ORINDA (AP) -"She didn't have an enemy in the world" said the husband of murdered East Bay socialite Barbara Bates Keenan as detectives searched yesterday for a motive or suspects in the slaying. The 42-year-old wife of Oakland insurance executive Harold F. Keenan was found dead Friday afternoon in the kitchen of their home in the wooded hills of Orinda. The Contra Costa sheriff's office said Saturday an autopsy showed she was shot three times with a small caliber gun, once in the head and twice in the body. Mrs. Keenan also had been struck in the back of the head, apparently with an iron. The cord was found wrapped around her neck, the sheriff said. "I have no understanding of how this thing happened or why," said Keenan. "It's inconceivable." Sheriff's investigators appeared equally baffled. Intensive investigation, which included door-to-door neighborhood checks, produced no suspects or motive. Keenan said his wife received a phone call shortly before he left for work Friday and arranged one of her frequent tennis games for later that morning. The game lasted until 11:30 a.m. and what happened later is speculation, but Keenan said he believes she was attacked shortly after she returned home. Mrs. Keenan's daughter, Margaret, 14, discovered the body after walking home from school. Her son, Harold, 16, who had previously come home but had not seen his mother, called the fire department, the sheriff's report said.
Her husband, Harold F. Keenan was cleared of any involvement in the murder of his wife, leaving investigators scratching around for any conceivable motive for the murder of Barbara, an educated and popular woman in the Orinda community. It has been estimated that the murder occurred shortly after she arrived home around noon.
There is no suggestion that the Zodiac Killer had any involvement in the murder of Barbara Bates Keenan - only that he may have targeted the Orinda residence of the Adams family to create the notion that he may have been. Some Zodiac researchers have contemplated the idea that the Zodiac Killer may have read about the Adams family in a November 17th 1968 Oakland Tribune newspaper article that featured the Adamses home. The newspaper article, available on ZodiacKiller.Net, focused heavily on the design of their home and garden, referred to the family as the "Adamses", and showed an image of Mrs. Edward Adams.
Although this was featured many years earlier, in 1959, a photograph of Barbara Bates Keenan was shown in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper in the Pictorial Living section under the title of "A Hillside Home in Orinda". This article also placed the home and garden front and center of the publication, along with an an image of Barbara Bates Keenan and her dog.
The newspaper article also showed an image of her kitchen, where sadly she would be found viciously murdered just 11 years later. Hal Keenan wrote on April 10th 2014 "Thinking of my mother today. She passed away on this day in 1970, brutality murdered in our home sometime around noon. My sister and I found her when we came home from school. The photo is from May of 1959 when our house was in the Pictorial Living section of the SF Examiner. Gone but not forgotten. RIP Barbara Keenan". Closing in on the 53rd anniversary of the murder, time is not on our side in finding the perpetrator or perpetrators in the callous murder of Barbara Keenan, but hopefully one day, some answers may be found.
Thanks to Jibberjabber for his assistance in this matter.