Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, April 27, 1960

April 27, 1960, Mirror Cover

Tragedy in Curtain Call for Sad Mother


Paul Coates

    For Billy Monk's mother, tragedy took a curtain call last week.
    But this time, unlike the others, she was prepared.  She had warning — which is more than what she had with her other two sons and her only daughter.
    First, it was her daughter, Merna Jean, who died four days after birth.  That was in the '30s.
    And a few years after that, when Billy was an infant, his brother Walter died, at the age of 3, of tubercular spinal meningitis.  That left Billy and Lester.
    "They were two fine boys," Billy's mother will tell you now.
    But on Oct. 9, 1957, Lester fell off the back of a moving pickup truck, grabbing for a hat which wind had blown off his head.  He never regained consciousness. 
    And now, the tragedy of Billy.

April 27, 1960, Chessman

   The papers told part of the story last week.
    "Billy Wesley Monk, 25-year-old sign painter, was seized today as the kidnapper who criminally attached a Canoga Park woman earlier this week," the first bulletin read.  Later, the accounts added a second intended victim, who managed to escape.
    But according to Billy's mother, Mrs. Ruth Enriquez, who remarried following the death of the boy's father, there was much more to the story of her only living son than the newspapers printed.
    "The trouble started," she told me, "on July 24, 1951."  Her memory for exact dates was startling.
    "He was 16 then," she continued.  "He was riding with Lester in our truck and Lester fell asleep at the wheel.  The truck turned off the road, the door flew open and Billy was thrown out onto some rocks.  Then the back wheels of the truck ran over him."
    Mrs. Enriquez paused for a long moment. 
    "Mr. Coates," she said, finally, "I'm not making excuses for what my son has done.  Please believe me.  I'm thinking of that poor woman they say he attacked.
    "He's dangerous.  I love him.  He's my son.  But I don't want him turned loose under any conditions.  He's been dangerous for a long time."
    I asked Mrs. Enriquez what she meant by that.
    "About six months after the accident, he began getting blackout spells," she told me.  "I took him to doctors.  they couldn't find anything wrong.  But he kept passing out — at work, at home, even on the way to his wedding — and then he became moody, impossible to talk to, to reason with.
    "And he started getting in trouble."
    In 1954, Billy forged some checks.  the same year, after a minor argument with his mother, he tried to hang himself on the front porch.
    "I told the police then there was something wrong with my boy, but they didn't even take him to the station," she said.
    In 1957, he was handed a two-year jail sentence for stealing from telephone booths.
His Terrifying Letter
    "He'd write me a terrifying letter from Chino,"  Mrs. Enriquez continued, "saying that I should be in prison instead of him.  He'd say that Lester and I plotted to kill him in the truck accident in 1951 and that he'd get even.  Then his next letter would be full of affection.
    "If you'd like to see them," Mrs. Enriquez added, "I've still got all the letters.  I saved them.  I don't know why, but I did."
    At the time, Billy's mother told me, she pleaded with several of the prison officials to give her son psychiatric therapy. 
    "They did, eventually, put him in a group therapy class," she said.  "But when his time was up, they let him go.
    "This time," Ruth Enriquez told me, "I don't care how many years they keep him.  He's all I've got and I love him but the way he is now, he might kill his wife and his own three children.  He might kill anybody.
    "I just wish to God that they would try to help him — to cure him.  I want to do the right thing."
    Billy Monk's mother drew a long, thoughtful breath.
    "If he did what they say he did," she told me, "no woman in this town is safe when my son is walking the streets."

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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