fraud

Widow Robbed by Spiritualists

barbara
15 Oct 2010 - 12:30pm

A young couple by the name of McCarthy came to Los Angeles in 1890, and quickly made money in the real estate game. As luck would have it, one year later, Mr. McCarthy fell ill and died.  His widow, a healthy, handsome woman, was left a well appointed house on Temple street, but she proved unable to overcome her grief at the loss of her husband.  She shut herself in her second story parlor, and refused her friends invitations and entreaties to re-enter society.  Desperate to console her, they suggested she seek out spiritual support, and referred her to Mrs. Rich, a trance-medium of some local renown. After the widow had been visiting the medium for several weeks, friends noticed a definite change in her behavior.  When they called on her in her rooms they found her greatly agitated, crouched down in one corner of her room, clutching paper and pencil, which she used, she explained, to record messages from her dead husband.  The messages allegedly emanated from all corners and quarters of the room, and were sometimes delivered by a little girl named "Dewdrop."

Mrs. McCarthy's friends tried to calm her, and seemingly succeeded.  But soon thereafter the widow disappeared from her house on Temple street. Ten days later a police officer apprehended a raving woman, unsteady on her feet, in a hallway  near the corner of Sixth and Main streets. Her face was covered in red welts, and her tongue badly swollen. The officer suspected she was intoxicated, but soon discovered that she was bereft of reason. He was about to take the poor woman to the city prison, when a gentleman happened to recognize her as his neighbor, Mrs. McCarthy. He delivered her to her friends from Temple street, who took her into their home to convalesce.  Gradually, she recovered her wits and told them her story. 

Mrs. McCarthy had come to believe that if she strictly obeyed Mrs. Rich, the trance medium, in every regard, then she would, in time, be allowed to communicate with her dead husband.  At the medium's instruction, Mrs. McCarthy gave Mrs. Rich all but 300 dollars of her personal fortune. The medium then promptly fled the city with her haul.  Distraught, Mrs. McCarthy sought out another clairvoyant, a Mrs. Coy, who plied her trade as a magnetic healer. Mrs. Coy, assisted by an unidentified man, took the half-demented widow into her house, drugged her, and shut her in a dark room for days.  They persuaded the widow to write checks for all of her remaining funds, and to give up her fur-trimmed cloak and her fine dress, for only if she were to renounce all wordly possessions, they claimed, would "the spirit of her dead husband see fit to address her." On her way home to change she was intercepted by the police officer.

Mrs. McCarthy was unable to recover her lost savings.  Mrs. Coy claimed it was the widow's idea to give up her money and her clothing, as she "wanted to do penance," and that she merely assisted Mrs. McCarthy in her spiritual quest.

Date

April 13, 1892

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A Dead Man's Chest

kim
8 Dec 2009 - 8:22pm

Two weeks ago, the tearful relatives of Raymundo Reyes, 74, gathered at Calvary Cemetery for his burial. Not a week later, Reyes turned up, very much alive.

Who then had died, this man who looked so much like Reyes that the whole family was fooled? No one had a clue until today, when Adam Kryst, an elderly pensioner, was reported missing from a rooming house at 224 Boyd Street.

Police Sgt. Tom Anderson of the missing persons bureau obtained the three keys found on the dead man's person and went to Boyd Street, where he opened the front door, the door of Adam Kryst's room, and a chest inside it. A fingerprint technician matched prints found in the room to those taken from the corpse.

And so the mystery was solved, but one awkward problem remained: Kryst's family, coming from Florida, must reach some agreement with the Reyes family regarding the somewhat decayed man occupying their relative's grave. Let's hope at least he was a Catholic!

