July 8, 1947
It was 1:00 am when the divorce papers came, informing Antonio Mondragon, sheet metal worker of 1925 ½ Gates Street that his four-year marriage to Rosenda, 20, was ending. Of course, it was no surprise—she’d moved out of the house she shared with Antonio and her sister, Mrs. Trinidad Vigil, two months previously, and was living at 826 S. Crocker Street.
So the papers were served, and then about an hour later Rosenda herself appeared—drunk, said Antonio. They argued, and she left. Antonio followed, and saw his wife get into a car.
Or did she? William Moore, market clerk, says a woman matching Rosenda’s description called a cab from his store (location: N. Main and Mission Road) around 2:15am, telling the dispatcher she wanted a ride to San Pedro and 9th Street (a block from her home). But a car came by before the cab did, and the lady thumbed a ride with a husky blondish fellow in a dark coupe.
Flash forward a couple of hours to the early dawn, when mail clerk Newton Josha finds a gruesome package in a gutter on Elmyra Street near North Main: Rosenda Mondragon’s naked corpse, a silk stocking tightly tied around her throat. No signs of sexual attack. The likelihood that she had been killed elsewhere and pushed from a moving car.
Officers promptly gave Antonio a lie detector test, found his story at odds with his nosy neighbors, and booked him on suspicion of murder at University Division Jail.
Was it a husband scorned? The Black Dahlia’s killer, making a more northerly assault? Or an entirely new threat to the women of Los Angeles, striking near the city’s heart with a still-warm victim dumped by the train yards just up the road from the halls of commerce and of law? And how drunk did one have to be to thumb a ride, with Liz Short's killer still on the loose? Drunk enough so it didn't hurt to die?
We can only hope so.