Black Dahlia–Last Seen


At 12:20 p.m. on January 9, 1947, Elizabeth Short and Robert “Red” Manley left the motel where they spent the night.

Robert Red Manley courtesy LAPL

What did Beth and Red talk about during the couple of hours that it took them to drive back to Los Angeles from San Diego? Red noticed some scratches on Beth’s arms and asked her about them. She spun a tale of an “intensely jealous” boyfriend–an Italian “with black hair who lived in San Diego” and claimed that it was he who scratched her. Beth herself probably made the scratches because of itchy insect bites. Beth lied to Red a few times more before their day together ended.

Red and his wife were having problems, so, in the way that only a spouse on the verge of cheating can do, he sold himself on the notion that if he and Harriette were destined to be together, then nothing would happen with Beth.

Following their platonic night in a motel room, Red’s marriage was certified as made in heaven—the fates clearly decreed it. But he had a problem; he’d been out of touch with Harriette for a couple of days. How would he explain his lack of communication to her? Any guy capable of devising a ridiculous love test could surely come up with an excuse for being incommunicado for a couple of days.

In my mind’s eye, I see Beth and Red seated across from each other on the bench seat in his Studebaker, each lost in thought. Beth may have been wondering what she’d do once she hit L.A. Maybe she’d go to friends in Hollywood. If she was lucky, someone would have an empty bed for her. Her immediate difficulty was Red. How would she get away from the well-meaning guy for whom she felt little or nothing?

Once they arrived in the city, Beth told Red that she needed to check her luggage at the bus depot. He took her there, and Beth was ready to wave goodbye to him and be on her way—but he wouldn’t leave. He told her he couldn’t possibly leave her in that neighborhood on her own. She insisted she would be fine, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Beth had a few minutes while she checked her bags to come up with a plan. When they returned to his car, she told him she needed to go to the Biltmore Hotel to wait for her sister. It was another lie. Virginia, the sister she referred to, was in Oakland, hundreds of miles to the north.

Red drove her several blocks back to the Biltmore Hotel. The main lobby was on Olive Street, directly opposite Pershing Square. Beth thanked Red. He was a gentleman. He’d paid to have taps put on the heels and toes of her pumps, and of course he’d paid for meals and the motel room. She thought he would drive off and leave her, but once again he said that he didn’t feel comfortable just putting her out of the car.

Matchbook cover from author’s collect

He parked, and the two of them waited in the Biltmore’s exquisite lobby for quite a while. Beth out waited Red. He said he had to go. She told him she would be fine, and that she expected her sister to arrive at any moment.

Red left her in the Biltmore at approximately 6:30 p.m. Beth watched him go. She gave him a few minutes, and then she exited the hotel and turned right down Olive Street.

Beth may have been headed for the Crown Grill at Eighth and Olive. She’d been there before and perhaps she hoped to bump into someone she knew; after all, she needed a place to stay. Some patrons of the bar later told cops she’d been there that night, although it could not be verified, and no one saw her leave. 

Beth was never seen alive again.

NEXT TIME: More Black Dahlia coverage.

LET’S CRUISE BETH SHORT’S LOS ANGELES c. 1946

Black Dahlia–January 8, 1947

Seventy-five years ago, on January 8, 1947, Robert ‘Red’ Manley drove to the home of Elvera and Dorothy French in Pacific Beach, in the San Diego area, to pick up a young woman he’d met a month earlier. Her name was Elizabeth Short.

Red was a twenty-five-year-old salesman and occasional saxophone player, with a wife, Harriette, and 4-month-old baby daughter at home. The couple married on November 28, 1945. They lived in a bungalow court in one of L.A.’s many suburbs.

Red enlisted in the Army on June 24, 1942. He was 20 years-old. In January 1945, He entered a hospital for treatment of a non-traumatic injury, and the Army discharged him in April of the same year for “medical reasons—but not for any residual condition.”

Maybe his injury was part of what made it difficult for him to adjust to marriage and parenthood. He said that he and Harriette had “some misunderstandings.” Restless and feeling unsure about his decision to marry, Red decided to “make a little test to see if I were still in love with my wife.” The woman Red used to test his love was twenty-two-year-old Elizabeth Short.

