Everybody Has to Fall Some Time

Luther Green headline

February 4, 1927
Los Angeles

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.”

Angels My Eye

waituntilspringbanditosFebruary 3, 1927
Seemingly Everywhere

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.

IamtheyeggmanBut 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.  

Does Not Necessarily Result in Better-Smelling Bandits

January 30, 1927
Los Angeles, CA
 
banditry 
Today was a good day to be a bad guy in Los Angeles, and a profitable one, too.  Calls to police flooded in from the terrorized, the carjacked, the held-up, and the home invaded, for a total of 16 robberies and 30 burglaries in a single day.

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.

The Dare-Devil Club of Gardena

Get Your Boy Ready for Crime School!January 29, 1927
Gardena

The Artful Dodger would have been nothing without his teacher, Fagin, but the Dare-Devil Club of Gardena didn’t need anybody to train them in the techniques of thievery—they did it themselves. Indeed, the cops called their social club a “crime school.” Today, on the cusp of the club’s first “graduation,” police arrested five of its officers, all between the ages of 10 and 14. The charges? Burglary. The enterprising young criminals first broke into the Gardena schoolhouse. They also plagued Gardena resident T. Tsuchiyare, breaking into his house on three separate occasions and stealing his Kodak camera, jewelry, even the money from his children’s piggybanks. The boys are scheduled to appear before Judge Archibald next week. Further arrests are expected before then.

Bad, Bad Bert Best

Bad Bert HeadlineBad Bert

January 21, 1927
Los Angeles

Edward W. Xanders (aka Bert Best) was extradited from Portland, Oregon today to be tried for a series of robberies and burglaries committed in Los Angeles over the Christmas holidays.

Lindley mansionXanders spent most of the day with sheriffs, trading quips and calmly confessing to a litany of misdeeds. He admitted to burglarizing the home of John Lindley near Azusa (see photo), and he has also said that he and his crime buddy, Ray E. McCoy, robbed famed boxing manager Jack Kearns.

It was through his confession that police learned that Xanders and McCoy had stopped Kearns’ car on a lonely road near the beach. While the stick-up was in progress, a policeman had approached the car to see if the men needed assistance. McCoy jabbed a gun into Kearns’ ribs and told him to keep quiet, or die. Always the glib talker, Xanders chatted with the cop, offered him a cigar, and sent him on his way.

Xanders admitted to police that he had been in court a few times during 1926. He stated that he had been granted probation on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. It was during that case that he had told the court that a childhood head injury had led him to a life of crime. According to his story, ever since he had received the blow to his noggin, he has had an irresistible urge to commit crime. Based on an alienist’s report, the judge recommended that Xanders, if willing, should undergo an operation to relieve pressure on his brain. Xanders declined to have the surgery.

With the nasty pressure still on his brain, it wasn’t long before Xanders was in court again. In making his plea for probation, he said that he’d been offered employment for two years on a ship headed for the South Seas. The judge felt compassion for the youthful crook and gave him four years of probation, on the condition that he would accept the job and sail off into the sunset (and out of this jurisdiction) for at least two years. Of course Edward never boarded the ship; he stayed in Los Angeles and continued his crime spree.

Edward is still a young man, and his penchant for crime may easily lead to another crack on the cranium. Maybe a second smack upside the head will put him on the straight and narrow.

Hickmaniana

January 23, 1927
Los Angeles

hangingaround

Following up yesterday’s story about whether one Ray McCoy was lynched for looking too much like Edward Hickman…

The verdict of the Coroner’s jury?  Jail officials and other prisoners, all vindicated.  Nevertheless, it seems that Ralph “Ray McCoy” Fuller raised the ire of Angelenos in the grip of Hickman fever, whose Hickmanmania (Hickmania?  Hickmentia?) led an angry mob to chase down and beat Fuller something fierce, believing the twenty year-old to be Hickman, after Fuller robbed a store at 242 South Main and was chased two blocks on foot.

Fellow prisoner Fred Meadows told the Times that once in the hoosegow, the sullen and reserved Fuller was regarded as just another popped burglar.  Meadows related how he and the boys started playing “Sundown” in an outer tank and when he returned, Fuller had hanged himself with Meadows’ scarf.  (Must be nice to have scarves.  And pianos.)

In other lynching news, any and all information regarding Hickman’s departure and route from Pendleton (where he was exhibited in a cage like a circus animal) to Los Angeles County Jail is being kept under strict secrecy.  

damnyoufriedrich 

Little Girls Lost

December 5, 1927

juneMr. and Mrs. Jack Laughlin of 2115 S. Harvard departed for a weekend getaway in San Diego, leaving their daughter, June Blossom, 14, in the care of their housekeeper and family friends.  After saying goodbye to her folks, June invited her friend Mary Jane Carroll, 13, over for the weekend.

Sunday afternoon, the girls went outside to play, and vanished.  Shortly after their disappearance was noticed, the blue dress and sandals that June had been wearing that day were found in a nearby vacant lot.  When the Laughlins returned, they found that in addition to a missing daughter, about $4000 worth of clothing and tapestries were missing from their home.

