Death in El Segundo

July 22, 1957
Los Angeles

We’re heading west on Rosecrans Avenue. It’s early Monday morning, a few moments after 1:30 a.m., and the streets are dark. There’s nobody out but a few drunks and some people heading home from the swing shift. It’s all quiet.

Maybe that’s what these two men on the graveyard shift thought.

Let’s pull over here, at Palm Avenue. North of us is the tank farm for the Standard Oil refinery and south of us are new homes. Up ahead is a police car, all lit up. I make it out to be 1957 Ford 300, four-door black and white. The only sound is the police radio. You can see the front passenger door is open. It says: “El Segundo Police.”

Before we get out, I need to say something: We’re going to find two dead–or dying–police officers up there. At home, there’s two widows who kissed their husbands goodbye and hoped they would see them in the morning. There are five kids who are going to grow up without their fathers. It’s a terrible tragedy and I don’t want to minimize that. But it would be another tragedy if one more police officer died because we didn’t learn a lesson from what happened here. These men can’t tell us, so we’ll never know exactly what went on. But let’s see what we can figure out about the shooting by picking it apart.

The officer in the driver’s seat is Milton Gus Curtis, 27. He’s fresh out of the academy in Riverside and has been on the El Segundo department for two months. Curtis has been shot in the upper right chest, right side and right forearm (or right wrist) with three .22-caliber short rounds.

His partner is Richard Allen Phillips, 28. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War and has been on the Police Department about three years. He’s been shot three times in the back, also with .22-caliber short rounds. His service revolver is next to him, all six shots fired. He’s supposed to be quite a marksman.

(Important discrepancy note: The Mirror says that according to officers who responded to the scene, Phillips’ body was in the police car. The Times says Phillips was on the ground next to his service revolver).

Notice that even though it’s dark, the killer hit his target six times. That seems like fairly accurate shooting.

Phillips’ citation book is lying open on the right fender. (Note: The newspapers said it was on the roof). He started to write a ticket, but he had only filled out the date.

OK, here’s a map.

Crime scene photos courtesy of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Notice Phillips’ citation book on the hood and the police siren on the right fender.

Here’s what happened:

Curtis and Phillips were parked on the north side of Rosecrans at Sepulveda about four car lengths east of the intersection. Margaret Osburn, who was heading home from work on westbound Rosecrans Avenue, said she stopped at the signal, in the right lane. A car later identified as a 1949 Ford pulled up to her left, then jumped the red light and roared through the intersection. “I said to myself what a stupid thing to do with the police car in plain sight,” Osburn said.

Curtis and Phillips began their pursuit.

Alan King, 19, was heading west on Rosecrans, on his way home from a job at a service station when Curtis and Phillips came up behind him. King thought they were pulling him over, so he stopped, but they kept going. He went to his home around the corner from here on Poinsettia and watched the driver, Curtis and Phillips at Rosecrans and Palm.

Osburn passed by here and saw the two officers and the driver standing outside his car. One of the officers was shining a flashlight in the driver’s face, Osburn said.

According to Osburn, the driver was taller than either officer, with husky shoulders. He was about 25 years old with curly blond or light brown hair and was wearing a red plaid shirt with the tail pulled out instead of tucked into his pants.

King, who was watching from the back porch of his home on Poinsettia, said he saw Curtis and Phillips remove the driver from the car. There appeared to be a struggle, King said. “When the man quieted down, one of the officers [presumably Curtis] went back to the prowl car and talked into the radio mike.” Then King stepped out of view.

Another team of El Segundo police officers, C.D. Porter and James T. “Ted” Gilbert cruised past.

“It looked like Curtis and Phillips were writing a routine traffic citation,” said Gilbert, who had been Curtis’ partner until two weeks earlier. “We drove past slowly and continued west on Rosecrans. When we went past, Phillips was outside the car with his citation book starting to write a citation. Curtis was behind the wheel phoning.”

