Our favorite stories of the past week, featuring The Nation, Los Angeles magazine, and more.
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2013
The nearly forgotten story of Bernard Finch and his mistress Carole Tregoff, who were found guilty of murdering Finch's wife in 1959:
"As Finch’s money dried up, he withdrew to the confines of his West Covina motel room and Tregoff’s one-bedroom Las Vegas apartment. Feeling aggrieved and persecuted, the couple decided to take action. On the Saturday night of July 18, Finch and Tregoff drove her car from Las Vegas to visit his estranged wife. The pair would later swear they had only wanted to persuade Barbara to move to Las Vegas for six weeks—just enough time to qualify for an amicable 'quickie' divorce. That didn’t quite explain why they parked a long block away at the South Hills Country Club, carrying with them an attaché case that contained, among other things, a carving knife, syringes, Seconal, and rope."
PUBLISHED: April 23, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5792 words)
A crime writer digs into the decades-long investigation of a serial killer in California, and finds a growing online community of amateur sleuths trying to solve the case:
"The Golden State Killer, though, has consumed me the most. In addition to 50 sexual assaults in Northern California, he was responsible for ten sadistic murders in Southern California. Here was a case that spanned a decade and ultimately changed DNA law in the state. Neither the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s and early ’70s, nor the Night Stalker, who had Southern Californians locking their windows in the ’80s, was as active. Yet the Golden State Killer has little recognition; he didn’t even have a catchy name until I coined one. His capture was too low to detect on any law enforcement agency’s list of priorities. If this coldest of cases is to be cracked, it may well be due to the work of citizen sleuths like me (and a handful of homicide detectives) who analyze and theorize, hoping to unearth that one clue that turns all the dead ends into a trail—the one detail that will bring us face-to-face with the psychopath who has occupied so many of our waking hours and our dreams."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8054 words)
A journalist reexamines what happened to him more than 20 years ago during his five-year investigation of the Church of Scientology for The Los Angeles Times:
"One morning my wife, a kindergarten teacher, was leaving for work when a process server sent by the church’s lawyers jumped out from behind a hedge with a subpoena for me. Another day I listened to Bob on the phone at work as he struggled to calm his wife. She was home alone and somebody had dropped Forest Lawn burial brochures on their doorstep. It would happen more than once, and one afternoon she even saw somebody scurrying away. Then there was the night when upwards of four California Highway Patrol cars, lights flashing, pulled Bob over as he drove home on the 710 freeway. He was ordered out of his car and given a sobriety test. After he passed, Bob asked why he’d been stopped; an officer said they’d been told he was weaving dangerously.
"The next day the Times’s security chief, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official, made some inquiries and discovered that the pursuit had begun when a man called the CHP and said he was tailing a drunk and would direct units to his location. The caller said he was a Los Angeles police officer."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 18, 2012
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7816 words)
How filmmaker David Ayer's early years in South Central Los Angeles has given him a distinct understanding of the LAPD:
"'I was feral,' he recalls, 'uncontrollable, did my own thing. Brushes with the law and all that stuff.' He punctuates this with a gruff laugh. 'It was a disaster.' Most everyone who knew Ayer was predicting a future in prison for him. 'It was just the expectation that a lot of people had of me. Because I was not a good kid, and the consequences were getting more serious.' When he was 14, his mother sent him to live with cousins who were among the first urban homesteaders to move into a West Adams Craftsman, in the shadow of the 10 freeway. 'The irony is, I was just a bush-league juvenile delinquent,' Ayer says. 'And I end up in fucking South Central. Now I’m around the professionals. I was like, ‘Holy shit.’ I quickly grew accustomed, though. You can get used to anything.'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 24, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2725 words)
A recent college graduate, she was jailed briefly for trying to skip out on her dinner tab in Malibu, then freed in the middle of the night in a neighborhood far from home. She had no car, no ride, no phone, and no money. When she disappeared, it raised a flurry of questions about how the sheriff’s department handled her case. The discovery of her body a year later only raised more.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 1, 2011
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9832 words)
So here you are, dead and alone. Chances are you didn’t want this, but your wishes were ignored. Whatever happens to the part of you that you recognize as somehow quintessentially you (call it soul, self, spirit, spark), the other part isn’t finished yet—the fleshly part, the limbs and guts that ached and pleased you in so many ways, the meaty bits that you vainly or grudgingly dragged around for all those years. That piece is still of interest to the bureaucrats. It is still a potential source of profit. In your absence its journey is just beginning. (National Magazine Award winner 2011)
PUBLISHED: May 9, 2011
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7665 words)