The Black Dahlia: Conclusion

Two years passed with police no closer to a solution for the murder of Elizabeth Short. The 1949 Los Angeles Grand Jury intended to hold LAPD’s feet to the fire for failing to solve the Dahlia case and several other unsolved homicides and disappearances of women.

dahlia_herald_3_the black dahliaOn September 6, 1949 the jury’s foreman, Harry Lawson, told reporters that a meeting of the jury’s administrative committee was scheduled for September 8. First on the -committee’s agenda — the unsolved homicides. Lawson said: “There is every possibility that we will summon before the jury officers involved in the investigation of these murders. We find it odd that there are on the books of the Los Angeles Police Deportment many unsolved crimes of this type.”

The Grand Jury further concluded that: “Because of the nature of these murder and sex crimes women and children are constantly placed in jeopardy and are not safe from attack.” They also decided that something is “radically wrong with the present system for apprehending the guilty, the alarming increase in the number of unsolved murders and other major crimes reflects ineffectiveness in law enforcement agencies and the courts and that should not be tolerated.” jeanne and frank pic

I would argue that the jury and law enforcement had not yet adapted to changes in the post-war world. Cops were unaccustomed to stranger murders; and I believe several of the women whose cases they had been investigating were killed or taken by either a complete stranger or a recent acquaintance Then, as now, when a woman is murdered her killer is usually her husband, boyfriend or another man in her life. It is my contention that it wasn’t corruption within law enforcement agencies that prevented them from solving crimes “of this type”. The police were doing solid detective work but their investigative methods hadn’t caught up with the times. There were men walking the streets of Los Angeles who had been severely damaged by their war experiences–how many of them were capable of murder?

 Murder Car -- this is the auto in which the body of Mrs. Louise Springer was found slain.  The car was parked at 136 W. 38th St.  The discover has touched off the widest man hunt since the slaying of the Black Dahlia.

Murder Car — this is the auto in which the body of Mrs. Louise Springer was found slain. The car was parked at 136 W. 38th St. The discovery touched off the widest man hunt since the slaying of the Black Dahlia.

LAPD detectives did their due diligence in Short’s slaying. There were more than 2700 reports taken on the case. There were over 300 named suspects. Fifty had been arrested and subsequently released. There had been nineteen confessions–none of which panned out.

In 1949 the DA’s office issued a report on the investigation into Short’s murder. In part the report stated: “[she] knew at least fifty men at the time of her death and at least 25 men had been seen with her within the 60 day period preceding her death. She was not a prostitute. She has been confused with a Los Angeles prostitute by the same name…She was known as a teaser of men. She would ride with them, chisel a place to sleep, clothes or money, but she would then refuse to have sexual intercourse by telling them that she was a virgin or that she was engaged or married. There were three known men who did have sexual intercourse with her and according to them she got no pleasure out of this act. According to the autopsy surgeon her sex organs indicated female trouble. She was known to have disliked queer women very much as well as prostitutes. She was never known to be a narcotic addict.”

Jean Spangler [Photo courtesy LAPL]

Jean Spangler [Photo courtesy LAPL]

Good intentions didn’t get the grand jury any concrete answers to the unsolved homicides or disappearances.. The jury was sidetracked by the continuing saga of local gangster Mickey Cohen and other issues which demanded their attention. In the end they passed the baton to the 1950 grand jury. But they, too, were sidetracked by other issues.

Despite the efforts of the grand jury, the homicides or disappearances of the following women remain unsolved to this day: Elizabeth Short, Jeanne French, Rosenda Mondragon, Laura Trelstad, Gladys Kern, Louise Springer, Mimi Boomhower, and Jean Spangler.

NOTE: This concludes my Black Dahlia posts for 2017. I invite you to stay with me as I unearth more of L.A.’s most deranged crimes.

The Black Dahlia: Somebody Knows

somebodyknows

On August 8, 1950 the CBS radio network aired a program called SOMEBODY KNOWS. The program was a summer replacement for the regularly scheduled SUSPENSE while it was on summer hiatus.

SOMEBODY KNOWS offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who supplied information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who brutally murdered Elizabeth Short.

The reward was never claimed.

