The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Robberies

Robber Holds Up Streetcar

March 12, 1910. Holdup

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March 12, 1910: This story reminds me of Walter Collins’ streetcar robberies, but those didn’t occur until 1923. In fact, a streetcar conductor killed a robber in 1908.

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Bank Robbers Captured

Dec. 6, 1919, Bank Robbers

The Times publishes a map by Charles Owens, who later contributed to “Nuestro Pueblo.” This is about the earliest work of his I’ve seen in the paper. 

Dec. 6, 1919, Bank Robbers

The bank robbery story carries the byline of Otis M. Wiles, which is a new name to me. Judging by the clips, he worked for The Times from the late teens to about 1925. Evidently he went to the Examiner at some point.

May 24, 1948, Otis Wiles

May 24, 1948: Otis M. Wiles dies in a head-on crash in a crash that injured Examiner photographer Felix Paegel and six other people.

Dec. 6, 1919, Bank Robbers

Dec. 6, 1919: "Outwitted by the wrath of the elements and the cunning of four Indian woodsmen in their desperate attempt to escape the clutches of the law, Arthur and Herbert Brown, brothers and professional bank bandits, smiled upon their fate last night in the County Jail as they voluntarily confessed to their part in the looting of the Union Square Branch of the Hellman Commercial and Savings Bank last Monday afternoon."

Couple Held in Bank Robbery

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

Police arrest Edward Hudson and “Jane Smith” in the Hellman bank holdup.

Dec. 5, 1919, Car

Police also find the blue getaway car…

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers
… and a second vehicle.

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

Authorities are pursuing Arthur Brown in the Hellman robbery. 

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

Hudson and “Smith” are arrested in a Main Street tattoo parlor!

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

”Smith” describes her relationship with the bank robbers.

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

"Yesterday, Ed wanted to have a tattoo mark on his chest covered over. It was a design of two flags and a spread eagle. It is true I have a butterfly tattooed on my arm but I had not gone to that place on Main Street to be tattooed," “Smith” says. 

Dec. 5, 1919, Bank Robbers

Dec. 5, 1919: Will Arthur and Herbert Brown evade police? And who is the mysterious “Jane Smith?” Check tomorrow!

Three Pros Hold Up Bank

Dec. 2, 1919, Holdup 

The Times illustrates the  holdup with a cutaway drawing of the bank.

Dec. 2, 1919, Holdup

Dec. 2, 1919, Holdup

One of the bank robbers looked like a “hop head” or drug fiend, The Times says. 

Dec. 2, 1919, Holdup

Dec. 2, 1919: “The robbery, according to veteran detectives, was planned without a single flaw and executed without a hitch.

“The three bandits suddenly called to the five employees to hold up their hands, herded them into a little office next to the vault and then proceeded to clean out the place. While one of the trio held the four men and one woman in the office, the other two swept all the paper money into waste paper baskets, walked into the vault and cleaned out all the compartments that were found unlocked, including the circular safe in which the Liberty Bonds were kept, and then carried their loot to the front part of the bank.

“Returning to the door of the little office, the bandits transferred their prisoners into the vault and closed the heavy steel door after them. Then they walked out and disappeared from the vicinity. No one could be found by the police up to last night who actually saw the trio get into an automobile or walk into the bank.”

The Case of the Thankful Thief


Nov. 8, 1909: The yearly season of petty crimes opens in Los Angeles, according to The Times, with a burglar who ate half a loaf of bread, some peach preserves and helped himself to $3 in a savings bank. [Update: they were pear preserves, as a reader noted].

It’s hard to match “Blows Out His Brains” as a one-column headline.

Homeless Sleep in All-Night Theaters!

 June 5, 1939, Norda Noll
"Norda Noll Slain"

June 5, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

The Lugo Adobe on Gage Avenue.

June 5, 1939, Flopping in an All Night Movie Theater

The Police Commission wanted to close all-night theaters but the council rejected the action amid debate over whether the city, county or state should care for the homeless who would be displaced. Yes, the homeless of skid row were an issue 70 years ago.
June 5, 1939, Cover
Hitler accuses France and Britain of "encirclement."  View this page

June 5, 1939, Hitler

June 5, 1939, USC Graduation

USC commencement exercises at the Coliseum.

June 5, 1939, Rattlesnake James

"Rattlesnake" James, the last man to be hanged in California.

June 5, 1939, Jews
Jewish refugees to the Philippines?

June 5, 1939, B-Girls

Authorities try to regulate the B-Girls on Main Street.

June 5, 1939, Woodcarver

David Villasenor teaches woodcarving to at-risk youths.

June 5, 1939, Pepsi

"Harlem Comes to Hollywood." 

June 5, 1939, Rex Gambling Ship

Another full-page ad for the Rex. Tony Cornero certainly took out lots of full-page ads in The Times. Evidently we didn't have a problem with offshore gambling.

June 5, 1939, Stupid Letters

When writing letters was an art.

June 5, 1939, Sermons

The Rev. Bruce Brown could be making a rebuttal to the saying that ministers should preach with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. 

June 5, 1939, Gurden

Officer Wilmont Wilson and the Rev. Bernard F. Gurden, a pastor at Angelus Temple, die.

