June 9, 1957
James R. Shepard decided it was better to kill himself than be
prosecuted for a crime so shameful that it could not be published in
The Times. A few hours after the 32-year-old insurance investigator
was arrested in a bar at 850 N. La Brea Ave. in Hollywood, he shot
himself in the head.
Shepard was found on the floor of his apartment at 238 N. Cordova St.
in Burbank by Charles W. Barrickman, 8333 Spingford Drive, Sun Valley.
He had left a note insisting that he was in the bar as part of an
insurance investigation but couldn’t prove it. "I do not have the name
or money that Mr. Mickey Cohen had, so I cannot fight the Los Angeles
Police Department," he wrote.
What was Shepard’s offense? "A morals charge," The Times said. He was free on $500 bail pending a hearing in Municipal Court.
Given The Times’ silence on the details of the alleged crime and
Shepard’s suicide over being arrested, it’s easy to infer that he was
gay. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to locate the name of the bar at
that address or find any further information on him or his friend
All we know is that whatever happened, his death was a tragedy. Rest in peace, James R. Shepard.