Robert Liberty first met Marcela Landis in an Orange County, California, mental institution, where both were confined after failed suicide attempts. He was attracted to the woman, eight years older than himself, and their relationship appeared to blossom on release, but Liberty was closer to the edge than anyone had realized. In 1966, he strangled Landis in her Westminster apartment, laying her body out on the couch with a Bible on her chest and candles burning at her feet. When the police arrived, he sat nearby, strumming a guitar by candle light and humming to himself. The courts found Liberty insane and packed him off to a state hospital for treatment. He was released September 15, 1969, after a panel of six psychiatrists voted him sane, no further menace to society. As we have seen too often in the past, their vote of confidence was rather premature. On March 12, 1970, in Huntington Beach, California, Liberty shot and killed his former roommate, Thomas Astorina, in an argument about a television set. Police were still without a suspect three months later, on June 7, when authorities in San Diego found the battered corpse of Robert Irion, age 53, in his apartment. There were candles burning near his body, and a note was mounted on the closet door. It read: "The candlelight killer strikes again." Investigators learned that Irion and Liberty had logged some time together, in the state hospital, and the killer's MO made a positive match. Liberty and a female companion had fled San Diego in Irion's car, but they were captured three days later, by police in Colorado Springs. Returned for trial, the slayer with a taste for candlelight would find the courts less sympathetic on the second time around.