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The Mysterious Death of Thelma Todd


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#16    iamdee1

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:17 PM

From what I am reading on this case, her car was found in a garage that belonged to Carmen Jewels parents and was attached to their house.  Also, it appears that West and Jewels marriage was over at the time and that West had moved in with Thelma Todd.

Todd spent the night of her death at a Hollywood party thrown by Ida Lapido where Todd and her ex husband were involved in a heated confrontation.    The ex was also suspect in a beating death of an actor by the name of Ted Healy in a parking garage a few years later.

When Thelmas body was found, it was discovered she had a broken nose, her tooth was knocked out, had several broken ribs, and enough bruises to determine that she had been beat up.  There was also more than enough blood on her clothes to render suspicioun.

The night of the murder she was so drunk that she received a ride home from Sid Graumann, because, as Sid called West and informed him, she was too drunk to drive there herself.  Witnesses from the neighborhood stated that she had been seen at the door of her apartment screaming obseniites and kicking at the door but West refused to let her in, instead he locked the door and admitted they had gotten into a terrible fight because of her level of intoxication.  He also admitted to being the last one to see her alive.

Suspiciion focused on West and it was rumored that he had hired an actress to play Todd and to beat on the door while Todd was inside being beat to death.

An added twist to the story.  On Sunday morning, Jewel Carmen claimed to have seen Thelma Todd driving past her house with a handsome stranger.  At this time, police believed that Todd had already been dead and it was thought the story was to distract the questioning away from her husband West.

Thelma Todds attorney claimed that he would be able to prove the murder was committed by Lucky Luciano and a second inquest was requested and accepted, however, Hal Roach begged them not to bring the mobster into the investigation and it was dropped.

My favorite part of the story is that a ghostly image of an "ice cream blonde" woman is seen haunting the Roadside Rest Cafe and carbon monixide fumes can be smelled even when there is no car in the garage.



Here is a link to Thelma Todd:
http://www.prairiegh...hollywood8.html


Here is a link to the Three Stooges -- Ted Healy murder

http://shatterhand00...6/TedHealy.html

Edited by iamdee1, 02 November 2011 - 07:48 PM.


#17    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:46 PM

View Postiamdee1, on 02 November 2011 - 07:17 PM, said:

Suspiciion focused on West and it was rumored that he had hired an actress to play Todd and to beat on the door while Todd was inside being beat to death.

An added twist to the story.  On Sunday morning, Jewel Carmen claimed to have seen Thelma Todd driving past her house with a handsome stranger.  At this time, police believed that Todd had already been dead and it was thought the story was to distract the questioning away from her husband West.
Exactly.

What West and Carmen did before/after the death of Thelma is strange and suspicious.

West was sick of Thelma's drug addiction, and he bitterly resented Thelma`s numerous affairs. He felt that Thelma didn't took care of the Restaurant ( West and Thelma were the owners of the restaurant ). This is true, shortly before she died Thelma didn't seemed to care one bit about the restaurant, didn't seemed to care that they were losing money. Killing Thelma was for West the opportunity of becoming the majority owner of the Restaurant. West is the last person who saw Thelma alive.

Carmen was unstable, violent ( some may say crazy ) and she hated Thelma, reason number one because her husband was attracted to Thelma and cared more about her. When the restaurant started to lose money, she threatened to kill Todd for squandering her investment.

I have many books about the mob, and one thing is sure: Lansky and Luciano wanted nothing to do with Hollywood, their biggest fear was to be associated one way or another to Hollywood or the movie industry. I believe it's one of the reasons why they decided to kill their friend Bugsy, because Bugsy was way too much "out there" with famous people ( singers, actors etc ) and it was bad for business, suddenly he was in the newspapers, and Lansky and Luciano were not happy about it. My point is: It would have been too risky for them to kill a star like Thelma, after all people knew that she was having an affair with Lucky, it would have been bad for business if Luciano was suddenly a suspect in Thelma's death.

I might be wrong, but I really believe West and/or Carmen had more "logical reasons" to kill Thelma, that's how I feel. But the possibility that the mob was involved is still possible.

I believe there is more evidences linking West and/or Carmen to the murder, than evidences linking the mob.


#18    iamdee1

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:20 PM

How do you feel about the ex husband?  They were involved in a heated discussion the night of the murder.  Do you think he sent one of his goons to take care of her?


#19    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:26 PM

View Postiamdee1, on 02 November 2011 - 08:20 PM, said:

How do you feel about the ex husband?  They were involved in a heated discussion the night of the murder.  Do you think he sent one of his goons to take care of her?
Thelma's first husband, Pat DiCicco ??

