L.A NOIRE: Late Detective’s Personal Journals May Shed New Light on Black Dahlia Murder; Conspiracies

<a alt="Monday, May 23, 2011 County Courthouse – Los Angeles, Calif. In a statement to the press on the steps of the LA County Courthouse, District Attorney Steve Cooley said that the LAPD was presented with detailed information as to the real resolution of the now infamously unsolved murder case of Elizabeth Short-better known as the Black Dahlia. DA Cooley was joined on the steps by the great-granddaughter of once disgraced LAPD Detective Cole Phelps, Mallorie Phelps-Leonard. Mrs. Phelps-Leonard reportedly assumed possession of the personal journals of the late Detective Phelps when her grandmother died in late August last year. After discovering the contents of the journals in April she decided to present the evidence to investigators with the LAPD. According to DA Cooley the LAPD then matched samples and key information in the journals with writing samples of detective Phelps, who served from 1946 until his death in the line of duty near the LA River in 1947. After authentication last Tuesday of what some have dubbed the LA Noire Memoirs, the LAPD is launching an investigation in to what evidence remains and cross-referencing the facts stipulated by Phelps in his journals. continued on C14

Said DA Cooley in his statement, “The Los Angeles Police Department in the forties, and most notably during the post-war boom was exceptional, barring a few bad seeds. I have the full confidence in our investigators that the information we uncover will do nothing but to shed light on an era of police enforcement that lays mostly in the murky waters of rumor and suspicions.” He continued, “That being said, if there is any merit to the allegations made in the personal journals of Detective Cole Phelps, we only pursue it to possibly close the case on the murder of Elizabeth Short in connection with the strikingly similar cases of the deaths of Celine Henry, Deidre Moller, Antonia Maldonado, Theresa Taraldsen, and Evelyn Summers.” The DA would not comment on whether these cases were all linked to possibly a string of serial killings in the greater LA area in the mid to late forties, but he said that “every avenue of investigation would be exhausted before closing cases or dismissing the words of Cole Phelps as anything but the inner thoughts of such a highly decorated officer.”
Cole Phelps served as a patrolman and detective from in ‘46 and ‘47 in the Central, Hollywood, and Wilshire stations. His career is described as “five stars” and he has been described as “one of the best case men.”He started as a patrolman before being promoted to traffic. From there it was a long string of exhaustive cases at the Homicide desk before moving on to a short stint with Administrative Vice. For reasons of adultery, a criminal offense in 1947, he was ostracized and demoted to Arson investigation, pending a review hearing, before his death in 1947 in the storm drain system around the Los Angeles River while saving the lives of DA Investigator Jack Kelso and Blue Room jazz singer Elsa Lichtman, alleged to be his mistress.
Detective Phelps’ name is on the books in more than 60 cases ranging from murder cases to street crimes which he reportedly refers to in his memoirs as, “a reprieve from the rigors of investigation; little more than immediate gratification and experience points.”

Several pages of the personal journals of Detective Cole Phelps were made available at the press conference. Within the pages, Phelps is forthcoming with his feelings on his time as a patrolman. After receiving notice of his promotion to the Traffic desk Phelps writes, “My time in blue, baking in that black and white, has served me well as an onramp to the logistics and the technical side of being an officer of the law. A man can learn a lot from a manual…Every person in this booming city has something to hide, something to protect, but with some astute observation I think I can put the right criminals behind bars for their crimes.
“Sure I had my fistfights, and my shootouts, but in this game you can’t go pulling your gun out and waving it around…but when you drop the gavel down on a man with the business end of a 12-gauge, it all comes flooding back, for better or worse.”

