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Larry Harnisch Reflects on L.A.'s Crime and Cops From 50 Years Ago

Fugitive couple attack LAPD officer, August 17, 1958

August 17, 1958

Joan Marie Wrosch, a 17-year-old from Milwaukee with "eyes like a tiger," wired home for money. That's how they found her.

Milwaukee police had issued a fugitive warrant for her and her boyfriend: Joan was a runaway and Elmo Monroe Schilling, 24, had violated his parole for a burglary conviction. They had a room on the fifth floor of the Alexandria Hotel, 5th and Spring, and until two days ago were selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Their boss, Jim Auteri, who also lived at the Alexandria, said he fired them because Elmo kept flirting with the other women selling subscriptions.

Detective John R. "Jack" Lynn of the LAPD's bunco-fugitive detail, with 15 years on the force, was sent to the Alexandria to get Joan. apparently believing she was alone. But when he got to the room, Elmo was there and attacked him.

Elga Payne, a hotel janitor, said: "The cop was trying to get at his gun but the other guy was beating him with his fists. Then the girl came out of the room with a long pocketknife and began stabbing at the cop."

Elmo yelled: "Hurry up and cut the ------ so I can get his gun!," Payne said.

Lynn cried out for Payne to help him, so Payne ran down to the lobby and called for help. By the time help arrived, the couple had fled and Lynn had staggered down to the lobby. He had superficial knife wounds, a broken jaw and lost three teeth, The Times said.

Joan and Elmo got past the 50 officers who canvassed skid row and made it to San Francisco before they were arrested Sept. 15, 1958, still armed with Lynn's .38 revolver. After being charged with attempted murder, Elmo was convicted in the beating and sentenced to one to 10 years in prison. His sentencing was delayed so that Milwaukee authorities could decide whether to extradite him for trial on charges of violating his parole.

The Times never followed up on the case, so we don't know what became of Elmo or Joan. According to the Social Security Index, Elmo M. Schilling died Feb. 3, 2004, in Wisconsin. A man named John R. Lynn, born Aug. 26, 1914, died in Los Angeles on June 17, 1973, but it is unclear if this is the former detective.

A runaway girl from Milwaukee and her ex-con boyfriend beat an LAPD detective at the Alexandria Hotel.

Posted by Larry Harnisch on August 17, 2008 in Downtown , LAPD

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