Another interesting theory and another possibility, but the problem is the motive. I don't see why he would have asked somebody to kill Thelma. Yes, she divorced him and he was humiliated because of this, but I don't think he had any reasons to kill her.

He was involved with the mob, but he wasn't an important member of the organization, therefore I doubt he would have had the power to ask somebody from the mob to kill Thelma. From what I have read he had only ties to the mob and was not an important member of any organization.

Like I said in my previous posts I believe West and his wife Jewel Carmen are the best suspects.

Edited by JonathanVonErich, 02 November 2011 - 08:54 PM.


#20    shrewgoddess

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 04:25 AM

View PostJonathanVonErich, on 02 November 2011 - 07:46 PM, said:

Exactly.

What West and Carmen did before/after the death of Thelma is strange and suspicious.

West was sick of Thelma's drug addiction, and he bitterly resented Thelma`s numerous affairs. He felt that Thelma didn't took care of the Restaurant ( West and Thelma were the owners of the restaurant ). This is true, shortly before she died Thelma didn't seemed to care one bit about the restaurant, didn't seemed to care that they were losing money. Killing Thelma was for West the opportunity of becoming the majority owner of the Restaurant. West is the last person who saw Thelma alive.

Carmen was unstable, violent ( some may say crazy ) and she hated Thelma, reason number one because her husband was attracted to Thelma and cared more about her. When the restaurant started to lose money, she threatened to kill Todd for squandering her investment.

I have many books about the mob, and one thing is sure: Lansky and Luciano wanted nothing to do with Hollywood, their biggest fear was to be associated one way or another to Hollywood or the movie industry. I believe it's one of the reasons why they decided to kill their friend Bugsy, because Bugsy was way too much "out there" with famous people ( singers, actors etc ) and it was bad for business, suddenly he was in the newspapers, and Lansky and Luciano were not happy about it. My point is: It would have been too risky for them to kill a star like Thelma, after all people knew that she was having an affair with Lucky, it would have been bad for business if Luciano was suddenly a suspect in Thelma's death.

I might be wrong, but I really believe West and/or Carmen had more "logical reasons" to kill Thelma, that's how I feel. But the possibility that the mob was involved is still possible.

I believe there is more evidences linking West and/or Carmen to the murder, than evidences linking the mob.

There's a few things wrong with the West and/or Carmen theory. First, depending on how the title to the restaurant was taken, there is no guarantee that Todd's death would result in West getting the business. Although it may seem to make sense that a partner would get the remainder of the business, that is not always the case - especially if Todd bought the place and West simply helped her out while they considered themselves partners to make the weak cover for a flagrant affair that was necessary for 30's Hollywood. Second, the Sidewalk Cafe needed Todd. She was the reason for the high-class clientele and since the place closed shortly after her death, it seems clear that without her presence, they simply would not go to the cafe for whatever the reason. This makes killing Todd very illogical.

A few things on Todd's ex-husband, DiCicco. First, Some sources report that they were divorced because he beat her. Second, It's already been admitted that he was involved in the mafia. No matter how small his role, that is not typically the life of a pacifist. Furthermore, Todd's murder was done with the subtlety of a mob hit. Even if the killing wasn't mob-sanctioned, he would still have the knowledge to pull off a murder if he wanted to.  Third, he was actually a suspect in another murder about two years after Todd's murder, the beating of an actor outside a nightclub that was then covered up by the studio. Fourth, he married Gloria Vanderbilt, later beat her and she was granted a divorce from him citing "extreme cruelty." He really does have quite a history of violence and even if there's no reason for this violence or for the murder, that doesn't mean that it should be ignored. Sometimes people are just cruelly and stupidly violent and they kill people and a lot of times, they kill people they know.   (Info on Pat DiCicco)


#21    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 05:06 PM

View Postshrewgoddess, on 03 November 2011 - 04:25 AM, said:

There's a few things wrong with the West and/or Carmen theory. First, depending on how the title to the restaurant was taken, there is no guarantee that Todd's death would result in West getting the business. Although it may seem to make sense that a partner would get the remainder of the business, that is not always the case - especially if Todd bought the place and West simply helped her out while they considered themselves partners to make the weak cover for a flagrant affair that was necessary for 30's Hollywood. Second, the Sidewalk Cafe needed Todd. She was the reason for the high-class clientele and since the place closed shortly after her death, it seems clear that without her presence, they simply would not go to the cafe for whatever the reason. This makes killing Todd very illogical.
Nothing wrong with this theory.

