Marion Linden’s Life of Crime, Part 1

In March 1932 the Elyria, Ohio Chronicle Telegram sang the praises of an Avon High School sophomore for scoring ten field goals, bringing his team to its eleventh straight win for the season. The young man had his whole life ahead of him.

Fast forward to Omaha, Nebraska, April 1936. Marion James Linden, former high school grid iron star from Ohio, was living up to the speed he showed in scoring ten field goals. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old was speeding towards a life of crime. Marion was busted for stealing two automobiles, kidnapping three men and staging a holdup in only 45 minutes. Quite an accomplishment.

News-UT-OG_ST_EX.1936_04_03_LINDEN_headlineWhy was Marion on a crime spree? He told reporters: “I wanted to commit self-destruction in such a way my insurance policy would not be invalidated through the suicide clause.” Suicide by cop would have been his parents the princely sum of $1200 (equivalent to $20,814.77 in current USD). No doubt the cash would have helped his family weather the Depression. Marion entered a guilty plea, but a few days later he reappeared in court and changed his plea to innocent. He was placed on probation for 2 years.

By early February 1937, Marion was living in Denver, Colorado. By mid-February he was in jail on a murder charge. Marion shot Arlene, his 18-year-old bride of two months, in the heart.NEWS-NE-EV_ST_JO.1937_02_22_LINDEN_headline

Marion believed that while he was in Texas trying to find employment as an oil field worker, Arlene was in Denver having an affair. When Marion returned from Texas he immediately went to the home of his in-laws, the Cochrans, where Arlene was staying. He told Detective Captain James E. Childers that he pleaded with Arlene to give up her lover, and when she refused he shot her. But there may have been more to Marion’s motive than jealousy. Capt. Childers quoted Marion as saying that a divorce would have revealed a violation of his Nebraska probation agreement and he would have been compelled to return there to serve out the three year sentence for his mini-crime spree in April 1936.

News-CO-GR_DA_TR.1937_04_24_LINDEN_headlineMarion was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. Judge Henry A. Hicks pronounced sentence–from seven to eight years in the state penitentiary. Lewis D. Mowry, Marion’s attorney, said that the his client had no plans to appeal, nor would he seek a new trial.

After serving only three years of his sentence, Marion was released in 1940. At that point he falls off the radar. Did Marion go straight? As an ex-con he may have found it difficult to get a fresh start, but If he committed any further crimes they weren’t newsworthy.

Marion resurfaced in Los Angeles in 1957 where he would once again be the topic of news stories.

Next time:Marion’s story concludes.

Film Noir Friday: Rebecca [1940]

rebecca1Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is REBECCA, adapted from a novel by Daphne Du Maurier and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This 1940 classic stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

 TCM says:

Maxim de Winter, who is in Monte Carlo to forget the drowning death of his wife Rebecca, meets the demure paid companion of matronly socialite Edythe Van Hopper and begins to court her. The girl falls in love with Maxim and happily accepts when he asks her to be his wife. The bride’s happiness comes to an abrupt end when Maxim takes her to his grand seaside estate, Manderley. There she is tormented by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who continually reminds the young bride of the great beauty and elegance of the first Mrs. de Winter and undermines her attempts to assert herself in the household.

Enjoy the movie!

 

Film Noir Friday–Sunday Matinee: Night Train to Munich [1940]

Night Train to Munich_10

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Today’s matinee feature is NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH [1940].  The film stars Margaret Lockwood and Rex Harrison.

I’m stretching the noir definition with this film–but maybe not to the breaking point. One definition of film noir is that it is “a film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace”. Certainly there are elements of noir in this  war-time thriller.  Has there ever been anything more more menacing than Nazis?

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

The Nazis invade Prague in 1939, and inventor Axel Bomasch, who is developing armor plating that is essential for Allied defense, attempts to flee to England with his daughter Anna. Anna is captured, however, and taken to a concentration camp, where her captors interrogate her about Bomasch’s location. She refuses to divulge what little information she has and soon becomes friends with Karl Marsen, a teacher imprisoned for his anti-Nazi views.

 

Justice Denied, Part 2

doris parentsDoris Dazey’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Walter B. Schwuchow, had spent the four years since their daughter’s death investigating their former son-in-law, Dr. George K. Dazey.

In 1935 Doris was found in the garage of the Santa Monica home she shared with George. She was wearing a night gown and her face was only inches away from the car exhaust–she expired from carbon monoxide poisoning. The authorities ruled her death a suicide, but there was no note and seemingly no cause for her to have taken her own life.  Her parents never believed that she would kill herself, not with a four month old child depending on her, so they undertook an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding her demise.

