25 Dark And Disturbing Pictures From LA's Criminal Underworld

Journey into the dark, seedy underbelly of Los Angeles's criminal past. WARNING: Viewers may find some images disturbing.

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Los Angeles is seen through thick smog, mid-20th century.

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Photograph of a threatening letter assembled from newspaper cutouts, sent to the Los Angeles Herald-Express in 1947, and claimed to have been written by the killer of aspiring American actress and murder victim Elizabeth Short, known as the Black Dahlia.


Female trainees of the Los Angeles Police Department practice firing their newly issued revolvers on March 6, 1948.

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Bloodstained garments, dragged from a storm drain, are examined by police on Jan. 18, 1947.

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Left: Police officers help a man into the back of a police van after his arrest, circa 1950. Right: Actress Frances Farmer battles officers trying to arrest her because of a parole violation.

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Cheryl Crane (left) is escorted from jail by a policewoman on April 5, 1958. Crane claimed to have knifed to death Johnny Stompanato, her mother's gangster boyfriend, when he threatened to disfigure her.

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Left: Brenda Allen enters the Los Angeles County Grand Jury room on June 16, 1949. Allen is being questioned about payoffs to police for prostitution protection. Right: Deputy Sheriff Bartley Brown of East Los Angeles inspects the haircut of prisoner Alex "Largo" Rodriguez on June 7, 1943.

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Los Angeles Police Sergeant Glenn H. Bates (right) holds his hands in the air representing fellow officer, Ian Campbell, who was shot to death there the day before, as police reenact the murder during a visit to the scene of the crime on March 11, 1963.

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The body of Captain Walter Wanderwell, famous globe-trotter and former German spy, as he was found in the cabin of his yacht on Dec. 8, 1932. Members of the crew told police he was shot by a mysterious man who boarded the ship shortly before the murder.

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Police officers examine a shotgun found about 25 feet from the scene where attorney Sam Rummel, lawyer for Mickey Cohen, was found shot to death in Hollywood on Dec. 11, 1950. Rummel was blasted as he entered the front gate at his home.

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Mobster Mickey Cohen waits to explain his plush income to the Senate crime committee as they begin their investigation of local crime patterns on Nov. 19, 1950.


Policewomen in training, Eileen Watkins (left), Margaret Boyd (center), and Ellen Whitney (right) inspect the target after practicing with their new two-inch barrel "Detective Specials" handguns on March 6, 1948.

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Some of the 18 young people rounded up by Los Angeles police pose behind a table displaying some of the weapons police say comprised their arsenal. Among the weapons are two loaded rifles, a tear gas gun, a sheath knife, two other sharp bladed knives, two baseball bats, a homemade "eye-gouger," tire irons, crowbars, two chains, modified can openers, and a vicious pair of sharp and polished hawk's talons. Ages of the boys ranged from 12 to17.

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Policemen are stationed outside a strip club in downtown Los Angeles. According to the club owner, 20 officers, including detectives, checked out the club at night.

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Los Angeles traffic police officer with a motorist detained in the side-car cell attached to the motorcycle, circa 1924. Frank Miller, an escaped prisoner pursued by police, rams his car into a fire hydrant in Hollywood on Aug. 1, 1950. Miller leapt out and ran several blocks before he was captured.

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A police officer and newspaper delivery man James Dolan, 20 (right), inspect the damage after Dolan's car got away from him while he was making a delivery.

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After finding missing actor Jean Spangler's purse in Griffith Park, the search party begins to look for further clues in 1949.

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Left: Police Officer Robert Ludwig wrestles with kidnapping suspect Everado Martinez, who police say was discovered in a parked car with 7-year-old Joyce Pike (back left in police car) on Aug. 18, 1955. The child had been reported as abducted earlier in the day. Right: Police Sgt. Russel R. Peterson examines the eight-inch carving knife that was reportedly used in the fatal stabbing of underworld figure Johnny Stompanato, on April 4, 1958.

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Actors Nick Adams, Dennis Hopper, and actress Natalie Wood (left to right) watch the Los Angeles police round up suspects on Dec. 1, 1957, to improve their own acting skills by observing real life.

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A woman attempts to identify a suspect from a police lineup on Nov. 28, 1951.

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A view of Los Angeles at night from the hills above city in 1936.