Real Name: Geneva Odelia Hilliker Ellroy
Nicknames: Jean Ellroy
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: June 22, 1958
Details: Author James Ellroy was just ten-years-old when his mother, Geneva "Jean" Ellroy, was raped and strangled to death by an unknown man. Jean was divorced from James's father and worked as a staff nurse at a Los Angeles factory and lived in nearby El Monte. She had custody of her son during the week. Every Saturday, he would take the bus to stay with his father. On Sundays, he would return by cab. However, on Sunday, June 22, 1958, he returned home to find policemen in the yard. He was then told that his mother had been murdered.
After her death, James's life turned for the worse, especially after his father's death. He drank, used drugs, burglarized homes, and stole cars. During the 1960s and 1970s, he spent several years in and out of prison. However, he eventually sobered up and became interested in crime novels; he soon began writing them. In 1982, his first book was published. Within the next decade, he would publish ten more crime novels. He later wrote the book "The Black Dahlia", a fictionalized account of the murder of Elizabeth Short.
In 1994, James started investigating his mother's thirty-six year old murder and looked through the evidence from his mother's case. He finally looked at the composite of her suspected killer. He was able to locate a waitress named Lavonne Chambers who served Jean and the unidentified man at around 10PM on the night of her death at a drive-in. James also learned that later in the night, Jean and the unknown man were also seen with an unidentified blonde woman at a bar called the Desert Inn. She apparently knew both Jean and the suspect; she left with them at around midnight. James believes that the woman is the key to solving his mother's murder and identifying the man.
At 2:15AM, Jean and the man arrived at the same drive-in that they were at earlier without the blonde woman. They left at around 3AM. Police suspect that the man then took Jean to the place where she was killed, which was a somewhat secluded area. They believe that the man wanted to have sex with Jean, but she refused. At that point, he attacked her, raped her, and then murdered her. Police believe that the man seen with Jean the night of her death is her killer. Her murder has yet to be solved.
Suspects: Police have nicknamed the man seen that night with Jean, "The Swarthy Man", who had dark hair and an olive complexion. One of the witnesses remembered that he had no accent. His car was described as a ’55 or ’56 dark-green Oldsmobile. He has never been identified.
Police would like to question the unidentified blonde woman seen with them the night of Jean's death; if still alive, she would be in her late eighties or early nineties. Police would also like to speak with some of Jean's former co-workers at Air-Tech Dynamics who may have information about her killer.
Several suspects were questioned during the initial investigation, including serial killer Harvey Glatman. However, there was never enough evidence to charge anyone.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the March 22, 1996 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. James created the book, "My Dark Places" which is based on the murder of his mother. Among his other works are bestsellers "The Black Dahlia", "L.A. Confidential" and "American Tabloid."
- Jean Ellroy at Unsolved.com
- James Ellroy at Wikipedia
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- James Ellroy Podcast Interview #1
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- Geneva Ellroy at Find a Grave