Harvey Glatman: The Glamour Girl Slayer

Los Angeles Police Museum located at 6045 York Blvd, Highland Park, CA

Los Angeles Police Museum located at 6045 York Blvd, Highland Park, CA

I have been a volunteer archivist at the Los Angeles Police Museum for over three years and it is one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. My primary project has been the archiving of Los Angeles Police Daily Bulletins. The Bulletins began in March 1907 and the collection at the LAPM goes through 1958. The Bulletins are an extraordinary glimpse into the history of Los Angeles filtered through the lens of law enforcement.

In 1907 LAPD hunted for the occasional robber on the lam, missing or runaway children, stolen horses, bicycles (or “wheels” as they were called) and missing or stolen dogs. By 1957 the concerns reflected the era and LAPD had to cope with strong arm robberies, bad checks and juvenile delinquents sporting “rebel without a cause” wardrobes. Some of the juvies were hell-bent on crime, others were in the wrong place hanging with the wrong crowd and didn’t understand that rolled-cuff Levis and a duck tail hairdo don’t necessarily make you a bad-ass.Poster - Rebel Without a Cause_02

Last Friday while I was archiving Bulletins from 1958 I came across the photo of a missing woman. Her name, Ruth Mercado, seemed familiar. I read that she’d gone missing from her West Hollywood apartment on July 23,1958 and that she was a stripper and a pin-up model. I set the Bulletin aside and continued my work.

A bit later a friend of mine Mike Fratantoni, who is a fellow crime historian, stopped by. When he saw what I was doing he asked me if I’d run across any of Harvey Glatman’s victims among the missing women in the ’58 Bulletins. The light bulb finally switched on over my head — no wonder Ruth Mercado had seemed familiar to me — she was the last woman Harvey Glatman murdered.

Harvey Murray Glatman was born in the Bronx in New York on December 10,1927 and raised in Colorado. Harvey seems to have been hard-wired for deviance. His parents once found him with a string tied around his penis, the loose end of which he had shut in a drawer, he was leaning backwards so that the string pulled his member taught. He was four years old.

Harvey’s parents were alarmed by their son’s behavior, but his indulgent mother, Ophelia, believed he would grow out of his more peculiar habits, while his father Albert hoped that occasional discipline would straighten the boy out. His parents faced bitter disappointment. Nothing and no one would prevent Harvey from pursuing his pleasure.

Puberty is a confusing and difficult time, perhaps more so for a young man whose fantasies and desires didn’t include holding hands at the local malt shop, or fastening a corsage to a prom dress. Not that he could have done those things even if his day dreams had been more typical. Harvey was painfully shy around girls and he was further handicapped by looks that earned him the nicknames “Weasel” and “Chipmunk”. If Harvey was going to have a sex life he was going to have to build it on vivid fantasies, nocturnal home break-ins, stolen lingerie, a gun and a length of rope.glatman_teen

Glatman committed his first sex offenses while he was a teenager. He would break into women’s apartments, tie them up and fondle but not rape them. As a way to recall his conquests he would force his victims to pose for photographs. In 1945 he was arrested and charged with attempted burglary. He was impulsive offender, fueled by lust and a significant amount of rage for the women he victimized.  While he was still out on bail awaiting trial he kidnapped and molested another woman before releasing her — that uncontrollable urge cost him eight months in prison.

Harvey’s assaults on women grew bolder and more violent following his move to New York in 1947. He was eventually arrested for a series of muggings and sentenced to from five to ten years in Sing Sing. Prison psychiatrists diagnosed Glatman as a psychopath. His psychiatric problems didn’t keep him from being a model prison however, and he was released in 1956.

By 1957 Glatman had moved to Los Angeles and was working as a television repairman. The time had finally come when it wasn’t enough for him to choke himself into unconsciousness for sexual release. He was no longer satisfied merely fondling the women he bound and gagged or forcing them to cuddle with him while they watched TV sitcoms. Harvey was pushing thirty when he decided to lose his virginity, and he was eager to try out his favorite sex toy, a piece of rope, on someone other than himself.

One of the women Glatman ultimately terrorized and murdered in L.A. was Ruth Mercado, the woman whose photo I saw in a 1958 Los Angeles Police Daily Bulletin. But before Ruth there was Judy Dull and Shirley Bridgeford.

