CA CA - Coast Fiend Killer, San Diego, 1931-1938

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by scriptgirl, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Here is the link:
    http://markgribben.com/?m=200703
    also, there is another site that has the crime scene photos of Louise Teuber, that I will post the link too. The photos are graphic and NSFW. They will turn your stomach-it amazes me that someone did that in the 30s
    The Coast Fiend
    Category: 1930s —
    Throughout the 1930s, long before the term “serial killer” was coined, the police and the press believed that a murderer was on the loose in the San Diego area slaying at will and leaving brutalized women in his wake. At least six particularly savage murders occurred between 1931 and 1938 until the spree ended as suddenly as it began.
    While there was no doubt that the city was plagued with a series of unsolved, random, senseless crimes of violence against women, whether or not they were the acts of a single person is questionable. No one was ever convicted of the murders, nor were there any plausible claims of responsibility. Few clues were left behind and the victims appeared to have been chosen by chance. Although they were mostly young — the oldest was 67 and the youngest 10 — the women had little in common.
    Three of the victims were strangled, while one was stabbed, another had her throat cut, and one was beaten to death. Despite the variance in the modus operandi, police considered the killings to be the work of one person.
    The killings apparently started when 10-year-old Virginia Brooks was kidnapped while on her way to school on February 11, 1931. Her dismembered body was found almost a month later on a lonely mesa on the Fort Kearney military reservation 15 miles north of San Diego by a shepherd and his border collie.
    Police had turned up few clues during their monthlong hunt for the little girl, and the discovery of her body yielded few others. She had apparently been murdered by strangulation within a day of being kidnapped, according to the condition of her body. The shepherd, George Moses, walked the mesa daily while tending his flock and he told authorities that the burlap sack containing the girl’s remains had not been at the site the day before — meaning that the killer had not only strangled the girl, he kept her body with him until dismembering it with an ax and disposing of it — along with blood-soaked four-year-old newspapers — on March 9.
    The only other clues present at the crime scene were automobile tire tracks that formed a circle around Virginia’s body, and her school books, which were contained in another sack next to her body. The tread marks were never linked to any vehicle, and the books yielded no unusual fingerprints.
    There were also indications that Virginia put up a fight before she was killed. Human hairs, not her own, were clutched in her fingers.
    On April 19, 1931, the nearly nude body of 17-year-old Louise Teuber was discovered hanging from a tree in a San Diego lovers’ lane near Black Mountain.
    Louise was was known as a “modern” young woman, which in the oblique newspaper language of the 1930s could mean almost anything. Her father, a widower, insisted that his daughter, while “modern” was not amoral.
    “I wanted Louise to be modern,” he said. ” I never questioned her goodness or her judgment. I trusted my girl to the utmost limit.”
    Louise had been strangled before the killer stripped her of everything except her hose and black pumps, tied a double half-hitch knot around her neck and hoisted her up in a semi-seated position so that her legs were stretched out in front of her and her buttocks were only a few inches off an army surplus blanket (from Fort Kearny?) that covered the ground. The girl’s clothes were piled neatly beside her body, leading police to wonder if the scene had not begun as a consensual encounter.
    The rope around her neck had been thrown over an oak tree limb 15 feet in the air and then tied to a nearby bush.
    As with Virginia’s murder, there were few useful clues. Medical examiners did find skin scrapings under her fingernails.
    Sadly, Louise’s last communication with her family was an argument resulting in her sending a note that she was running away that was delivered several hours after her body was found.
    Other killings quickly followed.
    On April 23, Dolly Bibbens’s body was discovered in her flat clad in blue pajamas, a towel tied around her neck. There was evidence of a death struggle that was so violent police at first did not know if Dolly had been strangled or had her throat cut. It turned out that the killer had slashed her throat.
    Huge bruises remained on Dolly’s body testifying to the severity of the fight. Injuries on one hand showed that a ring had been viciously torn from one finger, but robbery was not the motive for her murder. Other jewelry was left untouched although it was in plain sight.
    Ten days after Dolly’s slaying, 22-year-old Hazel Bradshaw, a telephone operator who was the sole means of support for her parents and seven siblings, was found dead in Balboa Park. She had been stabbed nine times.
    This time, police were able to link one of Hazel’s coworkers to the crime. Moss E. Garrison told investigators that he had been out with Hazel before she was killed. In his apartment police found a necktie with blood on it. Another friend of Hazel’s told authorities that Garrison had threatened Hazel, and Garrison could not provide an alibi for the time that police believed Hazel was slain.
    Garrison stood trial for Hazel’s murder, but with such flimsy evidence, he was acquitted.
    Things quieted down in San Diego for a few years until August 18, 1934 when 16-year-old Celia Cota was found dead in her backyard. Shortly before dinner Celia had asked her mother if she could go for a walk and invited her younger sister to accompany her. The little girl declined and the Cota family never saw Celia alive again. When she was found near her home, the Mexican-American teen had been raped, mutilated, and strangled. Oddly, clutched in Celia’s hand when she was found was a tuft of gray rabbit fur.
    The next killing linked to a killer now known nation-wide as “The Coast Fiend,” was the the rape-murder of Ruth Muir, 48, a social worker in La Jolla. She was assaulted and murdered as she sat beneath a full moon on the beach, police said.
    “The slayer crept up on the soft sod, struck her, and dragged her from the bench into a ravine,” said La Jolla Police Captain Harry Kelly.
    Ruth was bludgeoned with a slab of concrete. In her hand were several gray hairs.
    In March 1938, San Diego police were confronted with yet another apparently motiveless slaying of a woman. Florilla Crolic, 67, was found beaten to death with a piano stool in her home at Sunset Beach. She was clad only in her underwear and stockings, and the house was in disarray. However, Florilla had not been sexually assaulted, nor had anything of value been stolen from her home.
    With the death of Florilla Crolic, the Coast Fiend slayings apparently ended although no one knows why — or even if they were connected by anything other than the speculation of reporters.
     
