Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Here’s a perfect illustration of the difference between The Times and the Examiner, which has a completely different version of Antonio Mondragon’s actions on the night of the murder:
According to the Examiner, Mondragon told detectives he was awakened after midnight and served with divorce papers. He and his wife, Rosenda, who was drunk, argued until she left at 2:30 a.m.
Mondragon says he dressed and followed her with the intention of driving her to her room at 836 S. Crocker. Before he could reach her, a car stopped and she got in, he says.
But according to the Examiner (and contradicting The Times), Mondragon said he drove to Rosenda’s apartment and waited for her. According to Rosenda’s sister, Mondragon didn’t return until early morning.
In addition to reporting that she hadn’t been raped, the Examiner noted that she still had a religious medal around her neck, and was still wearing a gold ring. Taken together, these might diminish sex and robbery as motives, although I’m not sure her purse was found. No wonder the police arrested Mondragon and gave him a polygraph exam.
While both papers reported the discovery of her clothes, the Examiner again provided more details: They were found at Avenue 26 and Griffin, north of a midway point on Main between Lincoln Park (where she was picked up) and Elmyra (where the body was found).
It’s further interesting to note that Lincoln Park was the site of the Dec. 10, 1946, Red Hibiscus Murder of Naomi Tullis Cook, who was beaten to death with a 5-inch bolt. The four teenagers accused of killing her were released Feb. 18, 1947. It would be interesting to know what they were up to on the night in question.
Finally, let’s take a look at the victim. She was 21, according to her death records, born in New Mexico and had been married four years, which means she was 17 at the time of the wedding while Mondragon was 22. According to the California Death Index, Rosenda Josephine Mondragon (nee Martinez) didn’t have a Social Security number, so she apparently wasn’t working. Given the fact that she was married so young, I would suspect there were children, but none are listed in the California Birth Index.
So what exactly was Rosenda Mondragon up to at 1 a.m., dead drunk and roaming around Lincoln Park alone? It would be nice to have more details, like what became of her sister, husband and brother-in-law. But there’s not much more information easily available.
I think if there’s any pattern, it’s that drunk women wandering Los Angeles late at night were taking a huge risk, whether it was Laura Trelstad, Rosenda Mondragon (who were both on foot) or Geneva Ellroy. And you know what? They still are.