NEXT TIME: The deaths of three L.A. glamour girls.



Death Of A Free Spirit

On January 23, 1955 the decomposing body of a woman was discovered lying face down in some weeds, ten feet down the bank of the west side of Latigo Canyon Road in Malibu.

The body was resting on a bed of heavy brush, inches above the dirt, and the head and face were almost completely decomposed. When Los Angeles County Sheriffs Detectives examined the woman in situ she was still completely dressed and her clothing was intact. She was wearing a beige nylon skirt with variable colored horizontal weave; green seersucker blouse; nylon stockings; white cotton garter belt; and a short black wool coat. Her undergarments were not disturbed. The woman was determined to be 25-30 years of age with crooked teeth and a slight overbite. She was a brunette, five feet tall, and petite. No shoes had been found at the location, however the cops thought she would wear a size 4 to 5. There was no jewelry and no ID found on or near the body.

Sheriff’s investigators had nearly nothing to go on — and until they had the results of the autopsy they couldn’t even be sure that the woman had been murdered.

The coroner completed his autopsy and concluded that Jane Doe had been struck over the head and strangled. It was a murder case. But the cops didn’t know who she was, where she’d been slain, or by whom.

With so few clues to sink their teeth into the detectives followed up on the scant leads they had from the clothing found on the corpse. They got nowhere.

alexandra id headlineOn the morning of January 24, 1955, Bob and Joy Monetti arrived at the Sheriff’s detective bureau and said that they had read an account of the woman and her clothing and believed her to be their missing friend, Alexandra Roos. Joy was able to positively ID the dead woman’s clothing as belonging to Roos, and the coroner confirmed the identification based on her fingerprints — she had worked at an Air Force base.

Joy and Alexandra had worked together in the credit department at the Bank of America located at 7th and Olive. Joy told the detectives that Anita Meloche, who babysat for Alexandra’s three year old daughter Allison, might be able to provide further information regarding Roos and her associates.id clothing

When questioned, Anita stated that she had been caring for Allison and had last seen Alexandra at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, January 7th. When Alexandra didn’t turn up to collect her daughter Anita was worried — but not enough to report the woman she knew as “Xandra” missing. Xandra had stayed away for a weekend before, but when Monday rolled around and there was still no sign of her Anita decided she’d better take action. Anita went to the Highland Park Division of LAPD (now the home of the L.A. Police Museum) and filed a missing persons report.

Detectives began to piece together a picture of Xandra. She was thought to have had financial problems, but the supposed financial difficulties made no sense when the cops learned that she had been left a $15,000 (equivalent to $45,000 in current U.S. dollars) trust fund in New York and it had been under her complete control since she had turned twenty-one.

Abbe Miller, the New York attorney who had represented Xandra in litigation connected with the trust fund, said that the young woman had never known her birth father who had died before she was born. She was raised by her mother and stepfather, Hugo and Frieda Schmidt, but she never got along with either of them and finally cut them out of her life.

Xandra had given birth to her daughter in 1951.  The identity of Allison’s father was unknown until Alan H. Brown, 46, a married film technician, came forward and admitted paternity.alexandra allison

Xandra was described by acquaintances as being “careless” in her relationships with men, she seemed to have a penchant for older guys. Joy Monetti said:

“She had two or three boy friends of her own age, but she seemed to prefer the company of older men. She didn’t go out very often, though. She spend a lot of her time at the library.”

The characterization of Xandra by her acquaintances calls to mind the expression “damned with faint praise”:

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

–Alexander Pope, 1734

In nearly every statement made about Xandra she was described as moody, reserved, but also studious — which, combined with speculations about her careless love life, made her sound like a bookish slut.  A woman should expect kinder epitaphs from her friends.

Xandra had kept a diary for at least ten years and it revealed an independent streak and a strength of character than must have seemed confusing or even threatening to people during a time when women were still expected to be perfect wives and mothers.

Xandra had been a free spirit even in high school where her motto was: “Kiss them for it’s a pleasure”.


In her diary, Xandra wrote:

“I want to live by my own motivation, attached to someone I would feel the necessity of performing all the small duties and chores that make life worthwhile…”

She also confided to her diary:

“Accept me the way I am, for what I am, or do not accept me at all.”