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  3. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    That's is a great website you linked too! I love the old cold cases and am always excited to find new websites devoted to true crime in the early to mid 1900's.
     
  4. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Glad you like the site, yes, it is an amazing one. I wish more people knew about this case. It is truly fascinating.
     
  5. jashrema

    jashrema Verified insider - Sierah Joughin case

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    RIght of hand, the rabbit fur just made me think he used a bunny to lure the girl close, while she was petting it, she was attacked/struck.
    The first murder sounds similar to the Cleveland Torso murders that was also in the 30's I believe. he dismembered also. Weird that there would be two psychopaths dismembering on opposite coasts...
     
  6. jashrema

    jashrema Verified insider - Sierah Joughin case

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    Scriptgirl...did you post the link for the crime scene photos?
     
  7. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    No, I didn't cause I can't find the site again and it baffles me cause it was a simple search. I also admit I don't like the site as much because it was a site where people got off by seeing the pics.

    Here is the entry from wikipedia:


    Louise Teuber (born circa 1914 - died April 19, 1931) was a 17-year-old store clerk in San Diego, California who was murdered in April 1931.
    Louise Teuber was one of four San Diego girls and women who were murdered in the spring of 1931. Virginia Brooks, 10, disappeared one day and her mutilated corpse was found by a sheepherder a month later. The place of discovery was on Camp Kearny mesa. Mrs. W.D. (Diamond Dolly) Bibbens was found partially clad and lying on her bed in a ransacked downtown San Diego apartment, on April 23. She was murdered the same week as Teuber. Bibbens frequented race tracks and had been strangled. Hazel Bradshaw, 22, was stabbed seventeen times. Her body was dumped in the scenic Indian village-Boy Scout headquarters-in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.
    Contents [hide]
    1 Murder scene
    2 Investigation
    2.1 Victim's clothing and identification
    2.2 Clues
    2.3 Suspects
    3 Forensic analysis
    3.1 Coroner's conclusions
    4 References
    [edit]Murder scene

    Her body was found hanging from a limb of an oak tree at the foot of Black Mountain Open Space Park. The body of Teuber was discovered on April 20 by a man who was looking for a picnic location. Police and deputy sheriffs thought the teenager had been dead for about eight hours before she was discovered. The young woman was wearing a pair of black shoes and gunmetal-colored hose. Louise's corpse was positioned half-seated with the heels resting on the ground. One end of the rope was tied in a double half-hitch. It was drawn tightly around the youth's neck. The rope ran up over the tree limb and its other end was anchored to the base of another tree, approximately fifteen to twenty feet away.
    [edit]Investigation

