The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Barbara Graham case revisited, November 28, 1958

Los Angeles Times file photo

Murder victim Mabel Monahan.

"As you went in the front door, what was the first thing that attracted your attention?"

"Mrs. Graham was striking Mrs. Monahan in the face with a gun. She was standing up and Mrs. Graham had her by the shoulder or hair with her left hand and was striking her with the gun in her right hand."

"Was she bleeding?"

"Yes, her face and head."

"How many times did you see her strike Mrs. Monahan?"

"Two or three times."

"What did you do?"

"I told Mrs. Graham not to hit her any more. I put my hand between the gun and Mrs. Monahan's face. She fainted or collapsed. I had her head in my lap and went down with her. Mrs. Graham pulled a pillowcase over her head."


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Comments (3)

I remember listening to a taped radio interview of Santos played shortly after his execution. He had apparently had a religious conversion while in custody and was quite ready to die for his actions. The three executions were quite memorable for the time.

I read Sally Stanford's autobio titled THE LADY OF THE HOUSE, and in it, she did mention Barbara Graham and how Sally fought hard to have her life spared...who knows...I know Sally wasn't fabricating the story but I mean, who knows about Barbara

Interesting, I saw "I want to live" some years ago and I thought it was Robert Wise's best work.

My wife and her sisters were born and raised in the same house in Burbank my mother-in-law was born and raised in.
Last night I was looking online and found which highlights celebrity homes from google earth.I thought I'd go to my in-laws' neighborhood in the Burbank rancho area to see who lived where over the years in their neiborhood, it pointed to a house that said "Monohan Murder",I thought, wow there was a famous murder in the neighborhood? so I read about it and I really took interest that it happend about 500 feet where my mother-in-law was raised at the time of the murder.

Earlier this morning I called my mother-in-law and told her what I found. She actually knew Mable Monohan and remembers riding her bike to her house when she was kid with two other neighborhood friends, she remembers watering her lawn and Mrs. Monohan offering her and the other girls cookies for helping her. It was 1953 and she remembers it as it were yesterday, she was 12 and will never forget riding her bike by the nice old lady's house that day of the crime and seeing 5 young people Barbara Graham being one of them walking into her house on Parkside, she said she found it a little strange seeing people coming into her home especially since Mrs. Monhan lived alone, thought nothing of it and she continued to ride her bike back and forth across Parkside and Sparks where she still lives.Few days went by and she noticed Mrs. Monohan wasn't out in the front lawn anymore, Oh well, but then a day or two later she noticed police activity up the street from her house and found that the nice little old lady that she and friends occasinally visited was brutally murdered. She explained how it traumatized her and her parents. How spooked she was as a twelve year old over somthing like this happening so close to home.

She remembers that seeing this first hand was a real shock to her system simply because there was an innocence in our country at the time especially for kids and seeing that was especially tramatizing.she couldn't sleep for days thinking about Mrs. Monohan.

The facination of this story to me is that we read obscure stories about obscure people, stories that happened years ago, so we tend to feel a bit disconnected from them because as in this story we see a black and white picture of an old lady who got killed more than a half a century ago therefore she's not part of our reality but my mother-in-law made her very human to me.


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