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Parolee sought in killing of studio executive, January 1959

January 5, 2009 |  6:00 am
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1959_0121_lichtenwalter George Albert Scott and Curtis C. Lichtenwalter were leaving the In Between Cafe, 5414 Melrose, with $400 and a sawed-off shotgun about midnight Dec. 30, 1958, when they encountered Kenneth S. Savoy, 35, on his way into the bar.

"Just a minute, mister," Scott said. "Give me your wallet."

Savoy, an executive at Samuel Goldwyn Studios, said: "I'm single and have no responsibilities -- no one will miss me. If you want my wallet, you will have to shoot me first."

In reply, Scott pulled the trigger.

Scott and his partner ran for the car, where Jessie Mae Noah, 27, of Long Beach was waiting. "I just went along for kicks," she told homicide detectives.

Lichtenwalter took the wheel as Scott jumped into the car, saying: "Take off. I had to use this. I shot a man in the stomach." The three of them went bar-hopping in Long Beach before splitting up.

It was supposed to have been easy money, Lichtenwalter said. Lichtenwalter, who had no police record, told investigators he had come to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1958 and met Scott, a 36-year-old parolee, through a co-worker. When Lichtenwalter got laid off, Scott suggested they pull some robberies.

"I don't know why I did such a crazy thing but after I once started, the die was cast," Lichtenwalter, 41, said. 

The partners robbed six Los Angeles bars between Dec. 16 and Dec. 30, 1958, according to court records. After the killing, Lichtenwalter told Scott he was through, so Scott went by himself to rob two more bars on Jan. 7, 1959, before leaving town.

Scott was identified through a police sketch. After his photo was published in newspapers, Noah surrendered to Long Beach police and investigators arrested Lichtenwalter at a Compton hotel.

1959_0126_scott State police, sheriff's deputies and FBI agents cornered Scott at a tourist court in Texarkana, Ark., where he had registered with Barbara White, a former women's wrestling champion. Authorities cleared the rest of the guests, then called Scott's room and ordered him to surrender.

When he hung up on police, officers fired 12 tear-gas shells into the cabin, along with 10 rounds of buckshot and "numerous bursts of machine gun fire," The Times said. Although neither Scott nor White was injured, "gunfire literally blew apart the front of the cabin," The Times said.

Scott and Lichtenwalter were tried on six counts of robbery and one count of first-degree murder. Lichtenwalter was found not guilty of murder but convicted on the robbery charges and sentenced to prison.

Scott was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to the gas chamber. During a sanity hearing after his sentencing, Scott slashed his throat with a double-edged razor he had hidden in his mouth. It took 16 stitches to close the wounds.

In the summer of 1960, he staged a hunger strike because his wife hadn't written to him, and his attorney filed an appeal with the California Supreme Court because Scott's mother had been hospitalized for drug addiction and emaciation.

The state high court rejected Scott's plea, and he was executed in the California gas chamber on Sept. 7, 1960. No further record can be found of Curtis C. Lichtenwalter.  Update: Regular Daily Mirror reader Dick Morris tells me that a man named Curtis C. Lichtenwalter died July 13, 1993, in Dade County, Fla., at the age of 74. 
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