Missing since October 1949 from Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California.
Age at Time of Disappearance: 27 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair
Circumstances of Disappearance
Jean Spangler. was a dancer and a bit player in movies and on TV. A divorcee, Jean lived in a house in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles with her mother, her brother, her sister-in-law, and her five-year-old daughter Christine. At five p.m., Jean kissed Christine goodbye and told her sister-in-law that she was going to meet her ex-husband, Dexter Benner, to talk about an increase in child support payments. After that, she was going to work on a night shoot for a new film.
When Jean failed to come home the following day, her sister-in-law went down to the Wilshire Division of the LAPD and filed a missing persons report. The police took down the details, but thought that the young starlet probably would show up in a day or two. They had not even put her name on the police teletype as a missing person. The following day, an employee at Griffith Park reported finding Jean Spangler’s purse near the entrance to the park, apparently with most of it's original contents still intact and undisturbed.
After a 60-man search of Griffith Park turned up no additional clues, investigators went to work reconstructing Jean’s last hours before her disappearance. Dexter Benner denied having seen Jean for weeks, a story backed up by Benner’s new wife. A check of the studios determined that no movies had been in production that night of the seventh. Jean had last been seen at a local market where the clerk said she appeared to be "waiting for someone."
Despite a massive nationwide effort by investigators and the over 200 plus individuals who made up the Griffith Park search party, no trace of Jean Spangler ever turned up. She has yet to be found.
The Doe Network: Case File 436DFCA
Last edited by SheWhoMustNotBeNamed; 04-30-2010 at 04:09 PM. Reason: updated doe network link
That is very interesting. Do you know if Jean had been dating anyone?Originally Posted by Richard
I have never heard of this case or this woman until reading this post and the Doe Network case file on her. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw her picture was that she looked alot like Elizabeth Short (Black Dahlia) who was murdered in L.A. in 1947. With a new book out pointing the finger at Dr. George Hodel as the killer of Short, I wonder if he may have been involved with this young womans disappearance as well, and just not displayed the body. It is widely reported that the police knew who her killer was, and Hodel's own son claims it was his father.
Hodel supposedly left the U.S. in 1950's, so he would have been around at the time of this girls disappearance.
Just a thought that popped into my head, probably nothing, but you never know!
I read about this case before. I think there was speculation that Jean was pregnant and had gone to get an abortion (illegal at the time). The "night shoot" was a story; she was not involved in any movie at that time.
Also, she was a friend of Kirk Douglas (I think they did a movie together). In fact, he was on the suspect list for a long time because of a note the police found (possibly in her purse) for someone called "Kirk."
Some people think she staged her own disappearance, but her family says she would never leave her daughter like that.
Has anyone else looked at the photos that Steve Hodel claimed were of Elizabeth Short?have never heard of this case or this woman until reading this post and the Doe Network case file on her. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw her picture was that she looked alot like Elizabeth Short (Black Dahlia) who was murdered in L.A. in 1947. With a new book out pointing the finger at Dr. George Hodel as the killer of Short, I wonder if he may have been involved with this young womans disappearance as well, and just not displayed the body. It is widely reported that the police knew who her killer was, and Hodel's own son claims it was his father
Compared to (the one where the woman has her left arm behind her head, not clothed):
http://www.lmharnisch.com/you_judge.html (Anyone know where better quality and bigger photos of the mystery woman are? The photo is dark to me.)
I too had read Steve Hodel's book. I think Jean's in there as a possible victim of his dad.
I admit I am not very familiar with the Black Dahlia case or the accusation against Dr. Hodel, but wasn't the accusation based in part on some art or photographs Hodel had? That's like those people who say Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper just because some of his paintings bore a vague resemblance to the Ripper crime scenes. (He was not Jack the Ripper and I don't care what Patricia Cornwell has to say about it.) It seems like a very slim thing to base such an accusation upon.
Initially that was what it was started from. HOWEVER, SINCE THEN Steve Hodel has found numerous POLICE FILES and FBI files about his father. He has audio tape transcripts from the police when the police bugged his fathers house, etc. Not only that, George Hodel was charged with raping his daughter along with 2 other men and found not guilty as they made the 13 yr old seem like a drugged out liar.Originally Posted by meggilyweggily
So since then, I believe that Steve Hodel is most likely right or on the right track after finding all the other evidence. MUCH of the evidence he found came after the book. So hopefully he'll write an update. He has a website too.
I've heard of the case. I'm sure I've seen it profiled on television sometime in the past. Never heard any mention of a connection with the Black Dahlia murder. Besides the body of Elizabeth Short was so obviously meant to be found, from its location and the way it was posed. We have no body for Jean Spangler. I think if Elizabeth Short's killer had killed Spangler, we would have found a body. And something would have been sent to the newspapers as happened with Short.
Bumping up post!
Bumping up Jean's thread
I wonder if her daughter is still alive.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Jean SpanglerStory by by Arthur Lyons
Photography courtesy Brandon James
Like so many other talented hopefuls in Hollywood in the 1940s, Jean Spangler wanted to be a star. Sultry and big-eyed, the statuesque 27-year-old brunette had eked out a precarious living as a dancer and a bit player in movies and on TV while she waited for that one big break, that one part that would get her noticed and launch her screen career.
