Of Pachydermatae and Murder

shootinMarch 2, 1927
Los Angeles

The Wonderly shooting of Emerson over an elephant’s affection has been continued until March 15th.

George “Scottyâ€Â Wonderly is the keeper of the bloodhounds for the studios, George Emerson, trainer of the lions at Universal City.

The story has a Old West theme to it to boot: on 15 February last, the two were arguing over the affections of said elephant at Universal. Wonderly called Emerson out; Wonderly strapped on his single shot .45 and there, on a rain-soaked muddy street, surrounded by wooden shacks and gambling dens and dance halls, Emerson staggered and twisted and slowly fell, a bullet through his breast, out his back, and lodged into the Last Chance Saloon. Elephants and the Old West, together again.

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Here, Wonderly shows how his beloved raised its trunk…and went on to maintain that he acted in self-defense.

And of the love that dare not trumpet its name…the true heart’s desire of the elephant remains a sweet mystery.

Modes of Banditry, 1927

February 28, 1927
Los Angeles

Drivers in lonely climes like Topanga Canyon have recently been distressed when stopping to check on a "possum bandit" found napping in the middle of the road. Of course when the do-gooder leans over the prone figure, he leaps up with a gun, steals their valuables, and races off much faster than any marsupial.

Meanwhile, at 317 1/2 South Berendo, two dandified thieves of an agonizing refinement relieved Albert Zigman of $125 cash and $700 in jewels in his own apartment. The victim described one man as having kept his hands in his pockets while gazing at a picture on the wall, as the other flicked cigarette ashes from his lazy perch on the davenport. Shortly afterwards, they relieved neighbor Michael Kreel of his extraneous possessions before slipping off into the night with a yawn and a whip of their cashmere scarves.

The Apple Box Kid and Miss “I Love L.A.” of 1927

February 8, 1927
Los Angeles

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 “Sack Murder” of San Fernando

December 26, 1927
San Fernando, CA

boundwomanThe body of an unidentified woman was discovered off of Mulholland St. (now called Foothill Blvd.) in San Fernando today.

Her hands were bound across her chest with twine.  Her knees were bent, and her feet tied to her back with a length of cord.  Her body had been wrapped in canvas.  She had been struck in the forehead with a blunt instrument; however, a preliminary autopsy revealed that the blow was not hard enough to have killed her.  Most likely, she was knocked unconscious by her assailant, tied up, then left to die of exposure.

The dead woman was approximately 45 years of age, and was found wearing a black crepe dress, "cheap cotton underwear," and hose.  Her shoes had been removed.  She had false upper teeth and a scar.  She had been drinking the night she was beaten and left to die.  She had been dead for approximately 24 hours before she was found, and lay in the San Fernando morgue for four days until she was identified as Amelia Appleby of 229 N. Hobart Blvd.

The fourth wife of a wealthy Chicago inventor, Appleby had inherited a $1 million estate upon his death, taken the money, and moved to California.  She was not well-liked by her late husband’s family, nor by her Los Angeles neighbors, who described her as "eccentric" and "a troublemaker."  However, she did have one friend who cared enough to tell police what she knew.  Prior to her death, Appleby was known to keep company with a "doctor" named Charles McMillan, 57.  Appleby had confided to her friend that she feared McMillan would kill her if she refused to marry him.

McMillan was rounded up at his 531 S. Western Ave. apartment, where police found him poring over a stack of Appleby’s personal papers.  They later found more of her personal items, including her diamond jewelry, in McMillan’s possession.  Police investigators later found two versions of Appleby’s will, one which left her estate to McMillan, and another which left it to a long-lost daughter, although her relatives claimed that she’d never had a child.  Neither will was signed, and both were strongly suspected to be forgeries.

The evidence against McMillan was circumstantial, but strong.  The stolen papers and jewels, a blood-stained jacket, the forged will, and the fact that he was the last person to be seen with Appleby were enough to convince jurors of his guilt.  McMillan was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on February 24, 1928.

News of the Day

December 22, 1927
Los Angeles

Let’s put up our feet and see what’s gone on in the world this day.  Not much.  The odd curiosity or two.   
hemp
According to our concerned friends at the paper, it seems the Mexicans are making a menace of themselves, using flowers of the “hemp” plant as some sort of habit-forming drug (they’re such a resourceful people!).  Apparently the Imperial Linen Products Company has blanketed the Imperial Valley with the stuff.  Well, I’m sure the State will sort this one out to everybody’s satisfaction.