El Segundo police dispatcher B.F. Bangasser said that at 1:29 a.m. (this time is reported elsewhere as 1:20 a.m.), one of the officers radioed to have him run the plates on the 1949 Ford. As he was checking, another police car came on the air. Then a voice cut in: “Ambulance.” (Or “Send…ambulance.”) “It was Phillips,” Bangasser said.

King heard shots and ran back to the porch in time to see the driver get into the 1949 Ford and “speed down Rosecrans.”

Police are going to find the killer’s car about four blocks west of here with three shots through the back window and one through the trunk. Phillips was supposed to be quite a marksman and he hit the killer in the back, but maybe the killer wasn’t injured too badly since the bullet went through part of the car first and lost momentum.

Two years after the killing, a homeowner digging up weeds at 555 33rd St. is going to find the murder weapon, a nine-shot Harrington and Richardson revolver, .22-caliber short. That’s a small cartridge. A year later, he’ll find the cylinder and some other items.

OK, let’s go over what happened again and see if anything is missing.

Don’t jump and look at the stories about how the case was solved in 2003 and what else the driver had done that night. For now, let’s concentrate on what we have in the original news reports.

First of all: The driver ran a red light with a police car in clear view. That should be a tipoff that something is wrong with the guy.

Second: King says they got the driver out of the car. He said it looked as though they struggled with driver, but King was half a block away, so I wonder how much he could have seen. If what King saw was accurate–that they struggled with him and them calmed him down–I wonder why they didn’t detain him right then. Police officers in the 1950s weren’t shy about administering a little “street justice” to people who gave them a hard time. Or maybe that’s how they “calmed him down.”

Third: Osburn drives by and sees both officers standing next to the killer outside his car with one of them shining a flashlight in his face. My guess–and it’s only a guess–is that they performed a field sobriety test. It’s done like this: Hold your arm out straight and touch the tip of your nose with your index finger. Like this one with Gail Russell.

Fourth: He shoots them. Which one first? Did the killer shoot Phillips in the back outside the police car and then shoot Curtis in the right side as he was behind the wheel? How did that work?

Maybe it will help if I act out the role of of Officer Curtis: I see the driver run the red light, I activate the lights and pull up behind him at Rosecrans and Palm. I get out of the car with my partner. We talk to the driver. I go back to the police car, get in the driver’s side and radio the dispatcher with the license plate number. Unless I’ve written it down, that means I can see the license plate from where I’m sitting and read it to the dispatcher. The killer shoots my partner in the back. While I am sitting in the driver’s seat, the killer shoots me in the right chest, right side and right wrist/forearm. The shots would have to come from the passenger side of the car.

Now I’ll be Officer Phillips: I see the driver run the red light. We pull up behind him at Rosecrans and Palm. I get out of the car with my partner. We talk to the driver. My partner goes back to the car while I start writing up a citation. I put the citation book on the hood of the police car. I’m shot three times in the back. The killer shoots my partner three times. I turn around and fire six shots at the killer’s car, hitting it three times in the back window and once in the trunk. I get into the police car, pick up the radio mike and say: “Ambulance.”

The problem is that I can’t get this scenario to work if I assume that the police car pulled up directly behind the killer’s car. For that to work, the killer has to do some weird doubling back to shoot Phillips and then shoot Curtis from the passenger side of the police car.

The only way I can get it to work is if the police car is to the left of the killer’s car, either side by side or off to the left rear of the 1949 Ford. If I’m right, I wonder why they parked there instead of behind him.

A couple other things bother me besides that scenario:

The first is the killer’s driver’s license–where is it? We know the police didn’t find it at the crime scene and it’s hard to imagine that Curtis and Phillips didn’t ask for it. If the driver said he didn’t have one, that should have raised their suspicions even further after he jumped the light–especially if he struggled with them.

