Death of a Detective, Part 2

hugh_photoWhen Magele Crowley, Hugh’s widow, was given the news that he had been gunned down she collapsed and was taken by a police ambulance to the Hollywood Receiving hospital where she was revived. It would fall on her shoulders to explain to her young daughter, Gloria Ruth (8), what had happened to her father.

Hugh Crowley was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the shoulder with dum-dum bullets. The dum-dum expands on impact and it is meant to inflict maximum damage on its target. The dum-dum was originally a British military bullet developed at the Dum
-Dum Arsenal for use in India. They’ve been outlawed for use in warfare for over one hundred years. The term dum-dum now refers to any soft-nosed or hollow-pointed bullet. escape headline crowleyThe use of dum-dum rounds in the slaying of Hugh Crowley enraged law enforcement and they brought the full force of their resources to the manhunt. Detectives were drawn from half a dozen special squads and were working many hours of overtime in their relentless search for the gunmen. Fox West Coast Theaters, Inc., offered a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers.

At least the cops had some tangible evidence to work with — a gray silk handkerchief, a .32-caliber revolver, a white flannel cap and a silk scarf had been dropped along the bandits’ escape route. The other good news in terms of the investigation was that there were three witnesses to the shooting, and there was also Mrs. Smith, the woman who had watched the crooks jump into her car and drive it away.

Hugh Crowley had been acting as a special messenger for Fox for several years before he was gunned down in the Fox Wilshire. Ironically, in 1929 he was held up at gun point outside of Grauman’s Theater. He had picked up $15,000 in cash and a large quantity of canceled ticket stubs and was walking towards his car when three men closed in on him. The bandits leveled their revolvers at Crowley and demanded the bag of money. Crowley told reporters:

“For a moment I hesitated, then I ducked, flung the bag in my car and slammed the door, thinking that it would automatically lock. But the latch was free.”

Crowley further described his actions:

“Then I dodged around behind my car, pulling my gun from a shoulder holster as I took cover behind the gas tank. At this point one of the bandits opened fire.”

One of the three bad guys managed to pull the bag of money and receipts out of Crowley’s car. The trio of felons escaped, but they would later be busted and brought to justice.

gable_page_crowleyCrowley had distinguished himself many times over the course of his career, in fact he had sixteen commendations!

While the search for his killers continued, the Board of Police Commissioners requested the City Council to allow Crowley’s body to lie in state under the dome of the City Hall. The request read:

“Your honorable body is aware of the tragedy which has befallen the police department and the city of Los Angeles as a whole in the murder of Police Officer Hugh A. Crowley. The board of Police Commissioners approve of the wish of Chief of Police and of the entire police department that the Honorable Council permit the body of the slain officer to lie in state under the dome of the City Hall…”

The request continued:crowley tribute

“In thus honoring the memory of this officer, the city of Los Angeles will give due recognition to the meritorious services rendered by Officer Crowley during the ten years in which he was a member of the Los Angeles police department, during which period he was the recipient of many commendations for actions of efficiency and bravery.”

The request was approved.

City and county officials united with motion picture stars at Loew’s State Theater on January 30, 1932 to stage a beneift to aid Hugh’s widow. All of the proceeds would be turned over to Hugh’s widow because everything had been donated.

Solving Crowley’s murder was of paramount importance to the cops and it took them a couple of weeks before they made their first arrest in the case, twenty-eight year old locksmith, Jack Green. Green promptly confessed to his part in the crime and named as his accomplice twenty-five year old Joseph F. Regan, and ex-merchant marine, amateur boxer, actor, and bootlegger.

crowley killer jack green_resizeFollowing the shooting, Green and Regan had fled to the wounded man’s apartment at 1609 North Normandie where Green summoned a doctor who wasn’t adverse to treating a patient with a serious gunshot wound — and cash. Green told cops that the doctor didn’t give Regan strong odds for survival unless he could find someone to perform surgery on him.

Pictures and a description of Regan were broadcast throughout the state:

“American, 25, years of age; 6 feet 1 inches in height; weight 173 pounds, blond hair, regular nose, blue eyes, ruddy complexion, smooth shaven.”

The law was determined to locate Regan dead or alive.

NEXT TIME: The trial and fates of Hugh Crowley’s killers.