The Body In The Garage

bootlegging quarrel“I just don’t know why I did it. We had an argument about bootlegging and I hit her over the head with an iron bar.”

That was the explanation given to cops by James A. (Jimmy) Reid, a thirty-nine-year-old bootlegger, for the death of forty-year-old Mrs. Anne Terrell, whose body was discovered buried beneath the floor of the garage at 323 North Flores Avenue on February 23, 1932.

garageAccording to Jimmy he and Anne argued constantly, but he lost it when she nagged him about going back into bootlegging:

“She wanted me to go back to bootlegging but I didn’t want to-

I’d been arrested twice before and I didn’t want to get knocked over again. I wasn’t drunk, but I got so mad I picked up an iron bar and let her have it. I was sorry right away, but that didn’t do me any good.”

Reid was busted in a bungalow at 2618 Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica. With him was Anne’s eleven-year-old daughter by a previous marriage, Harriet.

Harriet had come very close to waking in on Jimmy as he was digging her mother’s grave. Reid described the close encounter:

“I dragged her (Anne) into the garage and had almost succeeded in digging the hole and covering her up when Harriet came hone from school for lunch and almost walked in on me. I gave her some lunch money and told her to go back to school. Then I finished covering up the grave and later I got some fresh gravel and sprinkled it over the broken ground”

Until cops informed Harriett of her mother’s death, she thought that Anne had taken a job with a motion picture company and had gone on location for a while.child deceived

If not for a strange sequence of events, Reid may have gotten away with the killing

Reid and Terrell had first moved in to the bungalow in January of 1932. They’d
made a deal with the rental agent, Mrs. Lillian Stover, to take the place furnished.
Stover thought that there was something mysterious about the new tenants and
she took the license plate number of Reid’s car — just in case.

anne_terrellIn March, Stover dropped by the house to collect the rent but when she arrived she got the feeling that Terrell and Reid had flown. She let herself inside the house and noticed that a rug and some sheets were missing from a bedroom. She made a theft report at the Hollywood Police Station.

Detective Lieutenants Dinneen and Wheeler went to the house to look around — they even went into the garage. It wasn’t until they searched the bedroom again that they found a spot that looked like blood and tracks of dirt that looked like they had come from the garage. They found a soft spot in the garage floor and brought some men in to dig; four feet down they discovered Anne’s body.

A trace went out on Reid’s license plate and cops found out that the car was registered to George Forant of Santa Monica. Detectives paid Forant a visit and he told them that Reid had declared that Mrs. Terrell had run away with another
man and left him with little Harriet.

Forant’s wife was taking care of Harriet while Reid was down town on an errand.
Cops waited for Reid to return home. It was shortly after 3 p.m. that Jimmy pulled
up to the house. He saw the officers waiting for him, but made no attempt to flee.
He said:

“I know what fellows want. On my way downtown I saw a bunch of cars parked on Flores street and when I came back there was a crowd of people there. I knew they had found the body. I even drove by to make sure. I guess it is all up but the shouting.”

Well, not quite all up.

Harriet was taken to Juvenile Hall where she was scheduled to be examined by
physicians to eliminate the possibility that she had been molested by Reid.
Jimmy told cops that he was always good to Harriet, and acquaintances of his
said that he always liked children.

NEXT TIME: Harriet tells her story.

4 thoughts on “The Body In The Garage

    • Deborah — I love writing in installments! It builds suspense (I hope!) Thanks again for reading the blog.

  1. I think everyone has a breaking point. The nagging finally got to him and he flipped out. He seems like a nice enough fellow but I want to know what Harriet has to say. This should be good.

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