The Geneva Ellroy murder


From the San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune June 23, 1958:

Blonde Suspect Sought


Woman Strangled by Cord and Stocking


EL MONTE — A blonde woman with a pony tail is sought today as the suspect in the murder of an El Monte woman.

The body of the victim, strangled with a cotton cord and one of her stockings, was found yesterday in a lane leading to the Arroyo High School here.

She was identified as Mrs. Jean Ellroy, 756 Maple Ave., a 37-year-old divorcee and the mother of a 10-year-old boy. The blonde woman being hunted by police was seen with her Saturday night in a cocktail bar at 11721 E. Valley Boulevard., where Mrs. Ellroy’s car was discovered yesterday.

Driven to Lane

Sheriff’s Inspector R.T. Paronsonm said the woman was apparently strangled elsewhere and driven to the lane, which is known as Kings Row.

Pearls from a broken necklace led to the body, which was sprawled in an acacia thicket across from the high school athletic field.

She was dressed in a torn blue-print dress, but wore no undergarments, A navy blue coat covered the nude lower half of her body. The stocking on her left leg was pulled down to her ankle and her brassiere lay in ivy next to her body.

News Report

The victim was identified by her landlady, Mrs. George Krycki, 36, of 700 E. Bryant Road, who heard a news report of the finding of the body.

Mrs. Krycki described the divorcee as a “very fine person …a quiet woman who neither drank nor dated men .. a good mother to her boy.”

Detectived said there was an asphalt mark on the victims left hip, indicating she was dragged along pavement at some other spot. There were no marks on the pavement or in the ivy where the body was found.

With Husband

Her son was with her divorced husband, Armand Lee Ellroy, 60, an accountant of 4980 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, during the weekend. Ellroy was unable to give police a clue to the murder. He said he had been divorced from her about four years.

The slaim woman’s body was found by three Babe Ruth baseball league coaches who were walking to the schools’ baseball diamond with a group of ball players yesterday.

The coaches were identified as Herman C. Warner, 52, of El Monte; Richard Grinnold, 44,  abd Kendall E. Nungesser, 46, of San Gabriel.

Mrs. Ellroy, a redhead, was employed as a nurse by the Aero Dynamics Corp. in Los Angeles. 

LA Observed also pointed to a old time Los Angeles Mirror story on the strangulation murder of Geneva Ellroy in June 1958 from the Daily Mirror blog.

The significance is that Monday was the 50th anniversary of the slaying that ultimately inspired Geneva’s son James to become an iconic crime writer known for fiction classics like the Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz (also known as the LA Quartet)

But the lack of a solution in the crime also inspired Ellroy to research and write the very tough autobiography “My Dark Places.”  Some of the impetus for the book came after Ellroy and I had a discussion about unsolved murders in the San Gabriel Valley.

At the time he told me that he had published several best sellers, but couldnt’ get the popular network television show “Unsolved Mysteries” to do a segment on the case. Producers told Ellroy the story was “too sordid.” 

I told him that I would look into the case and see if detectives had anything new after 1958. I went to the Old Hall of Justice interviewed Det. Bill Stoner and Det. Bill McComas. I reported on the case and consulted Ellroy.

He was able to convince Stoner to reopen the case and the pair investigated the slaying of Geneva Ellroy for about a year. “My Dark Places” talks about the Ellroy’s examination of his life and the renewed investigation that ended without a solution.

It also led to Unsolved Mysteries reconsidering their beliefs about the crime. An episode was ultimately made. I remember sitting in the parking lot of Arroyo High School one warm night with James and watching the reenactment of his mother’s murder. I don’t know how he took it. it had to be tough, but Ellroy had this exterior that made it clear he was hurting and vulnerable yet completely able to crack the tension with a joke about the circumstances.


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