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In Memory

Robert Briskham Samuels



Sep. 20, 1948, Craven County
North Carolina


Dec. 7, 1988, San Fernando, Los Angeles County, California

Bob grew up in Santa Ana, California. He graduated from Santa Ana Valley High School.

He always loved photography. Bob was a diligent hard worker. Finally he landed his dream job. He worked behind the scenes on many well known films in Hollywood, as an assistant camera man. The hours were long but Bob loved his work.

In 1980, at the age of 32, Bob married Mary Ellen Gurnick. He adopted her young daughter and loved her as his own. He was madly in love with Mary Ellen. He thought he had everything he had always wanted. He had a beautiful wife and a ready made family. Bob was a kind, patient, hard working and loving family man.

After 6 years in a very problematic relationship, with several separations, Bob bought a condo for Mary Ellen. Bob hoped Mary Ellen would curtail her partying and care about their relationship. They lived apart for the next 2 years. He continued to pay for her daughter's private school. He supported Mary Ellen emotionally and was her sole financial support. Bob hoped the relationship would improve. Finally in 1988, he accepted the fact that Mary Ellen had no interest in curtailing her party habits and the marriage really was over, a long time ago. Bob decided to divorce Mary Ellen. 

Within weeks, Bob was killed in a murder-for-hire plot, arranged by his estranged wife Mary Ellen Gurnick Samuels. They were not yet divorced, so she inherited Bob's home and everything that he had worked for 20 years to save. She collected on his life insurance. She claimed to be a grieving widow but wouldn't even place a headstone on Bob's grave. Bob's dearest friends and his sister provided his headstone.

Due to lack of evidence, no one was charged with Bob's murder. At first it seemed that Mary Ellen would go scot-free. Eventually, she had a falling out with her drug dealing friend, Jimmy Bernstein, the hit man who she had paid to kill Bob. 

Mary Ellen hired Paul Gall & Darrel Ray Edwards to kill Jimmy Bernstein. After Bernstein's murder, Ann (Paul's girlfriend) turned them all in. Paul Gall testified against Mary Ellen. He has served his prison term and has been paroled. Darrel Edwards is still in prison. In 1994 Mary Ellen was convicted of 2 counts of 1st Degree Murder, she is currently serving a life term in a California prison.

Bob was a kind hearted nice guy, who was well liked by all who knew him. He died at the age of 40 years, 2 months. Bob is buried at Santa Ana, California.

I'm not telling any secrets. Bob's story has been shown on national TV. Bob's story was chronicled on an episode of "Nothing Personal".

R.I.P. Bob.

Source of article: Ancestry.com, "Find A Grave"  




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04/20/16 09:05 AM #1    

Carolyn Tupper (Griffith)

This was so heartbreaking to read this morning.   Bob, you did everything right and left this world too soon.  May you and your legacy be remembered for many more years to come.

04/20/16 11:24 AM #2    

Sandra Remboldt (Hindman)

Such a sad story...my prayer is that Bob had a relationship with Jesus...because that is all that counts in this world.  I don't really remember him but my heart hurts for him.

04/20/16 11:54 AM #3    

Dale Richard Brown

Bob was a good friend all thru elementary, junior and senior years...a good man gone too soon. RIP

04/20/16 04:39 PM #4    

David Bakke

My brother Dan and I were close friends with Robert and his brother Frank. This shocking story was also profiled on the TV program FBI files.  Robert was a good friend-a very interesting and caring person.   RIP

04/20/16 06:55 PM #5    

Rose Ann Tapp (Nygren)

So sorry to read this sad story. You were a good man and deserved so much more. May you rest in peace Bob.

04/21/16 06:16 AM #6    

Annette Voissem (Student)

From around 1952 to about 1974, the Samuels' family lived two houses down from my family's house on Bristol Street. There were only five houses facing Bristol on our block between Wilshire and Edinger. They are all gone now. Bob and Frank were really nice guys. They also had a little sister, we knew as SuSu. Bob's death is a terrible tragedy, but one we hear and read about so often. A sad loss of a really wonderful human being. I also hope he knew his Savior.

04/21/16 10:28 AM #7    

Paula Pletcher (DiLuigi)

I remember talking to Bob and Mary Ellen at the 20 year reunion in 1986.  He seemed really happy and so proud of his work.  I would have never imagined the darkness in Mary Ellen that have precipitated the horrible chain of events only two years later.  

04/21/16 03:22 PM #8    

Janis Walton (Patton)

I had a class or two with Bob at Smedley - he was always very nice.   After high school, Bob would go with my sister Cheryl Manatt to all the Elvis concerts - she paid his way and he took photos of Elvis for her - she was always an Elvis nut.  We were all so proud to hear he made it to Hollywood to be a cameraman on some Mel Gibson movies!.   What an awful way for it all to end for him!   Rest in peace, Bob.

08/18/16 05:16 PM #9    

David Cupples

Bob would come in to the Boathouse every now and then. I knew he was a Hollywood cameraman, had a beard, real handsome, really looked the part. had a great laugh. I knew that he'd been murdered by incredibly, his wife. what a tragedy.

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