|In August 1954, a couple parking at a North Miami “lovers lane” found the body of a 27-year-old man in a pool of blood. About 500 yards away, police located a 1950 convertible with blood spatters on the seat and a .22-caliber shell on the floor. Investigators traced the car to William T. Simpson, an Eastern Air Lines steward who had just returned on a flight from Detroit. One of his co-workers said Simpson was upbeat on the return to Miami because he was looking forward to a date.
One phase of the investigation began searching for leads on the murder weapon, which was identified as a Beretta. The other phase of the inquiry focused on Simpson’s friends and traced his movements through Miami night spots, determining that Simpson was gay.
In canvassing neighborhoods, detectives learned that for several months, people had noticed a young man hitchhiking on Biscayne Boulevard around 23rd or 24th Street and whenever he was picked up, the car was trailed by another man in a green Chevrolet. As the hitchhiker and the green Chevrolet appeared almost nightly, people began to suspect they were running some kind of racket.
In searching for anyone who owned a Beretta .22, police acting on a tip picked up Charles W. Lawrence, who was identified in a lineup as the Biscayne Boulevard hitchhiker. After 15 minutes of interrogation, Lawrence admitted killing Simpson while “resisting his advances,” according to the Miami Daily News. Lawrence identified his partner as Lewis Richard Killen, who drove a green Chevrolet.
Killen told police that he and Lawrence had been working a scheme in which Lawrence would be picked up by a gay man while hitchhiking and trailed by Killen to a remote spot where the two would rob their victim. Lawrence claimed he didn’t plan to kill Simpson but just wanted to frighten him.
The gay community that was revealed during the homicide investigation horrified editors at the Miami Daily News, which responded with a three-part series by Jack W. Roberts that is republished in books on gay history. On the jump, the series – which can only be described as appalling beyond belief, even for the 1950s – and news stories about Simpson’s killing. Notice especially Part 2 of the series, which deals with the LAPD’s harassment of gays and quotes Deputy Chief of Detectives Thad Brown.
Lawrence and Killen were charged with first-degree murder, but convicted of manslaughter.
Aug. 3, 1954
by Milt Sosin and Sanford Schnier
Miami Daily News Staff Writers
A 27-year-old Eastern Air Lines flight attendant was found slain in a North Miami “lovers’ lane” mystery early today.
Sheriff’s investigators and police were seeking a man or woman with whom the steward, William T. Simpson, had a date immediately after his arrival in Miami last night aboard a flight from Detroit.
Told of Late Date
Simpson told Miss Dorothy Hoover, 26, a stewardess who worked with him on his last flight, that he was out with a companion until 4 a.m. Sunday.
It is believed that this person — man or girl — may be the same person with whom the victim had a date last night.
Lying in Roadway
Simpson, who roomed at 2221 NE 4th Ave., was found dead shortly after midnight on a roadway north of the Arch Creek bridge at NE 134th Street.
His body was lying in the middle of the roadway in a pool of blood. He was discovered by Dick Cline, 21, of 12600 NE 4th Ave., and a girlfriend, Joan Anchois, 18, of 1208 NE 99th St. Cline immediately notified North Miami police.
Chief Karl Engle of North Miami called in state and county authorities, including Fred Jones, investigator for the state attorney’s office; Peace Justice Edward Lee Mason and Manson Hill of the sheriff’s homicide division.
1950 Car Found
The road on which Simpson was found lies about 500 feet east of U.S. Highway 1.
Simpson had received a bullet wound in his right side. There were severe lacerations on his head and his right index finger had apparently been pierced by something.
About 500 yards southeast of where the flight attendant was found, the investigators found his 1950, cream-colored convertible. The front seat was spattered with blood and a .22-caliber shell was found on the floor of the car.
Police theorized that Simpson was shot in the car and that his assailant fled. Then, they believe, Simpson managed to get out of the car and stagger to the place where he was found. He is believed to have collapsed there and bled to death.
Footprints, apparently of a barefooted man, led from the car — at first in an easterly direction and then westward. The prints vanished at the bank of Arch Creek.
Mason and Hill said Simpson usually carried a wallet but that it was not on his person when the body was found nor was it in his room at the NE 4th Avenue address. There was no identification in his clothes and he was traced through his registration.