    Five police detectives were assigned on April 20 to assist deputy sheriffs in a search for the murderer of Louise Teuber. The investigation was joined by Harry Hickok and N.F. Nuremberg of the California State Bureau of Identification.
    [edit]Victim's clothing and identification
    The finder, T. Martinez, was startled and telephoned the police and Sheriff's office. Officers described Teuber's clothing as consisting of a fur-trimmed coat, green dress, and underclothing. Also found was a package containing a woman's bra and a pair of hose. A purchase slip found with the items indicated they were bought the day before in a downtown store in San Diego. Inside Miss Teuber's coat there were four addresses, three of them of men and the other of a girl. The girl whose name was found was located. She was taken to a funeral establishment in La Mesa, California, where the body was transported. She identified Teuber as the daughter of a barber-shop owner.
    [edit]Clues
    Officers began with only a few clues. One was a peculiar knot tied in the rope around the victim's neck. Another was an army blanket found with the clothing. The knot was identified as one known to all sailors. Authorities began a hunt for a sailor who may have been a companion of Teuber. The blanket was subjected to a minute study.
    [edit]Suspects
    The first suspect named by San Diego Sheriff Cooper was a commercial photographer. He photographed young women with little clothing on. Officials thought Teuber may have made an appointment with this person. Her clothing was found piled neatly on the ground by police. However, either before or after she posed, Louise was subjected to a murderous outburst of fury.
    The suspect provided authorities with photos which were taken in a cabin he owned near San Diego. Information regarding the man was given by local sources. They revealed the suspect had been acting suspicious following the discovery of Miss Teuber's body. He was said to have a rendezvous in the Black Mountain area close to where the corpse was found.
    Twenty people were questioned by midnight on April 20. These included suspects, people who were privy to Teuber's habits, and men friends. Fifteen more people were named in Louise's diary and were to be queried. One of her boyfriends, Cyril Smith, 19, told police he had talked with her on Saturday night before she left her work at a downtown store. In his statement Smith noted, Miss Teuber had more dates than any girl I ever knew. Another male friend, Leslie Airhart, 20, said he drove Louise to a park on Saturday afternoon. There she revealed to him her intention to leave home.
    [edit]Forensic analysis

    Bits of skin were found underneath her fingernails, which indicated a great struggle. The back of her head was bruised. Authorities theorized she was hit on the skull with a weapon such as a blackjack. Another idea about the blow to the head is it may have been a man's fist with a ring on one finger. This is probably because of the small wound at the base of the skull. The unusual killer then took her body and hoisted her by the neck by the rope which he had tied in a sailor's knot. Coroner Gunn believed Teuber's body was drawn to the position in which it was found from a prostrate position on the ground. A large burned spot was discovered on the limb over which the rope was thrown.
    [edit]Coroner's conclusions
    The coroner's examination led officers to surmise that the victim' slayer stunned her into unconsciousness before tying the noose around her neck. An analysis of Teuber's stomach contents was ordered after it was assumed she might have been drugged. Death was attributed to strangulation.
    Gunn further speculated the murderer left the body where it would be seen close to a road, because he knew Louise had left home. The killer was aware she had written some notes. So he placed her where she was discovered and might be presumed to be a suicide.
    [edit]References
     
  8. Marie

    Marie Daughter, if you don't remember us...who will?

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    Re: Louise Teuber's father calling her a "Modern Girl" - this meant that she was socially liberal (aka: progressive or trendy) in politics and fashion, and her education was valued (most likely she would have went on to attend college had she lived). "Flapper" means the same and most people are probably more familiar with that term.
     
  9. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    But wasn't flapper an outdated term by the early 30s?
     
  10. WhyaDuck?

    WhyaDuck? Inactive

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    Personally, I would be tempted to remove Florilla Crolic from the list of linked killings, due to her age and the lack of sexual assault. Also, her murder could have been a home invasion gone wrong. However, the fact she was found in her underwear, and more interestingly, her stockings, does make her inclusion on the list seem plausible. This guy seems to have a had a thing about stockings. It's extra difficult tracking these cases when there is no clear MO.

    I would suggest that the grey hairs make it possible the spree ended because he died - heart attacks in only middle age would have been fairly common in the 1930s for men, I think. Otherwise, I would bet he moved to another city, and am curious about murders in the 1940s in another large town, possibly in the south west.

