The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: February 24, 2008 - March 1, 2008

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An urge to kill


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Feb. 26, 1958
Stanford

1958_0226_deena_bonn_3 Thomas was handsome, clean-cut, 19-year-old sophomore on the tennis team at Stanford, where his father had gone to college and was a prominent alumnus.

He lived at 248 Edlee Ave., across the street from Mr. and Mrs. John E. Bonn and their only child, Deena, 17. She was an attractive young woman and the faculty at the Cubberly School in Palo Alto described her as "one of the finest young ladies we've had here."

But despite the wholesome face he presented to the world, Thomas was deeply troubled by the dark and unexplainable urge to kill, a desire that became stronger every day.

And so he planned the killing carefully: He would find a girl and lure her into his new 1957 convertible. Once in the car, he would kill her, take her into the Stanford foothills and rape her, then hide her body.

For a while, he thought he would use an icepick. Then he decided a gun would be better, so Thomas went to a Palo Alto sporting goods store and bought a .22 rifle. Finally, he packed a suitcase with items he would need while hiding in the Santa Cruz Mountains: heavy clothes, eating utensils and a Bible.

The good-looking, clean-cut tennis star cruised in his convertible, looking for a victim, but without success.

About 10 p.m., he called Deena, the attractive young woman across the street. She had a steady boyfriend, but she and Thomas had dated one time, relatives said. Thomas told Deena he was going out of town and wondered if she would drive him to the railroad station in his car and then bring it back home.

1958_0226_cordry Thomas had her drive and en route to the railroad station, he asked Deena to stop at the ROTC Armory, explaining that he needed to return a rifle. He took the .22 from the back seat and shot her in the head.

Getting behind the wheel, Thomas drove up into the foothills, but apparently changed his mind about rape and came back to Palo Alto. About midnight, Thomas Wallace Cordry III walked into the Palo Alto police station and as if he had been in a minor traffic accident, said: "I want to report a killing. I shot a girl and she's out in the car."

In interviews with detectives, he never offered a clear explanation. "I had an urge to do it," he said with icy calmness. "I've had the same urge before. I guess this is really a sex problem." He refused to see his parents or the attorney they hired, saying: "I have no explanation for them."

Deena's father said: "I do not want revenge." He hoped to visit Thomas to assure him that he "holds no bitterness," The Times said.

On Aug. 27, 1958, Thomas Wallace Cordry III pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a mandatory life sentence. His name never again appeared in The Times.

In later years, the Cubberly School sponsored a Deena Bonn night, but by the 1960s, it had apparently fallen out of favor as time erased the memory of who she was.

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Raymond bombing


Feb. 26, 1938
Los Angeles



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Above, now playing at the Mason Opera House. Below, Harry Raymond's wife identifies Police Capt. Earle Kynette as a prowler she saw near their garage before the bombing that nearly killer her husband ... Charges of accepting money in return for influencing legislation? ... Dark times in Austria ... On the jump, the rest of the Kynette saga.


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Japan attacks L.A.?


Feb. 26, 1942
Los Angeles

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Above, suspicious Japanese Americans are rounded up after the great battle of Los Angeles. Yes, it was a false alarm that left parts of the city peppered with unexploded ordnance. A special thanks to my colleague on the business copy desk, Bob Bayer, for pointing out the anniversary.



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Matt Weinstock

Feb. 25, 1958

Matt_weinstockd Everyone, it seems, is trying to write television scripts, but Al Blake hadn't given it a thought until a friend called him one day and said, "Al, I'm in an awful fix. I've got a job as a writer and I don't know what to do."

Al, whose only claim to writing fame was his unpublished book titled "How to Become a Successful Thief," dealing with crime and punishment, of which he has a firsthand knowledge, offered to help.

The friend gave him the rundown, and Al batted out a script, which the friend submitted and which was accepted. Under his friend's goading, Al ghosted four more which were also accepted.

THEN ONE DAY the friend said, "Al, I've got some news for you. You just quit. That is, I quit. I got another job. But I told them you'd been writing the scripts and recommended you."

To Al's surprise the producer called him and he continued writing them for more than a year.

1958_0225_ladyThat's all over now but it gave Al a foothold in the business. He now writes for "Preliminary Hearing" on Sunday, Channel 9.

A MIMEOGRAPHED interoffice letter from the big boss at Rocketdyne, subject: "Letter of Congratulations," went out to all employees. It began, "The historic launching of the first American satellite by our Redstone engine reemphasizes the vital role our division is playing in the nation's security and progress...."

Remarked one horse-playing employee: "What have we got to crow about? We only got show. The Russians still have win and place."

VIA DOVE, sent out by a flood-marooned wife in Rolling Hills, comes a dramatic tale of the elements.