No gun was found at the scene. Simpson was dressed in gray trousers, a white sport shirt, green socks and brown “loafer” shoes.
Dead 2 Hours
Dr. Raymond Healy, medical advisor for the sheriff’s office, estimated that Simpson had been dead about two hours when found. An autopsy was underway but had not been completed this afternoon.
A native of Louisville, Simpson attended schools there and studied at the University of Kentucky for three years. He joined Eastern Air Lines as a flight attendant in January 1951. His employment record showed that he served in the
He left on an EAL flight to Detroit Sunday, returning last night. At about the time Simpson’s plane came in at 9:05 p.m. James Perry, an EAL flight attendant, a friend and a resident of the house in which Simpson lived, was reporting on duty for a flight to Boston.
He was returning to Miami today to give police whatever information he might have concerning Simpson’s associates.
On the same flight with Simpson to and from Detroit were two other attendants, Dorothy Hoover, of 717 Red Road, and Harold Shafer.
Miss Hoover said that Simpson seemed elated over an engagement he had for last night and was worried lest the plane be late.
“He told me there was someone he wanted to have over if it wasn’t too late,” Miss Hoover recounted. “He didn’t indicate whether it was a man or a girl.
“He was acting kind of excited on the flight and appeared very happy. He was humming and singing something that sounded like ‘Life is but a dream…’
“It was my first flight with either Simpson or Shafer. I told him when we said goodbye at the airport, “It’s been nice working with you,” and he answered “I’m glad you think so — we have nine more flights together.”
Heard 2 Shots
Simpson presumably arrived home about 9:30 pm. and is believed to have gone out again about 10 p.m.
Richard Myers, of 2240 NE 135th Ter., told investigators he heard two shots about 11:45 p.m.
The bureau of criminal investigation of the sheriff’s department this afternoon had picked up a .22-caliber rifle from a watchman who guards property in the neighborhood and was scheduled to run ballistics tests on it.
By Milt Sosin,
Progress — “but not enough to warrant an arrest as yet” — was reported by state attorney’s and sheriff’s investigators today after an all-night check into the movements of a lovers’ lane murder victim.
Meanwhile, the body of William T. Simpson, 27-year-old Eastern Air Lines flight attendant, of 2221 NE 4th Ave., has been claimed by an uncle in Louisville.
Arrangements were completed by the Lithgow Funeral Home to send the body to Kentucky by train tonight.
Simpson was found dead early yesterday on the little-frequented road near Arch Creek Bridge at 134th Street, North Miami.
Bullet in Side
Apparently he had been shot with a .22-caliber weapon while seated in his car, which was found some yards distant, and had staggered to the place where he was found. An autopsy disclosed he died from loss of blood from a bullet wound in his right side.
The first day’s investigation was concentrated, in the main, toward identification of a companion with whom Simpson had a date Monday night.
He had confided to a stewardess, on a flight from Detroit to Miami Monday evening that he was looking forward to the appointment with great anticipation.
Visit Night Spots
State Attorney George A. Brautigam and Fred Jones, an investigator on Brautigam’s staff, made a round of night spots which Simpson had reportedly frequented until the early hours of Sunday before going on his last flight.
They did this on the theory that his companion that night may have been the same person with whom he had the appointment Monday night.
Meanwhile, Homicide Investigators J.P. Berdeaux, Manson Hill and T.A. Buchanan of the sheriff’s department were following other leads in the case. Also engaged in the probe were North Miami police and Peace Justice Edwin Lee Mason.
James Perry, an EAL flight attendant and a lodger at the same NE 4th Avenue house where Simpson lived, arrived in Miami early today from Boston.
Brautigam and Jones questioned him at length in an effort to find a clue to Simpson’s Monday night companion. Perry reported in at EAL Terminal Monday night for a flight to Boston at just about the time Simpson was arriving home after his flight.
Aug. 9, 1954
by Milt Sosin
A colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregated mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a “queen,” was uncovered in the investigation of the murder of an Eastern Air Lines steward.
Two youths were formally charged with first-degree murder today in the lovers’ lane slaying of William T. Simpson, 27, in North Miami last Monday night.