 

 

onelastcigOh dear, here’s another fellow who just couldn’t resist a final cigarette.  Seems J. B. Smith left the wife at his Glendale home and checked into the LaViolette Hotel on North Maclay in San Fernando.  He brought with him a stack of goodbye letters indicating his fears about going mad, and a loaf of bread—not for snacking, but for soaking in water and wadding into the wafty windows and drafty doors (my hat off again to the resourcefulness of our Southlanders).  Of course, no-one banks on the dang’d jets taking so long.  Thankfully J. B. also brought along a pack of smokes to pass the time…the hole blown in the wall was six feet in diameter.  J. B.’s smoldering remains lived long enough to say goodbye to his wife at the hospital, but not much longer than that.

ostrichmanAnd oh my, it seems one of my favorite attractions of the stage, Sidney Barnes the Human Ostrich, has expired in New Orleans.  After complaining of stomach pains, the Homo Struthio underwent an operation to remove a cigar box full of bolts, carpet tacks, razor blades, washers and nails from therein—Barnes did not emerge alive.  Guess growing up to be a carnival side can be rough, kids!

 mistakenidentity

And what do have we here…a Coroner’s inquest will be held at 1:30 today to determine whether Ralph McCoy, in City Jail on suspicion of robbery, actually hung himself in his cell or was killed by fellow prisoners—it seems McCoy bears (well, bore) a resemblance to one William Edward Hickman.

Oh yeah.  Hickman.  Some mention in the paper about him, too.

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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.

A Close Shave

 heeats

showoffOctober 13, 1927
Glendale

Last week we told you of the extrahuman feats of two and one-half year-old Virginia Mae Pike.  And now, collector of tale of childhood freakdom, comes two and one-half year-old Jimmy Baker Bogart.

The Pikes were fond of fumigators; the Bogarts, rusty razors.  They’d leave them lying around until they’d accumulate sufficient rust to look tasty enough, one supposes.  In any event, just such a brown’d blade seemed worth experimenting on with a new set of teeth, so li’l Jimmy bit off a chunk of Gillette. Though Mrs. Bogart pulled the major portion of our erstwhile whisker remover from Jimmy’s mouth, she watched a good piece of it go south.  The hastily summoned physician, apparently seeking to avoid the imperative and serious operation, put JB on an oatmeal and potato diet and that was that; the razor remain was satisfactorily dissolved within.

One wonders if li’l Jimmy grew up to develop a pathological aversion to the “safety” device, or if, conversely, having developed a taste and his inclination, went on to ingest the objects for a living.

allgrowdup 

Have a Zesty Labor Day!

September 3, 1927
Los Angeles

If you’re planning to escape the heat this Labor Day by going boating on Lake Arrowhead, don’t forget to take along your radio!

Radio

Born Out of Tragedy

August 22, 1927
Van Nuys

orphan One August night in 1927, Edgar Burnett of Van Nuys shot his wife, then turned the gun on himself, leaving their four children orphaned.  The children were separated, and taken in by different families.  Eleanor Ray Burnett, 7, was adopted by a wealthy Anaheim family; Ermie Jean, 3, was sent to Toronto to live with Miss Myrtle Hendrie; and Edgar Jr., 16 months, went to a Van Nuys family.

And today, the Burnett’s newborn daughter, Nona Lee, was adopted by Patrolman James Hayden of the Van Nuys police station and his wife.  Nona was only 5 days old at the time of the killings, and the babe had been in her mother’s arms when Edgar Burnett fired the fatal shots.  In 1927, it was reported that the Hayden’s would rear Nona "never to know the tragedy of her early life," or about her brother and sisters.

However, at some point, the Hayden’s must have decided to tell Nona the truth about her past.  And it seems a good thing they did.

You see, on Halloween night, 24 years later, 24-year-old Louis Shandra wrote a note, and went to his estranged wife’s apartment.  The note read, "I am going to kill my wife and myself tonight.  I love her more than anything else in the world."

guntragedyShandra had recently served 30 days for beating his wife, Carmela, who had moved into her own place while Shandra was in jail.  He went to the apartment at 808 E. Palmer Ave., Glendale, and shot Carmela to death with a rifle in front of the couple’s 2-year-old son, Bobby.  Then, Shandra went into another apartment in the building, and killed himself.

A Ventura housewife married to Deputy Sheriff Warren Paul read about the tragedy in Glendale, and was so moved that she and her husband offered to adopt the child themselves.  Nona Hayden Paul told the Los Angeles Times the circumstances of her early childhood and said, "I wondered what would happen to that poor little boy.  I talked to my husband about it and we’ve decided we’d love to raise him on our own."  Warren Paul agreed readily – he, too, had been adopted as a child.

 
No word on whether the adoption ultimately went through, or whether Mrs. Paul was ever reunited with her lost brother and sisters.  Here’s hoping. 

Angelenos Run Amuck in One Day Crime Spree!

