Oct. 4, 1957

Los Angeles

I’ve read any number of horrible stories in the old papers, but this is
one of the worst in terms of senseless tragedy. The facts, such as they
are, don’t even begin to explain what happened. But then how can anyone
explain absolute madness?

Allene Hall Durston, 58, was dying of bone cancer. Of all the people in
the world,  the person she loved the most was her grandson Ronald
"Ronnie" Barrett White, who lived with his parents, Evelyn and Thomas,
and a younger sister at 6836 Sylvia Ave., Reseda.

She had been living with the family until July 24, when she kidnapped
Ronnie and left a note for her daughter, Evelyn Durston White, saying that she
was "taking the boy for my own" and "going on a long trip." Police
found Allene and her grandson in a taxi an hour later. She wasn’t
charged, but her relatives told her to move out. First, she lived at 6410 Van Nuys Blvd., and then she moved to a motel on Ventura Boulevard.

Evelyn said she sent Ronnie to school at 8:45 that morning with 40 cents in his pocket. On his way to Shirley Avenue Elementary School,
Allene apparently intercepted him. One of his friends, Danny McDonald,
came by at noon to see why Ronnie hadn’t been in school. A search was
begun for Ronnie and his grandmother. But by then it was too late.

Somehow, she found a vacant house at 6337 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Allene Durston, who loved Ronnie "above every human on earth,"
according to his mother, led him to an upstairs bedroom and shot him
twice in the back.

Then she shot herself. The first one didn’t do the job, so she shot
herself again. Police found a note on her body. It was a letter Ronnie
had written back in December, telling her what he wanted for Christmas.

Evelyn told police that her mother had a "suicide complex" and had been
talking for years about killing herself. Apparently no one ever took
her seriously. "I never dreamed she would do this to him," Evelyn said.

Email me

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Homicide, LAPD, San Fernando Valley, Suicide and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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