For years, the official story about Charles Erickson was that he began to have visions, lost memories that suddenly resurfaced in 2003.
That he’d blacked out and killed a Missouri newspaper editor two years earlier.
That he’d done the killing with a friend.
That they were murderers.
The amazing (stolen) underground car
From our original story, written way back in 1978:
It was about a week ago that Sgts. Joe Sabas and Lenny Carroll of the Lennox sheriff’s substation were flagged down by some children outside a house at 1137 W. 119th St.
The youngsters had been playing in the backyard of the home, digging in the mud, when they found something unusual just below the surface. They told Sabas and Carroll it felt like the roof of a car.
On Tuesday, the two detectives, aided by a skip-loader and some helpers with shovels, returned to the home and found out just how unusual their discovery was.
What the men uncovered was a green, 1974 Ferrari–a car worth at least $18,000 new.
Photo: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times archive
Doris Payne — demure, elegant and 83 — is a thief, as prolific and subtly conniving as they come. She doesn’t use muscle and she doesn’t rely on guns.
Instead, between numerous stints behind bars, for 50 years she has leaned on charming misdirection to steal pricey jewelry from unsuspecting merchants all over the globe.
Photo: Courtesy of the documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”
Read a little more about her in this 2005 profile piece. — Tanya B.
test reblogged from npr
Shots fired near U.S. Capitol after car chase
Gunshots were fired near the U.S. Capitol after police chased a vehicle that attracted police attention on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House. Law enforcement officials have confirmed that the suspected driver was fired upon by police after speeding toward the Capitol. One police officer has been injured, though their exact condition is unknown.
The Capitol had been placed on lockdown, but officials soon lifted it, with the House returning to the debate over the government shutdown just moments ago.
Photos: Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images
Southern California’s gambling armada
During the 1920s and 1930s, gambling ships were a common sight along the southern California coast, floating between legal loopholes until a swift crackdown in 1939.
There may have been a gambling ban in California at the time, but state jurisdiction only extends three miles out to sea. Meanwhile, gamblers assumed that the lack of a federal ban on the practice kept them relatively in the clear. At least until Aug. 1, 1939…
From the Times’ original article on the final straw for law enforcement:
Moving the arm of California law out to sea yesterday representatives of the state and county governments closed three gambling casinos off Santa Monica and Long Beach and blockaded another, marooning 600 patrons on board.
More than 250 deputy sheriffs and district attorney’s investigators participated in the raids, which were conducted with utmost secrecy.
At Long Beach, the Mt. Baker (The Showboat) and the Tango were boarded and taken over by officers who placed nearly a score of men in custody and seized more than $30,000 in stakes.
For more on the lawless nearby Pacific, and The Rex, a single ship which was frequented by more than 850,000 individuals in a year, head over to Framework.
Photos: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Wide World Press
Charges, punishments handed to Huntington Beach rioters
The conclusion of the eight-day U.S. Open of Surfing sparked madness in downtown Huntington Sunday, with attendees and beachgoers throwing various items through the streets, breaking windows, attacking cars and prompting a police response before things calmed down.
Now, several arrested following the mayhem have been charged with everything from vandalism, disorderly conduct and inciting a riot.
The much-publicized photos of the riots led to a social media manhunt for the man seen above driving a stop sign through a store window. But, like in the case of the Boston Bombing, the group consensus has proven to be wrong.
Huntington Beach police said detectives had spoken to Illario Niko Johnson, 18, and although charges “are expected” against the West Covina resident in connection with the disturbance, his alleged actions were “not related to the window smash.”
"He is not the suspect in the photograph," police said in a statement.
Photos: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times, Christina House / For The Times
Solitary solidarity: The men behind California’s prison hunger strike
A man decked in Neo-Nazi tattoos and locked away in solitary confinement, armed with a paralegal degree and a prison library, has emerged as the most prominent figurehead in California’s ongoing prison strike protests.
The convicted murderer Todd Ashker, along with three inmates with ties to the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family, have sparked a protest of state prison conditions which, at their peak, involved more than 30,000 prisoners.
He describes the group as "a collective effort initiated by a multiracial group of long-term, similarly situated (SHU) prisoners who decided enough is enough."
But you would expect, not everyone’s on the prisoners’ side:
Terri McDonald, who ran California’s 33 prisons until a few months ago and now runs the Los Angeles County jail system, said Ashker and his compatriots in the Short Corridor Collective are not fighting for rights, but power.
"From my perspective, they are terrorists," she said.
Read more of reporter Paige St. John’s continued work covering California’s prisons here.
Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
A look inside of Pelican Bay State Prison
Photographer Mark Boster, with Times writer Paige St. John, recently took an opportunity to peek inside the Secure Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, Calif.
