Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jeanne French & The Red Lipstick Murder- Los Angeles 1947

It was a cool, dewy morning that Monday out on “The Moors.” It was a lover's lane of sorts. A place where hills once stood overlooking Los Angeles, near Indianapolis Street and Grand View Avenue. Just as a young bulldozer operator was travelling near the site of a new housing project that morning, he stumbled upon the body of a woman.

The name of the victim was Mrs. Jeanne French. The details surrounding the events prior to her death remain a mystery to this day. Many claim to have tied her murder to the infamous Black Dahlia Murder of Elizabeth Short that took place just one month prior to Jeanne French’s death. As much as people like to speculate, there are NO TIES to Jeanne French’s murder and Elizabeth Short’s.


When Jeanne French’s body was found, the media had made it there probably just as soon as the police did. Being that the local papers and reporters listened in on the same radio frequency as the police dispatch, the crime scene was not kept a secret for long. It was well known that the reporters took photos of the body and quickly tied this murder to the Dahlia case based on one thing, initials.

The body of Jeanne French was literally stomped on to death. She had been stomped in such a vicious manner that her ribs fractured and her liver among other internal organs had hemorrhaged so badly that she internally bled to death. She had also been knocked in the head with an object but that did not kill her. It was the stomping of her upper body that ultimately did poor Jeanne in.

On her naked and exposed body was written, “F--- YOU P.D.” and then “TEX” just below it. What many people think based on misguided information is that the body said “B.D.” as in BLACK DAHLIA, however the Coroner’s report even explained that the lipstick spelled out P.D. not B.D.

Let’s stop here and imagine we could go back in time, to the moments before she died. Let’s really think about this for a second. Here is Jeanne French, lying there probably dying a slow painful death. She was naked and exposed to the elements. Her murderer had stomped on her with his shoes, the same shoes that walked through the dirt, rocks and grassy areas to get her body there. Imagine now it is around 2-3 am and the morning dew was setting in all around. Imagine all the dirty foot prints left all over her body and then he decides to write on her body with her red lipstick. 

It appears as if he wrote “P” (see mark 'A' on photo) and then attempted to write “D” (see mark 'B' on photo) but perhaps her skin was too slippery from the dirt, the morning dew and grass to accept the texture of the lipstick, so he moved over a space and now he finally completed the letter “D” (see mark 'C' on photo). That is why it looks like an extra loop in between the P and the D. If you look closely enough you will see that it really doesn’t look like a “B” at all, in fact the bottom part of the B would look significantly larger than the top. What do you think he is going to do, wipe it off and start writing all over? It’s not like he had a great margin for error…

Another conclusion is that the bottom part of the B is quite simply a muddy heel mark that curves perfectly and happened to have been on the right part of the skin that during the photograph taken appeared to show a B instead of a P. Nevertheless, the Coroner stated that the writing “in lipstick” was “F--- YOU P.D.” and “TEX.”

So who was this lady Jeanne French? She was a 45 year old woman who lived in Los Angeles. She had once been known as one of the first “flying nurses” during WWII, where she gained much recognition for her contributions to the country. She dabbled in acting, only nailing small roles in her younger years, using the stage name “Jeanne Axford Thomas.”

Jeanne had married young to a rich oil tycoon named David Yandell Wrather of Amarillo, Texas. In 1920, Jeanne gave birth to her first and only child, David Yandell Wrather Jr. By 1924, the marriage between French and Wrather had fell apart and records show that French gained full custody of the young boy who was only four years old at the time.

Between the years 1924-1938, while her son was a minor, it is unknown as to what she did for a living and how she supported her son. She was good friends with oil heiress Millicent Rogers, so it is logical to think she was in a socialite lifestyle during her young adult years. It is possible that she continued her small acting jobs or went to school to be a nurse, but I have not been able to locate any other information about this. I did find that by the time that WWII had broke out she was long gone serving her country all over the globe travelling with “The International Set.”

In 1945, French met serviceman Frank French, who was a veteran of two wars. They had only been married for two years before the marriage began to fall apart. French, probably being resentful for the fact her new husband couldn’t provide that lavish lifestyle she had been accustomed to, began drinking heavily to ease her pain. She became a mean drinker and would often take it out on her husband after she had a few drinks in her.

