A Last Letter

April 9, 1927
Los Angeles
Three years ago there occurred one of the most gruesome crimes in Los Angeles history—the slaying of May and Nina Martin, twelve and eight.  They disappeared from their home at 2854 South Mansfield on the evening of August 23, 1924.  On February 5, 1925, their battered and strangled bodies found were found by rancher Leo Saulque while he planted oats on the Anita Baldwin estate.  “I have prayed to God that He might enable me to find my children,” said Mrs. Paul Buus, the girls’ mother.  "My prayers have been answered—now I’ll pray that the brute who lured them away and then killed them will be caught—and God will answer my prayers.”

One Scott Stone, a night watchman in the Glen Airy district where Mrs. Buus and the girls lived, was meanwhile arrested on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Circumstantial evidence linked him to the Martin slayings and on October 1, 1925 he was indicted for murder.  It seemed that Mrs. Buus’ prayers had been answered.

But Mrs. Buus had trouble—as did others, including the DA—with the concept that Stone would go to the gallows after having been convicted without evidence beyond reasonable doubt.  She wrote Governor Young, pleading for Stone, and asking the executive to relieve her of the misery that would follow the execution.  And so Stone, on the very morning of his hanging, March 10, 1927, had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.  (Jack Hoxie stated that he was “mighty, mighty glad” for the decision to spare his stepson’s life.)

Today Mrs. Buus wrote a belated but nice letter to Stone, saying she was happy his sentence had been so commuted.  Where her heart went from there we do not know.

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