With a casual manner — which swelled at times to outright braggadocio — Charles W. Lawrence, 19, of 987 NE 131st St., North Miami, and Lewis Richard Killen, 20, of 658 NW 99th St., yesterday took investigators over the route they followed a week ago.
They showed just exactly how Simpson was killed during what the pair had planned merely as a robbery, according to their account.
State Attorney George A. Brautigam said today he would press for a first-degree murder conviction.
“No other charge is possible,” said Brautigam. “The killing took place during commission of a felony, which makes it a first-degree murder in any circumstances, and both Lawrence and Killen are equally responsible.”
Brautigam also said he was exploring possible ways of ridding the area of perverts uncovered in the murder probe.
Deputy Sheriff Manson Hill of the sheriff’s homicide division revealed that the two accused killers had, many weeks ago, embarked on a program of “rolling” homosexuals, using a scheme in which Lawrence would get “picked up” by thumbing rides in the area where homosexuals congregate.
This area, according to investigators, lies north of NE 20th Street and east of Biscayne Boulevard, running to Biscayne Bay, with “the boys” living in many of the apartment houses and rooming houses of the neighborhood.
The investigators were careful to point out that this area is the dwelling place of several thousand persons and the great majority of these residents lead normal lives and that many of them are not even aware of the proclivities of their neighbors.
“Learned a Lot”
Peace Justice Edwin Lee Mason said today, “I certainly learned a lot during this investigation I never knew before.
“I not only was surprised at the number of homosexuals turned up in the murder investigation but I was amazed to find out that there were distinct classes, not only based on age groups, but also on the ages of the persons with whom they liked to consort and groups based on types of perversion.”
The body of Simpson, who roomed at 2221 NE 4th Ave., was found early last Tuesday on a rock pit road east of Biscayne Boulevard near Arch Creek, North Miami, by a young couple seeking a place to park.
The area is sometimes used as a lovers’ lane. He had been shot in his car with a .22-caliber weapon and had staggered to the place where he was found.
Very early in the slaying probe, Hill, Deputy Sheriffs J.P. Berdeaux, T.A. Buchanan and C.W. Thompson of the sheriff’s homicide division, Chief Karl Engel and Sgt. Wayne Thurman of North Miami Police, became convinced there was a homosexual angle in the killing and their belief was shared by State Attorney Brautigam and Fred Jones an investigator on Brautigam’s staff.
It was then, checking the neighborhood where Simpson lived and the flight attendant’s friends, that the investigators came upon the indications of a regular “colony” of homosexuals.
“In seeking a motive for the slaying,” Hill recounted, “we theorized that possibly the killing was caused by jealousy.
“We learned — among other things — that Simpson was bisexual. We also learned that there was a nominal head of the colony — a queen.”
Investigators, following a line of thought that possibly the murder might have been for succession of the title, and that Simpson may have been the “ruler” of what the investigators then believed to be a quite small group of homosexuals in Miami asked one man, who made no secret of his leanings:
Names the “Queen”
“Was Simpson the ‘queen?’
“No,” came the response. “The queen is –” Here the man named a person quite prominent in the community.
“How many of you are there,” an investigator said he asked. “Twenty –Forty?”
“Oh, more than that.”
“Make it closer to five hundred,” came the staggering reply.
While detectives were checking the neighborhood, four separate witnesses told them of something which the resident had become aware in recent weeks.
Since May, they said, a youth had been seen on many occasions, sometimes nightly, on Biscayne Boulevard, thumbing rides northwards around 23rd or 24th Streets. Always, he was trailed by another youth in a green Chevrolet.
The residents of the neighborhood watched the procedure night after night and were convinced it was some kind of a racket.
Alarm Out for Car
An alarm went out for the green Chevrolet. Meanwhile, according to Deputy Sheriff Charles Zmuda, the murder weapon was definitely established as a .22-caliber Beretta — an automatic of Italian make.
Every person known to be in possession of a .22 Beretta was picked up for questioning. A tip came in that young Lawrence was the owner of such a gun. Saturday he was picked up for questioning.
One of the residents who observed the hitchhiking scheme was given an opportunity of seeing Lawrence. He made positive identification.
Lawrence, after 15 minutes questioning by Engel, admitted he killed Simpson. He claimed, however, that Simpson had picked him up and had drive him to the rock pit at Arch Creek and had made advances.