In bits and pieces the Schwuchows began to assemble a picture of their daughter’s marriage to Dr. Dazey, and it was very different from the public face the couple presented to the world. After speaking with Doris’ friends, and her former neighbors, the Schwuchows learned that her marriage to George was not ideal; in fact Doris had been contemplating divorce even though she’d been married to George for only a year.

As soon as George got wind of the Schwuchow’s statements he issued an immediate denial regarding their accusations:

“We were always happy, never quarreled. Sometimes Doris thought I was working too hard, but you couldn’t call that a quarrel, even when she protested my professional labors.”

“Once in a while she complained that she felt she was not doing her share because of ill-health, but I said we could keep all the servants necessary to aid her.”

If George had murdered Doris and then staged the scene in the garage, what was his motive? Doris had been an actress–she played the lead in “Ramona” for several years in the annual Hemet pageant–what if Doris planned to return to her career sans husband? She’d consulted with attorney Russell Parsons about a divorce, but it wasn’t clear if she had talked to George about it. If she had spoken with George he may have decided that one expensive alimony payment was enough–he was still paying off his first wife. In fact his ex- had taken him to court for back alimony and they’d had an acrimonious courtroom encounter not long before Doris died. It may have been enough sour George on another divorce and drive him to murder. Even though he made a bundle as a physician supporting two ex-wives, one with a child, would have been a financial burden.ramona

The money motive was a strong one, but then the Schwuchow’s revealed a secret that upped the ante even further and provided Dr. Dazey with a very compelling motive for murder. They said that Doris had told them the baby boy she’d had four months before she died may not have been George’s child.

George pooh-poohed the notion:

“Our boy was born two months prematurely.  I am a physician and know a premature baby when I see one.  The boy is in splendid health and looks just like me.”

Even if the baby was George’s as he contended, Miss Frances Hansbury, a nurse and personal friend of his, said that he had bragged to her about having committed “the perfect crime”.  Oh, and then there was a former watchman, Roland Seal, who said that on the fatal day he saw Dr. Dazey carrying what he thought was a woman’s body into the garage.

hansburyDr. Dazey continued to deny any responsibility for Doris’ death and said that the Schwuchow’s were trying to frame him:

“Dr. and Mrs. Schwuchow have been trying to get the boy for themselves and because I won’t let them have him they are stirring up all this trouble.”

A grand jury was convened to delve into the circumstances of Doris Dazey’s death. The D.A. posited that the forty-one year old doctor had killed his wife in a domestic dispute. Seal, the former watchman, said that he had heard screams coming from the Dazey residence on the day Doris died. It was around dusk, he said, that he saw the physician carry the limp form of a woman from the house to the garage.

If we take Frances Hansbury’s and Roland Seal’s statements at face value they beg the question: why the hell didn’t one of them ever go to the police?

District Attorney Buron Fitts was satisfied with the case against Dr. Dazey, in fact he believed it might be strong enough to seek the death penalty. Dazey was indicted for murder.

George had no intention of giving his accusers the last word:

“Doris was the best wife any man could want—why in God’s name would I want to kill her?”  Not long before I found her dead, apparently a suicide from monoxide poisoning in our garage, a boy was born to us and we had everything to be happy about.”

Dazey continued:

“Why should she take her own life I do not know.  There is a far-fetched possibility that someone else may have done her harm, but the idea is so remote and I can think of no reason for it that I scarcely give credence to the thought.”

The doctor dismissed the accusation of his former nurse, and occasional dinner companion, by saying:

“As for Miss Frances Hansbury, who says I boasted to her of the ‘perfect crime,’ I can say nothing except that she was a friend–or I thought she was–and am at a loss to understand her action.”

“I knew Miss Hansbury about four years before my wife died.  I went out with her once or twice socially before marrying Doris and I think that once after I found my wife dead.  She is a nurse and I had employed her.  Our relationship was friendly, but also professional.”

As for the watchman, Roland Seal, Dr. Dazey seemed to be completely mystified by his involvement in the case:

“Roland Seal is a man I have never met, nor ever talked to to my knowledge.  Just what his interest in the case is I may never know, but he is not telling the truth when he says he saw me carry the body of my wife–or any woman–from my house to the garage on the day Mrs. Dazey met her tragic death.”

Dr. Dazey’s trial began in February 1940. The prosecution called its two star witnesses to the stand to lay the foundation for the case against him.