Frank French, on the other had was dealing with his own personal problems. Coming home from the war, the experiences he dealt with first hand at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack obviously had taken its toll on him mentally. In fact, he had agreed to a six month marital separation and that he would admit himself to a psychiatric ward of the V.A. Hospital just days before his wife was killed.

Frank & Jeanne French

The day was February 9, 1947 and it was a Sunday evening. Just nine days prior French and her husband Frank had got into a bad argument where Frank ended up punching her in the face and giving her a black eye. French then had her husband arrested on domestic violence charges. Soon after that incident, Frank moved out to a small apartment in Santa Monica near his job while, French remained at their residence alone.

The night of Sunday, February 9th, Jeanne was seen visiting her estranged husband’s apartment at 1547 Stanford Avenue, Santa Monica around 11:45 pm. The couple argued outside the front porch for awhile before Jeanne was seen leaving without her husband. Her husband was questioned later where several articles in the paper say that he had been out drinking with her earlier in the evening, but then other statements say that he remained home for the evening and even had his landlady vouch for his alibi.
Jeanne then went out after visiting Frank and ended up at The Picadilly Drive-In at 3932 Sepulveda Avenue, in Los Angeles between 12:00 and 1:00 am. A carhop was stated later saying that he saw French eating with a mystery man, later leaving her car parked there. A janitor later claimed the car was still parked there well after 2 am. It is obvious to conclude that Jeanne then left in the car of her murderer, unknowingly of course. 


When you think of the classic whodunit tale you must first come up with a motive. In this instance, many would first think it had to be her husband, right? Wrong!!

Did he have a motive? Sure he did, but did he do it? I don’t think so.

From all the interviews it seems that Jeanne was more the violent type than Frank was. Yes, he “allegedly” beat her up nine days before she died, but do we know what Jeanne did leading up to it? Even Detective Gene Bechtel said after questioning Frank, that he could see Frank couldn’t have done it, “His story stands up.” There was no evidence pointing to him anyways. 

The footprint of the killer was significantly smaller than Frank’s shoe size and he wasn’t getting anything out of her dying anyways. Yes, Jeanne’s death cancelled their court appointment that morning for the domestic violence charges he was being charged with along with an impending divorce. But one thing many do not mention was that Frank had already applied for admission to the psycho-neurotic ward of the V.A. Hospital to help him cope with all the issues he had experienced during the war just to show Jeanne was trying to get better. You see, he wanted to get better and see if it helped matters.

From the articles and interviews, Jeanne was not exactly the perfect person either. She was a drinker, and mean one, too. Her own son David Yandell Wrather Jr. made remarks to that effect when his step father was quoted saying, “She was mean when she had been drinking.”


Well, to go further into the story we then have to dig a little deeper. Remember Jeanne’s body also had the name “TEX” written on the left side of her waist in red lipstick?

Why doesn’t anyone ever bring this up? Simple, no one has ever figured it out.

TEX is obviously standing for Texas. Jeanne was from Texas originally, and her first husband was from Texas as well. After her marriage to David Yandell Wrather was over, she ended up a single mother with custody of their son, David Y. Wrather Jr.

So what became of her ex-husband? He remarried a lady named Lucille and records indicate that in 1932 they had a son, who they also named DAVID YANDELL WRATHER

Back up a second, did you notice something?! Why on earth would a father name his second son, after the first son he had? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Does it make sense to you?

So he was married to Jeanne and had a son in 1920, who he named David Yandell Wrather. Then they divorce and Jeanne takes the boy. 1930, he remarries this time to a lady named Lucille and has a son in 1932 and names him David Yandell Wrather, too?! Too weird.

It almost seems as if this man was replacing the son that French took away. I did some records checking and I found the death information of David Wrather Sr. and his second wife. There are no records of their son on their graves or funeral notices, only the mention of a daughter they had, but no son. I find that quite strange, also. I am not saying this has anything to do with who killed Jeanne or that any of them did it, but I did have to state this because it just struck me as odd. Just an extra tidbit of trivia for you!


Could it have been possible that someone that Jeanne knew from Texas, even possibly a past relative or friend could have taken out revenge on her for something from the past? I think it is quite possible.
Her very own son David, when he was told the news that she had passed, was said to have collapsed from the emotional stress. He then told the police he wanted to speak to his step father alone without them listening, saying “He will tell me things that he won’t tell you.” Of course Captain Donahue declined his request.

