May 26, 1947: Otto Parzyjegla and the Killing of Alfred Haij

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

As tragic as it is, the Otto Parzyjegla case is wonderful example of the distinct contrasts between the murder of Alfred Haij and Elizabeth Short, and the differences between the major Los Angeles papers in the 1940s.

Note, first of all, that while The Times buried the story inside (as it did with the Black Dahlia case) the Herald-Express bannered it on the front page with a typical screamer headline:

Strange Phantoms Walk Weird Path of L.A. Mysteries

As Hearst papers, the morning Examiner and the afternoon Herald ran far more details than The Times of this grisly crime—and it was extremely grisly.

First of all, unlike the Black Dahlia killer, Parzyjegla had a terrible time cutting up the body—into six pieces. It took him all day and required several trips to get an assortment of sharp implements. He began with a butcher knife from home. Then a saw. Next, a hatchet. Finally, he finished the job with the blade from a paper-cutting machine.

Then he made it even more difficult because, unlike the Short murder, Haij was fully clothed when Parzyjegla cut him up.

And unlike The Times, the Examiner wasn’t squeamish about reporting that Haij’s son had gone to the shop to look for his father. While he was piling up boxes so he could look over the transom, police said, one of them burst and parts of the body tumbled out. You simply never get those kinds of details in The Times.

Services were held for Haij at Mission Covenant Church, 851 Francisco St., and he was buried at Forest Lawn. Parzyjegla was eventually released from prison; his whereabouts are unknown. [Dear crime writers who pick up this tidbit, please acknowledge me as your source. Thanks.]

Whenever I read about these cases, I always wonder about the collateral victims: Haij’s family and Parzyjegla’s wife and baby daughter, who was 3 months old at the time. For that matter, I wonder what became of Laura Trelstad’s three children, who were photographed by the papers, too young to understand much of what was going on.

ps. Note that Parzyjegla lived in a small house at the back of 415 Jefferson.

One other thing occurred to me, although I suppose this is almost too obvious to mention:

You’ll note that Parzyjegla didn’t have a car, unlike the Black Dahlia killer. While the Red Cars long ago acquired sainthood in Los Angeles, they did pose something of a challenge for anyone trying to dispose of a murder victim.


And on an unrelated subject:

May 26, 1947, Newport Shipyards

Syndicate Buys Newport
Shipyards as Play Area
Pleasure Craft Anchorage and Motels Would
Be Constructed on 3200 Feet of Water Frontage

NEWPORT BEACH, May 25—Sale of the $500,000
Newport Beach shipbuilding plant of Consolidated Steel
Corp. to a California syndicate for development as a recre-
ational and pleasure craft mooring area was announced
here today.

Paul S. Snyder, rancher and
yachtsman, Cecil Miller and R.J.
Laughlin, all of Pomona, said the
plant with 3200-foot water front-
age near Lido Isle Channel and
covering 22½ acres, including
Lido Isle Anchorage, will
be developed to provide con-
struction, repair and servicing of
craft and with motel and hotel

War Development

Undeveloped prior to the war,
the property was developed ex-
tensively to meet war construc-
tion needs. Large-scale dredging
provided good water depth for
ship operations and made vir-
tually an island of the peninsula.

Many minesweepers and other
naval craft were constructed at
the yards during the war.

A former proposed sale of the
yards to Columbia Steel Corp.
of Torrance was blocked by the
U.S. Department of Justice on
the claim that the acquisition
would tend to create a monopoly.

This, my friends, is how to make a fortune. Half a million dollars works out to $22,222 an acre. Adjusted for inflation (thanks to that’s $4.7 million in 2005 dollars for 22½ acres of waterfront property, where the median home price is $1.2 million as of March 2005, according to the California Assn. of Realtors.

source: Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1947

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Crime and Courts, Homicide, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.