Arson in Norwalk





May 10, 1957

First comes love, then comes marriage, then come two children and lots
and lots of diapers for Nancy Joyce Stoner, 20, and her husband,
Eugene, 31.

Married at 16 after graduating from La Puente High School and a mother
at 18, Nancy was living at 12702 Crossdale in Norwalk, when she
snapped. "I don’t know–I’ve been so upset since the baby was born–I
just had to do something–it was diapers, diapers, diapers all the
time," she said.

"Also, the baby hasn’t been well–she has to be fed intravenously two
or three times a week. I’m so worried about her and the bills for her,"
she said.

She and Eugene had separated after their first child, Deborah (or
Debra) was born two years earlier. She enjoyed working in a cafeteria,
she said, but relatives got her and Eugene back together. Then DiAnna
(or Deanna) was born.

"My husband provides a good home," Nancy said, "but he comes home and
has a can of beer, has supper and watches TV until he goes to bed.
That’s all–no appreciation when he gets home. And I do diapers all day
before he gets home."

So one morning before heading to see an Anaheim doctor who was treating
her for her nerves, Nancy piled seven loads of diapers and dirty
clothes in the living room and set them on fire, causing $3,000 damage
($21,495.85 USD 2006).

"The doctor told me I needed a vacation," Nancy said. "But I couldn’t afford it."

"I just got tired of the monotony of my life," she said. "Nothing but dishes and diapers… I just got desperate."

Shortly after the fire, the Stoner family moved to Pomona, where The
Times photographed Nancy hanging up laundry. She pleaded guilty to
attempted arson and was to be sentenced July 30, 1957, but The Times
apparently never covered the hearing.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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