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William Desmond Taylor
On February 1, 1922, Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor is murdered. His body is found the next morning inside his bungalow at the Alvarado Court Apartments, in the West Lake Park area of downtown Los Angeles. Taylor was an Irish-born American director and actor. He directed 59 silent films between 1914 and 1922 and acted in 27 between 1913 and 1915. He was a popular figure in the growing Hollywood motion picture colony of the 1910s and early 1920s.
Following the discovery of the body a crowd gathered inside the directors apartment and someone identifying himself as a doctor stepped forward, made a cursory examination of the body, declared Taylor had died of a stomach hemorrhage. The doctor was never seen again, perhaps owing to his own embarrassment, because when doubts later arose, the body was rolled over by forensic investigators and it was discovered the 49-year-old film director had been shot at least once in the back with what appeared to have been a small caliber pistol which was not found at the scene.
More than a dozen individuals were eventually named as suspects by both the press and the police. Newspaper reports at the time were both overwhelmingly sensationalized and speculative, even fabricated, and the murder was used as the basis for much subsequent "true crime" fiction. Many inaccuracies were carried forward by later writers who used articles from the popular press as their sources. Overall, most accounts have consistently focused on seven people as suspects and witnesses that included actresses Mabel Normand and Mary Miles Minter. Through a combination of poor crime scene management and apparent corruption, much physical evidence was immediately lost, and the rest vanished over the years (although copies of a few documents from the police files were made public in 2007). Various theories were put forward after the murder and in the years since, along with the publication of many books claiming to have identified the murderer, but no hard evidence was ever uncovered to link the crime to a particular individual.
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