For that matter, where’s the registration on the car? I assume they asked for that too. If they got his driver’s license and the registration, they would have noticed the car belonged to someone else and that should have made them even more suspicious.

My guess–and it is a guess–is that the killer shot the two officers and retrieved his driver’s license from Phillips, who was writing the citation.

And that’s the other thing that bothers me, maybe the most: Gilbert’s comment about “writing a routine traffic citation.” Obviously, it wasn’t routine. If these two men were complacent, they certainly paid a terrible, tragic price.

Because what Curtis and Phillips didn’t know is that the killer had just stolen the car after holding two teenage couples at gunpoint and raping one of the girls.

The investigation and solution of the case, which was turned over to the Sheriff’s Department, is another fascinating story.

In 1960, the man who found the murder weapon while digging weeds in his yard at 555 33rd St. turned the gun over to police, who learned that it had been purchased June 18, 1957, at a chain store (eventually identified as Sears) in Shreveport, La., by a man using the false name of George D. Wilson. A search of records at the nearby YMCA showed that a George D. Wilson registered there June 16, 1957. The handwriting sample will come in handy many years later.

Another equally important clue was the fingerprints found on the steering post of the stolen Ford (note the “necker’s knob or “brodie knob” on the steering wheel–lrh). As we all know, two partial prints were assembled to make a complete print that was run through a computer database and revealed a suspect. In fact, he turned out to be the killer.

And here’s some dazzling insight from Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Howard Hopkinson, from 1960:

“The killer was soft-spoken and gentlemanly with the kids. He had an accent but we have been unable to put it down as to whether it was Southern. We think that it was. He was apologetic to the kids and he never used profanity before them.”

Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Al Etzel added: We have a strong suspicion that this guy is a reputable person. He may have a good job, a family he thinks a lot of and he figures that when he got caught on the traffic citation, he would be made on robbery and criminal attack. He panicked.

“Here is a man who goes out with a gun, a small flashlight and a roll of adhesive tape to commit robbery and criminal attack and he ends up killing two policemen. He is somebody the people least suspect, not a murdering ‘cop hater.’ He had something he didn’t want to lose.”

They were right. In 2003, Gerald F. Mason, a retired gas station owner with one prior arrest many years before, was convicted of the killings. He will be eligible for parole in 2010, according to the State newspaper published in Columbia, S.C.

Here come Porter and Gilbert. We better get going.

Curtis and Phillips were buried side by side at Inglewood Park Cemetery. Let’s stop by and see them on the way back.

Update: Several people have asked why there is no mention of Officer Curtis’ survivors. I don’t wish to minimize the loss felt by his friends and family–in fact I try to put a face on the devastation that people feel when an officer dies in the line of duty. Curtis was survived by his wife, Jean; son, Keith; daughter, Toni Lynn; his sister, Dimitra Taruny; brother, Blaine; mother, Jessie Looney; and father, Gus Curtis. Phillips was survived by his wife, Carole; daughters Carolyn and Patricia; son, Richard Jr.; parents, Mr. and Mrs. T.G. Phillips; brothers, Charles and Eugene; and sisters Eunice Tabagio and Marcella Tuttle, The Times said.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in #courts, 1957, @news, Cemeteries, Crime and Courts, Homicide, Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Death in El Segundo