Roland Seal testified that:

“On the day Mrs. Dazey was found dead in the garage of her home I had occasion to pass her house several times.  Once I heard a scream, and just at sunset I saw Dr. Dazey carry a scantily clad woman from the house to the garage.  I paid no attention, thinking she was ill, and he might be taking her to a hospital.  Since then a friend of Dr. Dazey’s warned me that the physician would ‘take care of me’ if I talked.”

Interestingly, Seal’s memory seemed to improve with each retelling. At first he’d stated that he’d seen Dr. Dazey carrying something that he thought may have been a woman’s body into the garage. In court he said that it he definitely saw observed Dr. Dazy carrying a woman’s limp body and that she was “scantily clad”.

Miss Frances Hansbury was also an interesting witness for the prosecution.  She testified that she’d known Dr. Dazey for nine years and she still thought of him as a friend. She said:

“Dr. Dazey once confided in me he had committed the perfect crime.  Then, apparently fearful I might talk out of turn, he threatened my life and said he would ‘frame’ me as a dope addict.  I feel very sorry for Dr. Dazey and never would do anything to hurt him.  But I was in fear of my life and was forced to leave here and go to New York City.”

Dr. and Mrs. Schwuchow reiterated what they had always believed: “We feel now as always that there was no cause for our daughter to take her own life. Beyond that, we have nothing to say.”

And Russell E. Parsons, Doris’ attorney (who became Deputy District Attorney in the years following her death) said:

“While a private attorney, Mrs. Dazey consulted with me about marital difficulties she said she was having with her husband.  Naturally, I cannot disclose publicly the nature of our conversation.”dazey and son

Even as he was preparing to face a jury on a murder charge, George Dazey went to court to battle his former in-laws for custody of four-year-old Walter who may, or may not, have been his biological son. Juvenile Judge W. Turney Fox denied the Schwuchow’s petition to have the child declared a ward of the court. There was sufficient evidence that Walter was devoted to his stepmother, Hazel Dorcas Dazey, and that it was in his best interests to let him stay where he was–Hazel was awarded custody of the little boy while George sorted out his legal problems. Dr. and Mrs. Schwuchow were given the right to take Walter for a visit every other weekend.

Would George Dazey’s murder trial go as well for him as the custody hearing had?  Maybe. If Hansbury and Seal were the D.A.’s best witnesses it would likely be an uphill battle to put the doctor in prison.

NEXT TIME:  Dr. Dazey’s murder trial.

Death Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

Valentine’s Day is only ten days away and the sweet scent of roses mingled with perfume, chocolate and lust is in the air — except here at Deranged L.A. Crimes. I’m getting a whiff of cordite, mixed with jealousy, rage and madness. Ain’t love grand?

The dark side of love will be the topic of February’s posts and I’m going to kick off the month with the tale of a spurned lover and a special box of chocolates.

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evelyn_weeks_poisoned_chocolatesTwenty-two year old newlywed Evelyn Weeks of Huntington Park wasn’t particularly shocked when, on February 16, 1940, she read in a local newspaper that her former suitor, twenty-nine year old Louis Schostek had been busted by the Feds for sending her what he hoped would be her last Valentine’s Day gift ever, a box of poisoned chocolates.

It wasn’t the first time that Louis had sent his former flame a box of candy. He had tried to gift her with some special chocolates the previous Christmas, but he didn’t have her California address so he mailed the present to her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Jasa, of St. Edwards, Nebraska–they returned the box unopened.

The Jasa’s were well aware of Louis’ obsession with Evelyn, and her fear of him.  The couple had dated for two years before Evelyn ended the relationship. Louis wouldn’t throw down his torch and continued to pester his ex with letters that became increasingly threatening. When another box of chocolates arrived at the Jasa manse on February 6th with a note asking the couple to forward it to their daughter, they decided to investigate. Using the family dog as a guinea pig they fed the trusting canine a few of the candies–the poor thing immediately became violently ill. Fortunately the pooch survived and the Jasa’s, realizing that the candy had been tampered with, called the cops.poisoned_chocolates_1940

Once the local law realized that Louis had broken a federal statute by sending the poisoned chocolates through the U.S. mail they brought in the FBI.

The feds turned up at Schostek’s home in Oconee, Nebraska with a few questions for him. Schostek readily admitted to having sent Evelyn dozens of threatening letters and two boxes of poisoned chocolates. When FBI agents asked him why he’d done it, all Louis could say was:

“I don’t know why I did it.  I guess I was out of my mind.”

Cops Behaving Badly: LAPD Ofcrs. Rice and Robinson

intoxicated_lapd_ofcrs_1940As I’ve said before, cops are only human and as such they are susceptible to all of the same foibles, follies and bad behaviors as are the rest of us.