Red traveled for his job and it was on a trip to San Diego that he met Elizabeth Short. She was standing on a street corner and appeared to need a ride. At first, she seemed reluctant to get into his car. But in an instant, she changed her mind and got in. She introduced herself as Beth Short and they struck up a conversation. When Red returned to Los Angeles, the two corresponded.

Aztec Theater, San Diego

Dorothy French met Beth on the night of December 9, 1946 at the all-night movie theater, the Aztec, on Fifth Avenue. Dorothy worked as a cashier at the ticket window and she noticed Beth seemed at loose ends. When her shift ended at 3 a.m., Dorothy offered to take Beth back to the Bayview Terrace Navy housing unit she shared with her mother and a younger brother. Beth was glad to abandon the theater seat for a more comfortable sofa.

Dorothy French [Photo: theblackdahliain hollywood]

If the French family thought that Beth would stay a night or two and then move on, they were mistaken. She stayed for a month.

Elvera and Dorothy grew tired of Beth’s couch surfing and contributing nothing to the household. She did not even pay for groceries. She received a money order for $100 from a former boyfriend, Gordon Fickling, yet she spent much of her time compulsively writing letters, many of which she never sent.

One of the unsent letters was to Gordon. In the letter dated December 13, 1946, Beth wrote:

“I do hope you find a nice girl to kiss at midnight on new years eve. It would have been wonderful if we belonged to each other now. I’ll never regret coming West to see you. You didn’t take me in your arms and keep me there. However, it was nice as long as it lasted.”

The French family had another complaint about their house guest—despite her claims, there was no evidence that Beth ever looked for work. Beth wrote to her mother, Phoebe, that she was working for the Red Cross, or in a VA Hospital, but it was just one of her many lies. Her letters home never revealed her transient lifestyle—nothing about couch surfing, borrowing money to eat, or accepting rides from strange men.

Robert “Red” Manley [Photo courtesy LAPL]

Beth could have found a job if she wanted one. She worked in a delicatessen in as a teenager and at the post exchange (PX) at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base). Red arranged with a friend of his to get her a job interview—but she didn’t follow-up.

When Red heard from his friend that Beth was a no-show for the job interview, he wrote to her to find out if she was okay. She said she was fine but didn’t like San Diego; she preferred Los Angeles and wanted to return there. Red said he’d help her out.

The drive from San Diego to Los Angeles was Red’s love test. If nothing happened with Beth, then he would know that he Harriette were destined to stay together. But if he and Beth clicked, he’d have a tough decision to make.

Beth and Red weren’t on the road for long before they stopped at a roadside motel for the night. They went out for dinner and drinks before returning to their room to go to bed. Did Red have butterflies in his stomach? How did he want the love test to turn out?

Red must have realized the decision was Beth’s. They never shared more than a kiss. She spent the night in a chair and he took the bed.

The pair left the motel at about 12:20 p.m. on January 9, 1947, for Los Angeles.

Next time: The Black Dahlia–Last Seen

A Holiday Orgy of Crime

HOLIDAY ORGY OF CRIME

On December 26, 1930, readers of the Los Angeles Times awoke to the dismaying headline: “Holiday Brings Orgy of Crime”. Apparently, not all Angelenos with goodwill toward their fellow man or woman. The article was a litany of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day misdeeds that began with the shooting of a police officer.

Allen G. Adcock of the Hollenbeck Heights division during the early morning hours of Christmas Day. Officer Adcock had been directing traffic during a fire at Macy and Gelardo streets when a car containing two men ignored his command to halt and blew through the intersection at a high rate of speed. Apparently, Adcock “badged” a civilian, Earl H. Pfeifer, and commandeered the man’s auto to pursue the suspects. With Pfeifer at the wheel, Adcock stood on the running board of the car and held on for dear life. One of the fleeing men leveled his weapon at Adcock, who then whipped out his own pistol. The two men fired simultaneously and a bullet from the suspect’s gun struck a glancing blow on Adcock’s head, which knocked the cop off of Pfiefer’s running board.

Pfiefer stopped to render aid to the fallen policeman, and the suspects escaped. A subsequent investigation showed that the two suspects were bandits who had held up Irwin Welborn of West Twenty-ninth Street. They drove him out to Long Beach and then robbed him of $2 and his car.

