Nov. 22, 1947: Wiretapping System Found in State Building

L.A. Times, 1947

L.A. Times, 1947

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

Such are the threads of research, tangled by time and coincidence:

The gateway is a Page 1 story about extensive wiretapping at the state office building, with lines leading to Philharmonic Auditorium. Russell D. Mason, the technician who installed the wires, says he got permission from investigators for Atty. Gen. Fred Howser, but everyone in Howser’s office denies the allegations. Mason’s troubles grow worse when a fire at his home destroys expensive equipment and documents needed for his wire-tapping trial. And his ex-wife sues for back child support when she sees his picture in the paper.

L.A. Times, 1947

Mason is eventually cleared of everything but a minor technical infraction when it turns out that one of the investigators, James H. Mulvey, recalls that he indeed said it would be OK to run the lines but that he would have to check with his boss first.

Mulvey, in turn, is the investigator in the 1958 bombing of the Krishna Venta compound in Box Canyon by two former cult members. The suicide bombers left rambling tape-recorded statements in their pickup before killing themselves, Venta and seven cult members, destroying a two-story building and touching off a 150-acre wildfire.

And then there’s the small mystery of an unrelated item mysteriously appended to one of the Mason stories: A photo and caption of Deputy Public Defender Kathryn McDonald (who would later defend child killer Fred Stroble) and Robert H. Hansen.

Hansen, a radio technician who lived and worked with Ralph and Olga Dirksen in San Francisco before joining them in Los Angeles, was caught after he killed the Dirksens, took their bodies out to the Mojave Desert and tried to burn their heads and hands in the incinerator behind their repair shop at 5619 E. Beverly Blvd. in 1948. After killing the couple, he took their 3-year-old son, “Sparky,” to the beach and then left him at a boarding home that cared for children. Hansen was sentenced to life in prison.

Bonus factoids: Douglas Aircraft drops from its wartime level of 160,000 employees to 9,000 and expects to reach 3,000. Lockheed is down from 94,000 employees to 12,000.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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1 Response to Nov. 22, 1947: Wiretapping System Found in State Building

  1. Geez, what a story. I was expecting Dick Nixon’s name to turn up. Happy Thanksgiving.


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