Have you ever had a few too many and behaved like a jerk? If you answered yes, you should be able to empathize with LAPD Officers Rice and Robinson.

Gideon L. Rice was on duty the morning of March 4, 1940 His shift had ended hours earlier but apparently his drinking had not. He called the station at 1:30 a.m. from his beat at 108th and Main Streets to let the powers that be know that he was still hard at work.

The ungrateful brass were not impressed with Rice’s dedication to duty, particularly since he was obviously shit-faced when he placed the call. The brass were further unimpressed when Officer Rice allegedly made an exhibition of himself in the public view in an 11th Street cafe.

I would love to know how Rice had made an exhibition of himself but, sadly, the newspaper didn’t go into detail.

Gideon felt that his dedication to the job should be rewarded. The fact that he’d been working while inebriated didn’t keep him from demanding to be paid overtime. Unfortunately the Police Commission did not agree with Rice and relived him of duty.

***************************

On the same date that Officer Gideon’s contretemps made the news it was reported that Officer R.S. Robinson had gotten himself in to a booze related jam.

Apparently in his cups, Robinson had attempted to collect coins from the bottom of a wishing well in Chinatown. The tipsy officer drew a crowd, but he didn’t appreciate being the center of attention. He pulled his head out of the wishing well long enough to fire two shots from his revolver and then use it to strike a citizen over the head.

Officer Robinson was suspended for 30 days without pay.

Film Noir Friday: His Girl Friday [1940]

Poster - His Girl Friday_02

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crime theater is open! Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is HIS GIRL FRIDAY directed by Howard Hawks and starring Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy.

Okay, I realize HIS GIRL FRIDAY is a screwball comedy and not a film noir, but it does revolve, at least in part, around the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer. Besides, I’m in the mood for something light.

TCM says:

Ex-reporter Hildy Johnson, recently divorced from fast-talking newspaper editor Walter Burns, pays him a visit at the office of the Morning Post to tell him that she is marrying mild-mannered insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin. When Hildy enters, Walter is engrossed by the story of the impending execution of Earl Williams, a timid bookkeeper who has been sentenced to die for killing an African-American policeman. To lure Hildy back, Walter lies that his star reporter is preoccupied with the birth of his first child and the paper needs her to cover the story. Hildy rejects Walter’s bait and announces that she is engaged, tired of being a newspaper reporter and now just wants to be a woman. Walter insists upon meeting Hildy’s fiancé and invites them to lunch. At lunch, Walter learns that the couple are leaving with Bruce’s mother, Mrs. Baldwin, on the four o’clock train to Albany. Scheming to win Hildy back, Walter convinces Bruce that only a story written by Hildy can save the wrongly-convicted Williams. Hildy calls Walter’s bluff, but agrees to write the story if Walter will purchase a $100,000 life insurance policy from Bruce.

Let’s begin with a Disney cartoon entitled: DONALD’S CRIME [1945]

Film Noir Friday: Brother Orchid [1940]

brother orchid2

The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Visit our snack bar for a fizzy beverage, a big bag of popcorn and a candy bar. Tonight’s feature is BROTHER ORCHID, starring Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern, Donald Crisp, and Allen Jenkins.

From Wikipedia: Crime boss Little John Sarto (Edward G. Robinson) retires suddenly, giving leadership of his gang to Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart), while he leaves for a tour of Europe to acquire “class”. However, Sarto is repeatedly swindled and finally loses all his money.

He decides to return home and take back his gang, as if nothing has changed after five years, but Buck has him thrown out of his office. The only ones who remain loyal to Sarto are his girlfriend Flo Addams (Ann Sothern) and Willie “the Knife” Corson (Allen Jenkins). Sarto raises a new gang and starts encroaching on Buck’s territory.

http://youtu.be/gOl6X_GPMx8

Sole Survivor

survivor

The sole survivor of a natural disaster is considered fortunate, blessed by chance or by God. The sole survivor of a quadruple murder is considered a suspect, no matter how young she is.

bad seed

Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark in the 1956 film, The Bad Seed

For three weeks in April 1940, more than a decade before the fictional grammar school sociopath and budding serial killer, Rhoda Penmark, made her debut in William March’s novel THE BAD SEED, an eleven year old Los Angeles girl was held by cops and questioned by psychiatrists in the hammer murders of her mother and three siblings.

When blonde, bandaged and be-ribboned Chloe Davis failed to show any emotion in the wake of the violent deaths of her mother, Mrs. Lolita Davis, 36, and her siblings: Daphne Davis, 10; Deborah Ann Davis, 7; and 3 year old Mark Davis, the cops became suspicious and brought her in for questioning.officers hold chloe

Everyone who knew her said that Chloe was an unusual girl.

