The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Death trip

1957_1105_fugitives

Nov. 5, 1957
Los Angeles

"I just shot a man, but it was self-defense."

Bobby Gene Gray was stopped at a light in South Gate when Harris (Harrison) C. Foster, 26, and his ex-wife Carolyn (Caroline) Foster Alcala, 20, forced their way into his car with a gun.

"I just shot a man," Foster said again. "But it was self-defense."

Earlier that night, in a cafe at 9716 S. Broadway, Foster killed a man identified in The Times as Ronald Dermony, 26, who was most likely Paul Joseph Dermody, 20.* 

Alcala got in the front seat while Foster sat in back and told Gray to start driving to Needles, Calif. They stopped for food in Daggett then kept driving. About 2 a.m., Foster forced Gray to get into the trunk, then drove into Needles and parked the car.

1957_0618_trailways_2 While Gray struggled to free himself from the locked trunk, Foster and Alcala bought bus tickets to the tiny town of Ash Fork, Ariz. (2000 population was 550).

The couple got off the bus in Kingman and ambushed Jack Warren, an oil company agent, as he was coming out of a store. They forced him to drive toward Flagstaff, but about 18 miles east of town, taped his arms and legs and pushed him out of the car.

As the couple continued driving, a motorist picked up Warren and took him to Winona, where he reported the kidnapping to police.

Coconino County sheriff's deputies stopped the car at a roadblock on Route 66 outside Flagstaff and arrested the couple.

After injuring a bailiff during an escape attempt, Foster was sentenced to life in prison with a consecutive term of five years to life in prison. Alcala was sentenced to life in prison.

No further information can be located on either of them.

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*California death records do not list anyone named Dermony, but show that Paul Joseph, Dermody, 20, died on Nov. 3, 1957. The Times failed to report the original slaying.

 
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