Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Very Bad Date

December 22, 1947
Los Angeles

Mrs. Helen Miller, 19, met a man in a restaurant about a week ago, and agreed to go back to his hotel room. He told her his name was Donald Graeff, and if she thought she might forget it, any chance was lost after he held her captive and carved his initials into her upper thigh with a dull jacknife. "I am going to brand you," he explained, "So I can keep you all to myself."

Today, Mrs. Miller managed to get word out to police, and was rescued. Mr. Graeff is in police custody, and will be questioned about several unsolved sex/mutilation murders in the city, including that of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia.


Larry said...

OK, junior crime stoppers, let’s do a little exploring on Mr. Graeff on the assumption that the name of his accuser, Helen Miller, is too common for your humble researcher to even contemplate.

The 1946 Los Angeles White Pages lists Donald Graeff living at 1262 S. Wilkins (phone AN gelus 2-6202), which today is just north of the split between the Santa Ana and Long Beach freeways. Proquest lists nothing for that address or phone number.

However, the handy but hefty 1942 city directory lists Donald F. Graeff, (wife named Dora) living at 1137 S. Augusta (Proquest = nothing), two blocks from the Wilkins address, and working at Sterling Electric Motors, 2323 E. Olympic.

A death records check shows a Donald Freeland Graeff dying in Orange County on Sept. 11, 1989, (SS No. 564-07-8897), but with a birth date of Aug. 20, 1915, which would have made him 32, instead of 27, at the time of the alleged incident, so it’s unclear if this is the same Donald Graeff. The death records also list a Dora Yearian Graeff dying in Orange County on Oct. 3, 1992. (SS No. 553-12-0398). Born April 30, 1920, she would have been 27 at the time of the alleged incident.

Armed with her maiden name (Yearian), we find their marriage announcement in The Times, July 2, 1938. They are both living at 1134 S. Brannick St. (quite close to the Wilkins and Augusta addresses). He’s 22 and she’s 18. All three addresses are curiously close to Home of Peace Memorial Park.

Unfortunately, The Times never followed up on this story. It would be interesting to see how the other papers handled this alleged incident. I’ve never pulled the Examiner, Herald or Daily News coverage of this story.

As for the suicidal nurse, The Times reported her name incorrectly. She was actually June Eva (Price) McDougal, born Nov. 7, 1916, which means she had just turned 31 when she killed herself. Curiously, she is reported as dying in Madera County rather than Los Angeles. All we can tell is that she was married and her husband was named McDougal. No marriage announcement can be found via Proquest. Such are the varied and incomplete rewards of research.

Quote of the day: “Letters to Santa Claus dropped into mailboxes by Munich children are burned by the post office. A postal official said this has always been the German practice. He said he had never heard of the practice in some American communities of letting some charitable private agency answer for Santa.”

Sharon Jones said...

I find this article on "A Very Bad Date" to be very damaging to the my Graeff family name.

I believe Donald and Dora Graeff did live at the places mentioned in the article. They were also married on the date given in Los Angeles, CA.

Donald's birth day was Aug 20, 1915, which means he would have been 32 not 27 at the time of the alledged incident. He died Sep 11, 1989 in Orange Co., CA.

They were my foster parents. I was adopted shortly after I was born in 1944. My name was changed to Sharon Ann Graeff.

I would have been 3 yrs old when this alledged incident occured. I knew Donald and his mother were a bit weird but I never witnessed any behavor from Donald that would imply he could do something as hidious as murder. Donald wasn't a physcial person.

I can honestly testify that he wasn't capable of taking a persons life. I knew Donald to be a passive person who took a lot of verbal abuse from his wife. If he was the type of person this story implied him to be he would have tried to kill Dora years ago. He was also known as a momma's boy which is why Dora disliked him so much.

Donald treated me indifferently for the better part of my life with him. He didn't like kids, not even his own sons, but he never so much as laid a hand on me. I was with them for the first 6 1/2 years of my young life then I was returned back to my birth mother, Dora's sister. Growing up I didn't have too much contact with them but when I was older I seen them often through out the remainder of their lives.

In my genealogy research I remember running across at least one other Donald Graeff who was about the same age living in Southern CA.

More proof is needed to connect this Donald Graeff with any murders or the Ms Helen Miller case.