Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Bits of clothing found with a child’s skeleton in a small ravine in Orange County yesterday were identified as belonging to 6-year-old Rochelle Gluskoter, who was kidnapped Feb. 15, 1946.
The identification was made by the child’s parents, Abe and Miriam Gluskoter.
Thus came the first tangible clue in the abduction case which has baffled investigators for nearly two years.
The Gluskoters, who now live at 913 E. 87th St., appeared at the sheriff’s Bureau of Investigation accompanied by Inspector J. Gordon Bowers, who directed investigation in the days following the little girl’s disappearance.
Although the murder of Rochelle Gluskoter has been completely forgotten today, it is one of the worst cases of the postwar period. Rochelle, a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl of 6, was playing in the yard of a neighbor at 1113 E. 85th St. when she got into a black convertible coupe driven by a man in his 30s. She was never seen again.
In the days that followed, Los Angeles was consumed in a massive search for the girl. Investigators went house to house, examined riverbeds and sewers, rounded up known sex offenders in the area and checked on phantom sightings of young girls elsewhere in the city. Led by Eugene Biscailuz, the sheriff’s posse made a canvass on horseback of what were then large swaths of undeveloped land in South Los Angeles.
The newspapers ran stories about other horrible kidnappings of little girls: The 1924 slayings of May and Nina Martin by Scott Stone; the 1927 abduction and murder of Marian Parker by William Hickman; the 1937 sex killings of “the three babes of Inglewood” by Albert Dyer.
In March 1946, her parents, Abe and Miriam, finally opened their delicatessen at 8464 S. Central Ave., postponed when Rochelle was kidnapped the day before it was scheduled to open.
And then Bonito Cabrera, hunting rabbits off Santiago Boulevard about three miles from Irvine Lake, found the bones, so weathered that investigators could never determine a cause of death.
“That’s my baby’s dress,” Miriam said, breaking down in sobs as she looked at the mildewed shreds of a small tweed coat and red print dress laid out on a table. And yet she remained puzzled: Rochelle was wearing nearly new shoes when she disappeared, but now they were badly worn.
Men were questioned over the years, but nothing ever came of it and the Gluskoters eventually left Los Angeles. The case remains unsolved.
Rochelle was buried at Hillside Memorial Park.
Bonus factoids: Hickman and Dyer were hanged. Stone’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was pardoned by Gov. Culbert L. Olson and released from prison in 1941 because of continuing questions about evidence used to convict him. Saying “I knew this day would come,” he was freed after 15 years and moved into a Salvation Army shelter in Los Angeles.
Quote of the day: “War is not inevitable, but unless we undergird the United Nations with spiritual power, in the tragic tomorrow it shall be remembered only as the ‘United Notions.’ ”
The Rev. Glenn R. Phillips, First Methodist Church of Hollywood