Chapter 7 ~ Suspects

Deputy Sheriff for Los Angeles County, Raymond T. Hopkinson said, “-we have examined the personal effects of the victim, her correspondence, and she has corresponded with some 23 or 24 Service men in various parts of the World War theatre, and have checked her movements during Wednesday, and eliminated all of the present help at the apartment house-.” Many were excluded from the investigation, but June Zeigler mentioned a tall, 6′ 4” soldier who was interested in Georgette, but whom she did not like. Rose Gilbert, who spent time in the Fountain Avenue apartment, said that Georgette had entertained men in her home, but only briefly.

June had said a soldier was “cutting in all evening and that she danced with him only to avoid a scene.” Cosmo Volpe was brought in for questioning and later released. Volpe, who danced with Georgette that night, later said, “She was not a good dancer, but wanted to learn. I was a professional dancer back in Astoria, Long Island, and I’m a good jitterbug.”

Kenneth Raymond a 23 year old army deserter, was accused of kidnapping and possibly killing 6 year old Rochelle Gluskoter in the 1940’s. At the time of his arrest in 1946, he was questioned about the murder of Georgette Bauerdorf. He was described as a “gangling, 6 foot tall youth” and a “nightclub dancer.” The FBI labeled Raymond, alias Raymond Pulaski, as a “one man crime wave.” He had a history of robbery and assault, but there was not enough evidence to charge him in the Bauerdorf murder.

In October, 1945, a year after Georgette was murdered, another, similar attack was reported on Harper Avenue in West Hollywood, about six blocks from the El Palacio.  A man wearing a soldier’s uniform entered the home of Miss Doris Hillman through an unlocked window on the ground floor and accosted her in her bathroom as she was preparing to retire for the evening. He first turned off the light and then attacked her, causing lacerations on her face and hands. Neighbors heard Doris scream and called the police. The man escaped through the same window, where he had removed a screen, and fled.

Doris Hillman described the assailant as a young man with blonde, curly hair and blue eyes with a medium, stocky build.

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As time passed, the trail grew cold, and the confessors began to appear.

In December, a 22 year old man walked into the FBI offices in San Francisco and said he had killed Georgette Bauerdorf. Detective Hopkinson left for the Bay Area to talk with the man.

“I met the girl on a street-car and she asked me to accompany her home. When we got there, we talked for awhile and then I bummed her for a cup of coffee. Pretty soon a soldier came in and stayed about an hour. Then, after he left, I strangled her.” Hopkinson was suspicious of his story, and eventually the man admitted to fabrication. “I wanted to die in the chair because I had nothing to live for. I was afraid to commit suicide.” The suspect, John Lehman Sumter, had been discharged from the army for writing bad checks. His family later revealed that he had spent time in a sanitarium in Georgia.

A year after the killing, a high school student found a letter addressed to the police. She turned it over to authorities.

“Sometime after Oct. 11, the one who murdered Georgette Bauerdorf will appear at the Hollywood Canteen. He will be in uniform. Since he committed the murder he has been in action on Okinawa.

“The murder of Georgette Bauerdorf was divine retribution. Let the Los Angeles police arrest the murderer, if they can -”

June Zeigler said, “Georgette did know one soldier who was extremely tall – probably six feet four inches at least. She met him at the Canteen through another soldier who is now overseas. This tall man gave Georgette quite a rush, but after dating him a few times, she refused to go out with him again. Said she just didn’t like him.” Unfortunately, June could not remember the soldier’s name.

Another suspect, Robert George Pollock White, was arrested in San Diego after he was reported to have forced a cloth down the throat of a 65 year old woman whom he had attacked. The suspect said he had been in Los Angeles at the time of the Bauerdorf murder.

One newspaper article said, “Miss Bauerdorf’s duplex apartment was a ‘little overnight hospitality center’ for service men who, in town on leave, had no other place to sleep. Of this sheriff’s investigators [were] convinced after piecing together the stories of a score of persons who knew her habits and after leafing through large bundles of ‘thank you’ letters from soldiers, sailors, Marines or Coast Guardsmen, most of whom are now in various combat zones, who had slept in the downstairs living room of the suite.”

Over the next few years, other suspects were investigated, but nothing came of the inquiries. The murder of Georgette Bauerdorf remains unsolved.

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