Listen to the show here:   SOMEBODY KNOWS

NOTE: The Black Dahlia coverage continues on Wednesday, February 8 with “Another Confession and Another Murder.”

Film Noir Friday: Dark City [1950]

DARK CITY 1950

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. Tonight’s feature is DARK CITY [1950] directed by Hal Wallis and starring Charlton Heston and Lizabeth Scott.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Danny Haley’s bookie operation is shut down, so he and his pals need money; when Danny meets Arthur Winant, a sucker from out of town, he decoys him into a series of poker games where eventually Winant loses $5000 that isn’t his…then hangs himself. But it seems Winant had a shadowy, protective elder brother who believes in personal revenge. And each of the card players in turn feels a faceless doom inexorably closing in. Dark streets and sexy torch-singer Fran lend ambience.

Film Noir Friday: One Way Street [1950]

 onewaystreetWelcome! 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 ONE WAY STREET starring James Mason, Marta Toren, and Dan Duryea.  Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

After a bank robbery, Dr. Frank Matson waits with gangster John Wheeler, Wheeler’s lover Laura and his henchmen, for the rest of the gang to arrive. Wheeler sends Laura to ask Matson for medication for his headache, and after giving Wheeler some pills, Matson calmly picks up the medical bag containing the proceeds of the robbery and starts to leave. Laura asks to come along, and Matson tells Wheeler that the pills he swallowed contained poison. After promising to telephone him with the antidote, Matson and Laura drive away.

Wanna Buy A Story?

Frank Lovejoy with Betty Winkler and director, Himan Brown

Frank Lovejoy with Betty Winkler and director, Himan Brown

From February 6, 1950 to September 25, 1952, Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy Stone in the NBC radio series Night Beat.  The series was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Wheaties breakfast cereal.

On September 18, 1950 at the end of the episode entitled Wanna Buy a Story? Frank Lovejoy was presented with an award by none other than Aggie Underwood. At the time Aggie was only a few years in to her post as City Editor of the Evening Herald and Express.  Her autobiography, Newspaperwoman, had been out for about a year before this episode of Night Beat aired, and it was a great opportunity for her to plug the book.

According to Wikipedia, Ripperologist editor Paul Begg offered this description of the series:

Broadcast on NBC, Nightbeat… starred Frank Lovejoy as Randy Stone, a tough and streetwise reporter who worked the nightbeat for the Chicago Star, looking for human interest stories. He met an assortment of people, most of them with a problem, many of them scared, and sometimes he was able to help them, sometimes he wasn’t. It is generally regarded as a “quality” show, and it stands up extremely well. Frank Lovejoy (1914–1962) isn’t remembered today, but he was a powerful and believable actor with a strong delivery, and his portrayal of Randy Stone as tough guy with humanity was perfect. The scripts were excellent, given that they had to cover much in a short time. There was a good supporting cast, orchestra and sound effects. “The Slasher,” broadcast on 10 November 1950, the last show of season one, has a very loosely Ripper-derived plot in which Stone searches for an artist.
For those of you who enjoy old radio shows, like I do, I recommend Night Beat–in fact here’s the episode with Aggie’s brief appearance. If you don’t want to listen to the entire show you can catch Aggie at about 27:21.
Enjoy!

Film Noir Friday: Where the Sidewalk Ends [1950]

where_the_sidewalk_ends_ver5Welcome! 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 WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Gary Merrill.

Enjoy the film!

 TCM says:

New York City police detective Mark Dixon and his partner Klein return to the 16th precinct where Inspector Nicholas Foley introduces them to their new commander, Lt. Thomas. Later, Foley meets with Dixon to inform him that more battery complaints have been filed against him, but Dixon is unrepentant.

Film Noir Friday: The Capture [1950]

 

THE CAPTURE

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

Tonight’s feature is THE CAPTURE (“Another Violent story by the author of “Duel in the Sun”) starring Lew Ayres and Teresa Wright.  Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Pursued by police across Mexican range land, American Linley Vanner seeks refuge in the adobe hut of Father Gomez. That night, an exhausted Lin, whose arm is injured, finally reveals his story to the priest: A year earlier, Lin is working as a supervisor at an oil field when he hears that the company’s payroll has been stolen and several guards who were protecting it, murdered. Lin is coaxed by his fiancée Luana to join the robbery posse, which is being led by company president Earl C. Mahoney. At first Lin refuses to consider the idea, but changes his mind when he develops a strong feeling about where the robber, whom witness Mahoney has described as “American,” might have gone.