As David Yandell Wrather Jr. came in to speak to his step-father he shouted, “Well, I have told them the truth.”

I don’t know about you but that sounds strange. Does that sound like something you are going to blurt out? Especially, the minute you walk into a room to speak to a person that is being held for questioning on the murder of your mom? 

When Frank French replied “I swear to GOD I didn’t kill her,” then Wrather replied back, “You know I loved Mom very much.”

Now I don’t want to start blaming people and accusing them of anything, but I still find Wrather’s comments to be strange and out of place. (Again, I am not accusing anyone!)

Later on David Y. Wrather Jr. was interviewed for various newspapers saying, “She made friends easy, awful easy. She went out alone sometimes. She's gone now, and I'm sure she would want me to say the right thing. She made a lot of her own trouble. Her husband tolerated a lot from her. He was a tolerant man, a very tolerant man."

Was her son insinuating that his step-father did it? But then why didn’t the evidence point to Frank? Remember this, her own son said “She made a lot of her own trouble.” Could this mean he was insinuating that she often pissed people off? How many enemies then do you think Jeanne may have made?
Who then could have had such a resentment to Jeanne that he could have just lost it and murdered her? It was said that the murder of Jeanne French was a murder of hate. Whoever did this to her was very mad at her, to the point of insanity. I believe that whoever killed Jeanne had some connection to Texas and was mocking the police, as if they had some deep pockets and weren’t going to get caught.

I also find it interesting that there was a mystery man questioned later but all records remained sealed, so no one knows who it is. It was as if the whole thing was covered up due to deep pockets and people in high places. Smells like rich people with lots of money to me. 


The murder of Jeanne French was an atrocity of mass proportions, there is no doubting that. The connection people claim it has to the Black Dahlia is a nonexistent one.

There have been people such as the likes of writer, Steve Hodel that claim his father Dr. Hodel was in fact the murderer of Jeanne French as well as all the other unsolved murders of women in Los Angeles during that time period. Despite the fact that the Modus Operandi in each murder is significantly different, except for the murder of Georgette Bauerdorf and Elizabeth Short, Steve Hodel still claims his father is the serial killer.
Jeanne French was not killed by the same person who killed the Black Dahlia. There is no way. The killer cut Elizabeth Short up and literally butchered her. Her body was not precisely dissected, but upon a closer examination you would see that a common butcher knife was used to cut her up like a piece of meat. There was no ingenious mad surgeon going around killing just a few women with knives and scalpels and then later choosing Jeanne just to stomp to death.  Dr. Hodel is not some omnipresent person who saw all and was everywhere at all times. It is ludicrous to even think that Dr. Hodel was the killer of the Black Dahlia let alone also the Torso Murders of Cleveland and the Lipstick Murders of Chicago as some claim.

With ending, I have to say that Jeanne French’s murder was just a murder by someone who apparently knew her and had a strong hatred for her. Could it have been her son? No, I don't think so. But even if I did think so, I won't stoop to such lows as to accuse him of it.
I just found out that Jeanne French's son passed away this year, according to my research. I also find it in poor taste to accuse someone of murder (a) without evidence and (b) who doesn’t have the capability to defend himself.   I do think that the killer of Jeanne French was someone who had been close to her at one point or another and more than likely had ties to Texas (given the TEX found on her body).

In the end, the answer to who killed Jeanne is inconsequential being that they are long dead by now and thus have to account for their sins with GOD on their own. 

What I bring to this story is the truth. Jeanne French was a woman who had a story. She was a wife and a mother. She lived a short while in the social limelight and had her dreams crushed later as age took its toll on her. She became bitter and sad and went to alcohol for relief. Perhaps too many drinks that night led her to poor judgment and poor reflexes, which didn’t help her fight off her attacker.

Her body was then left to be humiliated out in the open, exposing her to the elements. The killer wanted to make a statement, he wanted to show her for who he thought she was…..obviously he hated her if he chose to stomp her to death. All the while her poor cold body lay there on the dirt and rocks and grass, slowly dying. Each breath growing shorter and shorter until no breath at all. Somehow her story became entangled with another high profile story that had a life of its own, leaving Jeanne's story to fade to black and be forgotten.