Lawrence said he killed Simpson with the Beretta while “resisting his advances.”
During his recital, he mentioned that he had been driven downtown by Killen. A check showed Killen owned a green Chevrolet. Investigators went to Killen’s home and told him that Lawrence had made a confession.
“I guess Charlie told you everything then,” Killen said, and then he told the story of the racket the pair had conceived and how Simpson had been killed.
After long questioning by Brautigam and Jones, Lawrence finally told the same story given by Killen. Yesterday, they took the investigators over the entire route, from the place where Lawrence was picked up — at 23rd Street — to the separate isolated spots where the gun, the shells from the pistol and Simpson’s wallet were secreted or thrown.
According to this reconstruction, Killen followed Simpson and Lawrence in the green car. The two cars drove to the rock pit where Killen parked about 75 yards behind the other car.
Killen had a .38 caliber revolver in his pocket.
An unnatural sex act followed, according to Lawrence.
“The Simpson started to get nervous. I think he heard Lewis coming up in the other car. He started to get ready to step on the starter. I got out and drew the Beretta,” Lawrence related.
“I didn’t mean to shoot him. I mean to fire through the windshield and frighten him and keep him there. I must have hit him.”
Aug. 13, 1954
By Jack W. Roberts
This is an article about homosexuality, a subject which is generally forbidden in polite company and about which there is an abundance of ignorance and misinformation.
In the past few days, Miamians have learned that this community has become infected by a large colony of sexual deviates. The word “infected” is used advisedly since homosexuality is a social disease. It can be worse than drug addiction or alcoholism.
There is little home for returning the established homosexual to a socially acceptable sexual pattern.
This was pointed out by Dr. Paul Kells, noted Miami psychiatrist, whom the Miami Daily News asked to supply answers to questions regarding sexual deviates.
“As regards adjustments of a homosexual to a socially acceptable sex pattern, it is very difficult to accomplish this under the conditions of time imposed,” said Dr. Kells.
He explained that the psychiatrist frequently resorts to the helping the homosexual become adjusted to his dilemma.
Homosexuality is a social problem and the psychiatrists’ answers are far from being infallible, he explained.
Dr. Kells called for a sensible approach to the problem, stripped of the group hysteria which seizes a community following crimes involving homosexuals.
Since homosexuality is a back room subject, the need for public understanding is great.
Take this question for example:
Q. Are all homosexuals potential child molesters, sadists (those who enjoy causing others pain) and masochists (those who enjoy pain and humiliation for themselves?)
A. No. The sexual psychopath, of which homosexuality is only one form, is the extreme sex deviate classification from which emerges the child molester and sadist.
The sexual psychopath has no feeling of social responsibility, much in the matter of the hardened criminal who has no understanding or regard for law, the psychiatrist explained.
Q. Are homosexuals born to be sexual deviates?
A. No. The sexual psychopath preys on both sexes. He or she might consort with homosexuals as a means of getting money or any other objective. The psychopathic personality frequently has a feeling of great superiority over others, disregarding at all times the need of conforming to social laws.
The psychiatrist explained that the homosexual frequently explains to himself that he was simply born that way.
“It is usually a matter of experience which makes a person a homosexual,” the doctor stated. “It’s ‘possible’ for anyone to become a homosexual, but people are not born to be such.”
It is in this statement that Miamians can clearly see their problem. In a community where there are only a few homosexuals, the chance for exposure to such practices is negligible.
Not all homosexuals want to gain converts, but those who do can be extremely aggressive, the doctor explained.
The most aggressive is the psychopathic personality who also lacks understanding of social responsibility.
“The shy homosexual has a sen
Q. Are all men with feminine characteristics homosexuals?
A. Absolutely not. Unfortunately, society often is intolerant of feminine men and masculine women. But the incidence of such people turning to homosexuality is about the same as in all types of people. Dr. Kells pointed out that the “normal” homosexual is impossible to spot by physical characteristics.
Some “Never Detected”
“They walk the streets, do their jobs and are never detected,” he said.
Dr. Kells pointed out that “normal” homosexuals are acceptable to society when their sex behavior is not known.
“The sexual psychopath is never acceptable,” he said. “And there is the important question involved in creating laws. The ‘normal’ homosexual should be separated from the sexual psychopath.”
