May 2, 1957
Meet Henry C. “Clay” Hamby, 42, who lived with his wife, Mildred, and three
children in a 944-square-foot home at
Paddock St., in Sylmar.
Clay is a drophammer operator at Reylon Precision Products, a little machine
shop at 7145 Vineland, in North Hollywood. Mildred, who’s 10 years younger, used
to work there, too.
And then there’s the foreman of the night shift, Harold Decker, 36, who lived in
a fourplex at
El Dorado, Pacoima.
Mildred says Clay never mistreated her. But there was something about Harold. “I
just met this man, and… well…,” she said.
In August 1956, Mildred left Clay and the three children and either moved in
with Harold or got another unit in the same fourplex.
“I was trying to find out through the trial separation if it was an infatuation
or what it was–my attraction to Harold,” she sobbed to detectives. “I’m torn
apart inside! I’m all mixed up!”
On Sept. 13, 1956, Clay got his .270-caliber Winchester, drove to the machine
shop and killed Harold with one shot to the chest. He pointed the rifle at the
other workers and threatened to kill them if they moved, then said he was going
to shoot his wife. He fled, but not before one of the workers threw a vise and
struck him in the leg.
Someone at the shop wrote down the license number of Clay’s station wagon and
called police, who headed for Mildred’s apartment in Sylmar in time to arrest
Clay before he killed anyone else.
Held in the Van Nuys jail, Clay said: “I don’t remember anything.”
Clay was convicted of second-degree murder at his retrial after the first jury
On May 1, 1957, Clay was declared insane at the time of the
shooting and transferred to the jurisdiction of Psychopathic Court, never again
to appear in the pages of The Times.
Mildred and her three children are likewise lost to history.