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.

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.