Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

The Pretty Brunette

Two days later his witness was revealed. She was Allene Leonards, a teacher in the Garfield Heights school system. At 24, she was 33 years younger than Birns.

The Press reported the story told by "the pretty brunette:" She had been with Shondor at a Garfield Heights steakhouse.

The owner confirmed it. After drinks, Birns had frog's legs and she had whitefish. The bill with tax was $5. They left at 10 or maybe 10:30. Birns was "his normal, smiling self."

Gerber saw a chance to help his newspaper friends and get some publicity himself by scheduling an inquest, as he had done in the Sheppard case. "Dr. Gerber Vows Alibi Girl Will Testify in Gold Case," headlined the Plain Dealer.

Neighbors told reporters that Miss Leonards was "very nice," but they thought she should go out more often. The Plain Dealer reported that the "demure brunette of medium height" lived in Cleveland with her widowed mother.

She refused to testify and was cited for contempt. At her bond hearing, photographers snapped her on the witness stand with her legs crossed. The Plain Dealer said, "Dressed in a knit beige suit, appliquéd with brown butterflies, and a white sweater, Miss Leonards was very attractive."

She again took the Fifth, as did Birns. "Arrest Alibi Girl, Wouldn't Testify," the Plain Dealer headlined.

She resigned her teacher's job. The Internal Revenue Service seized Birns' Cadillac toward the income taxes he still owed.

Gold had given his wife some papers to be given to police if anything happened to him. She turned them over.

Police also found a tape made by Gold of a phone call between himself and Shondor.

Gold said, "Here's what I've done to you. Every last drop is down on 23 sheets of paper, single-spaced just in case you get the clever idea of being cute."

Birns replied, "You ain't going to put me up against the wall!"

Nothing came of the papers or tapes. Gradually, the case faded from the public eye. On July 5, 1964, the Plain Dealer reported, "Trail Leading to Gold's Murder Grows Cold."

The Press said simply, "Mervin Gold Slain One Year Ago Today."

Next: Meeting His Maker

 

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