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JonathanVonErich

The Mysterious Death of Thelma Todd

99 posts in this topic

I don't blame Regi for being skeptical, after all there's no smoking gun in this case, no definitive evidences that Thelma was murdered.

However when you look closely at what happened shortly before her death, the events leading to her death, how she was found, etc., in my opinion it's clear that murder is a more logical scenario than suicide or accidental death.

Thank you, Jon (if I may call you Jon).

Granted, I have not read books on the subject, and I recognize that others have studied the case a lot longer than I have, but I think I know the nuts and bolts.

At the end of the day, I think circumstances lend more toward accident, but I must say I don't know. (Actually, I have said that.)

It's a matter of interpreting the evidence. Heck, even experts disagree when it comes to that!

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If a credible source of info is available, please direct me to it.

I've reviewed the info presented in this thread, and I don't find what I consider credible sources re: whether or not there was wear shown on the soles of the shoes...just that there was no dirt.

Regardless, I don't know if that proves anything, anyway.

In a blog, there's a photo- apparently from a newspaper clipping which shows the soles of the shoes and the caption beneath the photo reads that investigators were checking for cement dust, not wear and tear.

What I said about the maid, I wasn't serious. I would have called out the butler if I knew Todd had had one. Actually, a better person would have been the driver...after all, he was the last known person to see Todd alive, which brings up (I think) an interesting question...

If Thelma was in fear of anyone, why would she decline the usual escort to her apartment? (Coincidence noted that the one time she declines his offer, is the one time she should have accepted.)

I haven't come to a strong conclusion about this case, but I do disagree with what some consider supporting evidence of a homicide.

I think she could have walked up those steps. it's not impossible...that's why they're there (hehehe, sorry if offensive) and I don't think that the condition of her shoes is evidence that she didn't.

It's a difference of opinion, that's all.

Good for you that you're reading what Jon writes. And yes, I think he'll allow you to call him Jon. :yes:

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Thank you, Jon (if I may call you Jon).

Granted, I have not read books on the subject, and I recognize that others have studied the case a lot longer than I have, but I think I know the nuts and bolts.

At the end of the day, I think circumstances lend more toward accident, but I must say I don't know. (Actually, I have said that.)

It's a matter of interpreting the evidence. Heck, even experts disagree when it comes to that!

You can call me Jon, of course. :)

Antilles knows more about the case than I do, and in my opinion he's right, Thelma was murdered and the mob was most likely behind it.

But it's such a complex case, there's no smoking gun and so many possibilities that I can see why somebody would have a hard time believing that Thelma was murdered. Like you said experts still disagree about what happened to her, almost 80 years after she died, showing how complex this case is. :)

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You can call me Jon, of course. :)

Antilles knows more about the case than I do, and in my opinion he's right, Thelma was murdered and the mob was most likely behind it.

But it's such a complex case, there's no smoking gun and so many possibilities that I can see why somebody would have a hard time believing that Thelma was murdered. Like you said experts still disagree about what happened to her, almost 80 years after she died, showing how complex this case is. :)

.

Now, hold your horses. You say that with a smiley face, but I find that rather condescending. I don't have a hard time believing anything when I think there's credible evidence to support it.

Turn that around. Could it be that maybe you're one of those somebody's who have a hard time believing that it was an accident?

I'm not impressed that you and Antilles agree.

I don't find this case complex. I think there's a lot of unanswered questions. I'd describe it as illusive, but certainly not complex.

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Good for you that you're reading what Jon writes. And yes, I think he'll allow you to call him Jon. :yes:

I don't care who writes what. It's the source that matters.

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.Now, hold your horses. You say that with a smiley face, but I find that rather condescending. I don't have a hard time believing anything when I think there's credible evidence to support it.

Turn that around. Could it be that maybe you're one of those somebody's who have a hard time believing that it was an accident?

I'm not impressed that you and Antilles agree.

I don't find this case complex. I think there's a lot of unanswered questions. I'd describe it as illusive, but certainly not complex.

Condescending !? Not at all, I was just sharing my opinion while stating that I respect yours, while stating that I can understand why you can be so skeptical about the murder theory.

