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A century of crime

January 01, 2000|By Leslie Simmons

BURBANK -- One hundred years ago, a single city marshal employed by

the county was all the township of Burbank required to maintain law and


Still, it wasn't long before the demand for law enforcement grew. In

fact, during the second decade of the century -- with about 1,000 people

living in town -- two marshals were killed in the line of duty in a span

of six years.


In November 1914, City Marshal Luther Colson was shot while clearing a

hobo camp at the Southern Pacific railroad tracks near Victory Place. But

while records indicate suspects were caught who eventually confessed to

the shooting, there is no information about what happened to the killers.

Six years later, on July 30, 1920, Deputy City Marshal Robert Normand

was shot to death after stopping a car with three men at Tujunga Avenue

and Third Street.

Normand died instantly but Constable Henry Purrier, who was shot three

times but survived, identified the killers. All three served lengthy

prison sentences and one died in San Quentin.

When the Burbank Police Department was formed in 1923 it employed fewer than 10 officers. One of those was Chief George Cole, whose

daughter Mary Jane Strickland is a former president of the Burbank

Historical Society.

Today, the department has grown to 160 sworn police officers. In 1998,

the department moved into a state-of-the-art $30 million headquarters it

shares with the Burbank Fire Department.

Burbank has seen its share of sensational crime during the 20th

Century, including several cases that made headlines around the country

and a few that inspired Hollywood movies.


Perhaps the most infamous homicide ever in Burbank involved the murder

of Mabel Monohan, a widow who lived in the 1700 block of West Parkside


On March 9, 1953, the 62-year-old Monohan was settling down in her

favorite red leather chair with "The Purple Pony Murders" when someone

knocked at her door.

Outside was 29-year-old Barbara Graham, who lied that her car had

broken down to get into Monohan's home and then pistol-whipped the woman.

Graham's accomplices, Baxter Shorter, Emmett Perkins, John True and

Jack Santo, entered the home. Some searched the residence for money and

jewelry while others tied and strangled Monohan. Monohan's badly beaten

body was dragged into a closet where it was found by her gardener the

next day. Besides its brutality, the Monohan murder made headlines

because Graham, the primary suspect, was young, beautiful and a mother of

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