Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mother of Three Choked to Death; Body Flung in Signal Hill Oil Field

May 12, 1947
Long Beach

While driving to his post early this morning, oil company patrolman Bert Winfield made a ghastly discovery, just a block from busy Long Beach Blvd. There in the dirt of the oil field was the body of a woman, still warm and apparently but recently hurled from an automobile. The victim’s clothing included one open-toed white shoe, a three-quarter length black coat and a cotton garrote around her neck.

Seeking to identify her, reporters on the Long Beach newpaper police beat canvased local dry cleaners about a laundry mark on her coat and got a name: Mrs. Laura Eliza Trelstad, 37. Soon they had a husband, too: Ingman Trelstad, 34, 2211 Locust Ave.--just a dozen blocks from his wife's dump site in the 3400 block of Locust.

Ingman Trelstad described his last encounter with his wife for Long Beach Det. Capt. Lorin Q. Martin. The couple had been playing cards with some friends in the late afternoon, and Mrs. Trelstad grew bored. If he was going to play cards, she said, then she was going to a dance. Mr. Trelstad went home to cook dinner for the couple's three children, Audrey, 8, Janet, 7, and Thomas, 3. When Mrs. Trelstad failed to return home, he said he couldn't go out and look for her, as there was no one else to watch the children.

Meanwhile, Coroner's Surgeon Frederick Newbarr made a preliminary examination of the body and announced that Mrs. Trelstad had been sexually assaulted before death. Police called for the public to be on the look out for the missing white shoe, which might be at a primary crime scene. They also requested that anyone who might have seen Mrs. Trelstad at a dance last night come forward to give a statement.

5 comments:

Larry said...

This is, of course, one of the many killings attributed by "Black Dahlia Avenger" to George "Evil Genius" Hodel, who in addition to committing every unsolved murder in Los Angeles (with stops in Chicago, Cleveland and elsewhere) from 1900 to 1975, designed the 1958 Edsel, developed New Coke and treated Rin-Tin-Tin for a bad case of STD from Lassie. He also introduced John Lennon to Yoko Ono, gave Bob Dylan his first electric guitar and taught Nancy Ling Perry (then a Barry Goldwater Republican) to play blackjack.

Note the incredible similarities between the Black Dahlia and Trelstad cases:

Drunk
Elizabeth Short: No
Laura Trelstad: Yes

Crime scene
Short: Residential neighborhood
Trelstad: Oil field

Manner of death
Short: Hemorrhage and shock from concussion and loss of blood
Trelstad: Strangulation

Body clothed
Short: No
Trelstad: Yes

Sexually assaulted:
Short: No
Trelstad: Yes

Body posed
Short: Yes
Trelstad: No

Postmortem mutilation
Short: Yes
Trelstad: No

Cut in half
Short: Yes
Trelstad: No

Coffee mug/T-shirt/tank top/baby bib/dog bandana icon and Internet meme
Short: Yes
Trelstad: No

www.lmharnisch.com

50sme said...

L O L!! Finally someone else who thinks the George Hodel thing is just plain hinky...to put it nicely. very nicely.

Jen Thornhill said...

I'm Laura's granddaughter - Audrey's daughter. What's really interesting is that my aunt Janet recalls being asked by her dad to bury that shoe in the backyard of the house they lived in at the time, and to never tell a soul. Well she did a great job, as I believe the only person she ever has told this story to is my sister, and that was in 1986. Mr. Trelstad died in 1986...but it sure would be interesting to dig up that backyard and see if that shoe or any remnants are there. If it is, was he a serial killer? Or did he just kill his wife? Seems as though most folks on here don't think Laura was murdered by the same person as the rest. Interesting, though, that neither her killer nor the other's killer(s) were ever caught, though, and that the murders stopped after he left the area. That should give you enough to chew on for a bit :)

Kim said...

Jen, thanks for stopping by to share your aunt's troubling story. Although news stories from 1947 said that police were looking for a 21-year-old sailor with whom Laura left a bar, it's possible that she returned home later and had a fatal altercation with her husband. If your aunt's memory of burying the missing shoe is correct, it strongly suggests that Ingman was involved in her death. Unfortunately, a Google streetview search seems to show an apartment house on the site, which would make a search of the former backyard difficult, if not impossible. But if that shoe ever did turn up, it would shine a light on a very cold case. Why do you think your aunt waited until the year her father died to talk about this? Was he a scary guy?

Jen Thornhill said...

When she died, Janet was only...5 I believe? The kids went to South Dakota to stay with Laura's family (aunts, uncles, etc.) and were all 3 separated at a relatively early age due to moves, not enough family to pass around to, etc. - so they lost contact not only with each other, but with Inky as well. It wasn't until '86 or just prior that they rediscovered each other. I've asked my mom about what she can remember every now and then (it's still hard for her to talk about, even 70 years later - as it happened when she was only 8, the body was found on Mother's Day, and the great impact it had on all of their lives being torn apart like they were). Why didn't Janet say anything to anyone for 39 years about the shoe? I think fear is probably the reason - fear at first of disobeying her father at the age of 5, being the only parent left, then later, maybe fear that he did do something wrong but not being sure, or fear of not being believed? Hard to say, really. I don't think that she remembers him well enough (and she was so young), to really have had a feel for whether he was a scary guy or not - from what I understand he really didn't see the kids at all after they went back to South Dakota. We just recently found out that he later re-married and had a few more children - my mom and Janet (Tommy passed away a few years ago) were just as surprised to find that out as anyone, and it was just a coincidence through Facebook on a last name search and digging, that the other family did, that happened to reveal a connection. Which makes me wonder (of course) - why did his newer family wait at least 27 years to make contact with his first family? Why didn't he mention his 2nd wife and children to my mom, Janet, or Tommy in 1986 at all? Who knows. Even that day in '47 at the police station, my mom said there weren't any problems at home that she knew of, but when Janet was asked, she told the same officer that their parents fought all the time. It is too bad that there's an apartment building there now - I'm certainly still curious to have answers to lifelong questions, but I'll be surprised if I ever get any. Even if it were to be recovered, what would that prove? Janet kept every news article over the years that she either had (kept by relatives) or could find (some she had to pull from microfish and archives) - more than one article actually clears that sailor. He got off the bus before Laura did, and the timing as well as the distance would not have been feasible for him to have been the murderer. Anyway - I do check this blog every now and then - and I appreciate all of the conversation/viewpoints, etc. and find it pretty interesting that folks still ponder these deaths so many years later. Thank you for replying and keeping it going.