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Spencer-Crawford murder case witness
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
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Images available for reproduction and use. Please see the Ordering & Use page at http://tessa.lapl.org/OrderingUse.html for additional information.
Title supplied by cataloger.; Photograph was edited for publication purposes.; Photograph also used in articles dated May 21, 1935; June 20, 1936 and March 15, 1937.
Charles H. Crawford (1879-1931), nicknamed "The Gray Wolf" and "Good Time" Charlie, was a kingpin politician and key player in what was known as the "City Hall Gang" or "The System", a low-profile but all-powerful syndicate that ran the gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging rackets in Los Angeles. By mid-1930s, Crawford's empire had begun to crumble and had had too many close brushes with the law. He sought legitimacy by opening an insurance and real estate office in Hollywood and also funded a periodical magazine called "Critic of Critics", operated by newspaperman Herbert E. Spencer. It was at this office building, that on May 20, 1931 both men were shot. Spencer was fatally shot with a bullet to the heart, but Crawford survived and was transported to the hospital, where he died at 8:54 pm despite blood transfusions. The bullet had plowed its way through his abdomen, rupturing his liver and one of his kidneys. Though Crawford regained consciousness prior to his operation, he refused to reveal his assassin's identity saying that if he had to die, the secret would go with him to the grave. And so it did. Three days later, on May 23, 1931, David H. Clark, known to the press as "Debonair Dave" or "Handsome Dave", a former deputy District Attorney and candidate for Municipal Judge, turned himself in to the police and admitted that he had shot Crawford and Spencer. At his trial, Clark testified that both killings were in self-defense. Eleven of the 12 jurors disagreed, and voted to acquit Clark. Interesting note: In 1936, Charles Crawford's widow hired Juan Carlos Rodriguez to design the historic "Crossroads of the World", and had it built on the site where her husband was shot.
Photograph caption dated July 26, 1937 reads, "Guy M'Afee - Expected to Testify Before Grand Jury."
1 photographic print :b&w ;25 x 19 cm.
Photographic prints
Herald Examiner Collection
HE box 3730
Murder--Investigation--California--Los Angeles
Homicide investigation--California--Los Angeles
Trials (Murder)--California--Los Angeles
Witnesses--California--Los Angeles
Crime--California--Los Angeles
Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express photographs
Herald-Examiner Collection photographs

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