko, a parolee with a history of violence, armed with a laser-sighted 9mm automatic, became enraged after an argument with the restaurant owner. After being informed that Russ was a police detective, Marko without warning, turned and fired six shots, striking Russ in the upper chest and heart. Though mortally wounded, Russ managed to pull out his service revolver, and return fire, also striking the suspect in the chest. Within minutes, both men lay dead on the floor..
On October 10, 1990, (my father’s birthday) I got the early morning phone call that no cop ever wants to receive. It was from Hollywood Detectives, informing me of my ex-partner’s murder.
Here is the story as told in the
Memorial buttons worn at Russ Kuster’s funeral
Five days later, I was in
Russell Lee Kuster, “a cop’s cop”, was one of LAPD’s greatest detectives, a proud professional; he inspired all who were privileged to know him. May he R.I.P.
Russ Kuster was truly one of the department’s finest. Here is a photograph from 1983 taken at my Detective III, promotional party. D3 Russ Kuster is presenting me with a plaque congratulating and thanking me for my 17 years’ service at Hollywood Division,
Detective III’s Steve Hodel and Russ Kuster-1983
REST IN PEACE RUSSELL LEE