I have ceased blogging in real time as I read Donald H. Wolfe’s “The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles.” Wolfe uses the “Laura” format, in which the anonymous, butchered body is found and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.
Now, I am taking a few requests before wrapping up the project. Today, we’ll continue our examination of Pages 213-215 at the request of Regular Anonymous Correspondent.
Here’s the two-minute executive summary. We caught Wolfe in a nasty bit of business, in which he faked a crucial document. In fairness, I e-mailed him and asked if he cared to defend himself. So far, he hasn’t responded. We also discovered a rather bad distortion of Los Angeles geography, and what should be an embarrassing confusion between two sets of prominent people named Murphy. Even worse, Wolfe presents himself as knowing these folks.
In all, a pretty ripe week.
Let’s wrap up Page 215, shall we?
Wolfe is going through a long rigmarole involving a convicted forger named Arthur Curtis James Jr., who claimed he was a struggling artist when he met Elizabeth Short in 1944 and conned her into posing for paintings.
As the district attorney’s files show (recall the title of this book is “The Black Dahlia Files”), Elizabeth Short was nowhere near Los Angeles in 1944. Of course, this hasn’t stopped the claims that appear in John Gilmore’s “Severed,” (25% mistakes and 50% fiction), Steve Hodel’s “Black Dahlia Avenger (a ruthlessly distorted work reverse-engineered to prove Hodel’s original assumption that his father was an evil genius) and “Black Dahlia Files.”
James’ critical role in the Wolfe book is to prove that Elizabeth Short was pregnant with Norman Chandler’s love child.
Now Wolfe moves from James to Vincent A. Carter, author of the self-published book “LAPD’s Rogue Cops.” Let’s cover something important at the outset. Carter says:
“Rogue Cops,” Page 11
“…although I never worked directly on the Black Dahlia murder, I never lost interest in it.”
My point is this: Carter never worked on the case, so the only material he can provide is locker room scuttlebutt. And indeed, that’s what “Rogue Cops” presents about Capt. Jack Donahoe, one of the most admired men in the Police Department of his day. “Rogue Cops” commits a vicious smear of Donahoe, completely ignoring his actual accomplishments and the high regard in which he was held. Especially this nonsense about courtesy cards. Did I mention that “Rogue Cops” claims Donahoe killed lots of people, but according to one of his best friends, retired Capt. Ed Jokisch, Donahoe never killed anybody?
Well, not only does “Rogue Cops” have a grudge against Donahoe, but it goes to town on the Chandler family:
“Black Dahlia Files,” Page 215:
“According to Administrative Vice officer Vince Carter, it was common knowledge within the upper echelons of the LAPD that Norman Chandler was a womanizer, who carefully guarded his private life from public scrutiny. As publisher of the Los Angeles Times, one of the things Norman Chandler insisted on was that the Chandler name and the Chandler activities be kept out of the paper. Vince Carter stated, ‘a lot of what was not printed about Chandler was common knowledge in Administrative Vice and the upper echelons of the Los Angeles Police Department—a department of city government in which Chandler always had an intense and close, if usually covert, working relationship.’ ”
Here we have another attack on a CDP (conveniently dead person). [Full disclosure: I work for The Times but everything you read here is done on my own as a private individual, using my personal resources and archives, and in no way reflects the newspaper].
Let’s check the old end notes, shall we, Watson?
By all means, Holmes!
Hum! This is interesting. Wolfe says he interviewed Carter in 1998 and 2004. Also cites “Rogue Cops,” Page 47-48.
Notice, Watson. “Rogue Cops” only addresses Norman Chandler as a newspaper executive on these pages. See for yourself:
“A lot of what was not printed about Norman Chandler was common knowledge in the upper echelons of the Los Angeles Police Department, a department of the city government in which Norman always had an intense interest and close, if usually covert, working relationships. He was a man who one biographer thought of as ‘shy,’ an assessment which may have been based on Norman’s habitual personal reticence, his privacy, and the barriers he erected which could not be crossed by personal friends or even by members of his family. His wife, Buff, who became something of a power in her own right in politics, society and the arts, thought that ‘everyone loved him and no one knew him.’ Buff is said to have remarked to a friend after Norman Chandler’s death that in all the years they had been married, she had never really reached him. No doubt this is true. It may even have been an understatement.”
Now Wolfe does pick up a bit more of this on Page 216:
“After Norman Chandler died in October 1973, his wife Dorothy ‘Buff’ Chandler remarked to a friend that, in all the years of their marriage, she had never really reached him. She stated, ‘Everyone loved him and no one knew him.’ ”
OK, Wolfe hangs all of this on Carter. But Carter doesn’t say beans about Norman Chandler womanizing on the pages Wolfe cites. And Carter is incredibly unreliable to begin with.
I’ve caught Carter is a doozy.
Pay close attention to this, folks, because this is the kind of source we’re dealing with. This is long, but worth addressing.
“Rogue Cops,” Page 56
“Late in the evening, two homicide detectives came upstairs into the Reserve Unit at Hollenbeck, where I was on duty. They had just killed a man and wanted to find a place where they could come down off their high. They had been drinking. Detectives Henry Crammer and Bob Quella spent about an hour with me. (Both of these detectives were assigned to the Black Dahlia case).