  1. Richard H says:

    This one really got to me.
    Checked out other sites on this.
    The more I read, the more puzzling and bizarre the entire incident looks.
    More questions than answers keep popping up.
    In the first place, it is generally accepted, Gerald F. Mason was a drifter (actually convicted felon) from South Carolina, brand new to Southern California. Fresh from Louisiana where he used the assumed name of George D. Wilson. The name he used to buy the gun. I assume he had to use a false name because he was a convicted felon, no? He said he hitchhiked to California. No train, bus, or car. I assume this means he had no money. A man with no money but possessing a gun.
    Somehow, a drifter from the South with a recent felony conviction in South Carolina using a false name, is in Los Angeles for the first time in his life, and finds himself near El Segundo Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue, one fine Sunday night in July, 1957 pointing a gun at four local teenagers with intent to rob and rape.
    Within two hours, he has managed to do that and kill two local police officers when he is stopped in the car he stole from the teenagers.
    You brought up the question about a driver’s license. What does somebody fresh from the South with a felony conviction show as a license or permit to drive in the State of California? Fakes?
    An even more perplexing question is: how does somebody that has just gotten through murdering two local police officers escape a massive manhunt ON FOOT with a gun shot wound in El Segundo in 1957 when he is a total stranger to the area? The stolen car was ditched a short distance away when he left the murder scene. The killer took off on foot with his gun, his stolen items, and his bullet wound. Did he take a street map too? Where would he go? The local hospital? A local Doctor? Did somebody help him escape? Were more crimes committed?
    I looked at pictures of 1949 Fords on the Web. The location of the bullet holes in the rear window looks like Officer Phillips tried to kill the murderer with shots to the head. Too bad he missed.


