The Murder of Donna Gentile: San Diego Policing and Prostitution, 1980-1993

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California State University San Marcos, 2012 – 105 pages
Donna Gentile, a young San Diego prostitute who had been a police corruption informant was murdered in June, 1985. Her murder occurred approximately a month after she testified in a civil service hearing involving two San Diego police officers, Officer Larry Avrech and Lieutenant Carl Black. The hearing occurred approximately four months after Avrech was fired from the police department and Black was demoted for their involvement with Gentile. Looming over the San Diego community was public speculation that Gentile’s killer was a police officer. Her murder was initially investigated by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and was later transferred to the Metropolitan Homicide Task Force. The task force was charged with the investigation of not only Gentile’s murder but also others that were believed to be a series of prostitute murders. Law enforcement generally considered prostitutes to blame for their own mistreatment and, therefore, they were often disregarded as legitimate victims of crimes. The establishment of the task force to investigate prostitute murders appeared to mark a change in those attitudes. However, this thesis argues that it was not a change because the task force’s function was to salvage the public image of the San Diego Police Department. This thesis consists of two components: a thirty-seven minute documentary film and three written chapters.

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