June 5, 1939, Robbery

Bess Keeney is attacked while waiting for a streetcar at Jefferson and Vermont.
June 5, 1939, Duesenberg

Duesenbergs for sale!

June 5, 1939, Boxing

Boxers Tony Galento, left, Max Baer and Lou Nova clown for the camera.

June 5, 1939, Lee Side

Literature and art by Lee Shippey.

June 5, 1939, Beauty Mask
June 5, 1939, Rebecca

Casting for "Rebecca."

June 5, 1939, Sex Criminals

The Times opposes parole for sex criminals.
June 5, 1939, Arrid

June 5, 1939, Sports
Bill Henry takes a look at Hollywood Park's revenues. View this page

June 5, 1939, Comics
View this page

June 5, 1939, Sun Never Sets

"The Sun Never Sets" with "For Love or Money" or "Code of the Streets."
"Warm Blooded Men! Desperate Women!

Woman Charged With Robbing Man

May 28, 1899, Robber

Monorail Planned for Downtown Los Angeles!

May 27, 1959, Rock And Roll

"She Was Gone ... Real Gone!"

May 27, 1959, Times Cover
Voters reject higher taxes. View this page
May 27, 1959, Beatniks

Beatnik robbers tell victim to "play it cool." Woof, Daddy-o.
May 27, 1959, Monorail

Above, another mass-transit plan that never got off the drawing board.

May 27, 1959, Monorail

May 27, 1959, Hot Rod

All right, you kids, no more chopped and channeled five-window coupes, understand? And no more lowered front ends on your T-buckets! Next, we're going after your Glass Packs.

May 27, 1959, Teen Skating

May 27, 1959, Impotent

Nice headline -- does that mean some women aren't upset?


May 27, 1959, Pork Chop Hill

May 27, 1959, Suicide

May 27, 1959, Suicide

May 27, 1959, Lynching

Above, FBI agents give the governor of Mississippi the names of about 10 men involved in the lynching of African American truck driver Mack Charles Parker.
May 27, 1959, Bishop Pike on Birth Control

Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike addresses a Planned Parenthood meeting and calls California's laws against birth control unconstitutional.

May 27, 1959, Stalker

May 27, 1959, Times Comics

Pop Fligh helps Dondi get out of a jam. View this page

May 27, 1959, Miss Parkreation

Isn't that awfully close to "Miss Procreation?"

May 27, 1959, Sports
The Dodgers lose to the Giants and Milwaukee beats Pittsburgh in the 13th inning. View this page

Telephone Bandit Goes on Rampage

May 27, 1939, Telephone Bandit

May 27, 1939: The Telephone Bandit shoots up pay phones to keep victims from reporting holdups.

May 27, 1939, Telephone Bandit

Mystery Boy Found in Echo Park, Famous Poet Serenades Goats, April 17, 1939

April 17, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

The Times noted that Charles Owens had an art exhibit on the third floor of City Hall.

April 17, 1939, Robber

A 27-year-old man says he robbed the country club where he worked to provide a few essentials for his mother. He was sentenced to the six months on the road gang and probation.

April 17, 1939, Happiness

April 17, 1939, Theater
Marx Brothers are at work on "A Day at the Circus."

April 17, 1939, Comics
Dr. Wong, a normally "placid Oriental," becomes agitated when he sees the Man-Lion statue in "Tarzan."
April 17, 1939, Sports Joe Louis makes a surprise visit to the Main Street Gym.

April 17, 1939, Carl Sandburg

Voices -- Christine Collins, September 8, 1931

  Los Angeles, Calif.,
  Sept. 8, 1931
Dear. Mr. Neumiller,
1931_0908_christine_collins02_01I am writing to you again in behalf of my husband, Walter J. Collins, No. 12824, an inmate at Represa, Calif.
I understand that his name appears on the June calendar and that he will be called before the prison board some time this month for a hearing.
I wish that you would consider a parole for him as I really need his support. I am not at all able to work and am solely dependant upon others for a livelihood. Due to worry over my health and conditions in general I spend a great part of my time in bed with nervous breakdowns.

If Walter were released, I am sure that he would be able to secure a position and support me, thus enabling me to regain my health.

'When a person's health is gone this old world looks very dark and dreary.'

--Christine Collins

I certainly have suffered thru the loss of our only son, whom you know was kidnapped and thot to have been at the Northcott murder farm. Then the brutality of the L.A. police and my imprisonment in the psychopathic hospital because I would not accept someone else's child as my lost boy caused the loss of my position which was my only source of support, as well as the loss of my health.

I am really destitute, having to rely upon strangers for help. I have a sick sister who is unable to work on account of her health as much as she is willing to help me.

I am writing to you from a humane standpoint and hope that you will just give my husband another chance. I am sure that he will make good. He has been imprisoned for nearly eight years and we both have suffered terribly in that length of time.

I know that should a parole be granted at this meeting I would regain my health and I would certainly be most grateful to you. When a person's health is gone this old world looks very dark and dreary.

Hoping you will give this consideration and thanking you for your previous courtesy, I beg to remain,

Respectfully yours,
Mrs. Walter J. Collins
2614 N. Griffin Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif.

ps. Please do what you can for Walter.
Thank you.
Mrs. C.

Parolee sought in killing of studio executive, January 1959


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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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