Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Mystery on Zeyn Street- Anaheim CA

503 N Zeyn St, Anaheim

When I was a young girl visiting my Grandparents as usual in Anaheim a few blocks from where I lived, I went down good old Sycamore Street to the Park (Pearson Park) where the ducks roamed. There was plush green grass and a pond that ascended over the entire property. I loved to go there as a kid. There was also a certain house just down the street from this park that always caught my eye. It is located at 503 Zeyn Street.


At the time I knew nothing of the history within its walls. All I knew is I was drawn to the house for its beautiful appearance. I became so interested by the house I began asking about it. There was something about this house that was so beautiful and so rare, unlike any other on the block. I imagined myself there, as if I could step back in time to a different era. When things were simple and life was pure. Staring into the windows of that old house I felt sad. Sad that I knew there was a history behind its walls, but I was unable to know it it truly since I was born 66 years too late.

I soon forgot about the house, distracted as so often children are. Years later, I moved back to Anaheim and unexpectedly one day I passed the very same house I had been so intrigued by so many years before. I stopped and stared at it, looking upon the large columns and "Juan Costa" mahogany front door. I began to remember all questions and interests I had originally had as a child flooding back into my mind.

 

Then and there I decided that as an adult I would investigate. I quickly googled the address and came upon a few stories of Historic Anaheim. I decided to go to the Anaheim Library and look up its history further. Later, I came across an article from the Anaheim Gazette (an 8-page newspaper) dated October 21, 1915. What I found there was astonishing.

First and foremost, Anaheim’s name is derived from two German words: “Anna” meaning river and “heim” meaning home….”home by the river". Many hundreds of people settled in Anaheim in the 1800’s and many places are historical landmarks now. One of which would be that home on Zeyn Street. For you to understand the history I must then tell the tale……


ENID RIMPAU

Mr. Robert Rimpau had been Head Clerk for the Miles Grocery Store Company for several months when he began courting then 22 year old beauty Enid. Enid had been previously married to Charles Stone of Long Beach. They had been divorced about a year into the marriage due to Mr. Stones "intemperate habits", according to the Anaheim Gazette article.

Enid moved to Anaheim in 1913 and began working at Weber’s Book store as well as a Millnery store. She was said to have been "beautiful, sweet and always had a sunny disposition". She was well liked within the community and that is how she captured the attention of her second husband Robert Rimpau.


photo: anaheimcolony.com

After the construction of the beautiful home was finished (built by Chas Trudeau), they were married and moved in. Just four months after wedding Robert, Enid was said to have told her friends she had become so lonesome at home that she would rather be working to pass the time then be home alone. All the while, she kept her bright and positive demeanor even up until the weekend of the tragedy.

Then that Sunday morning in October 1915 something went terribly wrong. As usual Mr. and Mrs. Rimpau came to St. Boniface Church located on Lincoln Ave to attend Sunday Services and Enid returned home alone as her husband stated he needed to run an errand. Just an hour after returning from his errand, Robert found his wife dying from cyanide poisoning. Robert claimed that she was dying at the time of his arrival to the home.

Dr. Truxaw came to the residence only to find out it was too late. They found a small vial of Cyanide of Potassium Solution that was still pretty full. Only a small amount had been taken out of it. The means to which Enid acquired this poison is still unknown to this day. Some say she must have kept it for quite some time without her husband having any knowledge to the fact.

The Coroner deemed it a suicide and that it was unnecessary to hold an inquest, claiming that she must have acted on temporary insanity. The few who claimed to be friends (none of which were named in the article) said she had been quite melancholy weeks leading up to her death. Yet, others who spoke of the story during that time and years later, who state that they did know Enid well said they could not believe such an even tempered and lovely person could have become mentally disturbed enough to end her own life.  Even at Mass the very day in which she died witnesses claimed she was her bright and happy self.