She was described by her school teachers as mature beyond her years, bright and studious and a natural leader. And according to her father Barton, not a child often moved to tears. But could she have been moved to commit violent, bloody murder? That’s what the law wanted to know.

Chole was questioned by a cadre of cops and examined by a couple of psychiatrists; one of whom was the in-house LAPD shrink, Dr. Paul de River; but her story remained the same no matter who was asking the questions.

lolita_chloeOn the morning of April 4, 1940, Chloe said that she had been awakened by the terrified screams of her younger siblings. She started out into the hallway to see what was the matter, and there she met her mother; and she had a hammer in her hand.

Chloe continued:

“She hit me on the head, but it didn’t hurt much. I finally took the hammer away from her. Then mama tried to set fire to my hair, but it wouldn’t burn. So she lit her own hair. That did burn and her nightgown burned off. Then she ordered me to help her drag a mattress from the day bed in her bedroom into the hallway near the bathroom.”

Chloe did as she was told, then her mother said:

“I’ve killed them, now you kill me.”

Lolita told Chloe that she was being pursued by demons and the relatives of Pattie Thompson [a relative of the Davis’] because she had killed Pattie with her strange power.

Chloe said that her mother had told her that she had killed her brother and sisters to “save them from demons”.  She then told her daughter to hit her “until she stopped talking”.

Wielding the hammer Chloe hit her mother on the chest but apparently the blow wasn’t hard enough. Lolita said:

“Hit me some more, stop this pain.”

As Chloe was raining blows down on her mother’s supine form, three year old Mark was on the floor in the kitchen moaning in pain. Lolita gave her daughter permission to go and “put him out of his misery” — which she did by hitting him on the head three times with the hammer.kids

Finally, Lolita persuaded Chloe to bring her a razor blade from a hall closet. Chloe returned with the blade, and then turned her head so she wouldn’t have to witness her mother slit her own wrists.

Chloe’s icy calm continued to unnerve the adults who peppered her with questions about the murders. She went on to describe the aftermath of the slayings.barton

Following the slaughter, Chloe said that she had washed up, changed into some clean clothes and gone out to phone her father. She said that she’d originally intended to go to a phone booth at the nearest drugstore but realized that she didn’t have a nickel, so she went to a neighbor’s house instead. She telephoned her dad and told him: “You’d better come home right away”.

Mrs. Randolph, the neighbor, was alarmed by Chloe’s call, but the girl told her:

“I won’t say anything ’til daddy gets here.”

However she changed her mind and told Randolph:

“It’s something so terrible you’ll probably read all about it in the newspapers.”

When Barton arrived home Chloe told him he’d better go into the house. He did, and his world collapsed. Chloe said she could hear him crying “Oh, God” over and over. She told him to control himself and calm down.

While Chloe was in custody downtown, curious crowds congregated in front of her home at 1211 W. 58th Place. Kids on their way home from school stood in front of the scene of the tragedy and gawked. Attracted by the clusters of school children, ice cream vendors peddled their treats as newsboys ran up and down the street selling papers. The scene became a grotesque parody of suburban life.

It wasn’t until the autopsies were concluded that police authorities and psychiatrists stated: “We are being forced to the conclusion that she is telling the truth!”

Forced? Really? Glad to see they were keeping open minds.

crime sceneOnce the evidence at the crime scene had been processed, it revealed that the story Chloe had been telling for days was incredible but true. News coverage reflected the shift in the official thinking, and instead of columns of sly innuendo implying the girl’s guilt her dead mother was vilified as demented and crazed.

The key that opened the lock on Chloe’s cell door was the confirmation that Lolita had not died of a skull fracture but had bled to death from the self-inflicted slashes on her wrists. Chloe was exonerated.

funeralThe girl was whisked away to a secret location by relatives, and thus spared the ordeal of attending the funeral services for her mother and siblings.

At Chloe’s Juvenile Court hearing, Superior Court Judge W. T. Fox said that because of the “emotional and mental shock from which she has not yet recovered”, she should be made a ward of the court — but at least she was released into her father’s care.

Rather than a cunning prepubescent sociopath, Chloe had been revealed to be the resilient survivor of a domestic holocaust.

Late last year I was contacted by one of Chloe’s distant relations who asked me to help her locate information on the case, which I was pleased to be able to do. She told me that Chloe and Barton eventually relocated to the Midwest  but that was all she knew about what had become of them.

NOTE: Thanks to Bill for suggesting that I cover Chloe’s tragic story.