The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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A bill of goods

 

1957_0712_suicide

July 12, 1957
Los Angeles


Harold D. Jensen was apparently quite a salesman, because he certainly sold his fiancee a bill of goods.

Before marrying Barbara Jean Burton, 26, 8343 Clarence Ave., Jensen wrote a prenuptial agreement promising her a new car, $337,000 ($2,414,700.63 USD 2006) , a new diamond ring, $1 million on the birth of her first child and sole ownership of a dress shop in San Marino.

And for good measure, he threw in $3.5 million in uranium holdings in Guatemala, plus half of all the oil, mineral and lumber interests he had there. Which was zero.

In reality, Jensen was a former World War II flier who managed a lumberyard in Eureka until it was destroyed in a fire a year earlier.

Burton was one of his co-workers at the lumberyard, but left Eureka for San Gabriel when the business burned down. She had been studying at the Loretta Young Way modeling school, 233 1/3 Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, and working as a photographers model when she married Jensen July 9, 1957, in Las Vegas.

Their bodies were found in a 1956 T-bird on Route 66 three miles south of Victorville. Jensen had shot Burton with a .22-caliber rifle and killed himself. It was unclear how long they had been there, their heads resting next to one another.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Detective R. H. Waite said Jensen's prenuptial agreement was "ridiculous on the face of it."

Macabre note: Searching Proquest for "newlyweds found dead" brings up an array of gruesome stories:

  • "Hollywood Newlyweds Found Dead in Utah" (Oct. 30, 1947), cause of death under investigation.
  • "Carbon Monoxide Fumes Kill Newlywed Couple" (Jan. 21, 1948).
  • "Four Meet Death as Plane Crashes Into Residential Area" (July 18, 1952), a private plane crashed in Hawthorne.
  • "Newlywed, 20, Found Hanged" (Aug. 24, 1957), a recent bride was found hanging in a closet with her hands tied at her sides with leather belts.
  • "Newlyweds' Bodies Go Back to Iran" (Jan. 16, 1985), the groom killed himself after the bride suffocated as he was trying to smuggle her into the country in a suitcase.

And what of Clarence Avenue? It's been renamed Sheffield Road. San Marino, you know.

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