At Pacific and O’Farrell Streets in San Pedro, someone slugged Zack Zuanich, a local poultryman, on the head with a wooden club. They took Zuanich to the San Pedro General Hospital in serious condition. The attacked appeared random.

00045695_los_feliz_bridge_orgycrime

Los Feliz Bridge (aka Shakespeare Bridge) [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Two cowardly bandits, turned rapists, dragged Maxine Ungeheur (20) and her younger sister Thelma (19) out of a car under the Los Feliz Bridge (aka Shakespeare Bridge) and savagely attacked them. The sisters were being driven home by Roland Oakley, a Griffith Park employee, following a Christmas Eve soiree. Oakley slowed his auto near the bridge, and the bandits stepped out from a clump of trees and threatened the girls and Oakley with guns. Oakley, under threat of death, stood helplessly by as the bandits ravaged the girls. The cops located clues at the scene, in particular a leather glove believed to have been worn by one attacker. Detective Lieutenants Hoy and Kriewald of the Lincoln Heights Division hoped that the clue would lead to the arrests of the men involved in the assaults.

Besides all the other mayhem occurring in and around the city, there was a spate of holiday burglaries for cops to contend with. Two men were discovered plundering a store on Huntington Drive by Officers Cooke and Carter, and a citizen, A. Burke. Upon being found out, the two crooks attempted to high-tail it to freedom. Officer Cooke fired at the fleeing suspects and the citizen, A. Burke, unloaded a charge of birdshot from his shotgun. Both suspects dropped to the ground, but one of them scrambled to his feet and made good his escape. Officers captured the other crook and he gave his name as Bernave Palacios. They held him on suspicion of burglary.

Two bandits held up Benjamin Caldron in his South Western Avenue flower shop on Christmas morning robbed him of $110.

The Ungeheur sisters were not the only women who were victims of rape, or attempted rape, over the Christmas holiday. Mrs. Dorothy Loustanau was walking near the corner of Ninetieth Street and Avalon Boulevard when a man drove an automobile up to the curb and leaped out. Snarling that he would beat her to death if she resisted, he clapped his hand over her mouth and pinioned her arms while he attempted to force her into his car. Dorothy struggled desperately and stayed out of the car. Her attacker, enraged at his victim for putting up a fight, tried to drag her into a vacant lot, but Dorothy broke free and screamed for help. Her assailant fled the scene.

Lillian Rosine, of 1322 Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood, was driving down Las Palmas Avenue with a friend, Earl Marshall, when a bandit leaped onto the running board of her car. The bandit produced an automatic weapon and commanded Lillian and Earl to stick up their hands. Lillian became furious with the brazen bandit and instead of complying with his order, she leaned in front of Earl and shoved the bandit in the face!

Thrown off balance, the crook fired, and the round grazed Earl’s head, inflicting a four-inch wound in his scalp. Lillian screamed and stomped down hard on the gas. The bandit tumbled off of the running board, stood up, and then walked nonchalantly up Selma Avenue. Lillian dashed to the Hollywood Receiving Hospital a few blocks away, where doctors treated and dressed Earl’s wound. The bandit remained at large.

Hollywood Receiving Hospital c. 1936 [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Hollywood Receiving Hospital c. 1936 [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

I’ll wrap up the orgy of crime with the murder of Jose Lopez (45). Lopez died in Georgia Street Receiving Hospital from wounds received in an attempted hold-up and fight. Lopez’s friend, Jose Ayala, told the cops that two men accosted him and Jose early Christmas morning and beaten with clubs. Ayala did his best to describe the killers, but a blow to the mouth knocked him unconscious early in the struggle.

I hope that your holiday is going better than the unfortunates in the above post. Be well, happy, and stay safe. — Joan

Film Noir Friday–On Saturday Night–Dead End [1937]

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 DEAD END (1937), starring Humphrey Bogart. The supporting cast is stellar, Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney, Wendy Barrie, and Claire Trevor. Among the faces you will recognize from the era, Allen Jenkins and Marjorie Main.