Date

August 20, 1964

List of locations from this post

  1. A Dead Man's Chest
    224 Boyd

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Scandal at Highland Asylum for the Insane

barbara
29 Aug 2009 - 12:08pm


Second and Spring Streets, ca. 1920
Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

F.E. Howard would have plied his trade as a druggist at Dean’s Drugstore on 2nd and Spring Street in relative anonymity if it weren’t for the outcry raised by nurses at his former workplace, the Southern California Hospital for the Insane at Highland.

Allegations of cruel and inhuman abuse of the inmates at Highland surfaced in the summer of 1903, after San Bernardino papers published a series of investigations into graft and financial irregularities at the institution.  The nurses charged that female patients were routinely operated on without the benefit of anesthesia, and were punished by “protective sheeting” or immobilization in their beds under sheets of heavy canvas, sometimes for weeks at a time.  The nurses also testified to the common punishment known as “giving the hypo”, hypodermic injections of apomorphia, a violent emetic that causes hours of agonizing cramps, followed by hours of vomiting and eventual collapse. The injections were repeated usually twice a day, for five days at a time, for such mild infractions as insubordination and “talking in excess.”


State Hospital at Highland
Image courtesy of USC Digital Archives

Before he signed on as an assistant at Dean’s Drugs, F.E. Howard worked for two years as the druggist at Highland, and kept written records from his tenure that supported the nurses’ testimony.  He supplied the names of over forty victims of the body-wrenching, organ destroying emetic punishment, as well as the date the drug was administered. He also testified that the drug hyosine was used to punish recalcitrant patients, a medication which works on the kidneys and puts the victim to sleep.  He alleged that at least one patient died as a result of a punitive hyosine injection.  


In addition Mr. Howard provided records that supported allegations of graft and fraud in the institution.  Highland’s Superintendent Dr. Campbell, and chief medical officer Dr. Dolan rewarded his whistle-blowing with swift law-suits, accusing Howard of stealing government records.  But they were unable to deflect the public outcry, or the findings of the investigation ordered by the Board of Directors of the state institution.  By the end of the Highland scandal, both men resigned under pressure. Anticipating his own dismissal, a lower level official committed suicide on the grounds of the asylum.  One year after leaving Highland, Dr. Dolan also departed this life.  Whether he succumbed to heart disease or died by his own hand remains a mystery to this day.

Date

July 14, 1903

List of locations from this post

  1. Place of employment
    Second and Spring Streets

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Julian Pete, Loew's State, and "the Decade of Debauchery"

John B
3 Aug 2009 - 5:55am

CC julianC.C. Julian was the Bernie Madoff of 1920s Los Angeles, a charming Canadian con man who hit oil in 1923 and then discovered something even more lucrative, over-selling shares in oil syndicates to oil-crazed Angelenos. At its height, Julian's "Million Dollar Pool" attracted investors from Louis B. Mayer to H.M. Haldeman (father to Wategrate's H.R.) And from where did Julian and his trickster associate Jacob Berman run this scheme? Why take a look!

Loews state Yes, Julian worked just above downtown Los Angeles's most glamorous movie theater. So the next time you stroll past this, spare a thought for Julian Pete!

Date

June 27, 1923

List of locations from this post

  1. Loews State Theater
    703 S. Broadway
  2. Loew's State Theater
    703 S Broadway
    90014

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Julian Pete, Loew's State, and "the Decade of Debauchery"

John B
3 Aug 2009 - 5:55am

C.C. Julian was the Bernie Madoff of 1920s Los Angeles, a charming Canadian con man who hit oil in 1923 and then discovered something even more lucrative, over-selling shares in oil syndicates to oil-crazed Angelenos. At its height, Julian's "Million Dollar Pool" attracted investors from Louis B. Mayer to H.M. Haldeman (father to Wategrate's H.R.) And from where did Julian and his trickster associate Jacob Berman run this scheme? Why take a look! CC julian

Yes, Julian worked just above downtown Los Angeles's most glamorous movie theater. So the next time you stroll past this,

Loews state

spare a thought for Julian Pete!

Date

June 27, 1923

Locations from this post

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