  2. Bert says:

    It’s a fact that many answers about this case still hide in the shadows of history, and time has about run out on retrieving them. It’s frustrating to see the reported contradictions made by those who were close to this infamous case, but it shouldn’t be after fifty years, I guess. Call it an academic exercise, a pursuit of useless trivia, or even morbid curiosity, one finds it hard not to learn more about the details of and motivations for this tragedy. One thing for sure, this case has legs, even after the BIG question has been answered.
    Allow me to highlight some of the questions which still puzzle me and make a few comments/observation/guesses along the way. At the outset, I would like to say that I sincerely hope that the capture and conviction of Gerald F. Mason has brought some remnants of peace and closure to both the Phillips and Curtis families and friends and that the rehashing of these tragic events by people like me in no way cause any more distress.
    In Sep. 1957, I too landed in Los Angeles from a small Southern town greener than green with a whole lot of catching up to do. One of the things I tried to do was absorb all the local color, history and mores I could from the ‘natives’. I remember two stories that came up a lot – the Black Dahlia and this one. And although nothing could compare with the BD case in gore, this case attracted my attention more. This may be because this was still very fresh in people’s minds and because I ended up working and living in the ‘south bay’ region of LA County where all this took place. Many more high profile cases came and went over the next 37+ years that I spent in LA, but this one never went away.
    So to who ever writes the book or screenplay, I hope that these are some of the question that you attempt to answer.
    Q1) Just where was the exact location of lovers’ lane?
    Well, it wasn’t, as has been suggested, in the “Hawthorne oil fields”(?), nor in a place with “a view of the ocean and glittering city lights”, nor “near a military base”, nor on the Hawthorne (Northrop) Airport and not really at the intersection of Van Ness Ave. & El Segundo Blvd., however it was close to the last two mentioned locations, I believe.
    Since I worked on and around this area for 30+ years, allow me to make an educated guess. It must have been off the west side of Van Ness a block or so north of El Segundo at about where 120th St. comes though now. The north ½ of this large block (Van Ness to Crenshaw & El Segundo to 120th) between the railroad tracks and 120th wasn’t develop by Northrop Corp. until the early 1960’s so this was all open fields in 1957 with easy access from the adjoining streets.
    Q2) How (Why) did this character Mason end up at this Hawthorne/Gardena area of Los Angeles County?
    In 1957 this was considered a pretty nice middle class community. It wasn’t an area where you would expect to see a down on his luck drifter land, especially one on foot. How did he just happen upon lovers’ lane? Was he dropped off in the area by someone he hitched a ride with – maybe a long haul trucker? Possible, but remember, there were no freeways in this area in 1957 – no 405, no 105, no 91 and no Harbor (south of Manchester).
    How was he getting around? Los Angelenos will tell you that hitchhiking wasn’t a very common or accepted way of transportation, and there sure wasn’t a lot of convenient Public Transportation – you needed wheels. Was he stealing cars to get around? Possible, but I’ve seen nothing to support that. Maybe he didn’t have a big need for wheels, yet.
    Everyone assumes he was broke, but was he? He apparently had enough discretionary funds to buy a $30, piece of junk, hand gun (that’s more than $200 today). But it isn’t likely he had the means to pay someone to chauffer him around.
    This all being considered, someone delivered him to this area. He must have had a ‘life line’ somewhere in the general area and he wasn’t destitute. I find it unlikely that this character could have crazily wondered about this area with a rape kit under his arm for long without attracting a lot of attention. This wasn’t a place where bums (ok, homeless people) hung out. In all accounts, he didn’t have the appearance of a smelly, unkempt homeless person. People noticed his neat hair. He had access to a shower and bed somewhere close.
    So why did he migrate Hawthorne, CA? Well for a JOB, of course. The So. CA defense industry was in full swing and one of the largest contractors, Northrop Aircraft (Northrop Grumman Corp. today), had its headquarters directly across Crenshaw Blvd. from the purposed lovers’ lane site. I wonder if he had fill out a job application yet. Had he been denied employment because of his felony conviction? Or had he already been put on the payroll? I wonder if anyone checked.
    I suspect he was living somewhere within walking distance of the intersection of Crenshaw & El Segundo. There’s always a cheep hotel or private residents as possibilities for shelter. However, his ‘home away from home’ of choice was apparently the YMCAs. Hawthorne does have a ‘Y’; in fact the present location is within walking distance of that intersection, I believe. The YMCA network could’ve been providing him sanctuary while he got on his feet. I have no recollection of where that facility may have been located, if at all, back in 1957. I wonder if anyone checked.
    Q3) What was Mason’s state on mind?
    This would take a psychiatrist, which I’m sure not, and then we’d still not know much for sure. But to any laymen, it would appear that this was one rather dysfunctional guy with a big chip on his shoulder. In trying to find himself, he had been vacillating between a life of crime and going straight. It doesn’t appear that he was a dummy; he went on to become a successful business man.
    The question I would liked answered is whether or not drugs or alcohol were involved, not trying to suggest that would be an excuse. I guess only Mason knows for sure and apparently he’s not talking much. In one report, he’s suggested that he’d been drinking heavily during the cross country trip. This having resulted in him not remembering much between a stop in Las Vegas and the shootings days later in Manhattan Beach. He claims not to remember the rape and armed robberies because of drinking that night. This sounds like an all to convenient ‘out’ to me. Maybe, at his age, he don’t remember any more. Or maybe he’s worked a long time at not remembering.
    Had he been substantially intoxicated, I suspect that those kids would have noticed and I’m sure the two police officers would have nailed that right away. Being well within the robust Manhattan Beach bar area, and at 1:15 am, (CA bars close at 2 am), 90% of their stops would have involved ‘alche’hol’.
    Today, we’d just know drugs had to be involved. In 1957, I’m not so sure. Drugs were available of course, but I doubt drugs were a factor here.
    Q4) OK, pure trivia, but why were, not one, but two El Segundo patrol cars (probably their total 3rd shift) over working on Rosecrans that Monday morning?
