Crimes against persons
February 9, 1927
It’s a pretty simple scheme.
You own some stock. I approach and inform you that your stock is about to hit bottom. I suggest a trade—your stock for some of mine. The stock I’m offering you is about to go up, up, up, ya see. (Honestly, that’s the long and short of my plan; we swap my stock worth a penny for your stock worth a dollar—your greed does all the heavy lifting.)
When Mrs. Frances L. Derby of 502 North Ardmore was approached by some very nice men, she parted with 102 shares of John C. Frey & Assoc. worth $1,020, and 124 shares of California Guarantee Assoc. worth $498, and in exchange was given 4,700 shares of Silas Frank Mining. The Very Nice Men “talked down” her crummy old stock and represented the mining company stock as being worth $1 a share—when in fact it was worth 1 cent a share, or $47. Mrs. Derby was no ordinary rube, though, got wise, and alerted the authorities.
The aforementioned pleasant fellows being Leon F. Wessling, 36, and J. L. Johannes, 38. Detective Lieutenants Davis and Edwards of bunko detail say these two have, from their brokerage firm—a prestigious suite of offices in the Merritt Building—similarly swindled Los Angeles residents out of $75,000 in the past week.
According to Wessling and Johannes’ records, the duo finagled $18,000 out of one poor old widow alone.
Sad, true, but at least in a few years there’ll be a lot less stock to swindle.
The fourth in a series of bold daylight robberies of outlying classrooms has been reported at the Lillian School, near Holmes and Slauson Avenues. As a room full of terrorized seven-year-olds covered their ears and quaked, a tall, very slender negro relieved their teacher, Mrs. Ruth Hanna, of her handbag, which contained $20 cash. His weapon was neither gun nor knife, but his horrifying facility with curse words and threats. The criminal is suspected to be one William Tyler, known to police as "Stealing 24" and "The Apple Box Kid."
Meanwhile, in darkest Lankershim, Isabel Suaze, 15, is in hiding after hearing her parents’ plans for the family to return to their former home in Arizona. The girl is such a California booster, she’d rather become a street urchin than leave L.A. Here’s to a most discerning young lady!
The twisted tale of Avalona Carnevale began last December 8, when the 30-year-old housewife from Venice made a phone call to her jeweler husband, Vincent. She couldn’t meet him in Los Angeles after all; he should take the street car home. And with that, she disappearedâ€”-dressed in what was described as an expensive fur coat and wearing $1800 worth of jewelry (almost $22,000 today). Vincent waited two weeks, then reported her missing, along with her car.
Police originally suspected foul play. Then, on January 13, the Times ran excerpts from a letter Avalona had written to her parents the previous week. “Honestly, Mama dear,” it read in part, “I have wanted so badly to let you know I am all right. As you know, I have been perfectly miserable the last few years and I was never contented. The climax came and I simply ran away from everything and everybody.” She was happy now, living in Long Beach with “a real he-man” named Bob. Bob, in turn, enclosed a note telling Avalona’s parents that she was “in safe and devoted hands.”
Happy, safe, devotedâ€”-it sounded perfectly peachy. Until today, that is, when Avalona made a statement to the police testifying that she had been lured from home by “a Barnes City circus employee” who kept her in such a state of constant intoxication that “she was by turns both unable and fearful to leave him.” It started with a few drinks in the circus man’s room. From there they went to a hotel in Culver City, where more alcohol was consumed. Her “mind was somewhat clouded from that moment on,” she told police, but her drinking buddy eventually pawned one of her bracelets for $25, which he then spent on liquor. They went to San Francisco and later to Oakland. Avalona didn’t contact police in those cities because the man beat her frequently, and she was afraid he would kill her if she tried to leave him. Eventually she did, seeking refuge in the home of Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Chisholm. Mr. Chisholm sent a telegram to Vincent Carnevale a week ago, informing him of his wife’s whereabouts.
That letter to her parents, the one telling them how happy she was with her “he-man” in Long Beach? Avalona told police she “faintly remembered” writing it.
Her husband retrieved her from Oakland (both the car and the jewels were gone) a few days ago. “She is my wife; she is in my homeâ€”-that, I think is all the evidence you need of my intentions,” Vincent Carnevale told newsmen.
