The Money Man
Oct. 2-3, 1957
OK, let's go get a cup of coffee and talk about our friend "The Money Man." We can just drive up Central Avenue until we find some all-night place. I'm not really hungry. I can never eat after being at a murder scene anyway.
How about here? Looks like we have the place to ourselves.
There's two things I forgot to tell you about Max "The Money Man" Shayne. The medical examiner said he'd been dead about four hours. That would make the time of death about 11 p.m. I'll get to the other one in a minute.
What do you think? An obvious robbery and homicide? Nothing unusual?
Maybe I'm too suspicious, but I don't like it. Not at all. We've had half a dozen stranglings in L.A. in the last six months. All women. Every one of them put up a terrific fight. Here you've got "The Money Man," a big beefy guy who's been in the joint and there isn't a mark on him. Strangled with a hankie? C'mon.
Yeah, it sure looks like robbery. He always carried a stack of $100 bills. And it looks like someone rummaged through his clothes, because we found the address book, business cards and that insurance policy on the floor of the car.
You want to know about the insurance policy? That's what I forgot to tell you. He took it out Sept. 10 with a $2,295 initial premium. And the first newspaper accounts had the amount wrong. It was for $250,000 ($1.7 million USD 2006).
Here we've got a guy with a criminal record, facing a prison sentence for fraud. He's a scam artist who takes out a big insurance policy and less than three weeks later he's dead. And he doesn't put up a fight.The details are murky but he'd also been fooling around with a couple of other life insurance policies in the last month.
Yeah, it bothers me. But not as much as it bothers the insurance company. You see, there's a suicide clause in that policy. If the individual kills himself within two years, all you get back is the premiums you've paid.
I'll take a refill, thanks.
The cops will pick up a guy named Earl Fernando Matlock, a 35-year-old laborer. It seems he's been passing a lot of $100 bills recently. It seems he can't explain where he got the money.
Matlock says Shayne came by his home, 10719 Weigand Ave., on the afternoon of the killing.
This is his story:
"He talked about some trouble the government was going to make for him but that it didn't make much difference to him because he had only six months to live.
"He said he wanted to die and I told him to get some cyanide if he wanted to do something like that.
"Shayne said: 'No, it can't look like suicide.' "
He offered Matlock $1,000 to help him kill himself. When Matlock wouldn't do it, Shayne threatened to get him, Matlock said.
"I kept trying to get out of the parked car and he would keep pulling me back. My shirt got torn and he scratched my face when we were struggling.
"So I pulled the strap from the back seat around Shayne's neck but released it when he slid down into the seat to avoid being seen by a passing car.
" 'Why don't you go ahead and finish it?' Shayne asked.
"I thought then that I'd better do something so I pulled the strap tight again, intending to just make him unconscious so I could leave. When he went limp, I wiped my fingerprints off the car and left."
He says that while they were struggling, Shayne shoved the billfold and some jewelry in his pockets.
Matlock was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to the gas chamber. The only problem is that the judge barred any testimony about Shayne's insurance policy and the suicide clause, so the case was appealed. He was retried and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1960, Molly Shayne sued Beneficial Standard Insurance for payment of the policy and the company countersued, saying that the death was a fraud. She finally got a settlement in "five figures," according to The Times.
Matlock died in 1964 in Marin County. He was 42.
Time to go. It's nearly sunrise and the breakfast crowd will be coming in. We should leave a good tip, we've been here a long time.