Chapter 26 ~ The Runaway

“I don’t want any notoriety.”

– Lynn Martin

Lynn Martin said she learned of the murder of Beth Short when a friend stopped her on Hollywood Boulevard on Friday, January 17. Lynn said the friend told her, “Here is your picture in the paper.”

On January 22, Ballard Smith, a cab driver that knew Lynn casually, picked her up at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue and drove her first to the Hollywood post office on Wilcox Avenue and then to her motel on Ventura Boulevard. He said later that he told her to contact the police, since they were looking for her. She agreed to do so, explaining that she was scared and “I don’t want any notoriety,” Smith said. When she arrived at the motel the managers called the police. Detectives showed up soon after and took Lynn into custody.

Lynn told authorities that she had been living with Duke Wellington at a Hollywood motel at 5265 Sunset Boulevard since January 10, 1947. Wellington left her there at one point  and did not return. According to newspapers, Lynn said Wellington left to make a telephone call, but did not come back. He reportedly left her a note suggesting she turn herself in. When police took her into custody they also confiscated a white-tipped silver fox fur, which Lynn said was given to her as a Christmas present by Wellington.

At first, convinced that Lynn was in her early twenties, detectives grilled her at Central Police Station in Los Angeles. Deputy District Attorney Herbert Grossman interviewed her. Lynn said she had not seen Beth since September 20, 1946 when they moved from their lodging.

At one point, according to newspapers, she admitted to a “pickup” acquaintance with George Price, a 43 year old freelance photographer. Price, whose real name was Clarendon Kenney, lived at 1856 Jewett Drive. He met Lynn on Hollywood Boulevard and offered to take photographs of her. She agreed and went to his home/studio in Laurel Canyon.

Lynn said Price knew Elizabeth Short, too. He was said to have been seen driving his car on Hollywood Boulevard with Beth before she left for San Diego in December. It was also said that he knew Marjorie Graham. Investigators said his name was found in Beth’s address book, but upon questioning, Price denied knowing her or knowing how his name got into her address book.

Lynn said she posed nude for him on her second visit. Other disclosures by Lynn were not released to the press because of her age.

After six hours of questioning, authorities were convinced that Lynn was not an adult, but a teenager. She said her real name was Norma Lee Meyer and that her parents lived in Long Beach. She was turned over to juvenile officers  and transferred to the Georgia Street division. It was learned that she had been in trouble with juvenile authorities since the age of 11. She had been an inmate at El Retiro School for Girls for a year and was released about two years prior to her current detainment.

* * *

Lynn, like Elizabeth and other girls that just scraped by, was in and out of trouble. Howard Darrin, who lived in a secluded, wooded area off Laurel Canyon at 8225 Lookout Mountain Avenue, “cut” Lynn, “when she tried to escape from his advances, in the Hollywood Hills,” investigators reported.

Howard “Dutch” Darrin, the automobile designer,  had a showroom on the Strip at 8534 Sunset Boulevard, near La Cienega Boulevard  in the 1946. He was successful as a consultant for Rolls Royce, Renault, Stutz, Daimler-Benz and other car manufacturers. He is famous for his Packard designs, such as the Packard Darrin and the Packard Clipper.

Lynn and another girl, a blonde, were seen at the automobile designer’s address on the Strip in the late afternoon of January 15,  1947, according to the Daily News. They were looking for a place to live. Lynn was also spotted at a hotel on Wilcox Avenue near Sunset Boulevard on January 15, according to the local newspaper. “Earlier last week,” the newspaper reported, “before the murder, Miss Martin stayed a few hours at a Sunset Blvd. motel. She told the manager there that she was broke and needed to rest for a while. The manager said he heard the woman sobbing in her room, but did not disturb her.”

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Lynn was hiding from authorities after the discovery of Beth’s body. She was underage and trying to avoid detection. Investigators found her almost a week after Beth’s body was discovered. She had been living with Edward P. “Duke” Wellington, alias Bill Cochrane, in the M & M Motel, a North Hollywood auto court on Ventura Boulevard.

A Los Angeles Times article written shortly after the murder, stated “witnesses said Miss Martin arrived at the motel first on Jan. 5, departed, and returned Jan. 12 to remain two days.” The article also said, “she was seen as late as midnight Jan. 14, the day before Miss Short’s severed body was found in a vacant lot near busy Crenshaw Blvd.”

A Long Beach newspaper stated,  “- Los Angeles juvenile authorities and officials are preparing to start court action against 10 male adults with whom the girl told police she had been intimate.” Lynn, it turned out, had been arrested eight times under juvenile charges, according to Detective Lt. William Cummings.

“The thorough investigation made by the department disclosed the girl’s earliest recollections were of living with a half sister in Minnesota.  The half sister was living with a drunken common-law husband.  She believes she was 4 years of age then.”  The newspaper reported that Lynn’s half sister was suicidal and that her maternal aunt, who lived on a farm in Washington brought Lynn to her home for about three years. The aunt said she was placed in a detention home in Washington because, “the family was unable to support her any longer,” the article stated.  “She was adopted from this home by the Meyer family and brought to Long Beach,” the article said.

The newspaper account further reported, “Lynn Martin, as the girl herself prefers to be known, first came to the attention of juvenile authorities in July 1943, when neighbors reported that she was the victim of ‘an unfit home.’ ”

According to news accounts, Lynn told officers in Hollywood, “Hollywood is full of men around 40 that want to buy you drinks and a meal. They expect you pay for the drinks and meals with yourself.”

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