Friday, April 29, 2005

Young Widow Slays Prowler in Self-defense

April 29, 1947

Parking on the street was not an option for 18-year-old assistant theater manager Mrs. Ginerva Knight, but she just didn't like the look of that heavy shrubbery on the way to her garage at 1515 Courtney Avenue. Hence her unusual routine: come home from work after one a.m. and pull her convertible coupe partway into the driveway, enter the living room and obtain her .38 snubnosed revolver (for which she had no carrying permit), return to the car and only then ease it up towards the garage. That's where Thomas Housos, 24-year-old transient, was waiting to wrap his hand around her mouth and instruct "If you scream, I'll kill you. I'm taking you and the car and backing out of here!"

Mrs. Knight was pushed down to the floorboards as Housos lowered his own pistol to begin the delicate process of backing out the driveway. She pleaded loudly in order to drown out the sound of her gun cocking, then shot Housos in the belly. "You killed me!" he screamed, and attacked the woman. They struggled, she banged his head with her gun, and when he wouldn't die finally shot him in the face. He collapsed, and the car lurched into the side of the house. He was declared dead at the scene.

Housos' own car, a black coupe, was found parked at Sunset and Courtney. In it were his identification papers and a document attesting to his marriage last week to a girl in San Francisco. Housos was honorably discharged from the Air Force in December 1943. He was a member of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and played a bit part as a jockey in a film in June 1944. In January, 1945, he was convicted in Texas on charges of entering a woman's car at a traffic signal in San Antonio and robbing her. He was sentenced to ten years, but paroled in September, 1946.

Mrs. Knight, a war widow whose husband was killed in the merchant marine, lives at the home on Courtney with her 16-month-old son Ian, her mother, Mrs. Adelaide Boeing, and her grandmother Mrs. Hariet M. Ryer. Mrs. Boeing, whose late former husband was no relation to the aircraft manufacturer, once flew under the name Adelaide Cellina with Amelia Earhart in the Cleveland National Air Races.


Jim said...

Please get back to me at concerning this article. I would like any more info as the man who was killed was my biological father. I was two years old at the time, and only found out about this when I was a teenager. Thanks for any help you might be able to give.

Smaj said...

Ginevra was my mother. I was 17 months old and in the house when she shot the man. She died in 1984. I have many of her news clippings of the shooting incident and inquest that followed.

Kim said...

Smaj, Your mother was a very brave lady. We actually included her story on our recent Crime Bus tour, as the very last stop. It was nice to end a day of mayhem against women with a story in which a woman protected herself so well--though of course our sympathies go out to Jim, who commented above you. Ginerva has a lot of fans in Los Angeles.

Kim said...

For more on this story, including photos provided by Mrs. Knight's son Ian, please visit