Death in Arcadia
Oct. 21, 1957
Not much traffic at 2 a.m., is there? We'll cruise along Sierra Madre Boulevard through the little town of Sierra Madre and out to Arcadia. Right on Santa Anita, left on Virginia and another left on Highland Oaks. Nice big homes out here, aren't there? All these ranch houses they're putting in.
This is the place, 1821 Alta Oaks Drive. Cost $50,000.* 2,900 square feet. That's big where I come from.
Be quiet, don't move anything and keep your hands in your pockets. Notice how they don't lock the doors. I guess they figure nothing ever happens in Arcadia. Let's go in.
This is the home of Albert W. Tracy and his wife, Marion. He's an executive with Anaconda Wire and Cable Co. They're both 48 and have been married 26 years, with a married daughter who lives in Denver and a son at USC who drove up to Berkeley this weekend to see the Trojans play Cal.
Earlier this evening the Tracys had some friends over, Edward McGlone and his wife. After they left, Albert went to bed about 11 p.m. The last time he saw Marion alive she was in the living room. He just woke up a little while ago, went into the bathroom and took an aspirin. He wondered why she hadn't come to bed and called to her but went back to sleep when she didn't answer.
Ready? Let's go into the son's bedroom. Notice the French doors aren't locked.
That's Marion on the bed. She's wearing a blue nylon nightgown and a white terrycloth robe. Later on when Albert finds her, he's going to put her feet on the bed and cover her with a blanket, but that's not how she looks now. She has a man's blue, silk necktie wound around her neck. The sheriff's investigators will say that it isn't knotted very tightly. And there's some blood hemorrhaged out of her left ear.
Notice that nothing is out of place anywhere in the house and that she's still wearing her wedding and engagement ring.
Your old friend Dr. Frederick Newbarr is going to find that she has an abnormal amount of aspirin in her body--but the papers don't say how much. He's going to say was strangled.
At the inquest, Tracy will testify that everything was fine between him and Marion. The children will say their mother often threatened to kill herself, but they don't say why. Her 49th birthday would have been Nov. 13. The jury will rule the death a suicide.
Well, we better get going. Albert's going to wake up and come looking for Marion. He'll call the doctor, who will tell him to phone the Fire Department. But she's already gone.
He's going to tell the police: "I can't understand it. Somebody must have come into the house in the night and done this."
Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times
1821 Alta Oaks Ave., Arcadia, Calif., Oct. 14, 2007
*$358264.19 USD 2006.