Garner Brown and John Schilling examine the Bauerdorf car for fingerprints, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.
So far we have been looking at the behavior of the man who killed Georgette Bauerdorf to see if we can distill something about him. And rather than going in chronological order, we have taken it from least speculative to most speculative. The last two posts examined the killer’s behavior in “undoing” the crime: putting Georgette’s body in the bathtub, turning on the hot water, cleaning up the bloodstain on the bedroom rug and trying to remove the piece of fabric that he had had rammed down her throat.
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 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31
One might infer that the killer felt some degree of remorse in going about all this behavior. But if he felt any remorse, it wasn’t complete. If the killer had felt totally remorseful he would have gone to the police. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he went through her purse, taking an undetermined amount of money and her sister’s 1936 Oldsmobile.
(Although some news accounts say the contents of the purse were dumped on the floor, according to a United Press account of the inquest from Oct. 20, 1944, in the Bakersfield Californian: “Her purse was on the floor and open, but the contents had not been scattered.”)
A ride in a 1936 Oldsmobile, courtesy of YouTube.
The news accounts say that the killer left valuable jewelry and silver untouched, inferring that robbery was not a motive. But there’s always the question of whether the killer took some other souvenir; something that didn’t necessarily have a large monetary value but represented a personal connection to his victim. We simply don’t know.
After the killer had spent a fair amount of time carrying out all his activities, he departed through the front door and left it open. The question is whether it was intentional. Was he merely hurrying or was it a gesture to encourage someone to look inside – which is what ultimately happened. We may never know why. But it’s likely that if he had closed the door, Georgette wouldn’t have been discovered for many more hours.
Then he drove off in the car, going as far as it would take him before running out of gas. Recall that the car had front-end damage and a scrape along the left front fender. Was the killer in an accident — something hard enough to knock off a bumper guard, smash the grille and dent a fender — or was that pre-existing damage? One news story said that police suspected the damage was recent, but there’s no way to tell now.
The woman who reported the car outside 728 1/2 E. 25th St. said it had been parked there since 7:30 a.m., roughly five hours after the estimated time of Georgette’s death. This would be consistent with the killer delaying his departure to go about his postmortem actions in the apartment.
Why did he select that spot? Where did he go? We can only guess. But it is quite possible that the killer looked as if he had been in a fight. Georgette might have scratched his face or left bruises in their struggle. Given the amount of blood in the apartment, especially the large amount of vaginal bleeding on the bedroom rug, it’s possible that the killer might have had some blood on his clothes or on his person. He might well have lingered in the apartment to clean himself up. Or perhaps his next step after abandoning the car was to clean up or look for a change of clothes.
Did he rape or kill again? Did he ever end up in prison for some other charge?
We simply don’t know.
To be continued.
This is good stuff. Your reporting that is. Thanks
Too bad we don’t have a picture of the car keys, to see if it had any ID attached that would let a stranger know what car it belonged to. Otherwise we have to infer that the killer knew, which would suggest a prior trip in it.
Going on the lam at 7:30 AM is indeed odd, since it’s an hour and a half after sunrise on that day. One would expect the killer to slip out during the night. Unless a second party saw the door open, snuck in and pinched keys/money unaware of the murder, and made off with the car. More loose ends than a shag rug, as the saying goes.
Excellent point. I would love to know where in relation to the apartment the car was parked. That the killer took her car strongly indicates to me a prior relationship or someone she picked up that evening.
Just because the neighbor said the car was there at 7:30 am doesn’t necessarily mean the driver arrived at that location then. He probably abandoned it earlier — for the reasons Earl mentions — and the neighbor merely SAW it for the first time at 7:30 am. (Unless I missed something about witnesses hearing or seeing the actual arrival?)
I’ve been a first responder and taken witness statements, and I am always skeptical about them. They are highly subjective! (And going back several postings, unless several neighbors reported hearing Georgette scream and say something like “You’re killing me!” it sounds suspiciously like a “helpful” neighbor trying to insinuate themselves into a high profile case with an overly dramatic statement. Larry, do the news accounts suggest more than one witness hearing her scream? Not just hearing the crash, but screams?)
Car keys in the 1950s and 1960s often had distinctive shapes and the make’s logo impressed into them (“Ford,” “Chevy,” “Buick,” and ” Olds” etc. had different looking keys). I don’t know if that was true in 1944. But even if not, with the limited number of cars likely to have been parked near Georgette’s apartment, it would not have taken the thief long to locate her car, even if she had not given him a ride in it.
I’ve been wondering if the thief had a specific destination in mind. Why did he head toward East 25th Street, of all places? Even if he hoped to drive further but ran out of gas, by any route he took, he made a lot of turns, like he knew the neighborhood where he was headed. So was he a local? Family somewhere nearby to hide him?
Okay Larry. I’m now officially hooked on the investigation. But there are just to many questions that arise; the answers to many of which have been erased by time. The photo of the two detectives dusting for prints now looks almost comical to a person who expects Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) quality. Also — GRAMMAR POLICE: “The news accounts say that the killer left valuable jewelry and silver untouched, INFERRING that robbery was not a motive.” Did you mean to write “implying”? Anyway I’m still mulling over the gauze-like fabric.
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