From what I have read West was more involved in the Sidewalk Café than a lot of people seems to believe. Thelma and West were business partners, and West gave a lot of his own money in this project. I doubt that he would have been the sole owner of the place after Todd's death, but it could be the case, sadly we don't have much informations about this possibility.

Before Thelma's death the Sidewalk Café was losing money, and Thelma didn't seemed to care one bit about it. When the café was losing money West and Carmen were losing money too. Carmen even threatened to kill Todd for squandering her investment ( by that she probably meant West's investment ). It's possible that the café was losing so much money that they had very serious financial problems. Maybe, just maybe, West thought that Thelma's death would bring more money in, it's possible.

But we have to remember that the West/Carmen theory goes beyond the Sidewalk Café.

West was sick of Thelma's drug addiction, and he bitterly resented Thelma`s numerous affairs. He is the last one who saw her alive, and according to the Internet Movie Database, in 1952 West gave a deathbed confession to actor Chester Morris implicating himself in Todd's death. Todd died in a garage attached to the home where Carmen's parents lived, again interesting link.

I still believe that West and/or Carmen had the most reasons to get Thelma out of the way.

View Postshrewgoddess, on 03 November 2011 - 04:25 AM, said:

A few things on Todd's ex-husband, DiCicco. First, Some sources report that they were divorced because he beat her. Second, It's already been admitted that he was involved in the mafia. No matter how small his role, that is not typically the life of a pacifist. Furthermore, Todd's murder was done with the subtlety of a mob hit. Even if the killing wasn't mob-sanctioned, he would still have the knowledge to pull off a murder if he wanted to.  Third, he was actually a suspect in another murder about two years after Todd's murder, the beating of an actor outside a nightclub that was then covered up by the studio. Fourth, he married Gloria Vanderbilt, later beat her and she was granted a divorce from him citing "extreme cruelty." He really does have quite a history of violence and even if there's no reason for this violence or for the murder, that doesn't mean that it should be ignored. Sometimes people are just cruelly and stupidly violent and they kill people and a lot of times, they kill people they know.   (Info on Pat DiCicco)
Thanks for the link. :)

I agree, it's possible that DiCicco was involved. Quite Frankly I don't think he did it, but anything is possible.

Again: What would be his motive to kill Thelma ??

I have read in one of my Encyclopedia of crimes that nothing solid connects him to Luciano, and that the claims he introduced Todd to Lucky is just gossip and is based on nothing solid. I am aware that he was suspect in another murder, but it doesn't mean he was involved in Todd's murder, it's just another proof that he was a very violent guy, doesn't mean that he ever killed anybody. Sadly a lot of men beats their wives, but it doesn't mean they have the mean to kill them, that's a whole different level. But I get your point, he could have done it. I agree, I listed him as "first suspect" in my opening post, I just don't think he was involved, and believe that both West and Carmen had more reasons to kill her. But like I always say: I can be wrong.  ;)


#22    shrewgoddess

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:01 AM

View PostJonathanVonErich, on 03 November 2011 - 05:06 PM, said:

Nothing wrong with this theory.

From what I have read West was more involved in the Sidewalk Café than a lot of people seems to believe. Thelma and West were business partners, and West gave a lot of his own money in this project. I doubt that he would have been the sole owner of the place after Todd's death, but it could be the case, sadly we don't have much informations about this possibility.

Before Thelma's death the Sidewalk Café was losing money, and Thelma didn't seemed to care one bit about it. When the café was losing money West and Carmen were losing money too. Carmen even threatened to kill Todd for squandering her investment ( by that she probably meant West's investment ). It's possible that the café was losing so much money that they had very serious financial problems. Maybe, just maybe, West thought that Thelma's death would bring more money in, it's possible.

But we have to remember that the West/Carmen theory goes beyond the Sidewalk Café.

West was sick of Thelma's drug addiction, and he bitterly resented Thelma`s numerous affairs. He is the last one who saw her alive, and according to the Internet Movie Database, in 1952 West gave a deathbed confession to actor Chester Morris implicating himself in Todd's death. Todd died in a garage attached to the home where Carmen's parents lived, again interesting link.

I still believe that West and/or Carmen had the most reasons to get Thelma out of the way.


Thanks for the link. :)

I agree, it's possible that DiCicco was involved. Quite Frankly I don't think he did it, but anything is possible.

Again: What would be his motive to kill Thelma ??

