L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

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Note: “Little Shoes,” about the murders of three little girls, may not be everybody’s idea of an appropriate holiday gift, but it is more than a “true crime” book. In “Little Shoes” Pamela Everett explores her family’s tragic history in one of Los Angeles’ biggest cases of the 1930s, and she raises compelling questions about the guilt of Albert Dyer, who was hanged for the killings.

A family’s history is tricky even in the best of circumstances; the past may be sanitized and rewritten for consumption by the next generation. When tragedy is involved, family stories become murky or are simply locked away.

So it was with the tale of the “Three Babes of Inglewood”:  Madeline Everett, 7;  her sister Melba, 9; and their playmate, Jeanette Stephens, 8; who were kidnapped from Centinela Park in Inglewood and killed June 26, 1937. The case, with the trial and execution of Albert Dyer, was one of the most sensational crimes of Los Angeles in the 1930s, along with the Harry Raymond bombing.

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Pamela Everett, the niece of Madeline and Melba, embarked on a painful and arduous journey of discovery in unlocking her family’s tragedy. (Note: I played a small role in connecting her with a woman who was 7 at the time and wrote a piece for the Daily Mirror on her recollections of the girls).

The result is “Little Shoes,” a book that blends family stories with the history of the case, going far beyond the overexposed genre of “true” crime into another dimension that is part memoir and part investigation.

Everett also raises intriguing questions about the innocence of Albert Dyer, whom I had always assumed was the killer. Dr. Joseph Paul De River, later known for the Leslie Dillon fiasco in the Black Dahlia case, interviewed Dyer and wrote about him in “The Sexual Criminal.” The extremely graphic nature of “Sexual Criminal,” even though the book was restricted to law enforcement personnel, was one of the factors in De River’s dismissal as LAPD psychiatrist.

“Little Shoes” was singled out by the New York Times in its Summer Reading feature.

The book is available at Book Soup and Vroman’s, as well as Amazon.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1937, Books and Authors, Crime and Courts, Homicide and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

  1. Mrs. Benito says:

    Thank you! I do love true crime & if you recommend it, I know it will be well-researched and accurate — otherwise you wouldn’t recommend it!

    Like

  2. Scott Tracy says:

    Little Shoes is a compelling read. (Larry, I believe that Pamela Everett spoke to the woman in your Daily Mirror piece, Teresa Pinamonti Zeigler)
    Paul DeRiver role in the Dyer case is famous because his advice as one of the first if not the first example of profiling in America. The profile could be correct as it it is very wide of the mark for Dyer, who had no criminal activity in his poor life other than vagrancy, common during the depression.
    Chief among the problems with the Dyer confession; fingerprints. Don Oliver, police fingerprint expert and uncle of Madeline and Melba Everett, two of the victims of the kidnap-slayer said finger prints found on the bodies were “very definite.” “It is only a matter of checking the fingerprints with police records. The early police focus was on a “Eddie the Sailor” character who hovered around Centinela Park showing rope tricks days before the abduction. “Eddie” was double jointed, had a mustache and an old truck.Police were searching for Fred Godsey, ex-Navy man who had driven out of town. “Freddie the Sailor” had an old car and a mustache and was an ex-convict. When Dyer confessed under pressure the out of state search for Godsey ended.
    Dyer’s fingerprints were not on the bodies. Dyer did not drive, was clean shaven and had the mental capacity of the nine year old who had no sense of geography. The DA has Dyer and the small children walking 5.2 miles thru bean fields to the ravine in Baldwin Hills to look for rabbits.

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    • lmharnisch says:

      It’s an interesting book and well worth a read. I would also recommend that anybody interested in the case go back and read the original news accounts and the section of De River’s book dealing with the Dyer case.

      Like

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