During last week's storm, it came time for her very shaggy collie dog to go outside. The pooch was reluctant but she finally shooed him out the door. Whereupon a gust of wind from the howling gale struck him broadside, where his wind resistance was greatest, and knocked him down, with great loss of dignity.

A LADY GARDENER named Hilda has lost another bout with a very smart gopher--but with a strange denouement. It had eluded her traps and the water cure so she placed poisoned wheat in its burrow. Old gopher wouldn't go for it but she had a wonderful crop of wheat growing out of the burrow.

THEN THERE'S the green-thumbed lady named Carol who found  a bag of strange-looking stuff in the garage. She took a sample of it to a nursery and was told it looked like bone meal. So she worked a lot of it in among her rosebushes and they're doing better than ever before.

But a few days ago her handyman was building a planter and after fussing around in the garage asked what had happened to the bag of fire clay he'd left in the garage.

You can't beat that Laurel Canyon soil, insists Carol.

AT RANDOM --
Merle Zee would have us believe that on the first day of the recent bus strike a driver of Irish descent put a sign on his bus, "Flaherty will get you nowhere" ... Sam Dodd of Glendale has had tiny tabs printed stating "I object to this kind of advertising. Please don't send me any more" --which he puts on junk mail with prepaid return postcards ... A TV pitchman said that his firm was overstocked with fine used cars because new car sales "have been skyrocketing upward." If they ever started redundancying downward he'd really be in trouble ... There were so many boat trailers on the highway to and from Palm Springs Sunday that Harold Mallon wondered if he ought to get a mariner's license ... When his companion declined his offer to buy a drink, a man in a downtown bar remarked, "The trouble with you is you're vitamin happy!"     

Paul Coates

Feb. 25, 1958

Paul_coates The biggest hero is often the last heralded.

He acts with such quiet, automatic efficiency that he destroys the drama of his own actions. He remains anonymous, unknown and unthanked for his service.

Today I have a nominee to join the ranks of such men. His name is Bill Squires. He's a mechanic by trade and he lives in a section of Carbon Canyon, near Pomona, known as Sleepy Hollow.

He was involved in a headline story over the weekend. He was, in fact, its hero.

But he performed his heroics so well, so quietly, so efficiently that not one article about the incident mentioned his name.

Although he didn't know it at the time, Bill became involved with the story at 6 p.m. Friday, when he stopped off at a neighborhood cafe on his way home from job-hunting.

The cafe--ordinarily jammed on Fridays--was without a customer.

Bill joked with the owner about it. "What have you been feeding them?" he asked.

The owner laughed, grimly. "Haven't you heard?"

Bill hadn't.

"There's a maniac on the loose," the owner continued. "Killed a policeman and ran off into the woods. Supposed to be around here someplace. The police have warned everybody to stay inside."

Although it didn't particularly worry Bill, he decided to get along home to his wife and five kids. When he reached there, a few minutes later, he mentioned the incident.

Then it was dropped, forgotten.

Shortly after dark, the Squires family retired. Garey, the oldest boy at 9, went to his bedroom on the upper level of the hillside house. The others retired to their rooms downstairs.

At about 11:30, Lucille, Bill's wife, heard someone walking around upstairs. She called out, but Garey didn't answer. Her husband awakened, and he called too. Still no answer.

So he moved quietly up the stairs, with his wife following him. The Squires' living room, with an outside entrance and kitchen, are also on the upper level.

Bill checked the bedroom. Garey was asleep. Then he walked into the living room and by the dim light of the night, he saw a figure lying on the couch.

"Hello there," Bill spoke.

"Hi," was the reply.

 

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Bill flipped on the light. The figure was that of a man, bearded and slightly wild-eyed. The man was smoking. His wet shoes and socks and pants lay on the floor, and he was covered by some clothing belonging to Bill's children.

Bill asked, "What's the matter? Are you lost?

The man grunted. "I'm just tired."

Are you hungry?" said Bill. "You want some coffee?"

The man said yes. So while Mrs. Squires went into the kitchen, Bill remained. He figured this was the dangerous fugitive whom 150 police were tracking the hills to find. He knew the man was armed, but he couldn't see the gun. So he made conversation--easy, friendly conversation.

The Squires had no phone. So when Mrs. Squires returned with the coffee, Bill made a decision.

"How would you like a beer, mister,?" he asked.

The man grunted yes.

Bill explained that he didn't have one in the house, but that there was a store about a block away. He'd go down and bring back a couple bottles, he said.

It was tough to decide who should go, Bill admitted later. But his wife was expecting a child within a few weeks and he didn't want her running down the hill to the store.

Bill left when he decided the intruder would be content for a few minutes. The round trip--to get the beer and notify police and return--took about three minutes.

He poured his guest's bottle into a plastic mug, gave it to him and then continued with the idle conversation. The man wasn't much of a talker, but he did mention that he'd picked cotton in Texas and Mississippi.