I have read in one of my Encyclopedia of crimes that nothing solid connects him to Luciano, and that the claims he introduced Todd to Lucky is just gossip and is based on nothing solid. I am aware that he was suspect in another murder, but it doesn't mean he was involved in Todd's murder, it's just another proof that he was a very violent guy, doesn't mean that he ever killed anybody. Sadly a lot of men beats their wives, but it doesn't mean they have the mean to kill them, that's a whole different level. But I get your point, he could have done it. I agree, I listed him as "first suspect" in my opening post, I just don't think he was involved, and believe that both West and Carmen had more reasons to kill her. But like I always say: I can be wrong.  ;)

Whether or not he introduced Todd to Lucky is irrelevant. I never claimed that the killing was ordered by the mob. I actually find that pretty unlikely for a few reasons. As for a motive, as sad as it is, there isn't always a motive that has to do with money or anything like that. Sometimes it's just, "The *$#@ pissed me off, so I'm gonna show her." They had an argument earlier that night, which is almost the only thing that is certain about the apparent night of Todd's murder.

So, motive: Violent men who beat their wives don't like to be "talked back to" or whatever by women. There are thousands of those cases on the books; they just might not be high profile cases that you're used to looking to. The celebrity of the victims doesn't change the human nature, good or bad.

Also, just as a little "fun" thing - I'm not sure if you have this or not, but here's a page that has some links to photos from the crime scene. They include pictures of Ms. Todd but they are not very gory.  :) Findadeath - Thelma Todd


#23    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:28 PM

View Postshrewgoddess, on 06 November 2011 - 06:01 AM, said:

Also, just as a little "fun" thing - I'm not sure if you have this or not, but here's a page that has some links to photos from the crime scene. They include pictures of Ms. Todd but they are not very gory.  :) Findadeath - Thelma Todd
Thanks for sharing. :)

Thelma's crime scene pictures can be easily found on the internet, you just need to google her name to find them. Sadly a lot of people only know her because of her mysterious death.

the crime scene pictures can also be seen in the documentary I was talking about a few posts earlier, "America's 60 greatest unsolved mysteries and crimes".  :yes:


#24    sarah snow

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 02:44 AM

I was reading about this last week, in an old out of print book about Hollywood mysteries, so thanks more info here!  :tu:

Edited by sarah snow, 23 November 2011 - 02:44 AM.

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#25    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 05:42 PM

View Postsarah snow, on 23 November 2011 - 02:44 AM, said:

I was reading about this last week, in an old out of print book about Hollywood mysteries, so thanks more info here!  :tu:
You're welcome. I agree, fascinating case. :)


#26    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:48 PM

Interesting. I recently bought a book about the Black Dahlia case, "The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles". Very interesting book. What's interesting about this book is that the author found his theory ( that Short was killed by Benjamin Siegel and other men connected with the Mob ) by searching the "Black Dahlia Files" from LAPD and other law enforcement agencies.

This book is not only about the murder of Elizabeth Short, it's also about other unsolved cases from the 1930's and 1940's. 3 pages are dedicated to the murder of Thelma Todd. Again the author had access to the files from LAPD, and he has found some very interesting informations. Basically the author claims that Thelma was killed by Benjamin Siegel, based on witness accounts discovered in the LAPD files. A waiter claimed that Thelma was frightened by a man, who wanted to see her in a Sunset Strip nightclub office, two days before she was killed. The man was later identified as being Bugsy Siegel.  

More: A relative of the author ( his grandmother's lover ) had worked for the D.A.'s office at the time of the murder, and he said many times that Bugsy killed Thelma. Why ?? Because on December 11 Thelma went to the D.A.'s office and lodged a complaint against Siegel, who had threatened Thelma because she didn't wanted to work with the Mob.

It's not a smoking gun, but it's a very interesting possibility. I'm really surprised, since I was convinced that the Mob wasn'T involved in this case.

I guess my good pal Antilles was right. :)


#27    Antilles

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:35 AM

View PostJonathanVonErich, on 20 February 2012 - 07:48 PM, said:

Interesting. I recently bought a book about the Black Dahlia case, "The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles". Very interesting book. What's interesting about this book is that the author found his theory ( that Short was killed by Benjamin Siegel and other men connected with the Mob ) by searching the "Black Dahlia Files" from LAPD and other law enforcement agencies.

This book is not only about the murder of Elizabeth Short, it's also about other unsolved cases from the 1930's and 1940's. 3 pages are dedicated to the murder of Thelma Todd. Again the author had access to the files from LAPD, and he has found some very interesting informations. Basically the author claims that Thelma was killed by Benjamin Siegel, based on witness accounts discovered in the LAPD files. A waiter claimed that Thelma was frightened by a man, who wanted to see her in a Sunset Strip nightclub office, two days before she was killed. The man was later identified as being Bugsy Siegel.  

