Los Angeles has long had a reputation for the bizarre when it comes to its crimes. In fact from its earliest days it was known for crime, rowdyism, and a frontier justice more often associated with a cowboy town of the old west.
As Los Angeles matured from a pueblo into a city the tenor of behavior changed. But new problems arose, such as corruption and scandals in the city government and land booms.
Hollywood, originally a very conservative city founded by prohibitionists, added a special ingredient to the mix, with its reputation for decadent lifestyles as the movie industry developed.
One result of all this is a city with a reputation for scandalous behavior and outrageous crimes. The list below is just a sampling of the major scandals, murders, and crimes the citizens of Los Angeles have had to endure.
- Tiburcio Vasquez, Bandit, 1870-75
- Lana, Cheryl, and Johnny Stompanato: "Justifiable Homicide"
- The Kidnapping of Aimee Semple McPherson, 1926
- The Sleepy Lagoon Mystery
- Chinese Massacre of 1871
- Caryl Chessman, the Red-Light Bandit, 1948
- Fatty Arbuckle, 1921
- Los Angeles Times Bombing, 1910
- Murder at Greystone, 1929
- William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam
- Corruption in High Places: His Honor, The Mayor
- The Mysterious Death of Thelma Todd
- Black Dahlia Murder, 1947
- The Owens Valley "Land Grab"
- The Unsolved Murder of William Desmond Taylor
- Edward Hickman, 1927
- Austin, John. Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries. New York: Shapolsky, 1990.
- Cinema-TV HV6534.L7A98 1990
- Hart, James D. A Companion to California. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
- Reference Center
- Rice, Craig. Los Angeles Murders. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1947.
- Leavey HV6534.L7A57
- Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts on File, 1982.
- Reference Center HV6789.S54 1982
- Wolfe, Marvin J. Fallen Angels: Chronicles of Los Angeles Crime and Mystery. New York: Facts on File, 1986.
- Architecture; Leavey HV6795.L6W65
If you have suggestions or other comments send an e-mail message to: Linda McCann, or Eileen Flick
This page was conceived by Eileen Flick and Linda McCann, both of the Doheny Reference Center at USC. The three of us then developed the list of murders, scandals, and other crimes in Los Angeles. Eileen created the page on the Greystone Murder.