Interesting note–Lillian Hellman wrote the screenplay. If you are not familiar with Hellman, she was the longtime partner of the great noir novelist, Dashiell Hammett, who wrote The Thin Man, and Red Harvest.

IMDB says:

The Dead End Kids are introduced in their intricate East Side slum, overlooked by the apartments of the rich. Their antics, some funny, some vicious, alternate with subplots: unemployed architect Dave is torn between Drina, sweet but equally poor, and Kay, a rich man’s mistress; gangster Baby Face Martin returns to his old neighborhood and finds that nobody is glad to see him. Then violent crime, both juvenile and adult, impacts the neighborhood and its people.

Enjoy the movie!

Film Noir Friday Returns with LADY GANGSTER

Welcome! After a lengthy hiatus, 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 LADY GANGSTER starring Faye Emerson, Julie Bishop, Frank Wilcox and, in one of his first film roles, Jackie Gleason.

It is a remake of the original 1933 film, LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT, starring Barbara Stanwyck.

The movie is based on a play by actress and writer, Dorothy Mackaye. Dorothy was not a gangster or a gun moll. She took her inspiration from her time in San Quentin for compounding a felony. The felony was the beating death of her husband, Ray Raymond, by her lover, Paul Kelly.

The fatal Hollywood love triangle was headline news, and I plan to cover it in the book I am working on for the University Press of Kentucky. The subject of the book is crime in Prohibition Los Angeles–one of my favorite topics.

Enjoy the movie!

Dot Burton, an aspiring actress, helps a gang of bank robbers to hold up a bank. The men escape but the police are suspicious of Dot’s actions and arrest her. District Attorney Lewis Sinton asks Dot to turn state’s evidence, but she continues to plead her innocence. Radio broadcaster Kenneth Phillips sees a newspaper article about Dot’s case and broadcasts a statement lambasting the district attorney for arresting her while the real criminals go free.

Ellroypalooza

On June 22, 2021, Writer’s Bloc and Chevalier’s Books hosted a virtual event celebrating the publication of James Ellroy’s new novel, WIDESPREAD PANIC.

I was thrilled to participate on a panel with James Ellroy, John Anderson, Grant Nebel and Zoe Dean.

John Anderson and Grant Nebel are Ellroy scholars and enthusiasts who created the Ellroycast, and have written extensively about pop culture, film, and television. Zoe Dean is an award winning short story writer of crime fiction.

I’ve known James for years, and was one of several people who worked with him on the book, LAPD ’53.

If you missed Ellroypalooza, or would like to see it again, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Judy Dull Should Be 83 Today

Too often we recall the names of killers, but not their victims. Today, on what should be her 83rd birthday, I am highlighting Judy Dull.

JUDY DULL

Judith Ann “Judy” Van Horn Dull turned nineteen on June 23, 1957. She had a 14-month-old daughter, Susan, and a soon-to-be ex-husband, Robert, who intended to keep custody of their little girl. A decent lawyer costs money, and Judy needed as much cash as she could scrape together for the coming battle.  

Judy lived at the El Mirador apartments at the corner of North Sweetzer and Fountain Avenues in West Hollywood.

EL MIRADOR

Most of the young women who inhabited the El Mirador during the summer of 1957 were still in diapers when the building’s most famous resident, actress Jean Harlow, died at age 26 in June 1937.

JEAN HARLOW

At least the building had a Hollywood provenance, which may have given the new crop of wannabes hope for the future.

Judy’s need for a quick buck prevented the usual Hollywood rounds to agents or cattle calls to appear as an extra in the latest western. The best and quickest way for an attractive blonde like Judy to make money was as a model. Modeling gigs ran the gamut from legitimate work for catalogs and harmless cheesecake photos to pornography.

Judy’s roommates, eighteen-year-old Betty Ruth Carver and twenty-two-year-old Lynn Lykels, were models, too. All three were in demand and they looked out for each other, trading gigs to keep the money flowing.

On August 1, 1957, Judy took a job that Lynn had to pass on. At 2 pm, when the photographer, a guy named Johnny Glenn, a geeky-looking guy with bat ears and horn-rimmed glasses, showed up to collect Judy for the job, she was reluctant to go with him. He overcame her reluctance by offering her $20/hour for a two-hour shoot. How could she say no?

