location: The Auto Salvage Yard.
What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. An auto salvage
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. At 3245 Leery
Street, in Miami (a fictional address), according to a police print-out
that Dexter reads.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. In Episode 5 (of Season 1), "Love American Style".
Someone has been killing Cuban immigrants and dumping their bodies in Dexterean - including the husband of Rita's maid, who asks Dexter to help.
The police think it's a "coyote", an illegal smuggler who, once the refugees reach America, is holding them hostage and demanding more money from their families. If they don't pay up, he kills them.
Dexter finds out that the police have suspects but no warrants. He gets a list of the suspects and goes to visit the one whose address (Jorge Castillo) is closest to the park where the coyote told the maid's family to leave the ransom money. It turns out to be an auto salvage yard, piled high with old cars stacked one atop another
Dexter lets himself into the yard and looks around, noting that it would be a good place for a killer to work. But he is interrupted when the owner, Jorge Castillo, shows up and politely asks Dexter to leave.
But Dexter returns to the auto yard after dark. He goes into a storage building there, and finds old mattresses, food and other signs that the immigrants have been held there in squalid conditions. But there are no people there.
So, Dexter goes out to sea on his boat and photographs Castillo's marina home, feeling sorry for Castillo's pretty blonde wife. But Dexter returns after dark, sneaks aboard Castillo's boat, and finds the boat's hold filled with dead bodies submerged in water.
Castillo returns to the auto yard at night, holding at gunpoint a fresh batch of kidnapped Cubans, and locks them up in the storage building. Then he notices something strange: a series of lit candles leading to an old Airstream trailer. He follows them inside, to his doom, as Dexter closes the trap.
But Dexter is surprised when Castillo's wife, Valerie, suddenly appears, and is even more surprise when it becomes obvious that she is just as guilty as her husband. So Dexter kills both of them.
But when he's putting their remains in his car's trunk, Dexter doesn't realize that someone is watching him from inside the closed trunk of a junked Mercedes.
Before leaving, Dexter unlocks the storage building, allowing the Cuban captives to escape (after he is gone).
In the next Episode (6, "Return to Sender"), Dexter is called back to the auto yard, which is now a crime scene.
When he enters the trailer, Dexter is shocked to see Valerie Castillo's dead body lying nude on a table top. He knows that he threw her body in the ocean, meaning that someone must have dived to recover it, then brought it back to the murder scene. He knows it must be the "Ice Truck Killer", which means he has been following Dexter.
The police on the scene discover a young boy hiding in the trunk of the junked Mercedes - who witnessed Dexter's behavior the previous night.
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. An auto salvage
yard, but nowhere near Miami.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. The scenes were shot at LA Japanese Auto Parts, located at 9928 Glenoaks Blvd, in Sun Valley, California.
That's up in the northeast corner of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, about half a mile south of Hansen Dam, and about six miles south east of the San Fernando Mission (and its cemetery, where Bob Hope is buried).
( When Dexter arrives at the auto yard, he pulls in & parks his car via the gate entrance at the far southeast end of the yard, on Glenoaks Blvd, where you can see the white pick-up pulling in in this aerial photo. )
trailer appears to have been brought in for the TV shoot, but the
storage building is there, as are the rows and rows of stacked junked autos.
They even have their own website: http://www.lajapaneseautoparts.com
This auto yard
is only a block or two northeast of another "Dexter" location:
the Pink Motel (where the "Ice Truck
Killer" suspect is arrested), and is right next to (west of) the four
smokestacks seen earlier behind young Debra when she is shooting at
tin cans in a field.
[ And If you're
a fan of "The O.C.", you will
remember a scene in the pilot episode where Ryan Atwood is forced (by his
brother) to steal a car. That location (a strip mall) is only about a half
mile southeast of the auto salvage yard, as is the small house seen as
the Atwood family's original home in Chino.
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. This one was difficult. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of auto salvage yards scattered throughout L.A. County, and they basically all look the same when you are looking at them from above (via aerial photos). And to make matters worse, I couldn't even be sure that the yard was in L.A. They were still shooting some of their scenes in Miami when this episode was made (such as shots of Castillo's home). I started looking at salvage yards via Live Local's photos, but after going through dozens of them down by L.A. harbor, I began to think that it was a lost case.
But then, I lucked out.
Or, to put a more flattering spin on it, my keen eye spotted something in the second scene where Dexter returns to the auto yard after dark. For a fleeting second, a dark sign appears behind Dexter's head. I freeze-framed the DVD and hit the zoom button, and I could make out the words "LA Japanese". It sounded like an odd name for a salvage yard, but I went to the Yellow Pages and searched for the name. It came up quickly - out in Sun Valley.
It was then
that the Live Local aerial photos became useful again. Blowing up
one of their images, I was able to see the same sign in the photo, as well
as the same striped wall across the street, to the southwest (which is
visible behind Dexter in one shot).
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