    Rosecrans Ave. represents the divide between the towns of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo (& LA County). But the El Segundo (north) side had nothing but miles of oil storage tanks; this is several miles from any El Segundo residential areas. All the homes along this south side of Rosecrans between Sepulveda and the ocean are in Manhattan Beach. I lived along this section of Rosecrans nearer the beach in the mid 60’s and never saw El Segundo patrol that street.
    Q5) Why was Mason driving south on Rosecrans toward the beach?
    Can any logical conclusions be drawn from this action? One of two situations probably existed. First, it’s possible that he had no plans at all other than to get as far away from the rape and robberies as possible. He may have been just blindly driving with no sense of direction and fate dealt her hand.
    There’s also a possibility that he was trying to get some where in particular. Maybe he’s trying to use the car to get out of town, or for looking for someone or some place he knew in order to establish a new haunt. But if he was making longer term plans such as these, one would expect that he would’ve stopped and picked up his personal belongings. It just makes no sense that he set out for CA with only the shirt on his back. But there was no report of any personal belongings being found in the stolen car. Somewhere in Hawthorne, there must have been a unclaimed suitcase back in July,1957. I wonder if anyone checked.
    Q6) How (Why) did these unlikely fatal shootings really play out?
    The series of events during this traffic stop are understandability muddled after fifty years. As noted, it’s unlikely that we will ever know exactly what happened.
    My first thought was that the stop actually may have taken place on the left (Manhattan Beach) side of Rosecrans. That would’ve been an unconventional stop since one normally pulls over to the right when stopped. In 1957 Rosecrans was a small two lane road with a narrow right shoulder but with a larger shoulder under the Eucalyptus trees on that south side. That would’ve provided a less restrictive place for an interrogation, but also more room for a suspect to wonder around. But from the grainy black and whites, it’s not clear. It’s pretty clear from the pictures that Mason did abandon the Ford a few blocks away under the trees.
    In any case, is seems clear from all reports that Mason was removed from his car and probably given a quick field sobriety test, but NOT frisked for a weapon. Now with Mason out of his car walking around and armed, this was becoming something other than a vanilla ‘stop & ticket’. I could see a situation where the interrogation being conducted by Phillips had progressed to right side of the patrol car where the passenger door had apparently been left open. Curtis was in the driver’s seat on the radio and Phillips was beginning to ask some tough questions. Mason though it was just a matter of time before being nailed and panicked. Parenthetically, he probably could’ve still talked his way out of this since the car hadn’t yet been reported stolen; he’d apparently passed the field sobriety test; the officers suspicions hadn’t, inexplicably, yet reached high enough levels for anything except a ticket.
    Mason chose to pulled his concealed ‘Saturday night special’ and either 1) shot Curtis first through the open passenger’s door. Phillips spun around in a natural defensive move to find some cover while pulling his service revolver. However Mason had the drop advantage and a hell of a lot of luck and shot Phillips in the back, or 2) when Phillips momentarily turned his back, Mason shot him first and then quickly turned his gun on the more or less defenseless Curtis who was wedged behind the steering wheel.
    With both officers down, Mason ran to the stolen Ford. Phillips had enough strength to get up and empty his side arm at the back of the fleeing car before collapsing. Curtis used his last consciousness to call for an ambulance. Others think that is was Phillips who, using the last of his strength to crawl back into the open door, made the call to the dispatcher for help. Surprisingly, both officers were mortally wounded with .22 caliber short rounds with on head shots.
    Q7) How on earth did Mason slip through the dragnet?
    I have a few thoughts beyond what’s already been presented here. It still remains the most glaring unanswered question of all. A complete stranger, on foot, shot in the back alludes capture in a well defined residential community – unbelievable, but as they say, Crap Happens!
    One might try and make some sense out of this conundrum by taking the other side of the trade, so to speak, and point out some of the reasons that Mason may’ve had an advantage. First he was panicked and pumped full of adrenalin which can result is super human feats. It was early morning and dark. He was young, healthy and probably could run like an antelope. Although shot in the upper back on his right side, it probably was only superficial.
    The police have been quoted as saying that they had a perimeter sit up in 15 minutes, but I seriously doubt that. El Segundo and Manhattan Beach are both small communities, even today. I can’t believe that both cities together had more than ten to twelve officers, including the dispatchers, working the graveyard shift back then. Not to demean, but they weren’t ready for anything like this – none ever are. It may’ve been several hours before heavy resources were brought to bear.
    From the map showing the initial perimeter, I seems obvious today that it was not large enough. The spot on 33rd St. where he dumped the gun and other items is about a mile away from where he abandoned the car and out of the search area. He could have covered that distance in less than ten minutes. I suspect that in twenty minutes and a little luck, he could have been on the beach. If he was able to do that while all resources are being mustered a mile or two away, he could’ve made his escape out of the immediate area.
    Even more mystifying than the short term, momentary escape is how he eluded capture over the next hours and days. By morning all the law enforcement in the region would’ve been alerted. To have gotten out of So. CA, one of two scenarios must have been in play. Either he found a way to get completely out of the region very, very quickly, or he had help.
    So where does that leave us? Could he have gotten completely out of the region by early morning? Hitchhiking – not likely. Stealing another car – possible. Another possibility comes to mind. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is five miles away. Had he gotten to the beach at around 2 am in the area of Rosecrans Ave. and Highland Ave., the local Manhattan Beach/El Porto bars would’ve been closing. A request for a barkeep to call a cab wouldn’t have raised suspicions. Nor would it have been suspicious to the cabby, it happened all the time. A trip to the men’s room to pull himself together, a twenty minute wait for the cab and a twenty minute ride to LAX, and he could have been on a plane by dawn. The cab could’ve provided valuable cover also.
    What’s left? He had help. If he had accomplices, this would answered many questions. But I’ve seen nothing that points in that directions except the hard to swallow possibility that he was really acting alone. But, as inexplicable as it is, he probably was.