At Judy’s request, Johnny left his telephone number with one of her roommates.

Johnny and Judy walked out of the El Mirador.

It was the last time anybody saw her alive.


NOTE: Harvey Glatman murdered Judy and two other women, Ruth Mercado and Shirley Bridgeford. There was not enough evidence to try him for Judy’s murder, but he was found guilty of murdering Mercado and Bridgeford. Glatman died in the gas chamber at San Quentin on September 18, 1959.

Deadly Women, Series 14

I am fortunate to be affiliated with the DEADLY WOMEN television series. I love working with them and I have appeared in every season for over a decade.

I received an email from them the other day letting me know that my first episode of the current series (Episode 7, Flash Point) is going to premiere on the Discovery Plus streaming service Thursday, June 24.

It will also air on Investigation Discovery the following week on Thursday, July 1 at 9/8/C.

I cover a 1940 case from the U.K. Here is a photo of the deadly woman. You will learn all about her crime soon.

I will keep you posted on the other episodes for this series.

Thanks!

An American Tragedy in Pomona–Conclusion

Frank’s chances for an acquittal are dismal, but then his attorney mounts a defense, blaming Lois for the beating that nearly killed her.

Attorney H.A.J. Wolch drops a bombshell in court when he reads excerpts from a June 29, 1931 letter written by Lois and sent to Frank’s wife, Ione

“Dearest Ione:

“You are probably wondering why I should write to you, are you not? I don’t exactly know myself.”

“Honestly ‘Yonnie,’ I didn’t know you cared so much until I read a certain letter. No one could write a letter like that without plenty of reason.

“I’m sure Frank loves me. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to send him back to you, ‘Yonnie.’ You yourself know how it is to be uncertain, but I’m not anymore.”

“I’m afraid you’ll think that the real reason for my writing this letter is to gloat over him. No, I wouldn’t do that. I just couldn’t I just want you to know how I feel about this thing. I want to tell you how I love Frank.”

“I can’t hate you, not even if I try and I have tried…”

“I hope I have not said anything that can be taken any way but the right way. I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want Frank to hurt you.”

Wolch questions Lois about her relationship with Frank during the six months prior to the attempt on her life. She professes her love for Frank and admits writing to Ione. She also admits to dating other boys. The subtext of the cross-examination is clear—Lois is easy.

In her testimony, Lois confirms her meeting with Frank on February 18, 1931. She says they discuss “getting a doctor,” but abortion is illegal in 1931 and the danger of permanent disability or death is a consequence the expectant mother faces alone.

Ten days later, Lois said, Frank tells her they have an appointment with a doctor. The doctor could be anyone from a licensed physician to a drunken quack working out of a dirty backroom office. 

On March 4, they meet for the last time. Frank attacks her.

Frank takes the stand in his own defense and relates a self-serving account of the crime.

“When she told me she was going to my wife, little baby and my parents, and tell them I was responsible for her condition, well, I just flew off the handle, picked up a stick, hit her three or four times over the head, struck her on the jaw with my fist and left her there.”

The railroad tie he used to batter Lois is hardly “a stick”, and when he says he “left her there” he neglects to say he threw her into an abandoned well and expected her to die.

Wolch kept the kid gloves on during his examination of his client. Frank said he met Lois and Ione at about the same time. Lois lived in Pomona, and Ione in Glendora. He saw each of them about twice a week.

“What was your feeling for both Ione and Lois?

“I cared for Ione very much. I liked Lois, too. In September I made up my mind. I loved Ione…, so we went to Las Vegas and got married. We came home that night to my folks and the next day I took her to Glendora.”

Wolch asks Frank when he next meets with Lois. Frank says, “The following night.”

He describes Lois’ reaction to his marriage.

“Lois was heartbroken and deeply moved over my marriage to Ione. She asked me to get a divorce.”

Frank chuckles, then continues.

“Already she wanted me to get a divorce and marry her. I told her I couldn’t even think of it.”

Frank refuses to consider divorcing Ione; however, he continues to see Lois. They meet frequently from the time of his marriage until December, when they get together only once.

