Adrian Darren Bonar, 34, of Escondido was an Iraq War veteran who ended up dying in a noir dime novel come to life. I realized this when I read through an Oct. 19 press release from the Anaheim Police Department and the same sentence kept poking me in the eye:
Bonar is known to frequent motels in North San Diego County and Los Angeles County.
What the hell did he do in life to deserve that kind of send-off? It’s bad enough everyone in Southern California has already been gawking at his body, wrapped up like a mummy in a blue tarp and duct tape and then stuffed in the trunk of a Lexus that had been abandoned on the side of Santa Ana Canyon Road. Anaheim PD found the car last week, and discovered Bonar’s body when they had it towed.
“Bonar is known to frequent motels in North San Diego County and Los Angeles County,” states the Oct. 19 Anaheim PD news release. “Detectives are asking anyone who has had contact with, or has seen Bonar over the past few weeks, to please call 714-321-3669.”
Other than his age and city of residents, that “known to frequent motels” is literally the only identifying detail about Bonar included in the Anaheim PD press release (his having fought in Iraq came from KTLA, which located his Facebook page).
What does the phrase even mean? That he enjoyed travel but lacked the money to stay in “finer” accommodations?
Of course I’m making a bitter joke here. “Known to frequent motels” is an old and prudish phrase that calls up images of seedy rooms, crime-ridden neighborhoods and prostitution. It’s a cheap but colorful line that makes you think of old pulp novels, and of course it’s appeared in all the local coverage of Bonar. I also found it in this 2018 story about how former MTV VJ Jesse Camp went missing and this 2017 story about a woman charged in a Buena Park killing.
As an experiment, I put the phrase into the Newspapers.com search engine. I got back 39 matches, dating back to 1964. In each case, the phrase was used to describe some sort of criminal or prostitute:
The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), Dec. 19, 1964: “A spokesman for the Ramapo police said this week that underworld characters were known to frequent the Motel.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 20, 1982: “Police said Hopkins [a fugitive] is known to frequent motels in Kentucky and Ohio.”
The Herald (Crystal Lake, Illinois), June 26, 1985: “Both women [murder victims] were known to frequent the motel area by Sea-Tac airport where most of the 29 Green River victims [who were “mostly prostitutes”] disappeared.”
The Republic (Columbus, Ohio), July 2, 1988: “Police were labeling the death a ‘homosexual homicide’ because of witness statements and because Jackson was found nude. Gay men were also known to frequent the motel, police said.”
Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), April 11, 1995: “Walker, known to frequent motels on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Jefferson Avenue and in the Denbigh area, is wanted on armed robbery and use of a firearm charges.”
Look, I have no idea what Bonar was doing, if anything, before he was killed. I have no idea why he was killed. All I do know is that he’s dead.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.