  3. Berdy says:

    I find it peculiar that Milton Curtis’ family of Mother and sister were not mentioned in all stories. I am a friend of his sister.


  4. Toni Seese says:

    I recently watched this story on 48 Hours. It really touched me. At the end, I noticed it stated “In Memory of Keith Curtis”. I know he was the son of one of the murdered policemen. What happened to him? He couldn’t have been too old.
    Thank you.
    –It’s certainly a tragic story. I don’t watch much television so I don’t know what was broadcast. I’ll see what I can find out…. Thanks for reading!


  5. therese says:

    Did anyone find out how Keith Curtis died?
    –I’m sorry, I don’t have any information on the subject…


  6. Judith Tuttle says:

    Keith’s sister died of cancer and Keith Curtis also died of cancer. I am not sure what type of cancer. Richard Phillips, the police office, was my husband Bob Tuttle’s uncle. My husband’s mother Marcella Tuttle and his other uncle Eugene Phillips (Gene) are mentioned in the article. We live in Texas.


  7. Sabino says:

    This really is an amazing story that shows clearly that there is justice in someplaces and shows how computers with
    devoted police work gives such results . The perpetrator must now be the first admirer of American science and police work . I wish in other parts of the earth police could follow this example .So that criminals on the run will allways be chased no matter how long ago they did their crimes.


  8. barry says:

    Keith Curtis was a good friend and neighbor, he unfortunately lost his battle with Pancreatic Cancer in Dec. 2007.


  9. Camille Luna says:

    Ive been researching this investigation for a few weeks and I cant seem to find the names or pictures of the teens besides the driver. What about the girl that was raped? It seems to be non existent. I have several of the news paper articles from 1957 yet I still cant find any names, other than the driver. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!


  10. Mike Haller says:

    I was a 6-year-old child living across Valley Drive on Palm Avenue when this happened. The next morning, all of us neighborhood kids organized a posse to go out and get the killer. I still remember the frightened look on our parents’ faces. They made us stay indoors that day and we were unable to solve the crime.


  11. Lisa Boyce says:

    Every once in awhile I google Keith and what happened to his father.. It is coming up that he will be gone for 5 years now on Dec 19th. My father Tom was his best friend and I looked up to Keith as my uncle. That man had a smile that was so big and a heart that was even bigger. I looked forward to going over to his house on weekends and getting to swim or hangout in the jacuzzi.. I miss him more then anything and can’t go without hearing his name be said without crying. God gained an angel the day he died.


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