Q. Do perverts tend to congregate in the same area or town?
A. Yes, but only certain types.
Sunday — thumbnail sketch of how perverts took over a town.
Aug. 14, 1954
(Second in a Series)
By Jack W. Roberts
Is Greater Miami in danger of becoming a favorite gathering spot for homosexuals and sexual psychopaths?
It happened in Los Angeles and it could happen here. In California, the homosexuals have organized to resist interference by police. They have established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a “normal” group, a so-called “third sex.”
They number 150,000 in Los Angeles, their leaders say. They claim kinship by nature with some of the leading literary and business figures in the nation.
California has formulated laws to differentiate between homosexuals and sexual psychopaths. A homosexual caught in the act is subject to a felony conviction and a one-year prison term.
The child molester, sadist and all other extreme sexual deviates are subject to more stringent laws.
A person who molests a child under 10 years of age is subject to a 1 to 10 year prison term
The judge is empowered to order surgery for male offenders if he deems it wise.
Thad F. Brown, deputy chief of detectives for the city of Los Angeles, told the Miami Daily News that homosexuals and sexual psychopaths “are a tremendous problem in this city.” Chief Brown said a special detail works out of the vice squad in Los Angeles to control homosexuals gathering in public places. The extreme sexual deviates are handled by other divisions of police depending on the type of crimes they commit.
“This thing is like cancer,” said Chief Brown. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. We process about 150 homosexuals a month who are caught in the act.”
Policy of Harassment
Brown said he doesn’t know why Los Angeles has become a gathering spot for perverts. “I know that the problem is on the increase in every other major city,” he added. “I don’t think Los Angeles is alone with its problem.”
The police in Los Angeles have a policy of harassment.
“We keep a constant check on bars and restaurants where they hang out,” Brown said. “We try to get the licenses of the places catering to them.”
The Los Angeles homosexuals are apparently well aware of the situation in Miami.
In the January issue of their magazine, Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard was roasted to a turn for a raid on homosexuals gathered at the 22nd Street bathing beach.
Urge Suit on City
The cover of the magazine showed a young man in bathing trunks facing Biscayne Bay with his arms lifted up in supplication.
Beside the figure was this headline:
“Miami Junks the Constitution.”
The article urged homosexuals living in the Miami area to get together and sue the city of Miami Beach for their arrest.
Dan Sullivan, operating director of the Greater
Due for Roasting
Last Thursday, Chief Shepard pulled another raid at 22nd Street and probably will get another roasting from the magazine published in Los Angeles.
Dr. Paul Kells, Miami psychiatrist who was asked to supply some of the answers to problems for this series, explained that certain types of homosexuals tend to congregate in the same area.
Dr. Kells does not have any statistics on the number in the Miami area, but police have estimated there are between 6,000 and 8,000.
Using the 6,000 figure, the Miami area would have one homosexual for every 100 heterosexual people. Los Angeles’ rate is about four for every 100.
Miami and Los Angeles have much in common. Both have mild climates; both are vacation centers, are in the midst of rapid grown and are cosmopolitan in attitude.
In other words, Miami could follow a pattern similar to that of Los Angeles in regard to deviates.
Florida’s laws for the punishment of the sexual psychopath are not nearly as harsh as California law. Punishment for homosexuals caught in the act is light.
(Tomorrow — What can be done to control or minimize the effect of homosexuals and sexual psychopaths in this area?)
Aug. 16, 1954
(Last in a Series)
By Jack W. Roberts
It seems melodramatic to talk about the downfall of nations and homosexuals in the same breath.
But historians are quick to point out that moral degeneracy and the destruction of some of the greatest civilizations in the world were tied hand in hand.
The latter days of emperors of Rome were perverts. Their deeds have been recorded for history but are too sordid to recount here.
There is considerable evidence pointing to the fact that the top men in Hitler’s Third Reich were perverts
Crusade for Place
The modern day homosexual points to the fact that Socrates was of their nature. But they fail to point out that Greece was in the throes of moral degeneration when Rome took over.
Dr. Paul Kells, well-known Miami psychiatrist, brought out this interesting point to refute the carefully phrased arguments of homosexuals who contend they have a place in the world as a legitimate “third sex.”
