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Paul Coates

January 10, 2008 |  3:18 pm

Jan. 10, 1958

Paul_coates It was yesterday, late afternoon, when I got the tip.

Davie Mack was going to surrender.

If it was true, it definitely was news. Because Davie, according to my sources, was a very wanted young man.

He was a young man whom police officers had been tailing for quite a while. And he was a young man whom these same officers suddenly couldn't find when they got something hot--something they felt was substantial--on him.

The big break for the police came Wednesday when Barbara Burns, 18-year-old daughter of the late comic Bob, was arrested for using narcotics. She had reportedly told officers that Mack had been supplying her.

My source said the surrender was set for 9 o'clock last night at the office of a prominent Hollywood attorney, Harrison Dunham.

I arrived there at a quarter of the hour.

The office was dark and locked. And I began to wonder. But I didn't wonder for long. Because after a few minutes, Dunham showed up. He unlocked the door and invited me in.

"Yes," he admitted, "it's true. I guess you'd like to stick around."

I said I would.

It was 10 minutes to 9 then, so we talked and waited.

I asked him who was coming down from LAPD.

"O'Grady and Santuzzi," he said. "I guess that's who it will be, anyway."

Then he leaned over his desk at me.

"Look," he said, "I don't know what you're planning to write, but this kid is a good kid. He has problems. I'm hoping the law will get him to a good hospital. He needs it bad."

I nodded.

"And his family," he continued. "They're fine people. Maybe you could keep them out of it. It won't help anything by dragging them into it."

The minute hand on Dunham's modernistic wall clock kept moving as we talked.

And at four minutes to 9 the phone rang.

Dunham aswered it, and when he recognized the voice, he shook his head.

"Yes," he said. "I'm here.

"But you've got to...

1958_0110_palmer_2 "Dammit, Dave, I've explained and explained...

"It's better this way, David. You've got to trust me. We're going to do everything we can to see you get treatment. Good treatment. Fort Worth...

"Where are you, Davie?... Melrose and Western... Look, boy, you're six, seven minutes away... So get over here. They'll be here any minute now..."

As they attorney spoke, O'Grady and two other narcotics officers walked in.

"Just a minute, Davie, I've got another call..."

Dunham pressed the hold button on his phone. He greeted the officers and asked them to sit down. He explained to them that Davie was on the phone and would arrive in a few minutes.

Then he returned to his conversation with the suspect.

"Davie, you going to come right over? ...

"Davie, what do I have to tell you to make you trust me...

"Davie, there just isn't any other way."

Dunham hung up the phone.

One of the officers stood up and walked toward the attorney. "Look," he said, "if he doesn't give himself up we'll put out an all-points bulleting and..."

"Relax," interrupted another officer.

"Don't worry," said the attorney. "He's coming."

He did, too. About five minutes later.

He was a skinny kid with too much hair on top of his head. He wore horn-rimmed glasses. He didn't look happy but he didn't look sad, either. He studied the group for a minute. Then he walked over to the couch and sat between two of the officers.

The attorney spoke. "Davie, these men are here to..."

"I know," said Davie. "I know."

There was a hard, awkward silence.

Finally, one of the officers spoke. "Well, I guess we might as well go."

Dunham nodded. "You ready, David?"

Davie nodded. He stood up. "I"m ready," he answered.

Pausing only long enough to shake hands with the attorney, the three officers and Davie Mack filed out of the room.