Strangler attacks



June 11, 1957
Los Angeles

We’re parked outside a two-story apartment house at 3737 Los Feliz Blvd.
It’s late, after 1 a.m. I’ll warn you before we go in: I hate this
case. I can’t say I like any of them, but this one I hate. It’s pitiful
and tragic and I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to go for a cup of
coffee instead.

You sure? OK, come on then. That’s her sedan parked at the curb.

This whole area is a hot spot for peeping Toms: It’s all apartment
houses with bedrooms at the back facing dark alleys. About half a dozen
women live here and they all say they have seen men at their windows
and that someone has been rattling their doorknobs in the middle of the
night. The landlady filed a report not long ago that somebody was
stealing underwear off the clothesline and about a year ago, a woman in
Apartment 6, next to the murder scene, said some prowler slid a note
under her door:

"If you are lonely and want some company, why don’t we get
acquainted. I am not trying to scare you. I think you and I could have
a good time together.

"I’m young and so are you, so let’s not waste our time. A friend, I hope."

Another neighbor says a man broke in and choked her last September, but that he ran away when she started screaming.

I figure the guy may have been watching our victim and knew she was
living alone. Until a few days ago, she had a roommate–another
nurse–but the woman moved out because the victim was getting married
to a doctor. She had just come home from a wedding shower when she was

I told you it was nasty.

Notice the front door is locked and chained. She was careful. Not quite
careful enough, maybe, but pretty careful. The roommate, Margot
Wright,  says that about six months ago, a young man barged into the
apartment while she was lying on the bed. Wright told police that she
grabbed her purse off the nightstand and the man laughed and ran.

Our victim is named Marjorie Lucille Hipperson, 24, and she’s a nurse
at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. A few hours ago, the staff gave a
wedding shower for her and her fiance, Dr. Walter Deike, who’s an
intern so he spends a couple nights a week at the hospital. In fact, he
got called away from the party, so Marjorie wrote him a note before she

"Dear Walter: I hope you don’t have too tough a night. Get a lot of sleep.

I love you.


Let’s go around the back. Here’s where he got in: She left the kitchen
window unlocked. Police will find the screen over in the garage of a
neighbor who lives at 3745 Los Feliz. Let’s go in. Don’t touch anything. They’re going to find prints all over the place. Notice the apartment hasn’t been trashed as it would be if there was a burglary. 

She was a tidy one. Here’s the sweater she wore to the party, washed
and stretched out to dry on the drainboard. The rest of that outfit is
hanging in the closet. OK, here’s the living room. You can see she’s
laid out her clothes for the wedding trip to Chicago and is getting
ready to move. The rent runs out in a couple of days and the telephone
has already been disconnected.

You sure you don’t want to turn around? OK, let’s go in the bedroom.

Well, that’s her, poor thing. You can see her arms and legs are
bruised from fighting with him. Her hands might have been bound at some
point, but they’re not tied now. White nightgown bunched up around her
neck, left arm doubled up behind her back and her right arm stretched
out. She’s been strangled with a nylon and gagged with a blue washcloth
held in place with another nylon, just like the Ruth Goldsmith case, remember? Yeah, she was raped. He apparently didn’t steal anything. There’s loose money on the bureau and in the drawers.

Nope, nobody heard a sound.

We better get going. In a little while, Dr. Deike is going to start wondering why she hasn’t shown up for work. Remember, the phone is disconnected. He’s going to come over. He’ll see her car at the curb and know she’s home. When she doesn’t answer the door, he’ll come around back and crawl in the kitchen window.

And then he’ll find her here.

Walter will remarry–eventually. A woman named Joan. But five years later, he’ll be gone too. He’s going to go out swimming in Mendocino Bay and drown.

I told you, I hate this case.



Let’s drop by Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena on our way back and pay our respects.

To be continued….

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About lmharnisch

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

1 Response to Strangler attacks

  1. Diane says:

    Fascinating piece, particularly so after…..
    –Why thanks. Let’s not give it away, tho…. remember, I said: “To be continued.”


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