Dr. Kells pointed out that the spokesmen for homosexuals in the Los Angeles area (editors of a magazine for homosexuals) constantly crusade for a legitimate place in society.
“But in all their arguments, they fail to look at the other side of the picture,” said Dr. Kells. “The most important thing to consider is where moral degeneracy can lead to.”
Little thought has been given to controlling the run-of-the-mill homosexual in Greater Miami until recent months.
Police of several communities have watched with growing concern the gathering spots frequented by perverts and two departments have started all-out war against homosexuals.
Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo Shepard says he will continue to harass homosexuals in Miami Beach. “I simply want them to get out of town,” said Shepard.
Sheriff Tom Kelly, who staged a big raid on homosexual gathering spots last Saturday, made a similar statement. “I will keep on harassing the homosexuals until they understand they’re not wanted in Dade County,” said Kelly.
The Miami police department has shown a reluctance to bother perverts. “If I ran all of the homosexuals out of town, members of some of the best families would lead the parade,” Police Chief Walter Headley once said.
All police departments in the county, however, are alert to the need for controlling sexual psychopaths, from which stem the child molester, the rapist, the sadist, masochist and sex murderer.
For some time now representatives of the various departments have been studying means of removing the dangerous psychopaths from society.
Attorney E.F.P. Brigham, chairman of the study group, hopes to formulate legislation which will control the sexual psychopaths. The gist of the plan is this:
If a sexual deviate is accused of molesting a child or any person for that matter, and manages to beat the charge in court, the state will still have the right to order a mental examination for the offender.
If the person is found to be a sexual psychopath (and that does not necessarily mean insane) the state will then have the right to institute civil action to put that person in an asylum for the rest of his or her life or until such time as a cure can be effected.
Balk at Money?
Brigham says he has no doubt that the legislators will approve of new laws to curb sexual psychopaths.
“But I’m afraid they will balk at the money it will cost to provide asylum facilities,” he said.
“I’m afraid they will look on the pervert problem as one belonging to Miami and not the state as a whole.”
Brigham pointed out that 20 states in the union have passed similar laws and have experienced some success with the measure.
“It is most important to take these people away from society,” said Brigham. “By establishing a worthwhile asylum, it may be possible to cure some of these psychopaths and help them lead normal lives.
“We are going to cite case after case of children being violated to the Legislature to prove our point.
“It seems foolish to try to save a few tax dollars when so much is at stake.”
I was born in 1954. And when I surf the web, I still read stuff like this. Even legitimate newspapers still believe it, papers like the WSJ which recently cocoadoodle-doed over the ouster of 3 judges in Iowa for their decision for gay marriage. I get why young gay kids kill themselves these days–all the legal wrangling, anti-gay campaigning, antipathy towards gay people, has made our environment deadly toxic to this population. And there seems to be no method for helping the homophobe experience the vitriol and how that hate hurts others for no good reason.
If I could convince anyone of the bigots at BIOLA U, at BYU, AFA, NOM, or at the WSJ, I would want to have them realize that sex is never just about sex. Gay sex, like straight sex, when healthy, is about relating to a person of your liking, and affection.
Sounds like a good report to me. I wish they would stay in the closet, and stop pushing their lifestyle on the general population.
The Los Angeles Times, is biased in favor of homosexual’s. This is report is being ridiculed. It makes a lot of sense to me. Even the moderation of anti-gay views, is a reflection of your papers pro homosexual view.
Wow, in 1954 being caught in the act of gay sex was a felony that could land you for one year in prison. Still not sure if this is supposed to be a deterrent or an incentive.
The article was too vague about L.A.’s “tremendous” problem. Back then, gays had sex in public restrooms in MacArthur Park, and were frequently arrested by the vice squad. I know an attorney who used to defend them in court afterwards. I have no problem with gays hooking up, but public sex scares the straights so buy a van or get a room! PS In the sixties you could still see Mr. Blackwell and his entourage partying in Edward’s Steak House on Alvarado St.
“A colony of some 500 male homosexuals, congregated mostly in the near-downtown northeast section and ruled by a ‘queen,’ was uncovered in the investigation of the murder of an Eastern Air Lines steward.”
Well, there’s Milt Sosin’s problem–he has confused gay men with bees.