December 25, 1947
Mrs. Mabel Axley, 30-year-old beautician, didn't tuck her sons Claude Jr., 8, and Jimmy, 3, into bed on Christmas eve. After a fight with her drunken, unemployed husband Claude, she was locked out of the family manse at 739 Marine St., and spent the night in the garage. Mabel awoke to the heat and smell and sound of fire--the house was burning, and no one responded when she pounded on the door.
Gerald C. Benson, who lives at 801 1/2 Marine, soaked himself at the garden hose and made several valiant efforts to rescue the children, to no avail. The children's mother was badly burned attempting to get to her sons, and is in Santa Monica Hospital tonight. Claude Axley, meanwhile, emerged unscathed. He has been charged with two counts of murder.
And on Marine St., a charred teddy bear lolls in the ashes, along with other ruined Christmas gifts opened not by tiny fingers, but by flame.