On October 7, 1949, Jean got the part that would make her famous, but it was not in any movie.
A divorcee, Jean lived in a house in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles with her mother, her brother, her sister-in-law, Sophie, and her five-year-old daughter Christine. At five p.m., Jean kissed Christine goodbye and told her sister-in-law that she was going to meet her ex-husband, plastics manufacturer Dexter Benner, to talk about an increase in child support payments. After that, she was going to work on a night shoot for a new film. "Wish me luck," she said, winking and left.
When Jean failed to come home the following day, a distressed Sophie went down to the Wilshire Division of the LAPD and filed a missing persons report. The police took down the details, but knew that the young starlet was probably just out on a fling and would probably show up in a day or two. They had not even put her name on the police teletype as a missing person. The following day, an alarmed employee at Griffith Park reported finding Jean Spanglerís purse near the Fern Dell entrance to the park.
Investigators converged on the scene and what they found sparked one of the biggest manhunts in LAPD history. The purseís double handles had been ripped off at one end, intimating the possibility of violence but it was the note inside the purse, written in Jeanís hand, that intrigued the detectives even more. It read: "Kirk Ė Canít wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work out best this way while mother is awayÖ"
The unsigned note ended with a comma, indicating that Jean had not had time to finish her thoughts.
After a 60-man search of Griffith Park turned up no additional clues, investigators went to work reconstructing Jeanís last hours before her disappearance. Dexter Benner denied having seen Jean for weeks, a story backed up by Bennerís new wife. A check of the studios determined that no movies had been in production that night of the seventh. Jean had last been seen at a local market where the clerk said she appeared to be "waiting for someone."
Robert Cummings, star of Pretty Girl, the last film Jean had been working on, threw some light on who the "someone" might have been when he told police two weeks before her disappearance he had been sitting on his dressing room steps at Columbia Studios when the pretty starlet had walked by whistling. "You sound happy," Cummings remembered telling her.
"I am," Jean replied. "I have a new romance."
"Is it serious?"
"Not really," Jean told the popular star. "But Iím having the time of my life."
The only clue the police had to the identity of Jeanís romantic interest was the name "Kirk." Hearing news reports about the case, actor Kirk Douglas phoned investigators from Palm Springs where he was vacationing, and volunteered that Jean may have worked as an extra in his last film, but claimed he barely remembered her. "I didnít remember the girl until a friend recalled that it was she who worked as an extra inÖone of my pictures," Douglas told the Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Thad Brown. "If sheís the one Iím thinking about, IO do recall talking to her that day. But I never saw her before or after that and have never been out with her." (Today, Mr. Douglas offers that "the incident was so long ago, (I) have very little recollection about it," but nonetheless "wishes me success" with this investigation.)
Jeanís mother wasnít much more help. "I heard her talk about a ĎKirkí she knew around the sets," she said. "But she was at first one studio then another. I simply canít remember."
The plot thickened when one of Jeanís girlfriends revealed that Jean had told her she was pregnant, adding a possibly ominous significance to the love affair and Jeanís urgency in seeing the mysterious "Dr. Scott." The reference about things working out better while her mother was way made sense in that context, too, in that Jeanís mother had been visiting relatives in Kentucky during the time Jean disappeared.
None of Jeanís relatives had any idea as to the identity of "Dr. Scott" and police questioning of every doctor in Los Angeles area with that last name turned up nothing. Canvassing the bars and nightclubs of the Sunset Strip Jean frequented, detectives learned of a shadowy ex-medical student known as "Doc," the allegedly profligate son of a wealthy Eastern family, who hung around the Strip and performed abortions for a fee. They were not able to locate him, however.
The detectives traveled to the desert to check out the Palm Springs watering holes Jean and other Hollywood stars and would-beís frequented on weekends away from the klieg lights ó the Chi Chi, the Dunes, the Doll House, the Saddle & Sirloin. Nothing.
The only "Scott" the investigators could come up with in Jeanís past was a handsome air corps lieutenant named "Scotty" with whom Jean had carried on an affair while her husband was in the army in the South Pacific. Jeanís former lawyer told police that "Scott" had beaten up Jean when she tried to break up with him and threatened to kill her if she left him. As far as the lawyer knew, however, Jean had never seen the lieutenant after her divorce in 1945.
After three weeks, the case seemed to be at a dead end. "The only thing weíve been able to find out," one detective said tiredly, "is that this girl really got around." Among the many people she "got around" with ó a wealthy nightclub owner, a rich playboy, a prominent educator, an assortment of actors and jet-setters, all of whom were linked to the actress at one time or another during the investigation ó was David (Little Davy) Ogul, the henchman of notorious gang boss Mickey Cohen, who disappeared coincidentally two days after Jean Spangler, while under indictment for conspiracy charges. The detectives returned to Palm Springs when an informant told them that Jean had been seen with Ogul in the desert only days before her disappearance.
