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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Murder-suicide

1957_1127_rawlings

Nov. 27, 1957
Los Angeles

Everybody says the Rawlings family are fine people. They have a big house at 307 Tamarac Drive in San Rafael, one of the finer neighborhoods in Pasadena.

Nice house, isn't it? Four bedrooms, two baths, 2,300 square feet by the arroyo. Maybe you'd figure whoever lived here was happy. That's what the neighbors thought about Harvey Francis Rawlings Jr. They were wrong.

It's about 5 a.m. and still dark outside. This is a bloody, nasty crime scene that involves a couple of kids. If you don't want to go in, that's fine with me.

OK, keep your hands in your pockets and don't touch anything.

1957_1127_cats Quite a place, isn't it? The whole house is wired for the hi-fi system.

Harvey is a 43-year-old attorney with a legal practice in Pasadena. Has an office on East Green Street. Except for a round of golf now and then, Harvey's life is his job.

His wife is named Marjorie Ruth but she goes by Ruth. She's 43, a UCLA graduate, sorority girl--Gamma Phi Beta--and keeps busy with women's clubs like the Lawyers Wives of Pasadena.

They have two boys. The older one is Robert. He's 16. The younger one is Raymond. He's 12. For a while they thought Raymond was mentally disabled, but it looks like he was just partially deaf and the doctors have been treating him for it.

Nice home, good family. You'd think Harvey would be grateful a few days before Thanksgiving. But underneath whatever looked like success, his life was a mess. He was worried about Raymond and deep in debt from some bad investments.

This is him, lying in the bathroom with a bullet between the eyes.

Let's keep going.

This is Ruth, lying in the hallway. From the way it looks, Harvey attacked her first by beating her in the head with a brass ball peen hammer. Then he went into Raymond's room and shot him as he was sleeping.

Looks like the gunshot woke up Robert because he's lying next to his bed. Police will figure that Harvey shot him as he was getting up.

Ruth wasn't dead though. You can see her trail of blood where she went into Raymond's room and bent over him. Then she came out here to the hallway and Harvey shot her twice in the head.

These are their cats, Charcoal and Cinder. One of the neighbors heard screams and shots but "didn't want to interfere." He'll get home from work tonight and wonder why the Rawlings home is so quiet except for the cats yowling because they are hungry. He'll get a ladder and look in one of the windows.Then he'll call the police. 

We don't know exactly what made Harvey go crazy. Before he killed everybody, he called a doctor and said he was under enormous strain. The doctor wanted him to come over to the office right away, but Harvey refused. Other attorneys say Harvey was having a hard time but seemed to be "over the hump."

Nice folks, the Rawlings family. The neighbors say they are "wonderful people."

Some will say this reminds them of the Harold Oilar case. That was the Alhambra rug dealer back in 1954 who slaughtered his family with a hatchet a few hours after having friends over to sing Christmas carols.  There was a little girl, one of his daughter's friends, sleeping over and he made her go out on the porch before he finished everyone off. Less than a mile from here at 555 Avenue 64.

He didn't manage to kill himself, though. They found him hanged with some towels on death row in San Quentin.

Ready? Let's get out of here.

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Comments (4)

My parents were friends of the Oilars. We used to go swimming once a week in the summer at their house. The house on the corner is on the site where the pool was. My sister was born the same day as the Oilars youngest. I can't believe I can't remember her name. The two mothers were in same room at the Huntington hospital.
I couldn't believe that he had done this to his family. I was a little bit afraid of my own father for a while. It was a big thing. I remember my parents and grandmother went to funeral. They said it was very very strange to see four caskets at the service. I was in seventh or eighth grade.

What's strange is that this house, and the Oilar house, are in the same general neighborhood, less than a mile from each other.

I also noticed that this murder, the Oilar rampage, and the Perelson murder/sucide in Los Feliz happened right before Christmas....

I lived in the 555 Ave Oilar house from 1964 to 1972. It was a very creepy house. The pool is still there but was subdivied and given to the house on the corner. The Oilar house used to be a large corner lot but was divied up in 1959 and the corner house built and the pool was part of that house. My mother bought the house in 1964 and was NEVER told about the murders, we found out later.

I'm an Oilar! It always amazes me to read this stuff. It's interesting to hear things from people who lived there or knew them somewhat!. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


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