The 10 minutes it took the police to arrive seemed like hours, but when they came they moved in fast. And before Lester Dean Bonds, the deranged killer of an Ontario policeman, knew what was going on, he found himself handcuffed and on the way to jail.

[Note: California death records say Lester Dean Bonds died April 13, 1986, in Alameda County at the age of 73.]

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Voices, Frank Heller


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Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Frank Heller and Linda Mintz in a photograph published Nov. 11, 1958, in The Times.


Linda_mintz_1958_0226_terry_winfrey Frank Heller was a defense attorney for
Linda Mintz, the housekeeper charged with beating her employer Thelma Macomber to death with a vacuum cleaner. A former Marine who served in the Pacific during World War II, Heller graduated from Southwestern School of Law, was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1954 and still practices law. He and his wife, Rosalie, have been married 62 years.

I was born and raised in Chicago and came out here to California. It's God's country... I came out here in 1948... I was in the service, stationed out here. I fell in love with California. I was stationed at Camp Pendleton.... 

Actually, I'm going back a little bit before the war. I guess I was in high school when I used to ride out here... on the rails... as a kid... In those days it was safe. The so-called hobos would take care of young kids. My mother never knew. I had an uncle and aunt who owned a deli in City Terrace so I came up and worked in the deli.... I fell in love with the place.

I got out in 1945 when World War II ended... WWIII started when I got married... [This is, of course, a joke--lrh] I spent time catching up on my education.... I was in the tavern business in Chicago....

I came out to California in 1948 or '49, one of the two, and what did I do?  I was continuing on my education and took the bar. I like to tell everybody I took the bar so long ago it was with Abraham Lincoln... I'm still practicing, by the way. I joined the bar in 1954. I enjoy living here.... I enjoyed going to school. I had a good time becoming a lawyer.

At that time, there were very, very few women passing the bar or taking the bar, very few female lawyers, judges. Then they invaded our field. But we had some good ones. Mildred Lillie, she was fantastic. In my class I think there was only two or three women who took the bar and they all passed the first time. And the women I graduated with all became fantastic lawyers, judges and I work with them every day of my life.

I hooked up with a couple of lawyers who were quite a bit older than me, Charles Taylor and Paul Sherman.... Two of the most fantastic guys you ever wanted to meet. Even in my first year of practice I ended up doing a lot of criminal work.

Charlie Taylor (above, with Officer Terry Winfrey in a Times photograph by  Bob Martin) was one of the best criminal lawyers in this area. A lot of times we were together because he wasn't well. I got a lot of experience.

The first year out of school I handled my first first-degree murder case. It came out OK, but I came out thinking how much I did not know.

Judge [Charles W.] Fricke was the dean of criminal law. He wrote a book [California Criminal Law--lrh], and we used to use it as a bible. I enjoyed working in his courtroom. I enjoyed Judge [Clement D.] Nye, Judge [Allen T.] Lynch, Edwin Jefferson, he was the one who presided in the Linda Mintz case, Judge [LeRoy] Dawson, Judge [Herbert V.] Walker....

And the D.A.'s office... There's a little twist to all of this: Despite the fact I did defense work, I was the civil attorney for the D.A's investigator association. Even though we fought like blazes in court, we were all friends outside.

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Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Police chemist Ray Pinker, left, discusses the vacuum cleaner used to kill Thelma Macomber as defense attorney Grant Cooper and defendant Linda Mintz listen.

As time went on, my two partners weren't feeling too well. They died at early age and I sort of took over. They let me try a lot of cases when I was young.

The Linda Mintz case started out to be Taylor's case. He was with me for a while but didn't feel too well, so I took it over.

If I recall there was a first trial... He was an exceptionally good lawyer. She had a good defense. It was a hung jury 7-5 for conviction and our case, if my memory serves, was 8-4 for acquittal.

She was very difficult to handle at times, the poor lady. Everybody felt sorry for her. She always felt she was being persecuted. Even here. I remember here one time there was a court reporter, a young guy, Nordic looking, she kept telling me she felt he was a Nazi agent following her.

You can imagine what she went through as a concentration camp victim.

Linda_mintz_1957_0601_frank_q_brownShe was a little bit of emotional times at times. She was cooperative with me... I understand a little bit of German, so I could communicate better. But she spoke English.

By the way the homicide detectives on that case were fantastic. A really fantastic police officer. He told exactly the way it happened. There was one investigator maybe with the Fire Department.... I think some of his testimony was contradicted, but they all did a pretty good job giving out the facts.

I do recall she once said there was a photographer who visited the house. And a young man who lived in house.....

I do recall somebody purportedly saw her trying to wipe blood off the walls.... It was a pretty ugly scene... It's so long ago....

Usually, lawyers talk to jurors. I talked to them... Completely diverse opinions of what took place.

