Kim and Nathan on the radio Friday morning

For those of you in LA or with fast internet connections, we’ll be on Indie 103.1 with Joe Escalante around 7am west coast time on Friday, talking about the Five Most Mysterious LA murders and the upcoming Crime Bus tours. Expect us to be deliriously punchy, or to throw punches.

Tune in here:

Kim & Nathan

A Trip Across County Goes Awry

Aug. 23, 1907
Los Angeles

William Renwick, recent graduate of Pomona College, was to attend Yale in the fall, and rather than more mundane modes of travel decided to head East by auto in what he hoped would be the first transcontinental motor tour to begin in Los Angeles. To ensure that he arrived on time, he left in his Olds machine July 23, accompanied by professor E.E. Chandler.

A modern criminal interlude

My North East Los Angeles neighborhood has been experiencing a period of unusual criminal activity in recent days, with an AK-47 attack on two police officers, a mother and teenager stabbed by the father of the woman’s younger kids and the truly shocking arrest of a veteran fire fighter on suspicion of running over a naked woman and leaving her dead in an Eagle Rock street, with a trail of gore leading from his house.

When trusted citizens go ape and kill, one expects at least the barest attempt at a cover up. If David Del Toro did what he is accused of, the crime suggests a terrifying arrogance.

When this story broke, I couldn’t help but recall the ghastly discovery made last October, inside the Los Angeles Fire Department repair yard at Pasadena Avenue and Avenue 19. A woman’s torso was found there; her legs showed up in trash bags on the street in Pico Rivera.

Del Toro was assigned to Fire Station 1, less than a quarter mile from the repair yard. A few minutes ago, when I saw the photos linked in beFrank’s blog ("discovery" above), I got chills. See, I didn’t realize when I read about the crime at the time that the body was in the dumpster–I just rashly assumed someone tossed it over the razor wire fence in some gesture of defiance at the Man.

But if it was in the dumpster, that means the killer was inside the secure lot and seeking to conceal it, but not all that carefully. Arrogantly. An act not so far from running a woman over and leaving parts of her pointing to one’s own door.

And even if Del Toro had nothing to do with the torso, one has to wonder if the people who had access to that yard were looked at as potential killers, or as fellow civil servants, always a possibility when a member of a brave brotherhood turns bad. Because a woman died horribly a few nights ago, and if this is no coincidence, her blood is smeared a lot farther than half a mile.

Del Toro is currently free on $1 million bond, and that should give you chills, too. 

Accepting pre-reservations on next two crime bus tours

Gentle rider,

The Crime Bus Tour will ride again in September and October, and while final details are still being worked out before we can begin selling tickets, we are accepting pre-reservations to make it easier for interested passengers to fit us into their schedules.

Note that our regular 5 hour Crime Bus tours cost $47, but it is possible that the Dahlia tour will be both shorter and less expensive.

The upcoming tours are as follows:

1) The Real Black Dahlia, Saturday 9/16 and perhaps also Sunday 9/17 (to coincide with opening weekend of the Black Dahlia film), in which we will visit many of the places Elizabeth Short actually frequented during her time in Los Angeles, including the spot where her body was found. The tour also includes scenes familiar from many of the weird theories surrounding her death, and a presentation by myself and Nathan on Dr. Walter Bayley, the only viable suspect ever proposed by a crime researcher, our 1947project colleague Larry Harnisch.

2) Halloween Horrors, Saturday 10/21, our darkest tour yet, featuring the most horrible, weird and disturbing stories uncovered in our researches. This tour is not recommended for children or the faint of heart, and you might want to bring your own barf bag.

If interested in either tour, please email me with your name, phone number, and number of tickets desired. For the Dahlia tour, note if you can attend Saturday, Sunday or either. This does not obligate you to buy tickets, but you’ll get first crack at them when they are available. If it’s the Pasadena Confidential tour you wish to ride, let me know, as it will give us an idea of the demand and help determine when to schedule the next run.

Of Boxing and Booze

August 14, 1907julepnomore
Los Angeles

Colonel and Cracker alike are swarming our borders!

Dateline—The Peach State—Sherman’s march to the coast was less an indignity than that done by the last state election:  all liquor establishments are to be outlawed on January 1.  Now the march is of capital out of Georgia—an estimated $3,000,000 in taxes and licenses in 08.  As the steady, self-righteous hand of the WCTU has not as yet clamped itself upon the great metropolis of Los Angeles, wholesalers and barmen alike are arriving en masse.  

Those in the LA liquor trade welcome our Reb brethren, at least so that they may assure their bit by securing locations and concessions for the newcomers.  The local liquor lobby has hit up City Hall for an extension of the Liquor Zone, and has petitioned to increase the number of saloons in LA to 250.

Despite a collective Angeleno fondness for drink, it is the civic duty of 1947project to provide a temperance lesson:

Some years ago, Harry Stuart was a pugilist of renown, his nose broken repeatedly in the ply of his noble trade.  Then, as a barkeep on West Third, he was LA’s authority on the pugilistic arts, and oft served as referee for Tom McCarey’s Fight Club, which held forth in the old Hazard’s Pavilion (in 1907 the site of the great Auditorium facing Central Park).  Stuart was famous for the way he yelled “b-r-e-a-k!” that amused spectators; his downfall was an unpopular decision in the ring which awarded a trophy to colored boxer Billy Woods, over Al Neil.

Bad luck turned worse after Stuart built a fight club at the westerly end of the Third Street tunnel, which prompted uproar from the tony neighbors.  The City Council passed an ordinance confining such clubs to a certain district in the Eighth Ward.  To make matters all the more discouraging, Stuart was stung by a spider on his left eye, destroying the sight thereof.  

He found menial employment soliciting monies for a weekly publication, and after collecting nearly $100 ($2,052 USD 2006), decided to go on the drinking spree to end all drinking sprees.  It lasted three weeks.

After the money was gone and the booze was consumed, he wrote notes to his wife in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Coroner, and his employer.  In them he stated that drink had put him “down and out” and that he had nothing to live for.  From his note to the Coroner:  “Booze has been the cause of my downfall, and I am daffy…my wife will meet the expense of having my worthless body burned.”

Stuart, after losing his last fight, this one to a bottle, swallowed a solution of bromide in his Bunker Hill room at 244 North Grand.