This story is to remember Jeanne French as an individual with a story of her own. Not to be a stapled attachment to the Black Dahlia Case, but to show that her murder was as significant as Elizabeth Short’s, just different. A woman was killed, a murder was committed and a mystery left unsolved.

J'aime Rubio 2011 (copyright)
The Pittsburgh Press- 2/11/1947
Tonawanda New York Paper- 2/11/1947
The Gazette- 2/12/1947
The Evening News- 2/11/1947
Reading Eagle- 2/11/1947
Personal Research-Archives

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Was William Holden's Death an Accident or Murder?

What I am about to tell you is going to shock you. Many people have written articles about William Holden in the past and even to this day. What they fail to provide you is the facts of the story. Bottom line, they fail to provide the truth.

If you 'Google' "William Holden" or “William Holden’s Death” I am sure you will find pages upon pages of articles, blogs and stories pertaining to his untimely demise. However, no one wants to actually figure out the whole story. If you were around when William Holden died you probably read about it or heard about it on the news or radio.

Most stories include that he slipped or tripped on a throw rug and hit his head on a night stand, which in turn caused the injury that killed him. Another tidbit they never fail to mention is that he was allegedly “drunk” due to his blood alcohol level at the time (0.22) according to the Coroner. Of course that would never be left out, given Holden's reputation for alcoholism. This leads you to the conclusion that whole thing should be written off as a 'drunk slip and fall accident' and nothing more.

There are some who say that the apartment Manager, Bill Martin became concerned and let himself into the apartment only to find Holden’s body. Many also claim that Stefanie Powers was the long time love of his life. Due to this theory, people assume that is why she inherited most of his fortune after he died.

What if I was to tell you that there was more to this story?

What if I was to tell you that William Holden was no longer with Stefanie Powers but was planning to marry someone else, someone he had a relationship long before Stefanie?

What if I was to tell you that the day he died was just one month short of a planned trip he had with his “secret love.” A lady that seems the media has chose to leave out of the story for the last 30 years?

Today, here and now you are going to hear the real facts of the story that have been long left out since November of 1981. You will also see the possible link to Natalie Wood’s death as well. Now I am not going to sit here and defame or accuse people downright, but I am going to lay out the facts and then you can be your own detective and draw your own conclusions from it.
Sounds good? Ok, here we go………….


William Holden’s body was found Monday, November 16th after the persistent calls from Brian and Elaine Keating, Holden’s live in staff at his Palm Springs home. But what many don’t know is that they weren’t the only ones who were calling the Manager there at Holden’s complex at 535 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.

In fact, Patricia Morgan Stauffer was the one who kept insisting that someone check on Holden after she hadn’t heard from him for several days. Contrary to many stories, the Manager Bill Martin did not seem to care at all about the welfare of Holden. In fact no one had seen or heard from Holden in days until Patricia Stauffer and The Keating’s got the police involved after being refused entry into the apartment by none other than the Manager, Bill Martin. Sargeant Dick Tapia was called to the residence and was the first person to discover the body after breaking down the door.

Most people do not know who Patricia Stauffer is in this whole story. She is usually just mentioned briefly in one or two sentences as a caring friend who was concerned about Holden after not hearing from him for several days. 

Holden and Stauffer had planned a trip to Africa on December 13th and were to be married at the Kenya Safari Club on New Years Eve just seven weeks from that date. Holden wasn’t answering his calls or calling her back for any sort of explanation. After speaking to the Keating’s they also grew worried about Holden and started making phone calls.

William Holden’s friends and employees, the Keating’s were aware that Patricia was his love, not Stefanie Powers as many believed. Even Holden’s friend and former publicist Jay Bernstein claimed that he believed that story of Holden and Stauffer planning to wed to be true because he claimed that Bill “had always been in love with her.”


Patricia Morgan Stauffer met William Holden on New Year’s Eve in 1964. Soon after, Patricia -who was married to Teddy Stauffer at the time, started an ongoing affair with Holden for nearly 10 years while he was going through ups and downs in his marriage to actress Brenda Marshall.

