OVERELL, WALTER EDWARD - Los Angeles County, California | WALTER EDWARD OVERELL - California Gravestone Photos

Walter Edward OVERELL

Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Glendale Cemetery
Los Angeles County,
California

1884 - 1947

Around 11 P.M. on March 15, 1947, Beulah Louise Overell, 17, and her sweetheart George (Bud) Gollum, 20, left her parents' yacht, the Mary E., which was moored in Newport Harbor, California.
Their mission was a midnight snack. The elder Overells, Walter, 62, and Beulah, 57, stayed on the yacht, and the kids went off in a skiff to get hamburgers at a late-night burger joint.
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When the young couple returned to the pier where they had left their skiff, they were greeted with a sight of pure horror. The Mary E. was smoldering and sinking.
Just about the time Beulah was putting in the order for hamburgers, the cabin cruiser had been rocked by an explosion so powerful it "just about blew me out of my bunk," said F.E. Moore, a retired Los Angeles firefighter.
His boat was moored 75 feet from the Overells', and he was first to reach the wreck and start to hunt for survivors. Moore was soon joined by other searchers, including Beulah and her boyfriend, frantically calling out for her parents as the ship filled with water. The bodies would not be found until later, when the Coast Guard towed the Mary E. to shallow water.
Initial reports called it an accident, the kind of tragedy that sometimes happens in boats with gas motors.
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But a day later Beulah and George were in police custody, charged with the murder of her parents.
A quick examination of the Mary E. had revealed that the cause of the blast had not been gasoline. It was dynamite.
Had the bomb worked as intended, there would likely have been no evidence to raise suspicions. A few sticks of dynamite had been left in the engine room, wired to an alarm clock detonator. But the rest of the explosives were in another area; the first blast, investigators hypothesized, was supposed to trigger a second, larger one, reducing the yacht to splinters.
A heavy wooden bulkhead thwarted the plan, confining the blast to the engine room. It was still lethal, though. Walter Overell had been impaled on a plank, while his wife died of multiple skull fractures.
When the coroner looked closely he discovered it was possible the couple had died up to an hour earlier, from blows to the head dealt by a human hand. A ball-peen hammer fit neatly into a few of the wounds on Mrs. Overell's skull.
It was clearly murder, and since no one else had been on the Mary E. within the time that the bomb would have had to be built, Beulah Overell and George Gollum became the prime suspects.
On top of that, the chubby college girl had a motive - her family fortune, estimated at around $600,000, a respectable bundle for that era. Walter Overell had amassed this wealth through a lifetime of hard work, first in the family furniture business, and later as a real estate developer and financier. Beulah was the sole heir.
There was more. While Beulah was madly in love with George, her parents did not share her enthusiasm for her beau. Nevertheless, the wedding was planned for April 30 of that year, despite threats from the Overells that they'd disown their daughter if she went through with it.
In the days after the explosion, more bits of circumstance pointed to the young lovers. An investigation of Gollum's car, for example, turned up pieces of wire and pink adhesive tape. Similar wire and tape had been found on one of the unexploded sticks of dynamite from the Mary E. They also discovered bloody clothes in his car.
Also troubling was the record of a purchase at the Chatsworth office of the Trojan Powder company - 50 sticks of dynamite. A young couple made the purchase a day before the yacht explosion. Investigators had been led to the office by a receipt for the dynamite found tucked into Gollum's camera case, with a signature of a different name written in Gollum's hand.
Police spoke of Beulah's "noticeable lack of emotion" during questioning. Several reporters took note of the mink coat that she wore to jail, along with her plumpness, bushy brows, and inappropriate taste in clothes, considering her figure and her circumstances.
Love letters penned behind bars made both seem crazed by lust.
"I'll kidnap and carry you off somewhere so that no one will ever be able to find us and there I'll make passionate and violent love to you. If you ever marry another person, I will kill him," wrote George to Beulah.
And she to him: "O my darling, O my pops, popsie, darling, my beautiful, handsome, intelligent pops, I adore you always, eternally..."
'Sadistic sexual passion'
These missives, and a diary of sexual longing that Beulah penned in the months leading up to the deaths of her parents, were part of the evidence when the pair went on trial on May 26, 1947. The prosecution acknowledged that there were no witnesses, but insisted they could build a strong case that the young couple had conspired to do away with Beulah's parents.
"The defendants enjoyed an illicit, perverted, sadistic sexual passion amounting almost to frenzy," special prosecutor Eugene Williams told the court. "Lust, greed, frustration. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the raw materials of which murders are made."
The defense insisted that there was no direct proof, and advanced the theory that Walter Overell, despondent over financial worries, had committed a murder-suicide. Shoddy lab work further eroded the prosecution's credibility.
The trial took 133 days and jury deliberations, a series of heated arguments, dragged on for another two days. In the end, the jury was sure of only one thing - that Beulah and George were a couple of love-struck kids.
Cheers broke out in the packed, sweltering courtroom when the verdict was announced on Oct. 5: Not guilty.
The acquittal was not a pure victory for the couple. As Beulah left the courthouse, a reporter asked if she still planned to marry George. Her answer was a sharp no.
As for George, his response to the same question was, "We'll see."
And that was the end of that. More bad news came to Beulah a year later, when it was revealed that the great fortune was nowhere near the original estimates. "Flirting with insolvency," as one newspaper put it. She got some money from the estate, but not much. She would marry twice, move to Las Vegas, and drift into drink. In 1965, the one-time heiress was found dead in her bed, two empty quart bottles of vodka near her head, and a loaded, unfired rifle at her feet. Acute alcoholism was ruled the cause of death. New York Daily News September 26, 2009

Contributed on 9/11/20 by tomtodd
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Record #: 9323

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Submitted: 9/11/20 • Approved: 10/29/20 • Last Updated: 10/29/20 • R9323-G0

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