Georgette Bauerdorf, an Unsolved Murder, Part 21

Henry James Lynch

Henry James Lynch, a plumber who was found in the basement of El Palacio Apartments, explained that he could do a better job than the police in investigating the Georgette Bauerdorf killing, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

As the Georgette Bauerdorf investigation unfolded, it attracted the usual kooks, crackpots and nut jobs, including an anonymous note, purportedly from the killer, that was a hoax.

Georgette Bauerdorf, an Unsolved Murder:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31

On Sept. 23, 1945, amateur detective Henry James Lynch, a plumber living at 2808 S. Rimpau Ave., was questioned by authorities after he was found in the basement of El Palacio Apartments. He explained that he could do a better job than police in investigating the killing.



A photograph of the crackpot note found by Marelyn Silk, 12, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Before prowling around the basement at El Palacio, Lynch had visited the home of Albert L. Silk at 1221 N. La Cienega. The week before, Silk’s daughter Marelyn, 12, reported that she found a note claiming that Bauerdorf’s killer would return to the Hollywood Canteen around the anniversary of the murder.

Sheriff’s Lt. Garner Brown said the note was apparently by “a youthful prankster,” The Times said, adding that the note was blotched with iodine in an attempt to simulate blood.


Knickerbocker News, Nov. 16, 1944: Otto Steven Wilson, who butchered two women in downtown Los Angeles, is questioned in the Bauerdorf killing. No link is ever found. Courtesy of


The Racine Journal-Times, Dec. 29, 1944: John Sumter tells the FBI in San Francisco a rambling, incoherent story about killing Georgette Bauerdorf.  Courtesy of He later admitted that he made up the story because “I wanted to die in the chair because I have nothing to live for. I was afraid to commit suicide.” (The Times, Dec. 30, 1944).

To be continued.


About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1944, Cold Cases, Crime and Courts, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Georgette Bauerdorf, an Unsolved Murder, Part 21

  1. Eve says:

    Whatever happened to poor nutty John Lehrman Sumter, I wonder? Googling provides no clues.


    • lmharnisch says:

      This is one of those tangential questions that I must leave to someone else. So many stories, only one Larry Harnisch.


      • Eve says:

        It IS a kind of roundabout suicide method. “Jumping out a window” seems a lot more effective than getting falsely convicted of a murder, waiting around on death row hoping the Governor doesn’t call, and getting the hot seat a couple of years down the road.


  2. Jason C. says:

    Didn’t try to find John L. Sumter, but I did find information on Otto S.Wilson who murdered the two women … (who are described as both prostitutes elsewhere). Mr. Wilson was executed by the State of California in the gas chamber for his two murders.


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