In 1966, Stauffer divorced from her husband while it took until 1971 for Holden and Marshall to be divorced. Patricia claimed that the first round of her relationship with Holden lasted until 1974, when he eventually he became linked to actress, Stefanie Powers. It was known in Holden’s family and through his close friends that during his relationship to Powers that he continued to remain very close with Stauffer. It was also not a secret that Holden preferred to keep his personal life quiet and that is why much about his relationship with Patricia before and after Powers,was unknown.

Holden had mentioned marriage to Patricia for years after the divorce of his first wife, but it wasn’t until he proposed officially to her over the Labor Day weekend September 1981, that she accepted in front of their friends in La Costa, Calif.

The mainstream media says that Holden was with Stefanie Powers at the time of his death, since she did inherit most of his fortune which he had bequeathed to her in his Will, while Stauffer only inherited a small amount of money (according to my research). 

According to Powers in her many interviews she acted as if they were still together at the time of Holden’s death despite the fact she no longer lived with him. When asked about their relationship in an interview for harttohartonline.com she says: “Bill and I were like soul mates. He came along at the lowest emotional point in my life. I was working- surviving, but at the end of a very unsuccessful marriage. He helped make me back into a human being....”

When asked about marriage Powers also stated: “We didn’t need to get married. We’d both done that before. There was no question of having children- Bill couldn’t have anymore. We simply didn’t feel the need to marry.”

“We didn’t need to get married”- may have really meant he didn’t want to marry her, not that he didn’t ever want to get remarried. Especially so since Patricia Stauffer- who knew Holden much longer than Powers, claims he had spoken of it often to her since the early 1970’s.

It is not a secret that Powers’ and Holden’s relationship was volatile. There are several stories about them having a very explosive relationship and sometimes even having physical fights with one another. Then there are the rumors of his drinking problem and that he was impotent due to extensive alcohol issues, which caused more problems in their relationship. It is true that Powers was no longer living with Holden at the time of his death, but it is very possible she still had a key to the apartment.

So here we are on the day of his death, which the Coroner claims was November 12th (which happened to be a Thursday) and his body was found on Monday the 16th.


Holden was found in his apartment on Monday, November 16th laying on the floor of his bedroom in his Santa Monica apartment. It appeared to Medical Examiner Thomas Noguchi his initial feeling was that Holden had been murdered. However, over the course of the investigation somehow Noguchi’s opinion changed.

Holden’s body was found in an advanced state of decomposition. He was dressed only in a white blood stained shirt and a robe. His head had a large laceration on the forehead and there were maggots present on his skin and wound due to many days of decomposing on his bedroom floor. The floor surrounding his body was full of blood and body fluids, as well as the sheets of his bed. There was blood spatter on the phone in the bedroom on the nightstand although no evidence that the phone had been used to call for help.

According to Noguchi’s notations: "On the basis of the autopsy findings and the at scene investigation, it became clear that the decedent accidentally fell due to tripping over the throw rug on the bedroom floor beside the bed, and fell into the sharp edge of the bedside table causing a deep cut on the right forehead followed by profuse hemorrhage. There is no evidence of vomiting blood as there is no evidence of hemorrhage in the Gastrointestinal Tract or gastric contents in the blood pool on the bed or on the floor. There is no evidence of foul play as the room is not disturbed and the room was well secured as well as presence of numerous blood soaked beside the bed."


So the report claimed that Holden’s blood alcohol level was 0.22. So what!
If you read my story about Natalie Wood you would know that I have clarified the fact that when a person dies their body starts to produce ethanol on its own, to start the decomposition process. So basically unless you check the vitreous humour (in the eye) to check for pre-mortem alcohol levels there is no way to differentiate the two types of ethanol in your system (pre or post mortem) from the blood or organs. 

Therefore, after four days of William Holden’s body laying there rotting away on the floor, the ethanol his body created to start decomposition is more than likely the cause for such a high blood alcohol level and not that he was drunk. I am so surprised that these doctors, being that they are licensed and supposed to be able to figure this stuff out just left all this out of both Natalie’s autopsy report and William Holden’s as well.


I find it quite interesting that Dr. Noguchi stated that at first glance he thought Holden had been murdered, but then he later recanted that statement. I also think it is quite interesting in how the Coroners claim he died. They think he slipped on a rug and hit the teak nightstand in his bedroom. The autopsy claims that his head hit with such a force that it caused a “blunt laceration of the scalp” which was 2 inches long and the nightstand was pushed so hard into the wall that it left an indention in the wall 3 inches deep.

