Friday, August 2, 2013

Murder LA 000029

by James Cohen

Saturday, June 20th, 1953.
from the Lodi News-Sentinel

Ilena Nolan worked a refreshment stand at Auction City, a shopping center in Norwalk. She brought her 8-year-old foster daughter with her - the girl, Stella Darlene Nolan, was actually a niece but Ilena and her husband had cared for the blonde-haired, blue-eyed child since birth, while her military father was deployed in Korea.

Stella was supposed to check in with Ilena every hour but eventually failed to do so that day. When she was reported missing there was a frenzy of some 300 tips, none of which panned out. The girl's 20-year old cousin, William Nolan, who had just moved to Long Beach two weeks prior to the disappearance was held for extensive questioning when he gave conflicting accounts of his whereabouts. Nothing came of this, however.

It took nearly two decades for Stella's fate to be confirmed.

March, 1970.

Mack Ray Edwards, aged 51, and a male teenager who was not identified in the press walked into a police station and confessed to recently abducted three girls in Sylmar. One of the girls had escaped and Edwards thought she could lead police right to him.

Mack Ray Edwards
Edwards, a construction worker, further confessed to killing Stella Nolan, as well as five other boys and girls since then, "after molestation attempts." Edwards operated heavy equipment for Caltrans and took advantage of his job to dispose of bodies under and around Los Angeles freeways as they were built.

Stella Nolan was supposedly his first murder victim, whom he strangled and threw off a bridge but found alive the following day. So he stabbed her and buried her where the Santa Ana freeway was soon laid over her remains.

One of his victims, 15-year-old Roger Madison, was a neighbor in Sylmar who left his home after an argument with his parents and never returned. His body was never recovered, though an unsuccessful excavation was made in 2008.

While in custody he attempted suicide twice and requested the electric chair as he pleaded guilty. in 1970 he was sentenced to the gas chamber. In October 1971, though, he hanged himself in prison with an electrical cord.

Though convicted only of the three murders where bodies were found, Edward has been tied to other possible victims, including a Pasadena boy that disappeared in 1957 and a Santa Barbara girl missing since 1961. He bragged in jail about as many as 20 victims.

1953 image of a mounted officer on
a walkie-talkie that looks like a telephone
from the Schenectady Gazette


The Guardian, a UK news outlet, had an informative interview last week with Christopher Barling, the homicide supervisor for LAPD's 77th street division, which includes Inglewood. He also responded affably to silly reader questions in the comments section, for instance identifying his favorite type of donut.