Remarkably, only a couple of weeks after having been handed a murder mystery Sheriff’s homicide investigators had a suspect and a confession.

NEXT TIME:  The conclusion of the Death of A Free Spirit.




Stella Darlene Nolan, Part 1


For the past 3 1/2 years I’ve been a volunteer archivist at the Los Angeles Police Museum. I find the work fascinating and rewarding, in fact given my passion for old paper (I have a vast collection of vintage cosmetics ephemera) and historic L.A. crime, it is the ideal place for me.


When I first met with the Executive Director of the LAPM, I wasn’t sure what projects they had or what they would want me to do. I told him about my personal collection and he said “I may have a project for you.” He sure did! He showed me the museum’s collection of Daily Bulletins and I was immediately hooked.

Many of the Daily Bulletins had been bound into volumes, while others were loose pages. The majority of the Bulletins, even those in bindings, were in fragile condition. They were printed on inexpensive paper and were handed out to each officer at the beginning of a shift; they were never meant to survive beyond a day or two and we wanted them to last forever.

Our first priority was to determine the best practice for preserving the Bulletins — they’re a valuable resource and we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.

We we arranged a consultation with experts at the Getty and they recommended that we unbind the volumes and place the individual pages into archival sleeves.

I was particularly worried about the unbinding process. I’d never done anything like it before. With proper instruction and the right tools I have been able to unbind many years worth of Daily Bulletins. The future of the Bulletins is secure, and we’ll eventually have a searchable database which will allow us to further our own research as well as to share knowledge with historians, sociologists, criminologists and policy makers.

The Bulletins began in March of 1907 under Chief Edward Kerr, and provide a daily snapshot of the LAPD as well as of the City of Los Angeles over a period of 50 years.

In his 1913 holiday greeting, Chief C.E. Sebastian referred to the Daily Bulletin as the ‘Paper Policeman’, which suits them perfectly. The Bulletins didn’t just convey information about wanted criminals or stolen property; they contained notices of funerals, commendations, and policy and procedure updates.

The Bulletins sometimes had a sense of humor. In this Bulletin from April 1, 1907 there’s a LOOK OUTS notice:

“A real bear is lost, strayed or stolen from the Shrine Sircus (sic) at Fiesta Park. Look out for him and if found notify Leo Youngworth, U.S. Marshal and Chief Bear Tamer.”

I checked the historic LA Times and there was a circus in town that week, but I found no report of a runaway bear.

00077896aqueduct dedication

Dedication of the L.A. Aqueduct — November 5, 1913. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

The November 3, 1913 Daily Bulletin listed the all of the officers who would form the Aqueduct Detail for the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

stellaIt was arguably the most significant event in the history of L.A., and the Bulletin shows that LAPD was present.

I’ve seen thousands of incredible Daily Bulletins, but the one that means the most to me personally is from June 1953, and that’s because I was peripherally involved in the cold case 56 years later.

But let me begin at the beginning — June 20, 1953. Ilene Nolan had reported the disappearance, and possible abduction, of her eight year old daughter, Stella Darlene. There was something about the little girl that caught my eye.

Usually a missing child will turn up in a day or two and the notice will be canceled in a subsequent Bulletin. I couldn’t find a cancellation for Stella, so I decided to dig deeper; and I couldn’t believe what I found.

tragedyStella had disappeared from Auction City (in the Norwalk area) where her mother was employed as a clerk at a refreshment stand. Stella was a well behaved child and checked in every hour with her mom, so when she failed to turn up between 8 and 9 pm Mrs. Nolan knew that something was wrong.

anxiousA few days following Stella’s disappearance the little girl had still not returned home. Her parents, who lived in a trailer park at 16108 South Atlantic in Compton, were frantic with worry. Even Stella’s dog, Pal, was inconsolable. By day, the little dog wandered around the trailer whimpering, and at night he would howl and bay.

In desperation, Stella’s mom and dad revealed that they were not her birth parents and that even though they’d had custody of her since birth they had never legally adopted her!