    These guys don't ever just stop. Death, capture or moving would have been the only ways.

    Interesting case. Thanks for posting. I find these old cases fascinating.

    May the victims rest in peace.

    ETA: My first idea when I heard of the rabbit fur was a winter coat collar, but since the murder was in August in California, it is not likely he was wearing it - it is possible she was assaulted in a car, and he kept such a coat on the seat or behind it.
     
  11. Marie

    Marie Daughter, if you don't remember us...who will?

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    Tidbits from newspaper articles at the time -

    Virginia Brooks - she was decapitated and her arms & legs cut off; she was placed inside a burlap sack (& her clothing inside a 2nd sack) which came from either a nursery or farm; the tire tracks were from an older vehicle; she had been choked to death with her own clothing; a single blond hair was found clutched in her hand.

    Louise Teuber - her widowed father was a "well-to-do barber" and his elderly mother cared for the home & children; she was struck behind the left ear with a heavy weapon; coroner stated that she "was not criminally attacked (raped?) before she was killed and she was not an expectant mother"; scratches were found on her face & neck, bruises on her arms; the rope by which she was hung was identified as a Navy man's hammock lashing & sold to a local garage (auto repair shop) & then sold by an employee of that garage to someone (who?).

    Louise had an argument with her father on Thursday because he wouldn't allow her to go out with a friend - she then slipped out of the house & didn't come back till Friday, at which time her father scolded her & that was the last time he saw her. She was last seen with a friend on Saturday - and she was killed about midnight that same evening - and found around 8am Sunday.

    The same day her body is found her Dad received a letter from her (it was mailed by special delivery on (not sure which day it was mailed) from the post office but by whom? Louise, a friend, her killer?). She sounds like a typical upset teenager, but it must have been heart breaking to read the letter knowing that she was dead: "Dear Dad, I've tried for a long time to be satisfied with the way you are running the house and I can stand it no longer. I am leaving home tonight and I am not coming back."

    Archives are now down so that's it -
     
  12. Marie

    Marie Daughter, if you don't remember us...who will?

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    That's why in the 30's they were called Modern Girls... think in terms of the spirit behind the labels, not the label itself.
     
  13. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Whyaduck, you are welcome. This whole case is very perplexing indeed. Why dismember the little girl?
     
  14. MaryLiz

    MaryLiz New Member

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    Thanks from me too, scriptgirl, for finding these old cases. I am also fascinated by the very old ones. The other threads you've posted are interesting as well. Thanks again for finding these and bringing them to our attention!
     
  15. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    You are welcome. According the San Diego Tribune, they are still looking into this case- this is from 2005:

    "... Virginia Brooks, 13, who was murdered on Feb. 10, 1931, in what used to be known as Camp Murphy. She disappeared from her home on University Avenue. Her body and schoolbooks were found in two gunnysacks.

    Goldberg said the case is still open. "

    "We never throw anything away in homicide," he said.
     
  16. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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  17. kjs75

    kjs75 New Member

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    I have been looking into these murders for a little while..I'm a native San Diegan, and I had never heard of them until a few months ago. From what I can tell (studying newspapers and trying to separate fact from fiction) Virginia Brooks most likely was not dismembered. 2 men, described as amateur detectives (although one was a former coroner) found an area, described as a blind canyon, 1/2 way between her home on University and her school on Euclid. In the back of this canyon clearing, there was an indented spot in the dried grass, they noted a clear outline of the body. It was near a water pool and the odor from it and the soil around it, was determined (by them) to be the same as the soil samples in the burlap sacks. The theory is that she was put into the sack just before being dumped at Camp Kearney mesa, which was a full month after she was killed. A former coroner at the time (not sure if its the same guy that found the potential spot in the canyon) stated that her "dismemberment" was nothing more than decomp. Anyway, it sounds plausible to me, but I am no expert. As for the hair in her hand I have only seen it described as black, or gray. Never blond, I'm not sure where that comes from.

    As far as all of these murders being the work of one "Coast Fiend" or whatever-that's bull. It wasn't a serious thought to investigators of the time, either.

    Virginia's family had a suspect in mind, a wealthy neighbor's son that would bother little girls (Virginia included). He was a teen and never named, but had a record (supposedly).

