Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Joyce, 13, came home that afternoon and told her father and stepmother what she had done. Her father, an auto body mechanic, ordered his wife and son not to say anything until he figured out what to do. The next morning, Joyce went to school as if nothing was wrong while her stepmother washed out her bloody clothes.
The next day, Joyce calmly faced four detectives, but collapsed in tears when her stepmother fell, sobbing, at her feet. Then she told her story.
She met 5-year-old Myretta Jones, who was going to the store for her mother. Joyce tagged along, then invited Myretta over to her house while she did some chores.
Later, the girls went to play pirate in a cave they dug at the Kern County Fairgrounds.
Once in the cave, Joyce ordered Myretta to undress, but Myretta refused, so Joyce slapped her until she obeyed. Once the crying girl was undressed, Joyce smashed her in the head with a heavy rock and a shovel until she was dead.
A sheriff’s posse, contacted by Myretta’s mother, searched until they found the girl. The coroner reported that she had been raped, so officers rounded up known sex offenders, staged roadblocks along major highways and launched a hunt for a photographer who supposedly made lewd remarks while selling photo packages door to door. Then someone remembered seeing Myretta with an older girl.
Joyce was sent to Camarillo for psychiatric evaluation and upon being pronounced sane, was tried as an adult. On May 27, 1948, she was sentenced to life in prison, first to be served at the Ventura School for Girls, and then to Tehachapi once she became of age.
Why did Joyce kill Myretta? She told the sheriff that she didn’t know.
Bonus factoid: Dr. George Hodel, 5121 Franklin Ave., reports that a burglar broke in a bedroom window and stole a 1,400-year-old Chinese sacrificial tablet. Dr. Hodel says the tablet was 11 by 6 by 3½ inches, had about 50 Chinese characters and was carved on dark, gray stone.
Good heavens. This is exactly the kind of thing a lot of people don’t realize ever happened back in “the good old days.”
Update: I found some info as to why the murder occurred, but it’s not pleasant to read about: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/88/221.html