Mickey Cohen and his crowed had a long history of vacationing and partying in the Springs in those days. One of Cohenís boys, in fact, had worked the door of the illegal gambling club, the Cove (now the Elks Club in Cathedral City), while heíd been a fugitive from justice. Cohen himself frequented Palm Springs, but kept a low profile. He tried to enter the Racquet Club once, but was asked to leave by manger Frank Bogert. "Mickey was around quite a bit, but usually stayed at peopleís houses," Bogert recalls. "He wasnít seen much in public."
But not so with his less well-photographed underlings, who liked the loose and laid-back attitude of Palm Springs in the Ď40s, where they could go out and not get harassed by the police. Although Jean had been seen in Ogulís company in the Springs, as well as that of Mike Howard, another Cohen employee, nothing concrete materialized.
Four months later, the cast took yet another twist when it was reported that U.S. Customs agents in El Paso had shadowed a woman whom they thought was Jean Spangler in the company of Davy Ogul and Frank Niccoli, another Cohen associate who had also been under indictment for conspiracy and who had also vanished a month before Ogul. (The only trace police ever found of Niccoli, incidentally, was his car keys in a sewer on Santa Barbara Street in Los Angeles.)
An employee at the hotel where the trio stayed also identified Jean Spangler from her photograph. The Customs agents told the Los Angeles cops that they had reason to believe that Jean had left El Paso for Las Vegas. Eyewitness reports continued to pour in to police detectives. Jean Spangler had been seen in Northern California, Phoenix, the San Fernando Valley, Mexico City and several times in her old haunt, Palm Springs, but all leads led to naught.
Jeanís ex-husband Dexter Benner, got custody of Christine but two years after the dark-haired beautyís disappearance, an attempt by Benner to have the child adopted by his new wife on the grounds of abandonment was blocked by the court, the judge ruling that there was no proof that Jean Spangler was alive or dead. Jeanís mother by that time had given up hope that her daughter was alive, however. "Iím sure she would have communicated with us if she was alive and free. And nobody can tell me should have left her baby unless she was forced to."
For years, police continued to circulate Jean Spanglerís picture. Louella Parsons went on television offering a $1,000 reward for any information about the missing starletís whereabouts, and, for years, on the anniversary of her disappearance the Los Angeles Times ran a story about the case, but no trace of Jean Spangler was ever uncovered.
That did not mean theories about the disappearance of the starlet did not abound: Jean was done in by the mysterious "Kirk" who killed her when she tried to blackmail him. Jean was killed in a mob hit on Davy Ogul and Frank Niccoli, who were going to testify against Mickey Cohen and the three share a grave in the desert near Palm Springs. Jean was killed by her ex-husband, who wanted custody of their child. Jeanís old lover Scotty resurfaced and murdered Jean in a fit of jealous rage. Jean abandoned her child and her aspirations of stardom to run off with Ogul and is still alive today.
Nearly 50 years later, the still-open case remains one of the mysteries linking the dark side of Hollywood to the night side of the desert.
It's also possible that the film she was going to the "night shoot" for was a pornographic film. It was not uncommon for the time for starlets to resort to pornography or even prostitution (see the Black Dahlia case for the same theory advanced by others). She is also described as a dancer, so she could have had a fairly risque gig that she did not want people to know about. Who knows who she might have come into contact with?
Another reference to Dr. Scott, although discrediting the identity of this person...
Looks like there is a novel based on this that has just come out:
Been awhile since I read about Harvey Glatman but wasn't that around the time period that he was "shooting" photos of starlets, etc.?
I'm with son, Steve Hodel on this one.
A supporter of Hodel's theory is Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay, a former prosecutor in the Charles Manson case who worked with Steve Hodel for many years. Based on Hodel's evidence, Kay said he would have no reluctance to file a murder case against Dr. Hodel if he was alive.
Steve's sister, age 68, was alive in 2003, when his book came out. She supports Steve's theory.
I think she looks alot like Elizebeth Short too.I do feel the disappearances could be connected.Did they really investigate if they were.
ALL EVIL NEEDS TO SUCCEED IS FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO DO NOTHING!!!!
The mob angle makes for a good read but the most likely explaination is an illegal abortion gone bad (the pregnancy and reference to Dr. Scott). This was not an all together unusual event in the days before Roe Vs. Wade.
Was "Kirk" supposed to be Kirk Douglas?
Alleged, but unconfirmed. He claimed not to know her, and she never mentioned a last name. Also, he was out of town when she disappeared. Supposedly police were suspicious anyway because he contacted the police before they tried to contact him. I suspect that someone from the studio knew that his name had come up in the investigation and contacted him to try to nip any possible scandal in the bud. He denied knowing Jean except through her being an extra on one of his movies - but supposedly her mother saw him pick Jean up at her house at least twice, so who knows.
Interesting that her purse was found near or at the gate to Griffith Park...apparently over 200 people made a search there for her. Of course, there are definitely areas of the park that are quite rugged, and it's possible that her remains are still in the park somewhere, possibly having been attacked there while walking home? She had no money, so she would not have been able to take a streetcar or a cab.