Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession

A Family Feud

Since her husband died, Lois Petrie had been spending a lot of time hanging out in bars. One San Pedro bar she frequented was Tommy's Yacht Club on West Sixth Street, just four blocks from her apartment.

After finishing at the crime scene, Harbor Division detectives went to Tommy's to find out who Lois had been hanging out with and if she'd had any recent problems with anyone at the bar.

The night manager at Tommy's confirmed that Lois was a regular customer. She had been there the day before, on Christmas Day. She had come in sometime after 4:00 in the afternoon and had drunk until midnight. As far as he knew, she had left by herself.

Then the manager dropped a bombshell.

Two days before Christmas, Lois had been in the bar with her sister. After several drinks, the two women started fighting.

Fighting over what? the detectives asked.

Over Edith's boyfriend, the night manager said.

Suddenly, Edith's suspicious statements about when she called the police after discovering her sister's body took a potentially sinister turn.

"She's the first one to find (Lois) after she's dead, and she had had some kind of family argument with her a couple of days prior involving a boyfriend," Bengtson says. "And she had given us some type of inconsistent statement at the time that she did find the body, so it does ring bells for us. There is some kind of family squabble going on and this could possibly lead to one family member doing harm to another family member."

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