Posts filed under ‘fraud’

Widow Robbed by Spiritualists

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.

October 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

A Dead Man’s Chest

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!

December 9, 2009 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

Julian Pete, Loew’s State, and “the Decade of Debauchery”

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!

August 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment


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