The Body In The Garage, Conclusion


Harriet Terrell

Jimmy Reid told the cops that he had been nagged so relentlessly by his girlfriend, Anne Terrell, that he’d snapped and killed her He said that she wouldn’t leave him alone on the subject of bootlegging.  No, she didn’t want him to stop — she wanted him to begin again because they needed the money.

However, once it was revealed that the dead woman’s eleven-year-old daughter, Harriett, had been molested by Reid  the original reason for the murder was abandoned in favor of another far more disturbing and sinister motive.

The doctors proved that eleven-year-old Harriet Terrell had been criminally assaulted, and she was able to name her attacker — her “stepfather”, Jimmy Reid.

Inspector of Detectives Davidson said:

“This evidence throws new light on the case and establishes an entirely different
motive for the crime. Mrs. Terrell undoubtedly learned of the relations Reid had
with her daughter and probably threatened him with exposure. This most likely
caused the quarrel which resulted in her death.”

As a motive it made one hell of a lot more sense that a violent argument over
Reid’s refusal to return to bootlegging.mistreatment denied

Reid continued to deny harming Harriet, but he related to the Coroner’s jury how
he had killed Ann by cracking her over the head with a gas pipe after she had
kicked him.

“I temporarily went insane.” he said.

As far as his reason for refusing to get back into the bootlegging business, Reid
said he was afraid of being arrested again and he didn’t want to get Harriet into
any trouble. Huh? Unless the kid was helping him to run the booze around town it
seems unlikely that she’d be in any trouble over contraband liqour.

girl witnessThe D.A.’s office filed a complaint against Jimmy Reid for two counts of mistreating Harriet — once prior to the murder, and one time afterwards. Harriet was required to face Reid in court. It must have been traumatizing for the little girl; and if that wasn’t awful enough, in an utterly nauseating display during the court proceedings Reid leaped from his chair and fell to his knees in front of Harriet sobbing that he did not kill her mother. He had to be forcibly returned to his chair by the bailiff.

In spite of his confession to the cops in which he had recounted details of Anne’s murder, Jimmy later testified that another man beaten Terrell to death. He admitted, however, that he had buried the body.reid life

The spectacle of Reid prostrating himself in front of Harriet claiming to be innocent of her mother’s murder was revolting, but his encore was even more despicable. When he appeared for sentencing in Anne’s slaying he brought with him a sheaf of papers which he dropped on the clerk’s desk. The papers were sentimental poems in which the thirty-nine-year-old Reid professed his love for eleven-year-old Harriet.

Here is a sample of Reid’s verse:

“Oh God upon high, won’t you please hear my cry
And show me the way to come home?
Don’t pass me by, I am ready to die,
I’m deserted and left all alone.

Jimmy Reid was convicted of having murdered Anne so that he could run off with Harriet, and he was sentenced to life. The judge recommended that he never be paroled. I think he should have received the death sentence for his crappy poem.

Harriet’s birth father, Frank C. Terrell, petitioned the court for custody, but Veteran’s Administration physicians reported that he wasn’t able to provide properly for his little girl. Harriet’s maternal grandmother, Eva Gram of South Minneapolis, was given guardianship.

James Reid vanished from the news until September 1946 when he escaped from a prison road camp near Quincy, Plumas County. Warden Duffy of San Quentin said Reid had been sent to the road camp because he had a record of good behavior. In fact he would soon have been eligible parole.

I don’t know if Reid was returned to prison or if he remained on the lam. There were no further reports on him (at least none that I could find) in the newspapers.

10 thoughts on “The Body In The Garage, Conclusion

  1. I just discovered this page on a Google search for James Reid. Anne (Rosenberg) Terrel, the murder victim, was my great-aunt. This story was a family secret for many years. It was devastating to the family. Her mother became ill and died a few months later.

    • Pat – The internet has certainly been instrumental in uncovering many family secrets and I, for one, am glad. I think that so often the victims were unfairly tarred with the same brush as the perpetrators, and families felt shame for situations that were not their fault. Anne was cruelly deceived by James, he was a predator and a monster. Do you know what became of Harriet? I hope that she went on to have a good life. Best – Joan

      • Harriet married and had two sons. Harriet was a very troubled person throughout her life. She had great difficulty with relationships. She never received any kind of mental health counseling or talked openly about her past with anyone. I know these details since I was her daughter in law. In her later life she found some joy with her grandchildren. The whole story is so very tragic.

        • It is a very tragic story. Harriet probably wouldn’t have been encouraged to talk about her ordeal even if she’d wanted to. My mom was molested by a family member as a child and not only was she discouraged from speaking, she was blamed — like she had done something to encourage her abuser. It is a terrible burden to place on a child and unresolved it makes it awfully difficult to manage adulthood. Thank goodness she found some later happiness through her grandchildren. I have never been able to find out what happened to James, but whatever it was, it wasn’t bad enough to atone for the pain he caused. Take care and thank you so much for writing. Best — Joan

    • I’m a social historian interested in Los Angeles crime, especially from 1920 through the 1970s. I pour over old newspapers, detective magazines and books searching for cases to retell. I believe that the victims of crime should not be forgotten and that’s the general explanation for why I do what I do. What drew me to Harriet’s story was James’ initial statement that Anne had tried to talk him into returning to bootlegging to make money. Many of the stories I research and write about challenge my first assessment, as this one did. I was ready to write it up as the story of some poor guy talked back into a life of crime by a woman — of course that wasn’t what happened at all and as the tale unraveled it became clear that James was a murderer and a child molester. I’m glad that the internet has been responsible for revealing some family secrets. The stories I write about were all in the the news, but over decades they were forgotten. I think that when they are rediscovered by family members with enough distances from the actual events they lead to understanding and healing. I’ve been contacted by family members of both victims and perpetrators and it is stunning how the ripples of a crime committed seven or eight decades ago can have an impact on a family even now. –Joan

  2. A November 18, 1958 article in the Long Beach Independent, and other newspapers of that date, cites information from the sentencing hearing of Albert B. Tinault in Muskegon, MI. He was convicted of molesting a 12 year old child and was then identified as having ‘walked’ from San Quentin where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his common law wife.

    I have seen no articles that specifically state Albert had used the alias James A. Reid, but the prisoner ID assigned to Reid at San Quentin was 52070. In the 1940 US Census for San Quentin Albert B Tinault is identified with the ID number 52070. I presume that he confessed to this at some time during his incarceration.

    I do not know where he spent the remainder of his days, but he died April 01, 1969 in Los Angeles and is burried there. For the record he was born August 15, 1892 in Alpina MI.

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