It was a noble sentiment, but it turned out that Carnevale had signed and sworn to a divorce complaint on January 31â€”-the day after he received notice that his wife was in Oakland. But just as Avalona couldn’t quite remember writing that damning letter to her parents, Vincent was sketchy about the divorce papers, which were filed with the court on February 7â€”-in error, according to Carnevale. “I did not mean to have the complaint filed,” he told the Times. “I’d forgotten all about it in my worry and joy at finding her [his errant missus] again. As far as I’m concerned, the matter is now a closed book.”
And so it remains.
February 4, 1927
A police dragnet is closing in on the killers of Luther H. Green. A member of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, Green was slain outside of his home at 1053 Bonnie Brae, as he attempted to thwart the hijacking of his $10,000 [$120,710.34 current dollars] stash of pre-prohibition booze. He was able to fire a single shot from his rifle before being mortally wounded by the burglers.
According to Chief of Detectives Cline, six men have been implicated in the aborted liquor heist. It is believed that the ringleader of the failed raid may be the notorious crook, Harry “Mile-Away” Thomas. Mile-Away’s mouthpiece, Attorney S.S. Hahn, told cops that he had conferred with his client and, “…he was not only a mile away this time, but sixteen miles away”. Harry and several of his confederates would soon be arrested in connection with Green’s murder, but none of them would ever stand trial for the crime.
More than a decade prior to the invention of Teflon ®, the often busted but rarely convicted non-stick felon would be released on the charges stemming from the Green killing. His lucky streak would end on the evening of April 21, 1927. Harry would be caught in a sting and gunned down by the law as he attempted to steal an expensive automobile from a private garage at 1408 West Thirty-Fifth Street.
Riddled with machine-gun bullets, buckshot, and slugs from police revolvers, Harry staggered from the garage and collapsed in the arms of a uniformed officer. Mile-Away’s last words before he succumbed to his injuries were “Everybody has to fall some time.”
February 3, 1927
It was another olla podrida fulla banditry in Los Angeles, which bubbled over and burned something fierce at El Molino and Ninth when a gent approached Frank Merlo, robbed him of $50 ($551 USD2006) cash and forced him to swap clothing.
Elsewhere, a truck containing $4,000 worth of cigars and tobacco, parked in front of the Glaser Brother’s establishment at 1028 Wall Street, just up and disappeared; a burglar capable of squeezing through a window not more than seven inches wide entered the Wrede Drug Company at 1327 Fairfax and made off with $200; persons unknown jimmied a rear door of Brunswig Drug at 4922 Santa Monica and btained $500 worth of cigarettes and delicious narcotics.
In residential news, Mrs. Elba Burdick was lightened of $1,000 worth of clothing, rugs and pesky jewelry that were cluttering up her place at 232 Carmelina Avenue; Nathan Lack now lacks one $600 diamond stickpin, formerly in residence at 831 South Harvard; Torato Nishlo was relieved of $500 in jewelry from 925 Hemlock; Dr. H. C. Hill of 806 Golden, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; Nathan Berger, of 2010 Brooklyn Avenue, also relieved of $500 in jewelry; and loot valued at less than $300 was pilfered from a dozen other residences, according to police reports.
Daylight is a good time to work as well—Sam Stone got his register rifled while looking the other way, Stone Furniture Company, 2711 Brooklyn Avenue.
But fret not people of Los Angeles! The bulls have pinched (another) gang of li’luns, ages 15 to 18, who now make the Alhambra pokey their new clubhouse. Their leader was busting into the home of an F. R. Lee on North Wilson when popped, and quickly gave up his younger cohorts—they of reputable local families—and location of purloined rugs, cameras, revolvers, and the black masks (cute—last year) they wore during their heists. The youth of these masked marauders may account for the ability to slip through Wrede Drug’s tiny window. Unless it was those fabled fascistic interwar little people.
January 2, 1927
The good people of Los Angeles were reminded today of a quieter, simpler time—a time known as "1921". A magical time of Teapot Domes, and Tulsa Tumults, and shotgun blasts to the face. We collectively remembered the sensational trial of Arthur C. Burch and Madalynne Obenchain, dismissed following jury disagreements, regarding the August 6, 1921 Beverly Glen shooting and .12 gauge buckshot that took apart J. Belton Kennedy’s head. (And now, our obligatory Kennedy "Gaelic For Ugly Head" Kennedy evidence: the shots were fired from a clump of bushes [California: growing better grassy knolls since 1850]; the first shot missed; there was a beautiful woman at the scene, and mysterious tramps…anyway.)