Read my previous posts. Yes I'm having a hard time believing that Thelma's death was accidental, but I've always said that I don't claim to know the truth and that we don't know what the truth is. I am just sharing my opinion based on what I have read and researched, just like you do. I have clearly said that I can see why somebody would have a hard time believing that Thelma was murdered. Nobody confronted you, nobody blamed you for being skeptical of the murder theory, we are just debating and sharing our point of view. This is why this type of Forums were created, to share opinions and point of views. Nobody wrote anything to make you upset or angry, this forums is all about debating and sharing opinions.

You don't think this case is complex ? Great, I respect your opinion, but I don't agree with you. :)

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Condescending !? Not at all, I was just sharing my opinion while stating that I respect yours, while stating that I can understand why you can be so skeptical about the murder theory.

Read my previous posts. Yes I'm having a hard time believing that Thelma's death was accidental, but I've always said that I don't claim to know the truth and that we don't know what the truth is. I am just sharing my opinion based on what I have read and researched, just like you do. I have clearly said that I can see why somebody would have a hard time believing that Thelma was murdered. Nobody confronted you, nobody blamed you for being skeptical of the murder theory, we are just debating and sharing our point of view. This is why this type of Forums were created, to share opinions and point of views. Nobody wrote anything to make you upset or angry, this forums is all about debating and sharing opinions.

You don't think this case is complex ? Great, I respect your opinion, but I don't agree with you. :)

Oh, for God's sake, Jon, please stop it.

It's established that you don't agree with me, but it could be a productive discussion if you explained your conclusions.

I've read ALL the posts in this thread TWICE now- once before I ever posted a single word, and then did so again at the suggestion of Antilles.

I would appreciate it if you refrained from assuming what I know, or don't know, AND, from telling me what to do.

Enlightening me as to why this forum was created- and the purpose of this forum- wasn't necessary, but serves as an example that you are continuing to communicate in a condescending manner.

I think a polite response would have been to acknowledge my feelings rather than dismiss them. Whether or not the intention was there- or whether you think I misunderstood- is beside the point.

I don't feel confronted, or blamed. I'm not upset or angry. Those are your words, and your interpretation!

I'm not "so skeptical" about the murder theory! I just think accident is more likely.

Now, can we get back on topic, or is there any point to engaging in further discussion about the case because what I hear is that it's homicide... read and you should agree and if you don't agree, you're not as right as we are.

There were mobsters who were mad at Todd. There were others who could have had motive. It's impossible she walked up those stairs. Authorities were corrupt. End of story.

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Good golly Regi,

You are grossly overreacting and exaggerating JonVonErich's intentions.And yes you do come across as angry and upset in your posts.

He's not coming off at all like the condescending and swarmy individual you're claiming him to be. If you can't even handle having a pleasant discussion without getting defensive over nothing I don't know what to say. He even defended you're skepticism and just politely states his reasons for his opinion that it was murder.

I think in fact he's come across a lot politer than most people in debates on this forum or others.Its you that needs to lighten up and not read into things that aren't even there.

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Posted (edited)

Ok, let's get back on topic then.

Donald Wolfe found information in the DA files that Bugsy Siegel wanted to talk to Thelma 2 days before she was found dead. A waiter witnessed the scene, and said that Thelma was scared to death of Siegel and that she didn't want to see him. She left the place in a hurry, telling her chauffeur to drive "faster, faster".

What Wolfe found for his book "Black Dhalia Files" is basically the only strong evidence that Thelma might have been killed by the mob. The witness gained nothing by telling the story to the investigators, in fact it took him a long time to give the information to the authorities and only did it under pressure ( he was afraid of being kidnapped and killed ). We don't have the name of the witness, but the DA wrote that he was a credible witness. An acquaintance of Wolfe, who once worked for the DA and a man who Wolfe believe had Underworld ties, said that Bugsy killed Thelma and that the murder was probably ordered by Luciano.

Still, I wish we had more evidences to back up the story. It would be great to have solid evidence, another testimony, showing that Bugsy was indeed in LA at the time the incident witnessed by the waiter took place.

Edited by JonathanVonErich

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Ok, let's get back on topic then.

Donald Wolfe found information in the DA files that Bugsy Siegel wanted to talk to Thelma 2 days before she was found dead. A waiter witnessed the scene, and said that Thelma was scared to death of Siegel and that she didn't want to see him. She left the place in a hurry, telling her chauffeur to drive "faster, faster".

