Mother of Three Choked to Death; Body Flung in Signal Hill Oil Field

May 12, 1947
Long Beach

While driving to his post early this morning, oil company patrolman Bert Winfield made a ghastly discovery, just a block from busy Long Beach Blvd. There in the dirt of the oil field was the body of a woman, still warm and apparently but recently hurled from an automobile. The victim’s clothing included one open-toed white shoe, a three-quarter length black coat and a cotton garrote around her neck.

Seeking to identify her, reporters on the Long Beach newpaper police beat canvased local dry cleaners about a laundry mark on her coat and got a name: Mrs. Laura Eliza Trelstad, 37. Soon they had a husband, too: Ingman Trelstad, 34, 2211 Locust Ave.–just a dozen blocks from his wife’s dump site in the 3400 block of Locust.

Ingman Trelstad described his last encounter with his wife for Long Beach Det. Capt. Lorin Q. Martin. The couple had been playing cards with some friends in the late afternoon, and Mrs. Trelstad grew bored. If he was going to play cards, she said, then she was going to a dance. Mr. Trelstad went home to cook dinner for the couple’s three children, Audrey, 8, Janet, 7, and Thomas, 3. When Mrs. Trelstad failed to return home, he said he couldn’t go out and look for her, as there was no one else to watch the children.

Meanwhile, Coroner’s Surgeon Frederick Newbarr made a preliminary examination of the body and announced that Mrs. Trelstad had been sexually assaulted before death. Police called for the public to be on the look out for the missing white shoe, which might be at a primary crime scene. They also requested that anyone who might have seen Mrs. Trelstad at a dance last night come forward to give a statement.