The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Movie murder


Aug. 15, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_0815_edwards Here's your case:

John Emmett Edwards,* 17, 243 E. 137th St., is on a double date at the Roadium, a drive-in theater at 2500 Redondo Beach Blvd., Torrance, with his girlfriend, Frances Clemens**, 16; her brother, Leo, 22; and his date, Frances Hill, 20.

Edwards excuses himself to go to the restroom. They never see him again.

Hazel Lizon, 20, says: "I was telephoning from a booth near the restroom entrance when I saw four or five men try to pick a fight with a young boy. He tried to get away, but one of the men knocked him down. Then they went in the restroom and a minute later the Edwards boy went in. I could hear a terrific fight going on in there. Then the men ran out and within two minutes the Edwards boy came out, bent over and groaning.

"I said to him: 'Why don't you call the cops?' but he just groaned, took two steps and fell face down."

Edwards was stabbed in the chest with a weapon that had a thin, narrow blade, investigators say. Near the body is a "cheap straw hat" with the name "George" written on it.

Roadium manager Einar Petersen, 40, calls police, who barricade the exits and search about 100 cars at the theater.

1957_0814_roadiumIn one car, police find five men in their 20s.

Three of them are asleep, the Mirror says. Officers also find a jug of wine, a screwdriver with a sharpened blade and a 3-inch nail punch.

Police arrest Johnny C. Washington, 21, 1632 E. 101st St.; Bennie C. Myers, 27, 11626 Willowbrook Ave.; James C. Rucker, 28, 2124 E. 122nd St.; Philip B. Rucker, 25, 1929 E. 117th St.; and Robert R. Richards, 29, 10944 Hickory St., Watts. Although the men deny any role in the killing, the  sharpened screwdriver and the nail punch are tested for blood. Philip Rucker's pants are bloodstained, police say.

Lizon identifies Washington as one of the men who followed Edwards into the restroom.

Did they kill Edwards?

To be continued.

Bonus fact: The theater was showing "Dragstrip Girl" and "Rock All Night."

*Also identified as John Nelson Edwards.
**Also spelled Clemons.

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Comments (1)

Who is George? Did the weapons test positive for blood? They should at least be held as material witnesses. If the woman ID'd one of them.
The Tarantino/Rodrieguez movie Grindhouse was inspired by the poster for this double bill-Dragstrip girl and Rock All Night-

--We don't know who George is, nor do we know the results of the tests on the items recovered from the suspects.

--Stay tuned.


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