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Landlord slain

January 11, 2008 | 12:37 pm

Jan. 11-12, 1958
Los Angeles

So it's right before Christmas, Dec. 7, and our guy is a week late with the rent. Not working, no money. The landlord comes around; he's a machinist at Douglas who owns these four apartments in Hawthorne.

They fight. Our guy stabs the landlord in the back of the neck with a hunting knife.

Wraps the body in a blanket, puts it in the trunk of the landlord's car and heads for Riverside. Car breaks down near Mt. Rubidoux.

So.... He calls a friend, says come get me. The friend tows the car back to L.A., 11400 Felton Ave. Our guy rents a car, puts the landlord in the trunk--remember it's been a couple days by now--and goes out to Lytle Creek, eight miles out of San Bernardino. Up a dirt road for a mile and then up a firebreak trail half a mile. Digs a grave and buries him.

It's nine days later and the landlord's cousin reports him missing. Police investigate, find our guy driving the landlord's car. Says the landlord loaned it to him, doesn't know where he is.

This is January now. They take him in on a GTA and start questioning him. He's got a record back to '49: Forgery, burglary and mail theft. Been in McNeil Island and the County Jail. But he doesn't know anything about the landlord.

They get the wife to tell them he did it. "Buried him out in the woods." So.... They keep working on him. Put him on the polygraph. Doesn't know anything about the landlord, just borrowed the car.

Finally, he cracks. Says the landlord was after his wife. He came over to the apartment. They fought. The landlord got a hunting knife off a shelf. He dropped it. Our guy picked it up and stabbed him.

Hertel and Rambeau * take him back out there with Al Edsel from the Sheriff's Department. Dark ... late at night. Just a couple of flashlights and the spots on the cars. They find the grave under heavy brush and dig him up.

Our guy tells the papers: "I'm glad it's all over with.... I haven't really slept since it happened."

The Times never followed up on this story. According to California death records, Harold Kelly Middlekauff died May 5, 1980, at the age of 58. There's no listing for his wife, Eleanor. Beryl Creech, the landlord, was 44.

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* Police Capt Arthur Hertel and Lt. Earl Rambeau.