Later, of his time at the homicide desk after charging Grosvenor McCaffrey with murder, of which he was later acquitted, Detective Phelps expresses his dislike of how events are proceeding. “The pressure to close these cases at the homicide desk is unnerving. I have no choice but to charge someone with the murders. The similar M,O. in these cases is too close for my comfort. Like the itch you get after a dry shave. The evidence is just too easy to find. Why keep the bloody weapon in the trunk, or the apartment, or take the trophies off of the women that we can’t seem to find? It just doesn’t make sense. The Captain and Rusty just won’t hear it. I respond to street crime calls just to break up the monotony of investigation. I have a feelin’ I’m just smilin’ like a Jon with two bucks burnin’ a hole in his pocket; if I’m not careful I’m gonna end up gettin’ blackjacked by some pimp while I’ve got my eyes full of floozy.”

In regards to the information to be presented over the next few weeks the District Attorney would not be specific, but he alluded to possible conspiracies and cover-ups could have included land developers, an Editor-in-chief, and even the Chief of Police.

“Let’s be frank. This was a beautifully rendered Los Angeles after the massive boom that the end of the war brought to this town. The glitz and the glamour were only part of the story. The other part of the story is of those brave men that protected and policed it every day. This romanticized time in our past means everything to the kind of city we have become. Until every cases is closed, every secret unlocked, and every piece of evidence is found, this city, and this police force, will not rest in it’s pursuit of justice and finding out the truth in some of the biggest cases in L.A. history.”

For more information on the journals of Detective Cole Phelps continue here

Entry 1
Who would have thought a simple case involving a car driven off a cliff would lead to a kiddie porn ring and goon coming out of the woodwork to take a pot shot at me? It must have got the upper brass shining up their medals like Boy Scouts because I’m getting promoted tomorrow. My new assignment will be Homicide. I feel like a boxer in a two-bit circle getting the call to the big leagues after scrapping for a steak dinner and more pride than prize money. Bekowsky’s a good man, a straight shooter, and I’m sure I’ll be shaking his hand over a stiff down the line sooner than later. Traffic and patrol offered me the chance to wet my beak at find the mold under the floorboards. My time in blue, baking in that black and white, has served me well as an onramp to the logistics and the technical side of being an officer of the law. A man can learn a lot from a manual, but bold-faced type doesn’t hold a candle to sniffing out the bold-faced lies of the likes of Edward Kalou and seeing right through his veil of doubt, it is entirely satisfying to put them away. Every person in this booming city has something to hide, something to protect, but with some astute observation I think I can put the right criminals behind bars for their crimes.

Sure I had my fistfights, and my shootouts, but in this game you can’t go pulling your gun out and waving it around. You literally CANNOT pull your gun out unless the moment calls for it to be absolutely necessary; and when you do you’d better be ready to use it. After the war I wasn’t sure I could square the sights on another man, after what happened in the jungles…but when you drop the gavel down on a man with the business end of a 12-gauge, it all comes flooding back, for better or worse.
Traffic gave me a chance to fit my share of pecker swingers and low lifes with stripes and serial numbers, but Homicide is where the real show is. It’s the big top, the circus, and comes with the very moniker every flatfoot worth his salt wants to wear to the bar and flaunt for the dames. I know my wife is proud of me, the girls too, but I never get to see them. I wonder if I’ll ever see them. With all the time this job demands I don’t remember the last time I set foot in my house or the last time she let me touch her. I have to remind myself that I am doing this for the law, for justice, but wouldn’t a night out at the pictures be a nice change of pace? Or even an evening at the Brown Derby or the Blue Room with my lady? After my first case in Homicide. We’ll celebrate that collar, together.

Entry 2
The pressure to close these cases at the homicide desk is unnerving. I have no choice but to charge someone with the murders. The similar M.O. in these cases is too close for my comfort. Like the itch you get after a dry shave. The evidence is just too easy to find. Why keep the bloody weapon in the trunk, or the apartment, or not finding any of the rings or trophies taken off of the victims? It just doesn’t make sense. The Captain and Rusty won’t hear it. I respond to street crime calls just to break up the monotony of investigation. I have a feelin’ I’m just smilin’ like a Jon with two bucks burnin’ a hole in his pocket. If I’m not careful I’m gonna end up gettin’ blackjacked by some pimp while I’ve got my eyes full of floozy.

