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Prowler terrorizes L.A.

June 14, 2007 |  6:31 am



1957_0614_prowler_pix_2 June 14, 1957
Los Angeles

As Marjorie Hipperson was laid to rest, raw terror swept over Los Angeles and reports of attacks rained down on the police. Women fought off intruders and in senseless, unreasoning fright, men fired shots at the shadows at their doorsteps, killing a neighbor's dog and wounding an unfortunate stranger.

A police artist drew a sketch based on a victim's description of the attacker and the newspapers ran advice to women on being safe.  Suspects were photographed in handcuffs, cleared and released.

Esther Esparza, 30, 1633 Lucille Ave., frightened off an intruder who pushed her to the floor after she came inside from burning papers in the backyard. In a few minutes, the phone calls began: "I'm going to come back and this time I'll kill you," a man said. She described him as 30 years old, 5-feet-10, 190 pounds, with blond hair, blue eyes and a pimply face.

Gail Donavin, 21, who shared an upstairs apartment at 3966 Clinton St., said she slept with a sorority paddle because she was so frightened, but when she found a man sitting on her bed at 4 a.m. she was afraid to use it. "Don't move or say anything or I'll kill you!" he said, according to The Times. "I was afraid I would really be in trouble if I hit him and didn't knock him out," she said of the paddle.

Margie M. Purdue, 32, 327 New Hampshire Ave., also reported awakening to find a man sitting on the edge of her bed and told police that he fled when she screamed. Officers J.L. Conrad and R.D. Brodbeck arrested Harold E. Bond, 23, at New Hampshire and Oakwood and although Purdue was unable to identify him, she said his clothing matched the intruder's.

Bonnie Rambo, 28, 529 N. Berendo, said a man burst in by breaking the chain on her door and began forcing her to the floor, but he fled when she struggled toward the telephone.

Wanda Wilson, 20, of Wilmington reported fighting off a man who was only wearing a T-shirt by choking him with his rosary beads.

Edith Clouse, 26, 2516 Kent St., said she was coming home at 4 a.m. from her job at an aircraft plant when a man ran from the shadows and grabbed her by the shoulders.

Margaret Cruikshank, 41, 3510 1/2 Bellevue Ave., reported that after she returned from a date with Jim Rhode, 27, she heard a noise in the living room and found a blond, pimply faced young man crawling through a window. Rhode tried to capture the intruder, but he escaped, The Times said.

The arrests followed quickly.

Mario J. Sanchez, 1244 S. Lake St., was arrested on charges of making lewd phone calls after his victim, Judy Jackson 25, 639 N. Parkman Ave., made a date with him.

1957_0614_drawingTommy Sciandra, 34, a man with a criminal record in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, was arrested in a Sunset Boulevard cafe after employees told police that he was talking about the recent attacks. Blaming most of the troubles in his life on women, he said: "They'll lie about you every time."

Darrell W. Morgan, 19, was arrested then released after proving that he was at a Navy recruiting station when Esparza was attacked. Esparza identified him in a lineup, then fainted. When she recovered, she said she was mistaken.

John James Johnson, 22,  1926 Vista Del Mar, was arrested on charges of peeping in the window of Ann Collins, 1931 N. Argyle Ave.

At 12931 Calvert St., Van Nuys, Eli Sterling heard a suspicious noise and went to investigate. Seeing something in the shadows, he fired his .38 revolver, killing his neighbor's wire-haired terrier with one shot.

Michael L. Bergen, 40, was shot in the arm while checking on the home he had bought at 17018 Los Alimos St., Granada Hills. According to police, Robert Hobday, 65, had been leasing the home and had been unable to move out. When Bergen knocked, Hobday fired four shots through the door with a .38.

Former USC football player Donald F. Bahrman, 26, was shot to death by William Pottorff, 1217 W. 187th St., an off-duty traffic officer. Pottorff's wife, Yvonne, came home from her job at a Gardena club and told her husband she'd been followed. In a few minutes, they heard someone cutting the screen on a bedroom window.

The man fled when Pottorff went outside to investigate. Pottorff shouted and fired two warning shots into the air, then aimed for the intruder.  He found Bahrman , a former all-city football star, dying behind a nearby house.

To be continued....

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