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Louise Peete on the stand
Alternative Title
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
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Photograph was edited for publication purposes.
By the time she was in her late 30s, Louise Peete had left a trail of shattered lives in her wake from Boston, Massachusetts to Waco, Texas. She was the reason that two men had committed suicide; and she'd killed a man during an attempted rape--at least that was her story--the truth remains elusive. In 1920, Peete relocated to Los Angeles where she met middle-aged mining executive Jacob Denton, who was a recent widower, having lost both his wife and child in the Spanish Flu pandemic. Peete sized Denton up as a man who would be susceptible to her Southern charm. When her attempts to get him to marry her failed, she ordered Denton's caretaker to dump a ton of soil in the basement of the home. She said she intended to grow Denton's favorite mushrooms there. But then on May 30, 1920 Denton vanished. For months nobody questioned the tall tales Peete told to explain Denton's disappearance, until his attorney finally contacted the police and asked them to search the house. It took the cops about an hour of digging to unearth Denton's body. He had a bullet hole in his head. On February 8, 1921, Peete was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life in prison. She served eighteen years before being paroled in for good behavior in 1939. Her incarceration had done nothing to change her. She was out of prison for only five years before she killed again. Peete's final victim was Margaret Logan, a Good Samaritan who offered the ex-con employment as a housekeeper and companion. Logan's body was discovered in a shallow backyard grave at her Pacific Palisades home. An autopsy concluded that her death had been caused by a gunshot and a brutal beating. Peete's protestations of outraged innocence fell on deaf ears and she was convicted of murder again. Only this time around she was sentenced to death in the gas chamber. When the death sentence was handed down Peete turned to Aggie Underwood, who had been reporting the entire case, pinched her under the chin, and said, "Now don't you cry." A crowd of reporters spent time with Peete on her last nigh--among them was Underwood. Always a gracious hostess, Peete proffered a box of chocolates to be shared among them. Underwood later said of Peete, "She wasn't an artless little gun moll." Lofie Louise Preslar Peete was executed on April 11, 1947. She was the second woman to die in California's gas chamber; only two others would follow her.
Photograph was used for an article dated April 23, 1934; the caption reads, "One of the most dramatic trials in Los Angeles court history took place in 1921, when Mrs. Louise L. Peete, was accused and found guilty of killing Jacob C. Denton, wealthy mining man. She was charged with shooting Denton to death in his 'mansion of mysteries,' dragging him tot he basement and burying his body. The photo shows Mrs. Peete on the stand as her calm, cool demeanor made her known as the 'enigma woman.' At right on the bench is the late Judge Frank R. Willis, who presided at the trial. Mrs. Peete, under life sentence, now is in the women's prison at Tehachapi."; Photograph was used for an article dated May 28, 1945; the caption reads, "Mrs. Louise Peete, who today was found guilty for the murder of Mrs. Margaret Logan, is shown in 1921 when she was found guilty on charges that she fatally shot Jacob C. Denton, wealthy mining man, dragging him to the basement and burying his body. At left, on the bench, is the late Judge Frank R. Willis."
1 photographic print :b&w ;23 x 26 cm. on board 25 x 27 cm.
Photographic prints
Herald Examiner Collection
HE box 1625; HE-000-858 4x5
Peete, Louise,--1888-1947
Peete, Louise,--1888-1947--Trials, litigation, etc
Female offenders--California--Los Angeles
Trials (Murder)--California--Los Angeles
Murderers--California--Los Angeles
Judges--United States
Criminals--California--Los Angeles
Women--California--Los Angeles
Courtrooms--California--Los Angeles
Herald-Examiner Collection photographs

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