    Hazel Bradshaw was killed by Moss Garrison, no doubt in my mind. He was acquitted, I guess because of a lack of evidence, but I really think it was him. He admitted to being with her all night basically, their date lasted, what, like 6 hours? The way they walked to her home took them right through the Indian Village. She was stabbed 17 times...that's a crime of passion. Conflicting theories on her time of death maybe caused confusion in the jury? I don't know. Initially her time of death was estimated as 12 a.m. Her watch was stopped (because of all the blood that seeped under the watch face investigators had said) The time was 9:26 (or thereabouts..I'm writing this from memory). Moss claimed to have walked her to her door at 11:55pm, and then run 6 blocks to catch the trolley..nevermind that there was a stop 2 blocks away. He claimed they didn't eat but food was found in her stomach. Something is definately off to me about this guy.

    Dolly Bibbens former boyfriend most likely killed her. Or she was just too flashy and burglary was the motive. I'm not sure though, I haven't looked into her case much.

    Celia Cota, is a total mystery. How she was killed in her own backyard, and no one noticed is beyond me. As far as the rabbit hair clutched in her hand, it was explained at the time that her family had a rabbit hutch in their backyard. I haven't looked into this one too much yet, either.

    Louise Teuber's case is really interesting. It could have been the 'mystery man' she was running away with to Chicago. It could have been the photographer she let take nude pictures of her. It could have been a military man, because of the blanket and the knots tied in the rope. Face it, the girl got around..it could have been anyone.

    Anyway, anyone who wants to discuss these cases with me feel free, I am totally fascinated. I have tons more info on Virginia and Louise's cases, culled from news reports, primarily.
    Kerin
     
  18. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    I'm glad I read down to Kerin's info. The first accounts about Virginia made me think of the Black Dahlia, because of the timing -- late 30s to late 40s -- starting with a child and later progressing to adults and of course, the locations.

    But if Virginia wasn't dismembered, then nevermind!

    I honestly don't see much connection between most of these cases -- the age differences, the way they were killed. Still, they are interesting and def. worth discussing.

    The hair being held by the two girls is interesting, tho the rabbit hutch explains one.
     
  19. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Yeah, it seems Hazel was killed by Garrison. The Teuber case and the woman found dead on the beach seem like it could be the work of the same man. Celia is a mystery to me-I don't think the person who killed her killed Louise and the other woman. I do think the same man who killed Louise killed Virginia. I also think she was dismembered. There is no hard core evidence to say she wasn't.

    KJS, the areas where Louise and Virginia were found-has it changed much?
     
  20. kjs75

    kjs75 New Member

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    At the time that Virginia's body was discovered, Camp Kearny was not in use. There weren't many buildings, mostly tents. It was closed in 1920, and later Charles Lindbergh used the abandoned Camp Kearny parade field to practice landings and take-offs before making his historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1932 it was converted into a zeppelin landing area, but on the first zeppelin stop, there was a tragedy when they couldn't moor it properly so again it was abandoned until WW2. It is now MCAS Miramar. The area is huge so I have no idea where exactly she was found. There is tons of land around, it was damaged in the fires a few years ago. But the base portion of it has changed. They keep referring to her dump site as Camp Kearny mesa. Kearny Mesa is now a neighboring community, so I suspect she was found in the southern portion of the area.

    As for where Louise was found, I'm sure the area has not been changed but there is an interesting tidbit about that. The mountain she was discovered near was called "Black Mountain", at the time. It is in Mission Trails Regional Park, and is now called Cowles mountain (pronounced kohl's). It is in an area called La Mesa. The funny thing is, one reason why I was drawn to this story is I live right next to Black Mountain, but it is not the same one. I guess we have had a few Black Mountains in San Diego.

    At the time of Virginia's disappearance she lived at 5602 University Avenue. From what I can tell, there is a senior living community there now. The road she was abducted from was described as desolate and brush lined, it is a fairly busy road now. I think that area has changed a lot. It was then considered East county; development hadn't really progressed further in, it was mostly old ranches and things like that. Louise's father was a barber and his shop was at 1445 University Ave. which is about 5mi west, and north of Balboa Park. Their family lived different places, but always near the barber shop.

    Sorry..I guess i don't know how to just answer a question without cramming every little detail in! :) I got carried away...
    Kerin
     
  21. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    I definitely think that whoever killed Louise killed again. Kerin, can you find out anymore on this neighbor who bothered other little kids before Viriginia disappeared?
     

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