There was a suicide note found that was "allegedly" Enid's. It was never said whether it really was written in her hand. It did state that she was sorry and hoped that God would forgive her. The motive of her self-inflicted demise is still questionable. This alleged note was never examined or questioned by the authorities.

It was said that a life insurance agent Al Nowotny gave a statement that she had asked him if the insurance was covered in the event of a suicide. In answer, Al Nowotny explained that only after the policy had remained for a year, then in the event someone died then the insurance would pay out.  So why then would Enid kill herself? That doesn't make any sense at all.

QUESTIONS

Robert was in fact, a descendant of the Anaheim founders. There were rumors that Mr. Rimpau himself may have been jealous of her attention she received from her friendly and likeable demeanor. There was always a possibility that Mr. Rimpau could have paid off Al Nowotny to make it believable that Enid did in fact seem suicidal before her death. All it took was one witness to say something veering towards a mentally unstable condition to verify that suicide was a possibility. That way if in fact she was murdered, no one would be the wiser and it would go undetected as a suicide. The perfect crime really if you think about it.


WHAT MOTIVE?

Was Robert Rimpau jealous enough to poison his own wife ?

Perhaps Enid's ex-husband Charles Stone may have come looking for her?

Was Enid sad that she had divorced Charles, and regretted it?

Or maybe Enid was afraid of Charles, and that is why she divorced him and fled?

Did Enid's husband Robert poison her thinking she would leave him for her ex?

Or could it have been a member Robert's prestigious family?

THE PLOT THICKENS

The Rimpau's were considered a pretty high caliber family in that small community, and are seen in various historical photographs through out Anaheim's vast historical albums. Is it possible that they were unhappy with the union of man and wife that took place between their beloved Robert and newly divorced Enid?

Remember back in that time period, divorce was certainly frowned upon and many people made judgement based on gossip and circumstances in ones class or status. Maybe they were worried she would put a damper on their clean and polished family reputation, being that she was a divorced woman with a past. Perhaps they wanted their son Robert to marry into a wealthy socialite family instead of someone as common as Enid.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What reasons would Enid have had to end her young life? She had friends and a new life in Anaheim. Maybe it was Robert's family, or maybe her husband was just not as nice as he appeared. That would lead me to the conclusion that Enid's husband may have been the one who poisoned her.

Now, recently when my paternal grandfather passed away from old age in 2008, we laid him to rest in good old Historic Anaheim Cemetery. I was walking around the grave sites by the Anaheim Pioneers where grandpa’s grave is set and I stumbled across many historic grave sites of the old Pioneers including the Mausoleum for the Rimpau family.

I could not help but to feel emotion for this young woman who died way too soon, to feel sorrow and sympathy for her broken heart. Someone was hurting her enough that she died, whether she took her own life or another person who cause her death. Either way, there must have been serious problems brewing.

Will we ever know how she really died? Or maybe I should rephrase that, why she died?

Did she really take her young life?

Was she that sad that ending her life was more appealing that continuing on in the world?

Did her husband kill her?

Or perhaps it was someone within the very family she married into?

The world will never really know what happened since the secret is buried with her.
 
Enid Rimpau died on a Sunday in October 1915. She was laid to rest on that following Tuesday morning in the Anaheim Community Mausoleum, in the Anaheim Cemetery, not the Rimpau Family Crypt as many others will have you to believe.

 (UPDATE: Thanks to Mark Daniels who has photographed the only known photo of Enid's crypt. Visit Enid's findagrave memorial here to view photo! Enid Williams Rimpau.

When I go to see my grandparent's grave, I will always remember this woman's story that was left unsaid. The story that only a few left know. This story will remain a mystery, one with a question we will never know the truth to. Our minds will keep searching for an absolution to know why this beautiful young woman died.  Let us never forget Enid!


-J'aime Rubio (copyright) originally written in 2006 and revised in 2008.
Sources: October 21st, 1915 issue Anaheim Gazette
 Anaheim Library