Chapter 6 ~ The Next Day

On the morning of the murder, Frederick Atwood, the janitor, his wife Lulu and one of his daughters entered Georgette’s apartment after they found her front door ajar. They had just finished cleaning another tenant’s apartment at 11:10 am and planned to clean Georgette’s next. Hearing water running upstairs, Mrs. Atwood went up the stairs and called to her husband that there was someone in the bathroom. Mr. Atwood ran up the stairs and found Georgette’s body in the bathtub, face down. He said, “- her face was in under water and her hair floating on top.”

Atwood testified later that, “We usually got around to the apartment around 10:30 and my wife went to the bedrooms and the bathrooms first and my daughter did the bathrooms and my wife, the bedrooms, and I cleaned up around.”

Atwood said the bathtub was, “about three parts full, quite a ways up the tub and we thought she had fainted and I reached in there myself to drain the water in the hopes we could bring her to.We didn’t know what to do.”

He told how he reached in the tub to pull the stopper and open the drain, but discovered there was a handle instead. He mentioned touching her right forearm, thinking she was possibly still alive.

Atwood said he did not notice any blood on her body, that she wore a “short jacket” of pinkish color, but that he could not tell if it was open or buttoned or had been torn. He said that she was, “kind of laying on the left side with the face down and with the right arm straight back behind her, feet kind of sticking up at the back of the tub by the curtain.” He also said she was completely in the tub with the curtain partially drawn. There was hot water dripping into the bathtub and her body “felt kind of warm.”

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department handled the case. A. L. Hutchinson, Deputy Sheriff arrived at the crime scene at 12:10 pm. Inspector William Penprase was going over the physical evidence when he arrived. Hutchinson recounted his investigation on the day of the discovery:

“When I got the call I went directly out there and took our County camera along and I arrived there and a couple of boys from the Hollywood Substation were there, and a couple of radio car men, and Mrs. Gilbert, the secretary, was there, and I went to the bathroom, which was on the second floor and I found the dead body of the victim in the bathtub and her face was lying on the bottom of the tub straight down, and the body kind of lying on the left side. There was no water in the tub at the time. She had the upper part of a pajama suit on. That was wet, and alongside of the tub upon the floor of the bathroom was a wet Turkish towel and it looked kind of dirty, but it was wet, so I went into the bedroom then and the bed didn’t seem to be mussed up. There were two sheets lying on the bed that hadn’t been disturbed, but the blanket had been thrown back and there was an indentation in the pillow and looked as if somebody had been lying on the bed on the two sheets and covered by the blanket. There was a Daily News folded up, lying on the bed alongside of the pillow that was folded up the same as the carrier boys fold them up when they toss them on the porches. That was on the bed alongside of the pillow. On that bedroom floor was a blood spot between the bed and door leading to the bathroom. There was a blood spot there and there was discoloration around the blood spot and I felt it and it was wet, that is the carpet was wet all around it “had indications of somebody having tried to use a wet towel and rub it out. Her pocketbook there was lying on the floor alongside of the bed between the bed and the door leading to the bathroom. There was quite a bit of jewelry on the dresser, which looked like it had been untouched, very valuable jewelry, watches.”

When asked at the inquest if it appeared that there had been a struggle, Hutchinson said, “No indication. The bed didn’t show it and nothing in the room turned over or disturbed, and the only thing is her pocketbook was lying on the floor alongside the bed. There were a couple of ashtrays there on the floor and they hadn’t been turned over and they still had cigarette buts in them, and they hadn’t been disturbed, and they seemed to have been there right along.”

Hutchinson said, “She looked like she had been dead eight or ten hours at least. That was the opinion of the mortician there, too.” Rigor mortis had set in.

Georgette had been raped and killed by someone who waited for the right moment. The cause of death was strangulation. A nine inch by nine inch piece of cloth was found forced down her throat, with about one inch protruding outside her clenched teeth. The cloth had a red border around it and had been described also as a “piece of toweling” and as part of a bandage that is used for sprains. The light bulb on her porch was unlit, possibly to cover the exit of the intruder after the murder. Atwood, the janitor, said, ” – the light bulb was at least not screwed in a couple of turns.” All the interior lights in her apartment were turned off. A. L. Hutchinson believed that the intruder knew the apartment already.

“Rape, not murder, was the motive,” he said.

Deputy Sheriff Raymond T. Hopkinson and Lieutenant Garner Brown were called to the Los Angeles County Morgue to examine Georgette’s body after it was removed from the apartment. Captain Gordon Bowers of the sheriff’s department investigated the crime and thought it possible that the killer entered Georgette’s apartment before she arrived home about midnight.

Frank A. Nance, the coroner, made his report. There was a bruise on the right side of the back of her head, about a half inch in diameter. She had a half inch area of skin erosion on the upper area of her left hip. There was a three inch long, half inch wide area of skin erosion “above the brim of the pelvis on the left side of the abdomen.” On her right hand, her middle finger knuckle had a slight abrasion. There were also several bruises on the knuckles of the same finger. There were “six distinct bruises” on her right thigh. There were two other areas on the thigh that corresponded “to the imprint of fingers and thumb.”

A “wash cloth” was “inserted into the mouth and carried far back into the larynx, sufficient to be impacted therein.” There was secondary bleeding from the nose, and “The lips, both upper and lower, show bruised areas where they rest over the teeth and around the mouth., extending down over the chin, more to the left that the right are bruised areas caused apparently by pressure. There is one slight break in the surface of the lower lip below the second right incisor tooth.”

Georgette’s heart, kidneys, liver and other organs appeared normal. “Vagina contents show large number of spermatozoa. The lower part of the entrance to the vagina, the frenum, is torn and there is some hemorrhage from this torn area.”

She had been raped and strangled.