 

No Way Out [1950]

un rayo de luz mankiewicz

 

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.

Tonight’s feature is NO WAY OUT [1950].  Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and starring Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Linda Darnell and Stephen McNally.   

Enjoy the film!

TCM says:

Dr. Luther Brooks, an intern who has just passed the state board examination to qualify for his license to practice, is the first African-American doctor at the urban county hospital at which he trained. Because he lacks self-confidence, Luther requests to work as a junior resident at the hospital for another year. Johnny and Ray Biddle, brothers who were both shot in the leg by a policeman as they attempted a robbery, are brought to the hospital’s prison ward. As Luther tends to the disoriented Johnny, he is bombarded with racist slurs by Ray, who grew up in Beaver Canal, the white working class section of the city…

 

Film Noir Friday: Convicted [1950]

convicted_ver2

 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.

Tonight’s feature is CONVICTED starring Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford.

Enjoy the film!

TCM says:

After a fight in a nightclub ends with the death of a prominent politician’s son, Joe Hufford is arrested and charged with murder. Although the district attorney, George Knowland, advises Joe to hire a good criminal lawyer, Joe decides to stick with Vernon Bradley, the corporation lawyer sent by his employer. Knowland, who believes the death to be accidental, suggests that Bradley have Joe plead guilty to manslaughter. Bradley refuses and, after the case goes to trial, the lawyer’s lack of experience in criminal law results in a guilty verdict for Joe, who is sent to prison. After six months, Joe joins a group of prisoners who are planning an escape.

 

Film Noir Friday: Quicksand [1950] & Drive A Crooked Road [1954]

QUICKSAND

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.

Tonight, as a tribute to Mickey Rooney who passed away earlier this week, we’re showing a double feature starring the diminutive actor. If you only recall Rooney as Andy Hardy, you’re in for a surprise. The actor actually took his turn at film noir during the 1950s.

First up is QUICKSAND [1950] starring Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, Barbara Bates and Peter Lorre.

TCM says:

At a diner, young auto mechanic Dan Brady has just finished telling his co-worker Chuck that he has broken up with his adoring girl friend, Helen Calder, when he notices the stunning blonde cashier, Vera Novak. Dan convinces Vera to go out with him that evening, but when he returns to his job at the garage, he remembers that he has no money. While making change at the register, Dan realizes that the bookkeeper will not be in to check the cash drawer for a few days and decides to borrow twenty dollars, intending to pay it back the next day when he collects the money that his friend, Buzz Larson, owes him.

And thus begins Brady’s downward spiral…

drive_a_crooked_road

Second on tonight’s bill is the 1954 film DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD starring Mickey Rooney and Dianne Foster.

TCM says:

Los Angeles auto mechanic Eddie Shannon, a devoted car buff with no family or other outside interests, frequently competes in local car races to improve his driving. The other mechanics at work tease Eddie constantly over his diminutive stature and solitary nature. One day Eddie meets Barbara Mathews, an attractive woman who invites him to the beach. Uncertainly, Eddie accepts the invitation, and at the beach Barbara introduces him to Steve Norris, a handsome businessman from the East, who is spending several weeks in a Santa Monica beach house. Eddie is surprised when Barbara shows an interest in him and shyly begins dating her. Barbara tries to learn as much about Eddie’s interests as possible, but asks him if he is content to remain a mechanic all his life. Eddie confides that his dream has always been to drive in one of the top European races. Barbara takes Eddie to a party thrown by Steve and his associate, Harold Baker, and during the evening, Steve asks Eddie his opinion about the best kind of race car. After the party, Barbara advises Eddie that Steve might be able to help him realize his dream of racing in Europe. Later that evening, Steve visits Barbara, eager to discuss plans for a bank robbery, for which they hope to use Eddie’s driving skill. Barbara pleads with Steve to call off the heist, as she feels sorry for Eddie, a lonely man who has never experienced love…