What Wolfe found for his book "Black Dhalia Files" is basically the only strong evidence that Thelma might have been killed by the mob. The witness gained nothing by telling the story to the investigators, in fact it took him a long time to give the information to the authorities and only did it under pressure ( he was afraid of being kidnapped and killed ). We don't have the name of the witness, but the DA wrote that he was a credible witness. An acquaintance of Wolfe, who once worked for the DA and a man who Wolfe believe had Underworld ties, said that Bugsy killed Thelma and that the murder was probably ordered by Luciano.

Still, I wish we had more evidences to back up the story. It would be great to have solid evidence, another testimony, showing that Bugsy was indeed in LA at the time the incident witnessed by the waiter took place.

You know, even if that info is in the DA files, I don't know where it originated. The DA might have found the witness credible, but that would be his opinion.

What about West? Was he approached/pressured by the mob, also? He was Thelma's partner in the business, so he would have to be on-board, too, right?

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Maybe the following is a better question.

Are there any thoughts re: the timing of the discovery...that it wasn't until Monday morn., and that the discovery was by the maid?

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Posted (edited)

Well, I have thought about that.

Todd and West not only had the business together, but they lived together, and so I find it rather odd that Todd's body wasn't discovered sooner, and that it wasn't West who discovered it because I would think he would have been preoccupied about her whereabouts-especially as hours upon hours went by and he hadn't heard from her- that he'd have eventually checked the garage for her car.

1) Maybe he took it for granted that she was out somewhere in her car, and didn't think to confirm whether or not her car was in the garage, or 2) maybe he didn't look for her at all.

I'd still find #1 somewhat odd, and I'd find #2 even more odd.

Edited by regi

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googlebooks offers an inside look where the following info is located. According to the transcribed inquiry in the book The Life and Death Of Thelma Todd by William Donati, West did not look for Todd, and although that Sun. morn. he asked a bartender which car Todd had used, the question remained, and he apparently, never took it into consideration again.

Pg. 147

Q: Did you make any inquiry as to the whereabouts of Miss Todd?

A: No, I never did that.

Q: Did you leave the cafe, I mean, the building there itself, that day at all, Sunday?

A: Never left the building.

Q: Make any further inquiry, of Bob or anyone else, as to the cars in the garage?

A: Not me.

Q: You didn't make any further inquiry of anybody?

A: I would not.

Q: Well, you didn't?

A; I didn't.

Pg. 154/55

Robert John Anderson, the bartender West had spoken to that Sun. morn., testified that he'd moved Todd's car from the front of the cafe to the garage after the cafe closed at approximately 2:20 am. Sunday morn..

Pg. 146

West stated that his mother had come to visit that Sunday and she'd had asked him about Todd and West told her that Todd had gone to her mothers.

(Of course, he couldn't have known that, so it's bothersome that he stated it as a fact.)

Later, West stated that he'd told a caller (who'd planned a dinner date for that Sunday at the cafe with his group and Todd) that they were expecting her "any moment".

West stated "...and the reason I said that 'any moment' I knew she went out with an evening dress, I couldn't see any other way she could have any clothes if she went to her mother's, and I think it was about six thirty."

(This statement indicates that West knew that Todd hadn't gotten into the apartment, and that he knew this before her body was discovered.)

Why wouldn't West have eventually called Todd's mother's? He hadn't heard from her for almost a full 24 hours- since she went out the previous eve.- AND by then Todd was expected to be at the cafe by others. Even though she never showed up, West still didn't look for her.

Pg. 151

A juror might have been thinking along those same lines when the following was asked of West on the stand by the juror:

Juror: Has Mrs. Todd's mother got a telephone?

A: Yes, she has, but I have never called up Miss Todd's mother in my life.

Q: Were you friendly with Miss Todd's mother?

A: Very, but I have never called her up.

Under the circumstances, I'm struck that West wasn't alarmed enough to have called after Todd- or had someone call after Todd.

He'd testified that he'd called Todd's manager to tell him that Todd was expecting guests at the cafe, but he apparently didn't ask the manager- or anyone else- where Todd might be.

Ordinarily, it might not have been any of West's business where Todd might be (he expressed interest only in which car she had used), but unless Todd had a habit of not showing up where she was expected to be, I think West should have exhibited more concern than what his testimony reflects, that is, what I've read of his testimony.

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I can't wait to read your review of the book, Regi. :)

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Ok then, it seems we're all friends again. Good.

jon has disagreed with me, agreed with me, then disagreed with me again about this case.