So sinister-sounding were the facts surrounding the disappearance of Mary Jane, and June that it seems impossible that the incident wrapped up as happily as it did.  As it turns out that the whole thing could be chalked up to a case of "girls will be girls."maryjane

On December 6, Mr. Laughlin and Mr. Carroll set out to pick up their daughters from a San Diego hotel.  The girls had skipped town on a lark with the intention of surprising June’s parents in San Diego.  Unfortunately, they’d left around the same time that Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin had started home.

No word on how June’s clothes turned up in the lot, or the whereabouts of the missing tapestries; however, the most precious cargo was accounted for, albeit in deep, deep trouble.

Who’s Been Stealing Our Food?

stealing our food headline

November 26, 1927
Universal City Three Bears

A thief entered Alex Succetti’s home on Moorpark Street while Alex and his family were away. Behaving more like Goldilocks in the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” than a modern thief, the stranger made himself right at home. He pulled open the door to the ice box, stuck his head in, and poked around until he found a chicken cut up and ready for cooking. He lit the gas stove and fried the bird until it was crispy and golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside – in other words, just right. Then the bandit sat down at the dining table with his entrée and a few yummy (and just right) side dishes that he had found while rummaging about in the kitchen, and ate his fill.

Rather than heading off to one of the bedrooms to take a nap following his hearty chicken dinner, the crook decided to pack up and head for home. He stole the family phonograph, as well as twenty five hens and twenty baby chicks from the henhouse in the backyard. But he wasn’t finished yet. The bandit loaded his car with the loot, then returned and disconnected the gas stove and took it away with the rest of the plunder!

A word of caution to the unknown bandit — in Roald Dahl’s retelling of the “Goldilocks” tale in “Revolting Rhymes”, the criminally minded little girl meets a cruel end. The little blonde fiend breaks into the home of the bear family and trashes it. Displaying an utter lack of regard for their belongings, she destroys their valuable antique furniture, gobbles up their food, and soils their freshly made beds with her muddy shoes. Thoroughly ticked off by the wanton destruction of their home, the bears administer a bit of rough justice and devour the little brat.

GAR Blimey

confessionNovember 24, 1927
Long Beach

Frank E. Foster once stared down the blazing Enfields and Richmonds of Johnny Reb, Bragg’s cannons and Forrest’s cavalry, but it took some punk kid from Long Beach to put him down for good. 

That punk kid is Richard Robert Haver, 16, whose penchant for driving other people’s cars landed him in Chino, where police interviewed him today about a spate of Long Beach robberies last September.  Sure, during one robbery he pushed an old man.  Haver hasn’t been told that the old man died.  

“I saw him coming, although it was dark,” Haver told Detective Sergeants Smith and Alyes.  “At first I tried to avoid him by slinking back against the wall, hoping the man wouldn’t see me.  But he grabbed me by the coat with both hands.”  (Apparently the 85 y.o. Foster figured the whippersnapper wouldn’t be reconstructed.)  “I kept pushing him into the screen porch where he slept.  The door was open as I rushed for it and I pushed the man out of the way.  He tripped on the steps and fell outdoors onto the sidewalk.  Then I ran toward the front of the house and headed for the ocean.  I’m sorry I pushed him so hard, now that I know he is an old man.”  Haver’ll be sorrier once the authorities inform him that, on top of being popped for the eight homes he ransacked while the occupants slept (earning him the sobriquet "The Pants Burglar", in that he stole away with trousers in the night and emptied their pockets), he’s a murderer.

(Haver was sent to the State Reform School to remain until he turned 21, at which point the courts would again pass upon his case; the papers make no mention of that event or its outcome.)

quails!In further news of the Boys in Blue, another Damn’d Yankee, this one in Spokane, has problems of another variety.  “I’m living on borrowed time,” said Enoch A. Sears, 84, “far past my allotted three score and ten, and I only want peace and quiet.”  He has filed for divorce from his wife of one year, and has departed his home, leaving it to his wife, 59, and her mother, 79.  Enoch simply stated he was “too old to become accustomed to living with a mother-in-law.”

Don’t &#*% With the Librarian

librarytheftThese days, if you make off with a stack of library materials, the Los Angeles Public Library will report your thieving name to a collections agency.  But library bandits of yesteryear like 20-year-old Clyde M. Thompson faced much stiffer penalties.

A librarian at LAPL noticed that the copy of Eugene O’Neill’s controversial play All God’s Chillun Got Wings was at large, and traced the missing copy to Thompson.  About 30 library books were found in Thompson’s home at 1406 E. 110th St., and he was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 2 days for each stolen book.

samuelwardlawDuring the 1920s, the Los Angeles Public Library employed detectives to investigate thefts and mutilation of library material.  A 1929 Times article featured the efforts of Special Investigator Samuel Wardlaw, a man as hardcore as he was humorless.

 
He interrogated patrons in the stacks when he observed them hiding books, and once used a sorority pin to track down a young woman who tried to sneak a rare volume of Chaucer out under her coat.  While he seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for the children he captured, Wardlaw regarded most library patrons with a certain degree of contempt.  He said, "Sometimes I think the Los Angeles Public Library must be on the mailing or calling list of every crank and eccentric in the West."
 
While the library detectives frequently visited people at home to reclaim stolen books, it was rare that criminal charges were pursued.  No particular reason was given for poor Clyde Thompson’s exceptionally harsh sentence.