Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Nailed up in the closet of an unoccupied house at 2318 Pontius Ave.., West Los Angeles, the body of Tomas Moreno, 43-year-old Japanese, was discovered yesterday by friends.
Belief that Moreno had been dead since last November was expressed to police by T. Izumi, last employer of the dead man, who found the badly decomposed corpse when he broke open the small closet.
The body, fully clothed and covered with dried blood, was stuffed down in the narrow cabinet and blood spots found on the floor led the authorities to believe that he had been beaten to death and then hidden.
Izumi, who owned the property where the body was found, told Capt. Clark and Detective Lieutenant MacRae of the West Los Angeles police force that he last saw the dead man in November. Moreno, he reported, was employed by him as a delivery man at his grocery store. Izumi was moving some furniture from the unoccupied house when odors from the nailed-up closed attracted his attention.
This is one of those interesting little historic tidbits that turn up in doing research on something entirely different, in this case, the 1932 death of Towas or Tomas Morino (given as Tomas Moreno in the original story). Eventually, Jikichi Nagao, a local merchant living at 2253 Pontius Ave., told police that he was trying to sell Morino a pistol when it went off, striking Morino in the head.
Nagao was charged with murder, as was Morino’s employer, Teizo Izuma or Izumi, of 2225 Pontius Ave. The Times never followed up on the case, so one can only speculate on the outcome. (The Times’ disinterest in the proper spelling of Japanese names is worth noting).
I had a difficult time finding this story again, so I ended up searching Proquest for “body” and “closet” and “blood,” which turned out to be an interesting exercise. Almost as interesting as searching for “body” and “trunk” and “smell.”