Make up your mind JVE! :yes: But that's what this section of the board is all about. We discuss crimes in a reasonable way and share what we find.

What do I think about West? I think he knew exactly what had hapened to TT and he didn't want the same thing to happen to him so he kept his mouth shut.

Organized crime hit.

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No idea what you're talking about Ant, I thought me and you were on the same page all along ! :lol:

At first I wasn't sure that it could have been a mob hit. Then I read Wolfe's book and I changed my mind. :D

I still think West is a good suspect and that he had more reasons to kill Thelma than the mob had.

Now it's music time:

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Hey jon. You go back and read all the replies on this thread. You didn't agree with me!! It's cool. :tu:

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I know. :D

At first I didn't agree with you about Thelma being killed by Organized Crime, but then I read Wolfe's book and now I agree that it's possible that the Mob was involved.

Anyway it doesn't matter if we agree on everything or not. This case is fascinating and this thread is fun. Always a pleasure talking crime with you, Ant. :tu:

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You too jon. :tu:

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Ok then, it seems we're all friends again. Good.

jon has disagreed with me, agreed with me, then disagreed with me again about this case.

Make up your mind JVE! :yes: But that's what this section of the board is all about. We discuss crimes in a reasonable way and share what we find.

Antilles, it's not about making up one's mind, and closing the book. It's about weighing the evidence once more evidence is revealed. Jon's approach to all of these cases is the correct approach. He's not stuck to one idea and then refusing to budge from it simply because it's been a long held belief, or a once held opinion.

The more educated we are, and as more is learned/revealed, then one has to be capable, and willing to change their point of view, and/or opinion.

One thing's for sure...long held and argued beliefs are hard to shake.

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I finished the book, The Life and Death of Thelma Todd, about two weeks ago. I'd started out taking notes as I read, but that was too distracting, so I read straight though, and have since read another book! and now going back to note key issues has been made even more difficult due to my laziness.

So, I'm not as prepared as I wanted to be, but here goes.

First, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Apart from beautiful, Thelma Todd was a considerate, loyal, intelligent, and wise young woman. She was impressively perceptive and observant about life, and she was very well spoken when conveying her thoughts and feelings.

These impressions come from the many interviews Thelma gave.

I had been suspicious of West because my impression was that his attitude was strangely casual during the time that Thelma never showed back up to the cafe, and then that he still never inquired about her.

I now think I understand him a lot better, and I understand the relationship he had with Thelma a lot better, and I understand the culture of the time and I recognize that people seemed to have a more proper and discreet way of conducting themselves, and speaking about personal matters.

I'd wondered why West assumed Thelma had gone to her mother's, and now I know that that was a very logical assumption.

Thelma and her mother were extraordinarily close, and she was very much like her mother.

Thelma had had an older brother who'd died in an accident when they were both still young, and Thelma became even more the center of the universe to both of her parents.

From the beginning, Thelma's personality and beauty were admired by others.

(She later said that her perceived beauty was one reason she didn't feel she could trust men.)

When Thelma's father died, it was a devestating blow to her and her mother. At that time, Thelma had already been signed to Paramount, but was working for them in New York.

After the break from work after her father died, Paramount sent Thelma to Hollywood and she took her mother with her. They lived together, and later never lived far from each other, and were very involved and included in each others lives.

West and Jewel Carmen had a strange relationship. They met in 1918, and there's no evidence that they ever married, but they lived as they were up until the time that West moved into the apartment next to Thelma's above the cafe.

In 1928, West and Carmen bought the house in the exclusive Castellammare neighborhood. (That pedestrian bridge was for the Mesa and Castellammare homeowners to have access to their own private beach.)

West and Thelma fell in love when West cast her in Corsair in 1931, but West wouldn't leave Jewel and Thelma knew it, and understood it. (Interestingly, West was supporting Jewel's family...)

West revealed to a news woman (Louella Parsons) that despite his strong infatuation with Thelma, he "wouldn't hurt Jewel for anything in the world. She's too fine."

Thelma married Pasquale De Cicco on the rebound. (De Cicco's father's cousin, Albert Broccoli, developed the vegetable (brocolli) by crossing the seeds of two Italian vegetables, cauliflower and rabe!)

Anyway, the marriage didn't last. Basically, De Cicco tried to control Thelma, and that simply wasn't gonna happen. Also, gossip and rumors when Thelma was away working, contributed to conflicts. They had heated arguments, but no one, including Thelma herself in the divorce papers she filed, ever alleged that De Cicco had at any time was actually physically violent to her.