When one of the investigators at the scene tried to move the nightstand he had to ask for other men to help him move it. Doesn’t that tell you something? How did William Holden trip and hit his head so hard on the nightstand that it would leave such a deep impression into the wall, but yet it was so difficult for one man to move on his own? 

(Personal Opinion: I think that someone hit him over the head with an object, and staged the nightstand to look as if he hit it and caused the injury.)

If this was the case, it had to be more than one person to move that nightstand, too. It was also stated that the apartment was decorated to look like the stage of the movie "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing" and everything was neat and put in its place most of the time. But upon investigation the teak nightstand was sticking out like a sore thumb in the way it was placed in the room, it had been moved there by someone....it didn't appear that it was supposed to be there normally.

So here we are at the scene, can you imagine it now? 

There is William Holden, he has been hit by some object and is profusely bleeding. The reports say he may have been conscious for up to fifteen minutes before death. It was obvious that if he was murdered, he was awake in the room with his killer or killers. 

The injury didn’t crack his skull as many appear to think, because the death certificate says his cause of death was “exsanguination” meaning he bled out. The laceration on his forehead was also on the death certificate but there was no mention of skull fracture or brain injury from the blunt force to the head.


Many speculated that Holden was a depressed drunk and had committed suicide however his friends and family knew that was not the case. “That is not what Bill left us, the fact that he had a battle with alcohol is not the story of his life,” said friend and former publicist Jay Bernstein. “He was not looking to end his life. He had proposed marriage to someone he had known for seventeen years.”

In fact, as soon as Bill Holden had found out that work on an upcoming project, “The Championship Season” had been postponed until the Spring of '82, that is when he made plans to go on his Kenya Safari vacation with Stauffer to spend those weeks together, marrying on New Years Eve.


So how is all this connected to Natalie Wood? Well, I cannot give you a concrete affirmation that this is connected to her death. But I will state to you the scenario that is a possibility.

So here it is the early 80’s and the series “Hart to Hart” starring none other than Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers is in its prime. Powers’ and Holden’s relationship was not much of anything anymore and Powers’ was living in her own house as well. Remember, Stefanie Powers wasn’t all that famous before she got with William Holden. Their May-December romance was one many didn’t understand or cared to understand. Holden had nothing to gain out of his relationship, but Powers’ had everything to gain. When he died, she got a huge chunk of his estate, and the media craze from Holden’s mysterious death sky rocketed her into serious celebrity status.

FOR THE RECORD, I am not accusing or insinuating that Stephanie Powers had ANYTHING to do with William Holden's death, I am merely stating the information that is already out there in public domain that speaks about their past relationship. One thing though that I would like you to remember, Holden was planning to marry Patricia Stauffer and they were just about to leave on their trip and get married. He wasn't in a relationship with Stephanie Powers when he died.

I just find it very strange that both William Holden who was linked to Powers (Hart to Hart) and Natalie Wood who was married to Wagner (Hart to Hart) both died within two weeks of one another. Both people suffering from suspicious deaths, both examined by Dr. Noguchi and both ruled “Accidental” when the evidence says otherwise.

The evidence doesn’t lie. Go ahead and do your own investigation into William Holden’s death and I am sure you will find holes in it, just as you will find tons of holes in Natalie Wood’s death, too.

It hurts me to my very core wondering what truly happened to both Natalie Wood and William Holden, and how much I feel that the two deaths are somehow connected. Even if there isn't any way of proving it.

History is full of mysteries and unsolved or suspicious deaths that are ruled “accidental” but sometimes with the right information and the passion to uncover the truth you can see through the veil of lies and open your eyes to the truth, hidden in plain sight!

Bill Holden with Patricia Stauffer Labor Day Weekend 1981 (source: Associated Press Photo 1981)

J’aime Rubio (Copyright 12/15/2011)
some of my sources:
William Holden Death Certificate, Autopsy Report
Arguss Press (11/17/1981)
William Holden: A Biography- Michelangelo Capua
Daytona Beach Morning Journal (11/220/1981)
Ocala Star Banner- (11/19/1981)
Hart to Hart Online