When they resume their affair in January, Lois asks Frank to get her some quinine. Quinine in large doses may induce an abortion, but it is not a sure thing. A pregnant woman who takes quinine risks renal failure. Babies who survive quinine exposure in the womb can be born deaf or suffer other side-effects. Both mother and child can die because of taking quinine.

Frank blew off Lois’ request to get the abortifacient, claiming he does not know what she wants with the over-the-counter drug.

According to Frank, Lois asked for quinine again in early February. This time he asked her why.

“I asked her what she wanted it for and she said she was expecting a baby, ad something had to be done. I said I was sorry and asked her who was responsible, and she didn’t answer. Again, she asked me to divorce Ione and marry her, and again I told her I wouldn’t consider it.”

Frank describes his March 4th meeting with Lois.

“I met her on March 4, about 6:30 p.m. We drove around a bit. I told her I couldn’t get a doctor. Finally, we parked the car on the outskirts of Pomona. She said she was going to blame me. Something had to be done or she would make trouble. I loved my wife very much, and the baby had just come. I had entirely overcome the conflict of the earlier months. I loved Ione, not Lois.”

When testimony concluded in early May, the jury faced conflicting versions of the March 4 attack.

Lois’ version, corroborated by her injuries, is gut-wrenching. The prosecution calls the attack “deliberate and brutal.”

Frank’s defense portrays Lois as a scheming home wrecker—no better than she ought to be.

In the last hours of the trial, Deputy District Attorney Cooper points out parallels between the case against Frank and the incidents in Theodore Dreiser’s novel, An American Tragedy. Cooper reads extracts from the book. 

The jury finds Frank guilty of attempted murder and statutory rape.

Before passing sentence, Judge Bowron has a few words for Frank:

“You are fortunate in that you are not here for the purpose of receiving the extreme penalty. The evidence and circumstances show that you planned to do away with Lois Wade because she was about to become a mother.”

Frank gets one to fourteen years in prison.

In a strange twist, probably orchestrated by a quick thinking reporter or a newspaper city editor, Frank, Ione, and Lois meet in jail a few hours before the prison train leaves for San Quentin. A photo shows the threesome holding hands and, supposedly, putting the past behind them.

Lois leaves without making a statement.

Ione tells reporters, “I intend to wait for him.”

She didn’t.

An American Tragedy in Pomona–Part 1

MARY CECILIA ROGERS

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Mystery of Marie Roget, is cited as the first murder mystery based on details of an actual crime. I am skeptical of firsts, but if Poe’s story is not the first, it is an early entry. It appeared in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion in three installments, November and December 1842 and February 1843.

Behind Poe’s tale of Marie Roget is the murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers.

Rogers, a tobacco shop employee, became known as the Beautiful Cigar Girl. She disappears on October 4, 1848, and local papers report her elopement with a naval officer. She returns later, sans husband.

She disappears again on July 25, 1841. Friends see her at the corner of Theatre Alley, where she meets a man. They walk off together toward Barclay Street, ostensibly for an excursion to Hoboken.

Three days later, H.G. Luther and two other men in a sailboat pass by Sybil’s Cave near Castle Point, Hoboken. Floating in the water they see the body of a young woman. They drag it to shore and contact police.

According to the New York Tribune, Rogers is “horribly outraged and murdered”. Questions regarding Rogers’ death remain. It is alleged she ended up in the river following a failed abortion. The scenario is credible, in part, because her boyfriend committed suicide and left a note suggesting his involvement in her death.

GRACE BROWN

I love it when a novel is based on a true crime. One of my favorites is An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. Dreiser draws inspiration from a murder in the Adirondacks.

In 1905, Chester Gillette takes a job as a manager in an uncle’s skirt factory in Cortland, New York. It is there he meets factory worker, Grace Brown. They begin an affair and she becomes pregnant.

Chester is neither interested in being a husband, nor in being a father. He takes Grace on a trip to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Using the alias, Carl Graham, Chester rents a hotel room, and a rowboat.

Grace believes the hotel is where they will spend their honeymoon following a visit to the local justice of the peace. In anticipation of her new life with Chester, Grace packs all of her belongings in a single suitcase.

Chester’s suitcase is small. He is not beginning a life with Grace.

