Chapter 16~ The Duke

“She told me she would be 24 on the 25th of this month and I think you will agree she acted and looked the part.”

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The LAPD started looking for Lynn Martin soon after the murder. Lynn’s friend, Duke Wellington, advised her to turn herself in. Then, they began looking for him.

Duke Wellington, alias Bill Cochrane, 40 or 44 years old, according to newspapers, wrote  a letter to Captain Jack Donahoe, head of the homicide squad. It was received on January 27, 1947, after Lynn Martin had been interviewed. Wellington claimed that he did not know Elizabeth Short.

“Yes, I suggested Miss Martin surrender. That was on Tuesday, the 21st.”

The LAPD joined the Burbank and Glendale police departments in their search for Wellington, who was avoiding contact. He was wanted for writing bad checks and was finally caught in February by Burbank police. Detective H. D. MacDonald of the Burbank police department said that Wellington had written six bad checks since the previous November and was arrested, with bail set at $3,000.

Duke’s wife, Hazel Wellington, said she had been in New York since September, 1946 and was unaware of his activities. She arrived home in Burbank on January 28. She said, “I never heard of Elizabeth Short and do not know Lynn Martin or anyone else involved in the slaying.” She told a friend that she hadn’t heard from Duke since October.

Hazel Wellington called the Burbank police on January 29 and asked them to inspect their home in Burbank, because, as a police notation declared, “of the unusual situation her husband is now in.” Hazel said that her husband was working in Glendale as an engineer from late 1945 until spring, 1946.

Duke said, “I had no intention of running away. I read in the Valley Times that my wife had arrived and I wanted to see her.”

The Burbank police got their man when they arrested Duke Wellington for writing bad checks. However, the LAPD was more interested in any connection he might have with Elizabeth Short. They were also interested in his relationship with 15 year old Lynn Martin. The LAPD  Homicide Bureau dispatched Det. Harry Fremont and Det. Sgt. William Cummings to Burbank to interview Wellington.

“I first met Miss Martin at the Club Tabu on Sunset Strip in November, about the 15th to 20th, I think.”

“I have seen her off and on since that time, the last on Jan. 21.”

He said he did not have contact with her between January 7 and January 15.

“I had not seen or heard from Miss Martin until about 12:15 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 15 when she and another girl, Bobby, returned with at least one other person.  Miss Martin told me it was a man, a friend of Bobby.”

“On this  evening, I was at the office of that address from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.”

“I did not at any time meet the girl who was killed nor did I know anything about her until this happened.  Miss Martin came to me, running and frightened, either Thursday or Friday of last week when she saw in the papers she was wanted for questioning.”

“Crying, she told me she knew nothing of it and I know that to be truth, unless she and Bobby did it and that is utterly impossible to conceive.  I questioned her about her relationship with the dead girl and she could tell me little other than the girl never brought men to her room and rarely had dates at the place.”

“The only girls who I know that Miss Martin knew was a girl, slightly on the mannish type, known to me as ‘Mary,’ who gave her a job at the club and who I saw last on New Year’s Eve.”

“The other was a roommate at a hotel on Wilcox, near Sunset.  I am sure she called her by the name of ‘Marion.’

“Miss Martin was very vague about her past.  Seemed depressed and a little nervous most of the time.  She said she had no family and had been married to a military policeman at El Paso, Texas, and divorced…”

“I questioned her on this Short matter and she could tell me nothing.  I have thought of this thing a lot in the past two days, making notes so as not to forget anything.  This is all that I know, frankly and honestly.”

“As for myself, I can retrace my steps and thank God enough people know where I was at the time.  Now let us look at things squarely.  I am in trouble, yes, but how.

“Well the first thing I thought I was doing right turned out wrong.  That was to tell Miss Martin to report in.  You people only used that to ruin me and any chance I might have to get my affairs in shape.  By such gracious tactics you might be preventing the real clue from showing up.

“This smear campaign would only make people afraid of the police.  You make people run from you instead of come to you.  Ninety per cent of us have things we don’t want publicly displayed.

“Thanks for the nice publicity.  I am washed up.  Period.  A fair deal for trying to help clean up this Short mess.  I am trying to clean up my affairs and will continue to do so until stopped.”

By early February, 1947, Wellington was of no further value to the investigation. He still had a hearing scheduled for February 14 for writing bad checks on his Bank of America account in Burbank.


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