Below, Boster sits beside prisoner Javier Zubiate. As recounted by Boster:
Javier Zubiate, with his shaved head, sunglasses and numerous tattoos, gave us a glimpse of his life as a lieutenant of the Nuestra Familia gang. He was soft-spoken and well-mannered. I had to remind myself that he had been convicted in a 1995 murder and there is a good reason why he is now in isolation on the Secure Housing Unit.
California’s prisons are a "system in crisis," widely criticized for its treatment of prisoners and its overcrowded conditions, recently prompting thousands of prisoners to take part in a hunger strike protest.
And Gov. Jerry Brown is currently combating a court order to release more than 9,500 inmates by the year’s end to combat the rampant overcrowding.
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Outrage, protests over the George Zimmerman ruling
Largely peaceful protests were sparked across the country Sunday by the news that a Florida jury had ruled Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin Saturday night. Protesters in Los Angeles partially shut down southbound 10 Freeway near Crenshaw for a short time before being dispersed by police.
Even President Obama weighed in, calling for calm and reflection following the decision.
Amid all of the tension and emotion surrounding the trial, the prosecution may have doomed itself from the beginning:
Prosecutors could not prove Zimmerman was driven by “ill will or hatred” — the necessary elements of a murder case — when he got out of his vehicle on a rainy night and went after the teenager.
In the confrontation that followed, they also could not prove Zimmerman struck the first blow. If the teenager turned in fear to attack the stranger who was pursuing him, Zimmerman could claim he acted in self-defense. If the jurors were in doubt as to who struck first, they were obliged to hand down an acquittal.
But the ruling may not be the end of Zimmerman’s days in court, as the Justice Department has confirmed it is still looking into the case.
Read more on the latest developments on Nation Now.
Photos: Joshua Trujillo, Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press, Robyn Beck, Mario Tama / AFP/Getty Images
Another failed search for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa
The FBI closed the book on yet another chapter of the posthumous search for the former Teamsters head Hoffa Wednesday, ending its excavation efforts in a rural field near Detroit.
Hoffa has been missing since July 30, 1975, and according to the FBI, spent his last recorded day meeting with organized crime members during lunch. He was said to be mulling a return to the Teamsters, the union that he had turned into a prominent labor force only to be ousted in 1964 for jury tampering.
This isn’t the first time authorities have recently thought the longstanding mystery had been solved. Earlier excavations included digging up a Detroit driveway, a backyard swimming pool and a horse farm.
Read more over at Nation Now.
Photos: Jeff Kowalsky /EPA, Associated Press
The return of the Homicide Report
Originally started in 2007 as an effort to catalog every homicide in Los Angeles County over the course of the year, the Times’ homicide report continued for a while afterward, until it was turned into a database of all L.A. County killings in 2010.
But with reporter Nicole Santa Cruz at the helm, a new era for the Homicide Report begins today. As Cruz writes in her story announcing the report’s return, recollecting her time with Nancy Ekelund, whose daughter Lynsie was murdered.
It was not the first murder I’d covered, but something about Ekelund’s raw pain left me wondering often about the people left behind when a loved one is killed. Whether it’s the case of 20-year-old Lynsie, last seen alive in February of 2001, or that of 55-year-old Richard Vidaurry, shot once in the head and killed by an unknown assailant last month — their stories matter.
Santa Monica shooting: Two dead, at least six headed to the hospital
The full story of the sudden shooting spree near Santa Monica College earlier today is still emerging, but here are the details so far:
An alleged gunman, who has been wounded by police, opened fire at 11:55 a.m. at “multiple locations,” according to authorities, after breaking into one area residence and setting fire to another. It was in the building that had been set on fire that two bodies were found. Following that, the individual reportedly tried to carjack two vehicles and opened fire on other cars.
The suspected gunman has since been apprehended by police. And though the bomb squad has been called to the scene, authorities at this time still believe there is only one shooter.
From the account of Andrey Priadkin, who was studying for finals when he heard screams:
"I saw a guy wearing all black, holding a big gun. He looked very calm. I stared at him. I’m thinking maybe he’s a police force."
The man stared at Priadkin for about “three to four seconds” before he turned and began firing, Priadkin said.
"That’s when I realized I have to go," he said. "I just ran."
Read the latest updates over at L.A. Now.
Photos: Michael Nelson / EPA, Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images, Aaron Smith / Los Angeles Times
"Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez dead at 53
Richard Ramirez, whose spree of grisley murders terrified California for several years during the 1980s, died this morning at Marin General Hospital. Ramirez was on Death Row at San Quentin.
Ramirez, who was found guilty of 13 murders along with several counts of sexual assault, burglary and attempted murder, cast a shadow over California, sparking a spike in gun sales.
The paranoia over his seemingly endless crimes erupted into rage once he was identified by police in 1985. Upon being found in East Los Angeles, a mob descended upon Ramirez, nearly beating him to death before authorities intervened. After an incredibly lengthy trial, Ramirez was sentenced to death in 1989.
Read more on L.A. Now.
Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Lennox McLendon / Associated Press, Los Angeles Times