Voices–the Albert Dyer case

 

1957_dyer_hed


Note: The murders of three little Inglewood girls was one of Los Angeles’ most notorious case of the 1930s. Madeline
Everett, 7,  her sister Melba, 9, and their playmate, Jeanette Stephens, 8, were lured to the Baldwin Hills by Albert Dyer, a WPA crossing guard, who
raped and strangled the girls one at a time on June 26, 1937. Dyer was hanged  at San Quentin on Sept. 16, 1938. The girls are buried in unmarked graves at  Inglewood
Park Cemetery
.
 


1957_everett_stephens
Recently, Theresa Pinamonti Zeigler recalled:

I was born Nov. 19, 1929, in a house on Kelso Street in Inglewood,
the youngest of six children of an Italian immigrant
family.  When I was a year old, my family moved to  805 S.
Prairie Ave., across the street from where the Inglewood racetrack is
located now.
It was a huge area of swampy land with ponds, rushes, cattails,
trees and bushes.  A couple of my
brothers and I  had a good time playing there.  I
believe that the house we lived in was torn down in the ’60s.

My dad had a grocery store on Market Street in Inglewood  called
the Midnight store, but lost it during the Depression and
subsequently worked for the WPA, building roads and bridges.

I was 7 1/2 years old at the time of the murders of three
little girls, who were kidnapped by Albert Dyer from Centinela Park in
Inglewood  on June 26, 1937.   

My sister Josephine and I
had  walked to Centinela Park, which was over a mile from our
home.  We were used to that long walk because we walked every day to St.
John’s school, which was approximately a mile from where we lived on
Prairie Avenue.

On our way we passed by the Inglewood Park Cemetery,  and I 
always peeked through the fence out of curiosity at all the large,
numerous tombstones that I could see behind the chain-link
fencing.
I did not know how to swim, but played in the plunge (swimming
pool) with my older  sister Josephine watching over me. 
She  was 14. Afterwards, my sister allowed me to play in the park  so my
swimsuit could dry.
 
I played  with the three little girls by a huge pipe.  I am not
sure but it could have been a drainage pipe in the park.  We played
together digging  in the dirt, running in and out of the pipe chasing each
other  laughing and giggling like little girls will do,  then my
sister called me to go home. 

Later in the day, we heard the news of the kidnapping  of the three
little girls and then later, finding their bodies in  Baldwin Hills which was a few miles from Centinela Park. [Note: The girls were found June 28, 1937].

I knew at the time, from their description of the little girls,  that
they were the ones that I had been playing with  in Centinela
Park.
 
One of our neighbors, a bachelor who lived with a married sister
on Buckthorne Street around the corner from our house, was
a suspect.  My sister tells me that the police questioned me
about this bachelor and they  also found out that I had played
with three little girls that matched the description of the missing children,
and asked me about that also,  but I don’t recall that specifically.

I do recall all the excitement in the neighborhood and all the grownups gathering
out in the alleys behind their homes, and  some standing around on
the sidewalks talking about the missing children.  This bachelor was
suspected of the kidnapping because he used to give  his niece
and a couple of us  little girls, who played with her, rides in the
back of his pickup truck.

I do remember the rides since that was as much
fun as riding in the rumble seat of a Ford.  The
bachelor  was eventually cleared.  I know that it was a
scary time and I remember hearing the adults saying that some men wanted to
lynch the man while he was in jail.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Homicide and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Voices–the Albert Dyer case

  1. Howard Hilborn says:

    In 1937 I was in Melba’s classroom at Centinela grammar school. She taught us a song in class called, A Spanish Cavalier”. That morning my dad bought a newspaper extra and read it at breakfast. I couldn’t believe it. My classmate was murdered. A friend of mine and I were playing in front of my house at 521 Florence Ave. when a police car stopped next to us. The police wanted to know if we could walk up to Baldwin Hills. We said, “yes” as we had walked up there many times. The police asked our parents if they would let us try to walk up there if the police followed along in the police car. We walked to Baldwin Hills with no probems. When we got there the police must have forgotten about us. We saw three stakes in the ground and some stains that looked like blood. The police hurried us into the police car and drove us back home. I remember more but it is still difficult for me to think about it. Ever so often I find myself humming or singing “A Spanish Cavalier” Our school crossing guard was arrested & hanged for the murders. It was hard for us to believe that Mr. Dyer had done it. Howard hilborn

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  2. Pamela Everett says:

    Mr. Hilborn – My dad was Melba and Madeline’s oldest brother (Perley Everett). If the girls had not been murdered, they would have been my aunts. I never knew much about the murders until after my dad died but in recent years, I’ve tried to learn as much as I could. Your memories about Melba warm my heart and help me understand more about this aunt I never knew. Thank you so much for that. Pamela Everett

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  3. Mike Fratantoni says:

    I’ve been doing research on this case for the last couple of years and was surprised to see there was an LA Times article on it. It is nice to know that there are people out there who still care to take the time to write their memories about these girls. Thanks Mr. Hilborn and Mrs. Zeigler. It is your personal stories that mean alot more than what is written in the newspapers. Mrs. Everette, I know it has been a long time since this tragic event, but my heart still goes out to your family. I would love to talk to any of you about this, or share anything I have. My contact email is fratster2003@yahoo.com
    Thanks… Mike Fratantoni

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