Ilene told cops how she and her husband, Owen, had acquired custody of Stella. During the mid-1940s Ilene had worked with Marjorie Woods and Betty Jean Stalcup at the Pony Cafe in San Diego. Ilene had expressed her desire to have a child and so Betty Jean, who was pregnant, agreed to give her baby to Nolan a few days after the baby’s birth. Six days after the child was born Betty Jean tuned her over to Ilene.stella birth mom

The Nolans said they had often thought of adopting Stella Darlene and in 1950 they had even gone so far as to consult a San Diego lawyer. The attorney, however, had advised the couple to save possible sorrow and heartbreak by doing nothing!

The cops quickly located Betty Jean, Stella’s birthmother. She’d moved to Texas, married, and had a three year old girl. She was swiftly cleared of any involvement in Stella’s disappearance.

The newspapers reported that except for occasional fits of silent weeping, Ilene Nolan had maintained her composure. But she lost it when her cousin, Mrs. Kay Talley of San Diego, arrived at the trailer. Ilene collapsed and sobbed convulsively. Then she told of having a vision in which she saw Stella Darlene dead.

She said:

“I sat quiet for a few minutes trying to rest. I was thinking very hard about anything that might help us. Then across my eyes came a vision of Darlene’s little legs sticking out of a hole somewhere. She had red shoes on her feet. They were leather ones with big, thick crepe rubber soles.”

By early July, barely a month after she’d disappeared, Stella’s twenty year old married cousin, William R. Nolan, an unemployed hospital orderly, was jailed on a technical booking in Long Beach as a key suspect in the case. Nolan emphatically denied any connection with Stella Darlene’s disappearance. William was grilled for hours by detectives. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department dispatched several criminal laboratory technicians to check for possible blood stains in William’s bungalow court apartment and in the trunk of his 1949 convertible. The techs didn’t turn up a single clue. He told conflicting stories regarding his whereabouts on the night that Stella disappeared, but he was cleared.

cousin held

At least one crank caller phoned the Nolans to tell them that their little girl was alive, but nothing came of the call. The police were frustrated by the lack of movement in the case.

lie detectorIn mid-October 1953, a fourteen year old boy was brought in for questioning — Norwalk Dep. Dist Atty. Adolph Alexander and Inspector Garner Brown stated that the boy held the key to the girl’s fate. While the fourteen year old was being questioned two of his acquaintances, William R. Hardy, twenty-two, and an unnamed seventeen year old, were facing lie detector tests in Pasadena.

The boys were proved to be liars, and one of them even made a false confession, however they were not killers.

During the remainder of 1953 various “hot” suspects were interrogated but none of them panned out.

On June 20, 1955, the second anniversary of her disappearance, the L.A. Times ran a follow-up story about Stella but it didn’t result in any further leads. The Sheriff’s detectives reluctantly stated that they believed Stella had been kidnapped and killed by a sexual psychopath.

Mrs. Nolan told reporters:

“We’ll never give up hope until we’re both dead.”

NEXT TIME: What happened to Stella Darlene Nolan?

Aggie and the Fox, Part Two:The Hunt is On!

Mariion, Mrs. Parker, Marjorie. [Photo courtesy LAPL]

Mariion, Mrs. Parker, Marjorie. [Photo courtesy LAPL]

On December 15, 1927, twelve year old school girl Marion Parker was unwittingly handed over to a monster by the school registrar at Mt. Vernon Junior High School. Her abductor had come to the school that day and said that Perry Parker, the girl’s father, had been seriously injured in an automobile accident and was calling for his youngest daughter.  But Marion was a twin – which girl was the man talking about? Both Marion and her sister Marjorie were at school that day.

It was determined that Marion would be brought to the office for the simple reason that she was in class and Marjorie was on an errand on the school grounds, and so she was not immediately available. Marjorie was returning to the school office just as Marion was getting into a car with a dark haired stranger. Marjorie watched her sister and the man drive away.

Parker family home.

Parker family home.  [Photo is courtesy of LAPL]

The Parker family waited in agony for Marion’s return, or at the very least for a communication from her kidnapper. They didn’t have long to wait. The day following Marion’s abduction the first of four ransom letters was received. The kidnapper demanded $1500 in cash for the girl’s release with the threat of death if the demand was not met. The first of the ransom notes was signed “George Fox”, the last of them were signed “The Fox”.

