Nazis’ Victim Convicted in Slaying of Publisher

May 26, 1947
Los Angeles

Angelenos will recall the shocking case of linotype operator Otto P. Parzyjegla, 38, who on February 15 killed his boss, Alfred Haij, publisher of the Swedish newspaper California Veckoblad, in the paper’s print shop at 821 W. Venice Blvd. and dismembered him with a blade from the paper cutter.

The two men had been arguing for weeks, and February 15 was to be Parzyjegla’s last day, with a new operator due to arrive from San Francisco. Parzyjegla claimed that despite his being let go, he still took his job seriously.

Parzyjegla: I told Haij that the linotype machine needed attention. All of a sudden he ran wild and said, “You dirty German, you aren’t going to run my business.”

Parzyjegla, who is a Russian-born Pole, was held prisoner in a German concentration camp, during which incarceration he was tortured by standing in a fake execution by firing squad. He claims that being called a German, and a dirty one at that, triggered a dreamlike flashback state, during which he beat his employer to death. Then he pinched and hit himself, hoping to wake up, and realized it was real.

Within minutes, several people walked into Haij’s office asking for the publisher. Parzyjegla said that he was out, and locked the door. All day, Parzyjegla sat in the print shop with Haij’s body, wondering what to do. “Finally I thought of the blade on the paper cutter.” Wrapping rags around the blade, Parzyjegla dismembered Haij and packed the parts into cartons, cleaned the floor and burned the rags, Then he went home to 415 W. Jefferson Blvd., his 21-year-old wife and infant child. Around midnight, having been unable to sleep, Parzyjegla returned to the print shop with idle thoughts of disposing of the body—maybe he could rent a car, take it someplace—but police, alerted when Haij failed to return home to 1445 S. Hayworth Ave., were already in the vicinity.

Radio Patrolmen B.H. Brown and A.J. Drobatz spotted Parzyjegla in front of 1609 Cherry St., in the act of tossing Haij’s watch away, and observing his cut hand, took him to the print shop. There Parzyjegla promptly confessed and acted out the assault and dismemberment.

Noting that one of the anonymous Black Dahlia confession letters had clearly been prepared in a print shop, Captain Jack Donahoe of Homicide Division expressed interest in Parzyjegla and arranged a line up where six recent female assault victims tried and failed to recognize him.

In Superior Court today, in a juryless trial before Judge William R. McKay, Parzyjegla repeated that since 1939 he has been subject to black outs and “seeing red,” which he claims that he did before striking Haij. McKay convicted Parzyjegla of second degree murder, and invited him back on Thursday for sentencing of between five years and life.