Fay Wray’s Extortion Attempt

 FROM THE HEADLINES

Fay Wray, intended victim!

 

 

Los Angeles Examiner
July 15, 1928

 

Fay Wray, motion-picture actress, was the intended victim of a bold extortion plot, her mother was marked for death, and the suspected extortionist was captured, all within a the span of two hours yesterday.

 

The suspect was captured by Captain of Detectives Edward Slaughter and a squad of officers while in the act of recovering a packet of fake money at the rendezvous of the “pay-off.” He gave his name as Lyon I. Bernard, 35, of 521 South Cloverdale Street, and a friend of the Wray family.

 

To avoid arrest, he tried to “shoot it out” with his captors, but was overpowered. 

 

Miss Wray is the bride of John Monk Saunders, scenarist and author. They returned from their honeymoon a few days ago.

 

EXTORTION MESSAGE
Miss Wray, who resides at 7919 Thelma avenue, was handed a message at her home shortly after noon yesterday by a special delivery postal messenger. On the envelope was inscribed:

 

“12:15 p.m. Saturday.

 

“Quiet is necessary to save dear old mother at once today, Saturday the fourteenth. Mum!”

 

The envelope contained the following grim message, crudely printed in pencil:

 

“Say ­the life of your mother is in great danger and only the payment by you of $2,000 will save her life. She is being watched constantly. Don’t be foolish or call the police. In fact, don’t tell a soul of this. Follow instructions and she will not be harmed.

 

CURRENCY DEMANDED 

“Get money in assorted currency, wrapped in newspaper. Then get in your car and drive to a vacant lot at Sunset and Laurel Avenue.

 

“You will notice some tall weeds growing on the west side of Laurel avenue between the street and the sidewalk. Slow up as you pass these and throw money here. Then drive straight down Laurel to Santa Monica. Drive like hell!” As long as nothing happens to us your mother is safe. Don’t even tell your husband.

 

“If we are hunted­good-by Mother!”

 

The letter was unsigned.   

 

Miss Wray immediately notified Captain of Detectives Edward Slaughter at Hollywood station. Time was scarce–less then an hour to work before the appointed “delivery” of the money.

 

POLICE AT SCENE

Captain Slaughter, with several detectives, hastened to the rendezvous. He stationed Detective Lieutenant Jackson in a house across from the vacant lot. Captain Slaughter and Detective Lieutenant Page concealed themselves near the lot on Sunset boulevard. Detective Lieutenant Dwight was posted 500 feet north of the lot.

 

Miss Wray, alone in her car, drove to the appointed spot. Driving slowly past the lot she tossed the decoy packet into the weeds and drove rapidly toward Santa Monica Boulevard.

 

 

The officers waited. Half a block from the vacant lot they espied a man,without a coat, nervously sitting in a parked automobile. For almost an hour the suspect “stalled.” He stepped from his car, paced slowly back and forth in front of the lot, scanning the weeds. Several times he got back in his car and drove around the block.

 

GETS DECOY PACKAGE

Finally the suspect returned to the lot. He again alighted from his car and advanced into the weeds. He picked up the decoy package and returned to his car.

 

As he was climbing into his car, the detectives rushed him. He drew the pistol–aimed–and it misfired. The gun was knocked from his his hand and he was arrested.   

 

“I was broke,” Bernard told his captors. “I knew Miss Wray in her schooldays. I went to school with her brother and sister back in Bingham Canyon, Utah.

 

“I knew she deeply loved her mother, Mrs. Vina Wray. I knew Mrs. Wray lived at 1332 Sierra Bonita avenue. I thought I could get away with it.”

 

Bernard said he was married.

 

Miss Wray faced him in the station and asked him why he did it. Bernard broke down and wept. He is charged with suspicion of extortion.

_____________________________________

 

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3 Responses to “Fay Wray’s Extortion Attempt”

  1. landman says:

    Another wonderful story about Old Hollywood, Allan.

  2. ruth says:

    Thank you. Amazing story. Ms. Wray was a brave lady.

  3. Diane says:

    June Mathis’ home was at Sunset and Laurel on the NE corner where a gas station now sits. She had died the year before this.

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