[Joseph L.] Joe Carr, the D.A., I remember vividly. I was active in criminal law at that time. Mrs. Mintz (above right in a Times photograph by Frank Q. Brown) was Jewish, Joe Carr was Jewish, the judge was black. She couldn't say she was being persecuted but she did. I felt Joe Carr did an exceptionally good job... They reviewed the case and with two hung juries they figured they'd never get a conviction so they decided to dismiss the case and let her go. I remember walking out of courtroom with her. She had a son, I understand.

The following statement is strictly a joke. As soon as she was exonerated, I said I would bring her home as a housekeeper. Unfortunately, she was suspicious of everybody. I think there was a reporter, Paul Coates... He wrote some rather interesting articles about her. Very fair, not pro or con. She had a bit of a problem being incarcerated.... People go through that horrible experience. I felt she was normal. The D.A. felt she was insane at times. I didn't think so. I just felt sorry for her.

After the trial, I lost track of her, but then Joe Carr a year or two later said she was up north. That was the last we ever heard of her.... I often wonder what happened to her son... Her son was living in West L.A., in a home. He was 13.

I may be the only one still alive from that case.

[Note: Stay tuned for Part II of Frank Heller's recollections--lrh]

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Mystery photo


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Photograph by Jack Gaunt / Los Angeles Times

OK, who's the blond with Mickey Cohen? (No, it's not Walter O'Malley).

  • Candy Barr? (Two people). Nope, Candy Barr looks like this. The Daily Mirror doesn't do reruns!
  • LaVonne Cohen? Sorry, no.
  • Virginia Hill? Sorry, no.
  • Cheryl Crane? Sorry, no.
  • Liz Renay? Sorry, no.
  • Sandy Hashagen? (Nathan Marsak). Absolutely. This is Claretta Hashagen, a.k.a. Sandra or Sandy Hagen. Where is she now? I cannot find a trace of her in The Times after the Mickey Cohen saga. 
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Photograph by Nelson Tiffany / Los Angeles Times


Mickey Cohen, Sandra Hagen and attorney A.L. Wirin, in a photograph dated Dec. 2, 1960.

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Photograph by Hugh Arnott / Los Angeles Times

Sandra Hagen and Mickey Cohen leave federal court after bail for Cohen was denied, in a photo dated Feb. 5, 1962.

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Photograph by Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

Sandra Hagen kisses Mickey Cohen on the cheek as he leaves County Jail in a photo dated Feb. 17, 1962.

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Feb. 25, 1958


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Above, a profile of William Alland, who played the reporter tracking down the life of "Citizen Kane" and in his final years worked for the Los Angeles Times poll. Below, A race car plows into a crowd of spectators at the Cuba Gran Premio, killing five people ... President Eisenhower attacks  economic pessimists  ... The Senate approves raising the ceiling on the federal debt ...

Quote of the day: "The economy of America is a lot stronger than the spirit of those people I see wailing about it and saying it's no good." --President Eisenhower



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Feb. 26, 1938

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Above, a dance that apparently didn't catch on ... Below, Police Chief James Davis testifies before the Los Angeles County Grand Jury in the Harry Raymond bombing ... And the grand jury considers indictments on charges that a bookmaking syndicate offered officials $2,500 a week for betting privileges at Santa Anita ... Gladys Lovinger enrolls as the first full-time female student at City College of New York, and the most important question for the Associated Press is whether she will date any of the male students ...

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Feb. 25, 1908


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An "instantaneous heater" explodes while a man is taking a bath and the fire destroys much of the home at 1201 W. 7th. ... A fire caused by crossed wires in the attic destroys a home at 2659 Ellendale Place [Recall that in this period, wires were run between porcelain insulators that were nailed into the studs]   ... a man is captured after stealing a suitcase ... And the dramatic tale of the tragic death of Solomon Rey Ramirez.


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Feb. 24, 1958


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Above, a souvenir of the ETAOIN SHRDLU era. Below, what may be the last time Gisele Mackenzie got an eight-column, Page 1 headline ... President Eisenhower goes golfing ...  The abduction and shooting of Gerald De La O and George Rodriguez ... And possible support for a presidential run by Richard Nixon.


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Feb. 24, 1938


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Above, W.C. Fields at the Paramount ... Below, life and death ... A baby is revived after being found in a fishpond, and two young men are killed in the crash of a small plane ... Police Capt. Earle Kynette and his co-defendants are arraigned as the Harry Raymond bombing investigation continues ... More charges of police corruption: Men ordered to serve weekends in jail were allegedly listed as being in custody when they never served a day ... Mayor Shaw signs a law that restricts smoking on streetcars ...  Work proceeds on Douglas' DC-4 ... On the jump, police search for the robbers who killed a Hollywood nightclub owner.



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