On the morning of December 17, 1927, Perry Parker received a telegram reiterating the earlier demand for $1500 in exchange for his daughter’s life. That evening Parker took a call from the kidnapper.  The man instructed Parker to drive to the corner of Fifth Street and Manhattan Place in Los Angeles, and told him not to inform the cops or Marion would die. The plan was for Parker to sit in his car and wait for the kidnapper to pull up next to him and show him that Marion was alive. The kidnapper would then collect the ransom money and drop Marion off a block down the street.

Photo is courtesy of LAPL.

Instructions from “The Fox”.  Photo is courtesy of LAPL.

Parker followed the kidnapper’s instructions to the letter. He waited briefly at the designated meeting place for a few minutes before a Chrysler coupe pulled up beside him. He looked over and caught a glimpse of Marion sitting in the front seat. Parker sensed that something was wrong with the girl — maybe she was bound or drugged. Nothing could have prepared Mr. Parker for the reality.

The driver of the Chrysler had a white handkerchief over his face and pointed a large caliber weapon at Parker. The man said: “You know what I’m here for.  Here’s your child. She’s asleep. Give me the money and follow instructions.”  Parker did as he was told. He was too close to getting his little girl back to make any move that would spook the man with the gun. The money was exchanged and Parker followed the coupe to 432 South Manhattan Place. The passenger door of the car opened and Marion was pushed out onto the lawn.  Parker tried to get the license number of the car, but the kidnapper had bent the plate so that only a few numbers were visible.

The Chrysler roared off and Parker ran over to Marion. He felt a few moments of relief, his girl was going to go home with him and everything would be as it was. Except when Parker got to Marion and took her in his arms he saw that not only was she dead, but she had been savagely mutilated. His screams made an unholy sound that reverberated throughout the neighborhood. Someone phoned the police.

Marion Parker’s body was wrapped in towels. Her legs and arms had been hacked off and she had been disemboweled, the cavity stuffed with rags. A wire was wrapped tightly around her neck and then drawn up and wrapped around her forehead. Her eyelids had been sewn open so that she would appear alive when Perry saw her from a car length away.

Bundles of Marion’s body parts had been scattered around town. A woman who lived about a block away from where Marion had been dumped discovered a suitcase that contained blood soaked papers and a spool of thread. The thread was a match for that used to sew Marion’s eyelids open.

A reward of $1,000 was offered, but contributions from people all over the city brought the final total to $50,000 (over $600k in current U.S. dollars).

Artifacts from Marion Parker case are on display at L.A. Police Museum.

Artifacts from Marion Parker case are on display at L.A. Police Museum.

The first break in the case came when the towels that had been wrapped around Marion’s torso were identified as coming from the Bellevue Arms Apartments. A man named Donald Evans, who matched the description of the kidnapper, had rented a room in the building.  Evans was soon discovered to be an alias used by nineteen year old William Edward Hickman. Hickman had been a messenger at the same bank where Perry Parker worked, but lost his job after pleading guilty to forgery. He had had the audacity to return to the bank later and ask for his old job back, but Parker showed him the door. Parker also refused to supply a reference for Hickman when he applied for a job with another company.   The cops were beginning to glimpse a motive.

When the police arrived at the Bellevue Arms to search the apartment they discovered that Hickman had fled; but they picked up a couple of solid bits of evidence. A piece of a Brazil nut was found in a trash can in Hickman’s apartment, and it fit perfectly with another piece that had been found in the pocket of  Marion’s dress. The Chrysler coupe had been discovered and prints from the car matched prints on the ransom notes.  At least that’s what they thought; the prints on the car were later discovered to belong to someone other than Hickman

William Edward Hickman [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

William Edward Hickman [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Fingerprints or not, the rest of the evidence was compelling enough to formally charge William Edward Hickman with the murder of Marion Parker.

Life was getting scary for men who had the misfortune to resemble Hickman. One poor fellow was arrested five times before he was given a “get out of jail free” letter from the police.  Another man who resembled Hickman was chased down and surrounded by a mob at Sixth and Hill streets in downtown Los Angeles. The police arrived just in time to save the man from being strung up on a light pole.

The real Hickman had left town the day after collecting the ransom from Parker. He’d carjacked a 1928 Hudson sedan on Hollywood Blvd, taken $15 from the driver, and headed north.

The hunt for “The Fox” was on.