There were times when both tried to salvage their marriage, but it was futile because they simply weren't compatible.

To be continued...

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Very good Regi, thanks for sharing. I particularly likes the information about West, good job. :)

can't wait for part 2

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Antilles, it's not about making up one's mind, and closing the book. It's about weighing the evidence once more evidence is revealed. Jon's approach to all of these cases is the correct approach. He's not stuck to one idea and then refusing to budge from it simply because it's been a long held belief, or a once held opinion.

The more educated we are, and as more is learned/revealed, then one has to be capable, and willing to change their point of view, and/or opinion.

One thing's for sure...long held and argued beliefs are hard to shake.

Thank you Lord Reginald. I take it I have your permission to continue? :nw:

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The Life and Death of Thelma Todd continued...

So, it was February 20, 1934 when Thelma and De Cicco were officially separated. Thelma moved into a bungalow with a close friend, Catherine Hunter, just yards away from the bungalow (I'm really fond of that word...) where her mother lived.

It was during this time that Thelma and West discussed starting a business together. Thelma knew that the career of an actress could be short-lived. "I realized long ago that it is only a case of a few years for an actress, before she gradually, sometimes almost imperceptibly, loses popularity, and younger ones start to take her place....most of them are unhappy and bewildered...so I decided long ago I that I wasn't going to be one of them."

Thelma had considered starting a business before...maybe a theater in her hometown of Lawrence, Mass., but she always thought a restaurant was a more reliable business venture.

She loved to cook, and she missed the Boston-style seafood.

She told Louella Parsons "I have always heard so much about the choice foods of those days preceding prohibition when eating was still a fine art."

In 1934, West bought the building where they would open a resturant. Jewel wasn't pleased with Thelma's and West's "association" and moved out of their mansion. Thelma had rented a home near the restaurant on Tramonto Drive.

Meanwhile, celebrities had been- and still were- targets of crime; robberies, extortion, and threats of kidnapping.

In 1935, Thelma began to receive extortion letters from New York, and on June 27th, her home on Tramonto Drive was burglarized. A newspaper reporting the burglary revealed her address, and, understandably fearful, she stayed in the apartment she had (that only few had known about) above the cafe.

Authorities had tracked the letter to a fan who'd requested a photograph and they believed the fan lived in a particular building and on August 18th, they arrested the superintendent of that building. Then a radio station received a postcard stating that "That man had nothing to do with those Thelma Todd notes." Also, a newspaper was called and the caller stated that he'd sent the letters "to give Thelma Todd publicity". He went on to say ..."I'm in love with the girl. I tell you I'm in love with her and I had to do something to let her know that I'm her admirer. Why I spent my last ten bucks to wire her orchids for her birthday." The man was apprehended on November 5th. He was 26, and lived in the same building as the superintendent. He was later declared insane and committed to a mental institution.

Nearing mid- December, a room above the restaurant (the apts. West and Thelma occupied were on the other end of the bldg.) had been newly remodeled as a "supper club" and would be called the Joyas Room.

Thelma's apt. had two ways to enter; a narrow staircase from inside the cafe lead to one door, and an outer door reached by a staircase located on the outside of the building.

That outer door had two locks, one apparently was only ever locked from the inside. It took two keys to enter that door if both locks were used.

The two apartments West and Thelma occupied were separated by a sliding door which also locked.

The building took many keys, and Thelma didn't like to carry them.

To move away from the story here, I want to say that I'm not real clear as to the routes to the garage of West's mansion from the cafe.

When we look at the area as it is today, I believe it shows that in the effort to prevent landslides (which that area was known for) the city built up the land, and in doing so buried sections of Rovelle, Posetano, and Castellammare.

Now, in the book, there's two ways described to get to that garage from behind the cafe; and that's from Castellammare, or a staircase leading to Posetano.

There is a street called Stretto Way which connects Castellammare and Posetano, and leads right smack to the garage.

I don't know...I think there's been some misinformation about this issue. (I'll have to go back and study that part of the testimony again from the inquiry.)

I want to get the events of Thelma's last day alive, and the inquiry testimony organized in some comprehensive manner, so I'll leave off here for now.

Tune in next week.

Same bat-time-same-bat channel. (hehehe)

Edited by regi
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