Paul V. Coates–Confidential File

June 24, 1957

SUBJECT’S NAME: Delbert Wilson Miller.
Height, 5 feet, 10 inches. Weight, 155 pounds. Bald, rim of gray hair.
Glass right eye. Tattoo: "IRMA-DELL" upper right arm. Tattoo of
swastika on left forearm.

Any person with information as to subject’s whereabouts is requested to
contact Sgt. Ketcherside, Missing Persons Section, Los Angeles Police

Large cities have swallowed up persons before.

But never has a metropolis done a job more thoroughly than it did with Delbert Miller.

Fact and circumstance make his disappearance a near impossibility.

Yet, he’s gone.

And no one, in six months of thorough search, has even a hint as to where or why.

Miller is a blind man. He never left his room at the St. Regis Apartments, 237 S. Flower St., without a friend to guide him.

Yet, on Jan. 17, he walked out alone. And vanished.

I talked last week with Miller’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. LaJune Miller of 2963 Partridge Ave.

She told me many things about the missing subject: his habits, his disposition, his dependency on others.

Which might offer a clue as to his whereabouts. I don’t know.

Miller, his daughter-in-law told me, was an independent sort of man.
But age had mellowed his quick temper. And blindness had limited his

"My husband and I tried several times to get him to live with us," she
said. "But he’d always go back to Flower St. That’s where all his old
cronies were."

Sometimes, she said, he’d stay with them for a month or so, but always,
with a firm, "I’m just in your road here," he’d return downtown.

And have dinner with his son and daughter once or twice a week.

Mrs. Miller and her husband carefully traced the final known movements of the missing man. So did the police.

It was learned that he left his room on the morning of Jan. 17 to shop at Grand Central Market with a friend.

The friend later reported that he returned as far as the Third Street
tunnel with Miller. Then Miller said he could find his way alone and
they parted.

But Miller reached his room. He put his groceries on the table, stepped out, locked the door, and was never again seen.

The rotting groceries and meat were found a few days later.

"It was like he was planning on coming right back," said Mrs. Miller.

She and her husband spent the next six weeks in the neighborhood.

"We’d drive over in the early evening. Sometimes we’d knock on doors,
asking questions. Sometimes we’d approach strangers on the street.
They’d look at us like we were crackpots.

"And sometimes, around midnight, we’d drive home and no sooner would we get there than my husband would say to me:

" ‘Let’s go back. Maybe he’ll be there.’

"And we’d go back and look and wait some more–until 2 or 3 in the morning."

Meanwhile, the police continued a thorough investigation.

They checked relatives, hospitals, hotels, mental hygiene clinics, the
FBI. They, too, quizzed neighbors. They distributed circulars and
placed his fingerprints on FBI file.

Mrs. Miller found one possible clue–but so far it’s done no good.

"The landlady told me," she said, "that a stranger came asking for my father-in-law just three days before he disappeared.

"He was a tall, slender gentleman, well dressed and in his 40s."

I asked her about the swastika tattoo on Miller’s arm.

"Oh, he was so ashamed of it. He’d had it for years–long before
Hitler–and he used to talk quite often about having it removed.

"Just because of it, he’d always wear long-sleeved shirts."

Before we finished our conversation Mrs. Miller admitted, hesitantly,
that in desperation she had gone to a fortuneteller for help.

"I don’t believe in them, but I had no place else to go."

"What," I asked, "did the fortuneteller say?"

"That we’d hear from him very soon," she answered.

"But that–that was over two months ago."

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Columnists, Downtown, LAPD, Paul Coates and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Paul V. Coates–Confidential File

  1. Amy Gundelach says:

    I have been doing research on my families history for some time. I have just run across this article about Delbert Wilson Miller. He was my great-grandfather! My grandmother Irmadel Miller is alive and well, living in Colorado. Her fathers disappearance has haunted her this whole time and the account you have here is exactly the story I have heard from her. I would like to know how to get more information to give to her. I know it will be bitter sweet for her to have the information. Please contact me. Thank you!! Amy Gundelach


  2. Steven Lynn Miller says:

    Delbert Miller was my grandfather. Morris (Bud) Miller and LaJune Miller was my mother. I remember quite well the disapearance of my grandfather. I had joined the U.S. Navy, and was stationed in San Diego at the time. I kept in close contact with my parents as I was worried about their emotional health. My aunt Irmadell Just called me a few days ago to tell me about Amy’s research and her findings. The disapearance as troubled me for many years as it has my aunt Irmadell. My father would search out all of my grandfathers old hangouts plus visit the county morgue for years looking for closure. I hope that Amy’s letter and searches will find closure for all of us.


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