The Case of the Walking Wristwatch

Hear this case recounted live on KPCC radio’s Pacific Drift L.A. noir episode.

December 18, 1947

Two years ago, Mrs. Mary Louise Loftus rented a room in her home at 6429 Primrose Avenue to a (seemingly) nice young man whose height and cherubic features earned him an occasional paycheck doubling for Orson Welles. John Abernathy made such a good impression on Mrs. Loftus that she entrusted him with taking a broken diamond- and sapphire-studded wristwatch down to the jewelers. And that was the last she saw of Abernathy until…

… driving near Sunset and Laurel Canyon Boulevards last night, Loftus thought she spotted Orson Welles standing on the corner. But everyone knew that Orson was in Rome making Black Magic and mourning his split from Rita Hayworth. Ergo, that had to be Abernathy taking his evening constitutional! The lady called the cops, who located Abernathy in his nearby apartment at 8117 Sunset and took the kid down to the Hollywood Jail. The charge: grand theft, wristwatch, for the missing bauble was valued at $750.