More: A relative of the author ( his grandmother's lover ) had worked for the D.A.'s office at the time of the murder, and he said many times that Bugsy killed Thelma. Why ?? Because on December 11 Thelma went to the D.A.'s office and lodged a complaint against Siegel, who had threatened Thelma because she didn't wanted to work with the Mob.

It's not a smoking gun, but it's a very interesting possibility. I'm really surprised, since I was convinced that the Mob wasn'T involved in this case.

I guess my good pal Antilles was right. :)

Well not all the time  :wacko: but I'm pretty sure that the mob was involved in this. And for the Mob read Benny Siegel. Bugsy was a maneater in an aquarium full of predators.Removing one Hollywood actress who didn't want to play ball wouldn't have caused him a minute's problem.

But you know, with many of these old cases, it's not so much working out who the killer was as being amazed at the corruption in the City of Angels.


#28    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:08 PM

View PostAntilles, on 21 February 2012 - 11:35 AM, said:

But you know, with many of these old cases, it's not so much working out who the killer was as being amazed at the corruption in the City of Angels.
Again, very good point my friend. :)

It seems like corruption was all over Los Angeles back then. There's a few chapters about corruption and cover-up involving cops from the LAPD in "The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles". Same thing in "Black Dahlia Avenger" by Steve Hodel, the author wrote a few chapters about how the corruption of many LAPD high-ranked officials might have played a role in the Dahlia investigation.

If people wants to read more about corruption within the LAPD back in the 40's, 50's and 60's I recommend:

- Thicker'N Thieves: The Factual Expose of Police Pay-Offs, Graft, Political Corruption and Prostitution in Los Angeles and Hollywood, by Charles Stoker

- The Real L.A. Confidential, by Pete Noyes

- LAPD's Rogue Cops, by Vincent A. Carter


#29    JonathanVonErich

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:39 PM

Somebody should write a book about this case.  :yes:

Video Tribute to Thelma:



Strange Vlog about the possibility that Thelma's café might be Haunted.




#30    Antilles

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:22 AM

Write a book? Should be you Jon.

http://homepage.mac..../truecrime.html

Interesting sight. Suggests that Raymond Chandler's novel 'The Lady in the Lake' was based on this murder. Having read the book I don't agree but anyway.



On Monday Morning, December 16, 1935, May Whitehead, carrying several bundles, opened the massive wood doors of the garage on Posetano Road, high above what is now Pacific Coast Highway, and walked to her boss' chocolate-colored 1933 Lincoln Phaeton. May was Thelma Todd's maid and confidante, responsible for getting "The Ice Cream Blonde" comedienne to work on time at Hal Roach's Culver City Studio (Washington at National). However, on this morning she found Todd slumped behind the wheel, eyes closed and wearing a full-llength mink coat over a metallic blue sequined evening gown with matching cape and blue silk slippers. She was also wearing about $20,000 worth of jewelry. In fact, she was wearing her "Saturday night celebrity-studded dinner party in her honor at the Trocadero nightclub" outfit.

Whitehead got back in her car and drove to Todd's cafe, below the garage on the Roosevelt Highway in Castellammare. She got Charles Smith, the cafe trreasurer and a veteran assistant film director who had worked with director Roland West for decades. West was Todd's partner in the cafe. Smith summond West and all three got in Whitehead's car and returned to the garage. West determined that Todd was dead and had Whitehead fetch Rudolph Schafer, his brother-in-law and the cafe manager, from Castillo del Mar, the hillside villa just above the garage owed by West's estranged wife, silent film star Jewel Carmen.

Schafer arrived around 11:15. He touched Todd's cheek, verified that she was dead and said they had to call the police. Rather than use the phone in the villa or at the cafe, Schafer took West's Hupmobile, parked next to Todd's Phaeton, and drove several miles to a print shop in Santa Monica. He called LAPD's West LA Station on the shop owners private line.

Capt Bert Wallis, head of the LAPD homicide squad later stated that "There were only 2 and one-half gallons of gasoline in the 20 gallon car tank. The garage door was closed but not locked. The battery on the car was dead. This would happen if the motor had been running and stopped. The ignition still being on, the battery would have run down." It was previously determined that the ignition key was in the ignition slot and was turned on, as if the car had been running. Next to her body was her small white party purse with a key to the outside door of her apartment on the second floor of her cafe.





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