“On Thursday morning, February 27, the newspapers carried stories about the shooting, accompanied by photographs.
“OFFICER SHOT, GUNMAN SLAIN: A policeman was wounded chasing a suspect in an assertedly stolen car.
“Swift and deadly retribution in the shape of three police bullets had struck down a 21-year-old transient as he was being taken from Georgia Street Receiving Hospital in custody for shooting a policeman at Fifth and Main Streets. This happened less than an hour before.
“As his asserted victim lay on the operating table three floors above in the Central Receiving Hospital fighting for his life with a .38-calibre bullet in his spine, John Green fell mortally wounded under the guns of Detective Sergeants Henry Crammer and Bob Quella.
“The youth, who came here from Helena, Montana three days ago, attempted to flee from the two officers as they walked down the hospital’s ramp on the main floor. Quella said the suspect asked for a cigarette as they neared the ramp, then pushed him aside and ran. Green dropped with three heavy-calibre bullets in his body after taking less than ten steps.
“The youthful suspect was under arrest for the shooting of policeman Art Fraide, 26, of 833 W. 82nd Street, who attempted to stop Green in an assertedly stolen car at Fifth and Main Streets.
“In the exchange of shots, witnessed by scores of persons on the busy downtown corner, Fraide was wounded seriously by a bullet that ranged through his chest and lodged in his spine.”
“Detectives Crammer and Quella were working Central Homicide when this shooting took place. Later Quella left the LAPD and Crammer transferred into uniform. A short time after his transfer he was promoted to Lieutenant.”
Did you get through all of that? Because this is where Vincent A. Carter shows his true colors.
This is a notorious incident in LAPD history, and it’s true there was an officer named Arthur Fraide who was wounded and John Green or Greene, the man suspected of shooting him, was killed at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital.
First of all, the detectives. Not Henry Crammer and Bob Quella. They were Harry Fremont and Ray Varela. Harry Fremont, who indeed worked the Black Dahlia case, did end up in uniform, but it wasn’t as a reward. He was punished for being involved in “Bloody Christmas” and was busted from detective and sent as a uniform officer to the Highland Park Division. You can read more about his exploits in Daryl Gates’ book “Chief: My Life in the LAPD.”
Let’s dig out the clips.
Oh, this is even funnier. Guess what paper Carter quotes for this story.
Hint: Not the Los Angeles Examiner.
Hint: Not the Herald-Express.
Hint: Not the Daily News a.k.a. the Illustrated Daily News.
Hint: Not the Hollywood Citizen-News.
Yep. He quotes evil Norman Chandler’s Los Angeles Times, almost verbatim, except Carter only uses the first few paragraphs. Now why is Carter quoting The Times if he hates it so much? I hope that makes sense to you, because it makes no sense to little old me.
Of course, what Carter doesn’t tell you is that Green stole a car from a parking lot at 753 S. Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles. Carter doesn’t tell you that off-duty Officer Charles S. Wyatt saw Green sideswipe a car and chased him. Carter doesn’t tell you that since Wyatt was unarmed, he yelled to Fraide, a traffic officer at 7th Street and Main, to pick up the chase.
Carter doesn’t tell you that Fraide commandeered a car and chased Green, who was trapped in traffic. Carter doesn’t tell you that Green shot Fraide as he approached the stolen car. Carter doesn’t tell you that even though Fraide was shot in the spine, he returned fire and hit Green in the arm, which is why Green was at the hospital. Carter doesn’t tell you that Green was finally caught in heavy traffic and surrendered to two officers who had drawn their guns.
Carter doesn’t tell you that Fraide received last rites because doctors expected him to die, and be paralyzed if he survived.
And Carter doesn’t tell you that Green was a suspect in a string of bank robberies. Or that his partner, Sidney R. Deegan, had just gotten out of San Quentin after serving four years for manslaughter.
Now what does the Herald-Express say?
Oh, I like this:
“Dead was John Green, 21, identified as an auto thief who came here three days ago from Helena, Mont., because he heard Los Angeles was easy picking for holdup men.”
And this in the Examiner:
“After being treated Greene [cq] was taken down to the south portico of the hospital by Detective Sergeants Harry Fremont and R.E. Varela.
“Shoving Fremont, Greene made a dash for the street.
“Fremont and Varela both fired, dropping him before he could take a dozen steps.”
The Hearst papers really knew how to write about crime, didn’t they?
And speaking of Hearst, the Examiner had pictures of Green, first being identified by Fraide, who was on a gurney, and then lying dead in the hospital parking lot with Fremont and Varela a few feet away. And you know what? Fremont and Varela don’t look a bit sorry about it, either.
Man. If there’s anything worse than poking holes in one bad book, it’s poking holes in two bad books.
And I can’t say this too often: Beware of authors who change people’s names without informing the reader. You can’t trust anything they write.
For the record, Office Fraide, that’s Arturo Fraide, by the way, survived being shot. I don’t know whether he was paralyzed, however.
And it’s a beautiful day out. Time for my walk.
Shout out to:
Los Nettos of San Marino? (188.8.131.52)
Union Bank of California? (184.108.40.206)
North Dakota State University Computer Center (220.127.116.11) Fargo North, Decoder!
City of Los Angeles uses Windows 98? (18.104.22.168)