July 30, 1927
Los Angeles and its crime ridden suburbs

This has been a mad, felony fueled day in the Southland, and there isn’t even a full moon! We have four tales of crime including a beating, triple poisoning, robbery and assault, and finally the murder of a policeman in Arcadia by three wayward youths. Read them at your leisure, or devour them all at once.

Mystery Girl

A severely beaten woman was dropped off at Culver City Hospital by three men, who then sped away. The victim’s identity has not been confirmed, but she is believed to be Vivian Edwards of 501 S. Rampart. The injured woman lapsed in and out of consciousness. Finally in a moment of lucidity, she said that she had been assaulted by a man named Dick Burk. No trace of her alleged assailant has been found. The young woman’s injuries are critical and it is feared that she may die.

 

 

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Trio Poisoned

In Glendale, a wealthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Armstrong and their nurse, Mrs. M. Woolf, are recovering in the Armstrong’s home at 1311 Rossmoyne, after having been poisoned with arsenic. The couple’s servant, Ray Tayama, is being sought in connection with the crime. The missing domestic had been discharged by Mr. Armstrong earlier in the afternoon, and as a farewell gesture Tayama served the three people coffee laced with arsenic and then vanished.

 

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Are these the only cases from the police blotter today? Don’t be ridiculous! The mayhem continues…

Wife Hovers

Ex-con and bail jumper Paul Knapp spent the day in the arms of his lovely wife Josephine, while she tenderly patted his cheek and vociferouslyPaul Knapp declared his innocence of robbery and assault. Josephine may be confident that her husband is guiltless of the charges against him, but his record speaks persuasively to a life of crime.

Paul was a cop in Seattle from 1919 until 1923 when he was dismissed for being absent without leave, refusal to obey orders, and for participating in a liquor hi-jacking. He was busted in Los Angeles in 1924 for attacking a woman, but he fled before he could be tried. By 1925 he was in Portland doing fifteen months in McNeil Island Federal pen for impersonating a Federal officer.

In April of this year, after vowing to shoot it out with the law, he was cornered by police and wounded in the shoulder. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and as a fugitive from justice. As if those charges weren’t enough, he was also wanted in Seattle for jumping bail and in Portland for violation of the Mann Act!

Earlier this month, a court order allowed the bandit to be released into the custody of two deputy sheriffs so that he could visit a dentist – whose office was conveniently located across the street from his mother’s house. Paul asked his custodians if he could be allowed to use the bathroom at his mother’s place. The police acquiesced, and once inside the Josephine Knapphouse the bandit’s cagey spouse and his wily mother engineered his escape through a trap door in the closet of the home, while the clueless officers continued to wait for him outside!

Following his escape, Paul and Josephine reunited and hid out in a small apartment at 1057 South New Hampshire which had been rented for them by an accomplice known to police. On a hunch, Detective Lieutenant Hull of the Central Police Station investigated and found Paul and his wife at the apartment. The couple’s crime partner is being hunted.

Paul’s mother and his wife have been accused of conspiracy for engineering his Houdini-like escape. A glimpse into the future finds Paul sentenced to from sixteen years to life in the state pen. His mother and his wife will seek probation, but no word if they’ll be successful.

 

 

 

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Had enough crime yet? Neither have we…

Police Slaying

Our final story for this summer day in July of 1927 is a tale of flaming youth and flaming guns! Frank Miller

Under arrest for car theft and the murder of Arcadia police officer Alfred Mathias are: Frank Miller, 18 years of age, 820-1/2 West Third Street, accused of the actual slaying; Ray Oddell, 18, Fourth and Beaudry streets, confessed driver of the get away car and Miller’s accuser. Also in custody is William Montfort, 21, 903 West Fifty-ninth Drive who admitted to have been along for the ride, but claimed to be ignorant of his two companion’s hold-up plans.

Ray OddellThe three boys have been friends since meeting in the State reform school at Ione. Both Oddell and Montfort credit Miller with being the brains of the outfit and insist it was he who formed the plan to rob a barbeque stand in Arcadia, which resulted in the shooting death of Officer Alfred Mathias.

The boys were sitting in the stolen automobile when they were approached by Officer Mathias. The cop asked Oddell for the car’s registration. Miller spoke from the back seat and told the officer he had the pink slip. Mathias thought the young man was acting suspiciously and asked “what are you sitting on?” Frank whipped out his gun and demanded that the officer “stick ‘em up”. Mathias bolted and headed for the rear of the car as Frank fired, leaving the policeman dead in the parking lot. William Montfort

Set the time machine for two months hence; September 1927. Frank Miller will plead guilty to murder and auto theft and will be found guilty. He’ll be lucky. The jury will recommend that the youth not hang, but rather spend one year to life in San Quentin. Frank’s partners in crime Ray Oddell and William Montfort, will face similar fates.

 

The flaming youths burned out…and so have we! What a day!