Chapter 5 ~ Murder at El Palacio

On Wednesday, October 11, Georgette went out with Rose Gilbert, who said she was in good spirits. “We shopped and had lunch together, and she seemed perfectly happy. I was with her until two o’clock in the afternoon.” She had her hair done and cashed a check for 175 dollars and bought a ticket to fly to El Paso to see a boyfriend, Jerry Brown, who was stationed at Fort Bliss. She and Jerry met each other on June 13 at the Hollywood Canteen. At that time, he was stationed at Camp Callan in San Diego County. They hadn’t seen each other since then and she was looking forward to flying to El Paso for his graduation from an army training program.

Georgette spoke briefly to El Palacio janitor, Frederick Atwood, at the apartment in the afternoon. She thanked him for taking boxes to the basement for her. Later in the day, June met Georgette in Hollywood. She was knitting in her car in front of the Canteen for half an hour before going in. According to Deputy Sheriff Hopkinson, June said that Georgette “appeared to be nervous and had asked her to spend the evening with her at her apartment. However, she gave no explanation for her nervousness or any reason why she wanted her to spend the night with her. She remained in the car until 7:00 o’clock at which time they entered the Canteen-.”

The junior hostesses danced that evening, as usual ,with the servicemen. June noticed that one soldier was persistent in jitterbugging with Georgette. She didn’t want to dance that way because she preferred the waltzes and more conservative style, but he kept cutting in, so she finally consented to try. She said later that she was annoyed with the jitterbugging soldier.

Hopkinson said that, “the records show that she signed out at 11:30 P.M.” June and Georgette said goodbye outside and Georgette walked to her car alone and drove off.

* * *

Georgette arrived home sometime around midnight on October 11. She parked her car and entered her apartment. She went into the kitchen to make a snack for herself. She ate a can of string beans and cantaloupe, cleaned her dishes, spoon and fork and tossed the remains of the fruit into the trash. Fredrick Atwood, the janitor, heard the sound of high heels pacing around the kitchen in her apartment. About midnight, he heard what sounded like a tray crashing to the floor. Then, at 2:30 am, a neighbor heard a woman scream.

“Stop, stop! You’re killing me!”

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning Georgette met her killer. She may have invited him in or he may have laid in wait. Her bedroom was mostly undisturbed. She had changed to pajamas, the bottom half left on the floor of her bedroom. There were two ashtrays with cigarette butts in them on the floor. She may have invited the killer home when she thought no one would notice. Or, he may have forced his way in before or after she returned home.

According to the Metropolitan edition of the October 14, 1944 Daily News, Georgette’s neighbor, Ginny Weidler, “who lives next door, said she knew Miss Bauerdorf quite well, and that on Wednesday night she heard no noise from her neighbor’s apartment.”

But, something went wrong. Georgette had time to scream and fight back, but in the end she lost the struggle. Her body was placed face down in her bathtub and the hot water had been turned on. A cloth was clenched between her teeth, but part of it had been torn away.

Georgette had fought against death.

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