Los Angeles’s noir reputation is hard-earned: From the early days of the film industry, it’s seen murder after lurid murder, often made more lurid by the voraciousness of a press that can’t pass up a tragedy. For Halloween, here’s a map of 26 famous murder sites in LA, from Old Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor’s Westlake bungalow court to the scene of a gruesome quintuple murder carried out by the followers of Charles Manson.Read More
Mapped: 26 of LA’s most notorious murders
The city’s history is rife with grisly homicides
William Desmond Taylor
In one of Hollywood's oldest mysteries, Irish director William Desmond Taylor was found shot to death in his Westlake bungalow on February 2, 1922. Suspects included several actresses and a former chauffeur known to fake a British accent, but the murder has never been solved.
Early studio mogul Thomas Ince died at his Dias Dorados estate in Beverly Hills on November 19, 1924, but he was rumored to have been shot a few days earlier by William Randolph Hearst on Hearst's yacht, off the coast of San Diego. There are a million versions of the story, but they mostly assume that Hearst mistook Ince for Charlie Chaplin, who he believed was having an affair with his mistress, Marion Davies. Officially, Ince died of natural causes.
Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett
On February 16, 1929, shortly after oil heir Ned Doheny moved into Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, he and his secretary Hugh Plunkett were both found shot to death in a bedroom. It's unknown who exactly shot whom or why, but money, sex, and the Teapot Dome scandal are obviously the most common theories.
Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia)
Maybe LA's most famous murder of all time: Elizabeth Short was found cut in half in a field in Leimert Park on January 15, 1947. The papers turned her into the legend Black Dahlia, but the case has never come close to being solved.
On June 20, 1947, LA mob king Bugsy Siegel was sprayed with bullets as he sat reading at the home of his mistress, Virginia Hill. The murder was never solved.
Gangster Mickey Cohen's former bodyguard was stabbed to death on April 4, 1958, by his girlfriend Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane. Stompanato was abusive and Crane said she was acting in defense of her mother.
On June 16, 1959, TV Superman George Reeves was killed in his house by a single gunshot. It was ruled a suicide, but some insist it was a murder.
Los Feliz murder house
In the early morning hours of December 6, 1959, cardiologist Harold Perelson murdered his wife, Lillian, while she slept in their Los Feliz mansion. Using a ball-peen hammer, he then attempted to kill his daughter Judye, who escaped to a neighbor’s house. Perelson then killed himself by taking fatal doses of Nembutal and tranquilizers. The house where the murder-suicide took place sat vacant for most of the next six decades, as rumors spread that Christmas decorations from that December night were still intact. It sold in 2016.
Brilliant musician Sam Cooke was shot to death at the Hacienda Motel on December 11, 1964, supposedly by the manager (who said he attacked her). There was a lot of strangeness going on that night (Cooke had a woman with him at the motel who left with most of his clothing), and some people dispute the official story. Today a grocery store can be found where the motel once stood.
Robert F. Kennedy assassination
Early on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy had just addressed supporters after winning the California Democratic primary and was on his way out of the Ambassador Hotel via the kitchen when he was shot several times by Sirhan Sirhan. Most of the hotel was demolished in 2006 to make way for an LAUSD campus.
Ben-Hur star Ramon Novarro was brutally murdered in his Laurel Canyon home on October 30, 1968. Two brothers, convinced that Novarro had a hidden stash of cash, tortured and beat him; the crime scene allegedly involved a silver lead dildo given to Novarro by Rudolph Valentino.
Cielo Drive Manson murders
On the night of August 8, 1969, members of the Manson Family broke into a house being rented by pregnant actress Sharon Tate. She, several of her friends, and an acquaintance of the caretaker were murdered.
Leno and Rosemary LaBianca
The very next day, the Manson family struck again, murdering husband-and-wife Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at their home in Los Feliz. As in the group’s other murders, police investigating the crime scene found ominous messages written on the walls in blood.
Rebel Without a Cause co-star Sal Mineo was stabbed to death near his West Hollywood apartment on February 12, 1976. A pizza deliveryman was convicted of the murder.
On August 14, 1980, Playboy model Dorothy Stratten was shot to death by her estranged husband Paul Snider at their former shared house in Rancho Park.
Cousins Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi kidnapped, raped, and murdered 10 women in 1977 and 1978. Bianchi said that most of the murders were committed at Buono's home and auto upholstery shop in Glendale.
The Wonderland murders
Four people, part of or associated with a gang of burglars/drug addicts, were beaten to death with pipes at a townhouse in Laurel Canyon on July 1, 1981. Their friend, porn star John Holmes, was tried and acquitted for the crimes—though police still suspect that Holmes and drug dealer Eddie Nash were behind the slayings.
On April 1, 1984, legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father after an argument between the two escalated into a physical fight. The shooting took place at the West Adams home where Gaye’s parents lived.
Jose and Kitty Menendez
Lyle and Erik Menendez killed their wealthy parents with shotguns on August 20, 1989 at their mansion in Beverly Hills (the motive was allegedly money). They (and all of America) were subjected to a lurid televised trial.
Nicole Brown, Ron Goldman
On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman were stabbed to death outside of Brown's condo in Brentwood. Brown's ex-husband, OJ Simpson, was eventually tried and acquitted of the murders—but you probably already knew that.
The Notorious BIG
The great Biggie Smalls was shot in his car outside the Petersen Automotive Museum after a party, early on March 9, 1997 (prior to the museum’s swooshy makeover). The murder has never been solved.
Zankou Chicken murders
A dispute over the ownership of beloved Los Angeles chain restaurant Zankou Chicken reached a violent climax on January 14, 2003, when Mardiros Iskenderian shot and killed his mother, Margrit, and his sister, Dzovig Marjik. Iskenderian, who was suffering from cancer, then turned his gun on himself.
Robert Durst, son of real estate magnate Seymour Durst, will soon stand trial for the December 2000 murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman, who was shot and killed at her home in the Beverly Hills area..
Bonnie Lee Bakley
Bonnie Lee Bakley was shot to death outside of Vitello's restaurant on May 4, 2001. Her husband, actor Robert Blake, was acquitted on criminal charges but found civilly liable. He said he wasn't at the scene of the crime because he'd gone back to the restaurant to get a gun he'd left there.
On February 3, 2003, legendary music producer Phil Spector shot actress Lana Clarkson to death in his house in Alhambra. He was sentenced to 19 years to life for the murder.
Hip hop mogul Suge Knight was sentenced last month to 28 years in prison for fatally running over his friend and business associate Terry Carter on January 29, 2015 during promotional filming for the movie Straight Outta Compton.