Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of "Our Gang's" Alfalfa


It has been nearly 50 years since the death of Carl Switzer, and there is no shortage of theories and misinformation regarding the circumstances. Some of these rumors contend Switzer was killed over a drug deal gone badly, although the claim has not been substantiated. The last one appears to be the most interesting.

Grave marker of Carl Switzer
Grave marker of Carl Switzer

On January 25, 2001, a third witness came forward and gave his version of the events of January 21, 1959. The witness, 56-year-old Tom Corrigan, stepson of Moses Stiltz, told The Scripps Howard News Service that he was present the night Switzer was killed.

"It was more like murder," Corrigan told reporters. He said he heard the knock on the front door and was present when the argument broke out. "It just got to be a principle stand with Carl. He was feeling down and out and thought Bud should cover it," Corrigan said.

He claimed to witness Stiltz grab the revolver and the two fight for control over it. During the commotion the gun fired and Corrigan was struck in the leg by a piece of shrapnel. As he looked down at the wound, his two younger sisters ran to a neighbor's house to call for help. "Well, we shot Tommy. Enough of this," he remembers Switzer saying as he and Piott retreated. Corrigan was making his way to the front door when he heard a second shot go off behind him.

He didn't see his stepfather shoot Switzer, but when he turned around he saw Switzer sliding down the wall. Corrigan said he spotted a closed penknife at Switzer's side. He then witnessed his stepfather threaten to kill Piott, but as the man begged for his life, Corrigan's mother stepped between the two and managed to calm Stiltz down.

Following the shooting Corrigan claims a now-deceased Los Angeles Police Department detective, Pat Pow, interviewed him and asked him if he would testify before a judge. Corrigan claims to have agreed, although for unknown reasons he was never called before the coroner's jury. "He didn't have to kill him," Corrigan said thinking back on the situation.

Regardless of Corrigan's claims, the case has long been closed. Most of the people involved have since passed away and authorities would have little to gain in reopening the investigation. No, the death of Carl Switzer will remain yet another one of Hollywood's unsolved mysteries.

On one final note, every year until the time of his death in 1984, Bud Stiltz received a Christmas card signed "Alfie" from an anonymous sender.

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