Seems that J. Belton’s father, John D. Kennedy, of 844 South Westlake, never got over the death of his son, or the exoneration of the accused. So today the sixty two year-old is in court on the charge of assault and battery. He headed over to the Terminal Warehouse Building on East 7th where Burch worked in the insurance game. As Burch was innocently hauling some fire extinguishers from one place to another, he suddenly heard “I’ve been waiting a long time but now I’ve got you!” – and was then struck in the face and seized by the throat, but was rescued before he felt the last bit of life choked from him.
Authorities were summoned, and said Kennedy the Elder, later, “The affair occurred when my emotions overcame me. I have no regrets and will gladly account for my actions at the proper time and place. When I went in the building no such idea entered my mind, but when I saw him [Burch] coming down the hall I could not restrain myself.
“This is the fist time I have met him fact to face since his trials for the murder of my boy. At the sight of him I was seized with a frenzy and choked him until he began squealing and they came and separated us.”
“I believe he has some pathetic obsession toward me,” Burch declared.
Mrs. Obenchain, living in seclusion in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the matter.
On February 21, John D. Kennedy changed his plea from not guilty to guilty and Municipal Judge Richardson gave him thirty days, suspended, with the caveat: that if Kennedy saw Burch coming, Kennedy was to “go to the other side of the street.”
That, Kennedy said, he could do.
Family annihilator George Hassell was convicted of killing his wife and her eight children by his late brother, and has an appointment with the Texas executioner shortly. While awaiting his last date, George recalled the wife he killed in Whittier in 1917 and the three children he buried with her beneath their little home at 236 South Whittier Avenue. There seemed no reason not to confess this, so today, with some direction from long-suspicious neighbor Myrtle Lark and a little more from the agreeable killer, Constable Bob Way crawled under the house and unearthed the body of an infant. Its mother and siblings soon followed, thus explaining the wretched odors that had long plagued the spot.
In slightly gayer news, the grand new Mayfair Hotel has opened in the Crown Hill district of Los Angeles, providing the ideal vantage point for a drunken oil company exec named Ray Chandler to hole up for days with his secretary while threatening suicide to all who’ll listen.
Poor Catherine Schmidt, a clerk at the Van De Camp bakery at 3601 Sunset, was robbed for the second time in a single week. The scar-faced stick-up man made off with $17, and Catherine recognized him as the same guy who’d rifled through her register just a few days previous.
Drug store owner Charles A. Elliott had already closed up shop when bandits struck, and was spared the indignity of having a gun waved in his face. However, his safe was cracked and $300 liberated, along with 22 pints of medicinal whiskey. Pharmacy grade — nice!
John S. Smith was held up at Mulholland and Laurel Canyon, and dragged from his car. When the thugs discovered that Smith didn’t have any money on him, they swiped his hat and coat and cut his ignition wires. Jack Olonglin was also stranded roadside when a carjacking pair set up a roadblock at Yale and Wilshire, and took $300 and two suitcases of clothing from him before disabling his auto.
K.E. Winters, laundry truck driver, was stalled at Avenue 37 and Dayton when he was set upon by another would-be robber. However, as Winters handed over the money, he whipped up a hard luck story about not being able to cover his bills as it was. His assailant took pity on him, and returned the money, saying, "Oh well. I guess I’m too soft-hearted to be a bandit anyway. Slip me enought to buy a bed and some eats and I’ll let you go."
Can’t believe that one worked, but nicely played, Mr. Winters.
January 28, 1927
The hunt is on for a cop killer. Traffic Officer Parley Bennett was mortally wounded when he attempted to halt a robbery at Brodin Millinery Company. Bennett was attempting to pull out his revolver when he was shot by the bandit. His weapon discharged as he fell, but fortunately no one was injured by the stray slug. Officer Bennett was dead before he hit the floor.
Parley’s widow, Elizabeth, received $1,000 [$12,071.03 USD 2007] worth of police insurance, and merchants on Los Angeles Street (where Bennett died) passed the hat and collected a total of $1,071 for the bereaved woman.
While the fallen officer was being mourned, more that 150 policemen searched in vain for his slayer. Chief of Detectives Cline stated that the search for Parley’s killer would continue indefinitely.
Although 250 suspects would be taken in for questioning, none of them would be positively identified by witnesses to the shooting. There would be the usual sightings of men answering the description of the desperado, but each suspect would ultimately be released. Eventually the leads would dry up, and Officer Bennett’s murder would remain unsolved.