Mad Mama!

May 14, 1907
Highland Park

Yesterday’s claim by young  Merrill "William" McCormick that his mother Janette had been falsely dragged off to the bughouse as part of an elaborate interfamilial inheritance scam has been roundly denied by Arthur Randall, real estate man and the owner of the home on Avenue 66 from which the lady was seized.

Randall not only refutes any cousinship to the unhappy Mrs. McCormick, but insists that she is no heiress, but rather a con-woman with a long history of defrauding innkeepers and imposing upon the kindness of friends.

Mrs. McCormick is described as about 45, and handsome woman and a good talker, who is estranged from her family and separated from her husband. She was a cousin to the deceased husband of Randall’s sister, Mrs. H.K. Pratt, who lives next door to her brother and their sister Mrs. Mabel Bennett. Out of consideration for that slim tie, McCormick and her son were recently welcomed into the Bennett-Randall manse when her habit of masquerading as a woman of means in order to secure fancy hotel lodgings for which she could not pay reached its inevitable conclusion.

But after a few days residence, McCormick’s odd, oftimes abusive behavior became distressing to the siblings. They believed her to be insane, and while sympathetic, demanded that she find alternate lodgings. She responded with a threat upon Randall’s life, so he swore out a warrant for her arrest. The lady ran away ahead of the Sheriff, but returned to break a window, whereupon she was captured.

Randall expressed concern for 15-year-old Merrill, a strong boy who ought to be working rather than following his mad mama from hotel to hotel, absorbing her weird fantasies and parroting them back at police officers. Randall offered to help the boy, but Merrill refused, insisting he would stay with friends and fight for his mother’s freedom and the vast fortune of which she was being deprived.

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Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

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