The cases are just piling up. I don’t get even a moment without the crime scene or an interview hanging over my head. With all the hardened criminals me and Rusty put away I don’t feel like we got the right perps, I just think I’m going through the motions in the story until the plot twists and breaks us all to pieces. The bottom is going to fall out of this little tale of woe before the other shoe hits the floor, I just know it.

I wish I could get some time to police without these deaths haunting me. Can’t we spend some time just responding to calls and flipping on the howler? I know I’m no patrolman anymore, that my value is at the scene and interrogating, but Rusty and I sometimes just respond to a 411 over the KGPL just for the thrill of the chase, if only as a reprieve from the rigors of investigation; little more than immediate gratification and experience points. Boy I’d like to let Rusty off the leash to beat a confession out of the man we both know is guilty; the old school of investigation at the business end of a size 11 stomping.

I haven’t been to a single boxing match yet. I’d do about anything to see a picture downtown or lay a bet down on a match; see some of what I’m walking the streets to protect every day. Would it kill me if I got a hotdog at all these stands I see around town while Rusty and I discuss the cases? Whose palm do you have to grease to get a night off? Guess you’d have to grease every grubby hand in town to get a night off work, and even with the 8% bond bump in pay from a few years back, no one’s got that kind of scratch.

Entry 3
They’ve tried to bury me and I’m not even dead, yet. What me and my partner did that night, killing that man, and nothing for it. Just some stiff laid on a slab under false pretenses drummed up by Donnelly. After that night in the catacombs, beneath the church, Captain Donnelly moved me on up to Vice. It is more of a step sideways than a step up the ranks, but he had tracks to cover and loose lips tied with loose ends could have been a Headline grabbing noose for the department, so it was better to split me and Rusty up and forget the whole sordid mess.

In Vice I got close to the truth. I know I was knocking on the right doors and chasing the right leads. The names were starting to get too familiar and I could make out the bars they were humming, I’m sure now even Earle had a part in the harmony. He’s the man that made the brass and my wife wise to Elsa. Now they’ve got me out here on Arson thinking they can wash their hands of me. How much harm can he do investigating fires? Plenty.

The only person I can trust in this forsaken city of fallen angels is the chip on my shoulder and the nails in my gut. I’ll make cases on this beat, with or without the help of the cops around me. I’m a pariah now, I can here it in the whispers floating between the buildings and up from the typeface of the front page. “Disgraced” they mark me, “a shame,” and “nothing but an empty thirty dollar suit.” I’ll show them. Elsa was worth it and Earle and all of the brass will get theirs. I will redeem myself by doing my job and bringing the whole house of cards down by any means necessary.

I won’t be able to do it alone, and the only man that can help me brought home from the Pacific a hate-stoked fire in his belly just for me. These new G.I. houses are a joke and Elysian Fields is involved somehow. These aren’t isolated incidents or tragic “acts of God.” Kelso is close enough that he can go sniffing around, but I’ll need Elsa to lay off that settlement and pique his interest. God help me I’ve fallen for that dame, but seeing this through will test how far she has fallen for me. I am sorry to my wife and daughters, but with nothing but police work to keep me warm at night, is it any wonder I tumbled like a schoolboy for that German songstress? It’s quite a corner I worked myself in to, but the only way out of this upside down clusterfuck is by bringing the glass ceiling down on all of it. ” href=”http://img862.imageshack.us/img862/8822/lanoirelayout1.jpg&#8221; imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”>


About the Author


Wesley Bauman, author of Doggy Paddling in the Deep End, is a writer/photojournalist originally from Oregon who makes his home in Ventura, CA. He’s contributed to the VCReporter and maintains an active blog (http://projectpoppycock.com/) where he writes on political and social satire regularly. Follow Wesley on Twitter @myownfalseidol

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Author: Christy Scronce

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Scronce decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of DisarrayMAG. When she’s not running Disarray, she’s consulting for Tigerlily Consultants, helping businesses with their content marketing and social media strategies.

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