On July 11, the couple takes a rowboat out into the middle of Big Moose Lake. There is no marriage proposal. No wedding ring. He beats her over the head with his tennis racquet and pushes her overboard to drown.

On July 13, 1906, The Sun reports the tragic drowning of a couple in Big Moose Lake. Grace’s body floats to the surface the next day. The body of her companion, Carl Graham, is missing.

Fearing he is dead, police search for Carl. They soon learn the true identity of Grace’s companion. He is alive, well, and his name is not Carl. Police arrest Chester. He denies responsibility for Grace’s death. He insists she committed suicide. The bad news for Chester is none of the physical evidence supports his version of events.

CHESTER GILLETTE

The jury shows no mercy—they find him guilty and sentence him to death.

On March 30, 1908, they execute Chester in the electric chair at Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York.

LOIS WADE

March 4, 1932.

Soaked to the skin, bleeding from the head, and covered in bruises, seventeen-year-old Lois Wade stumbles into the road near Mountain Meadows Country Club in Pomona. A Good Samaritan takes her to Pomona Valley Hospital.

The hospital calls the Sheriff’s department, and deputies arrive to take Lois’ statement. She tells them a terrifying story.

She is is walking from downtown Pomona to her parent’s home at 349 East Pasadena Avenue, when a stranger pulls up alongside her and offers her a ride. She accepts, but rather than taking her home, the man stops his car on Walnut Avenue near an abandoned well and beats her.

Lois’ attacker forces her into the well and shoves her down witht a pole when she attempts to climb out. When Lois vanishes from his view, the man gets in his car and drives away.

The motiveless attack makes little sense, and deputies question Lois’ account. The next day, she revises her story.

Her attacker is not a stranger as she originally claims; he is her nineteen-year-old married lover, Frank Newland.

Deputies Killion and Lynch arrest Frank at his home at 918 South San Antonio Street, Pomona. They book him on a charge of assault with intent to commit murder. Frank denies the attack.

As Lois lay in serious condition in the hospital, the D.A. revises charges against him to include statutory rape. Because of the severity of Lois’ wounds and her inability to appear in court, Judge White resumes Frank’s hearing at Lois’ hospital bedside.

Within a month of the attempt on Lois’ life, Frank goes to trial. Local newspapers pick up on the similarities between Frank and Lois and the characters in Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

Future Los Angeles mayor, Fletcher Bowron, sits on the bench. Public interest in the trial is high and draws an enormous crowd—the largest since the 1929 rape trial of theater mogul Alexander Pantages.

The trial begins on April 28; Lois takes the stand, and the courtroom hangs on her every word.

LOIS WADE

Lois is low-key and demure as she testifies to her ordeal.

“By prearrangement we met on a corner in Pomona. We went in his roadster to the Mountain Meadows Country Club, where he drove off the road and stopped the car. We sat in the car for a half-hour; yes, we kissed and loved. He then suggested that we walk over to an old windmill and abandoned well nearby.”

“We looked in the well and then suddenly he turned around and struck me over the head with a club. I fell to the ground. He struck me eight or ten times more and kicked me several times.”

Frank grabs Lois by the feet and drags her, struggling and screaming ten feet to the well. No match for Frank, he overpowers her and throws her in the well.

Lois lands in twenty-five-feet of water. She bobs to the top, and fights for her life. Frank uses a railroad tie to shove Lois under water. A photo of Deputy W.L. Killon, puts the size of the weapon into perspective.  

DEPUTY KILLION POSES WITH RAILROAD TIE USED TO BATTER
LOIS WADE

Convinced Lois is dead, Frank gets into his car and drives away.

Lois claws herself up the wall of the well. She crawls over the edge, tumbles onto the ground, then rises and lurches into the street to summon help. A man stops his car to render aid. Amazingly, Lois’ Good Samaritan is a doctor.

Dr. Roy E. St. Clair testifies to finding Lois in the road.

“I was driving to Pomona on the Mountain Meadows Road about 8:30 p.m. last March 4 when I heard a cry and the lights on my car picked up the figure of Miss Wade standing with her right arm out-stretched. I backed up my machine, and she came to the door and said ‘Take me to a doctor.’”

NEXT TIME: A strange ending.