Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Drugs, Sex, and Murder in 1920s Tinseltown

No Happy Endings

There was some evidence that Sands committed suicide in 1923. The district attorney was informed by the Connecticut State Police that a body, with a clearly self-inflicted gunshot wound, had been identified as Edward Sands. Los Angeles D.A. Woolwine, again behaving strangely, (as he had during this entire case), suppressed this information, and left Sands as a fugitive and suspect.

As for Denis, all that was left was a ghost who haunted the case, a troubled young man who dropped out of view.

An interesting conclusion to all of this is the fates of the principal characters. Mabel Normand died in 1930, comparatively young (in her thirties) of tuberculosis. She lived the last eight years of her life as a murder suspect, complicated by several escapades that kept her in the public view.

Charlotte Shelby died in 1960, a bizarre enigma to the end. Henry Peavey had died almost thirty years before of tertiary syphilis. 

Mary Miles Minter retired from acting in 1924 and lived until 1984. She died a grotesque version of her younger self. She kept her doll-like face and blonde ringlets, but in her mature years, she became obese. Despite a husband and a number of lovers (including Charlie Chaplin), she claimed that she was a virgin.

William Desmond Taylor had a brilliant career cut short. Had he lived another ten years, he would have practiced his craft of movie-making into the Talkie Era. He might very well have made the transition from silent to sound movies with distinction.

However, he was prevented from realizing this possibility, in all likelihood, by a foolish, childish, and love-struck actress.

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