Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Randolph's Hearse

William Randolph's Hearse

Murder at San Simeon
Book cover: Murder at San

The Ince mystery yielded some bizarre spinoffs. In one such story, Abigail Kinsolving, Davies' secretary, told police she had been raped by Ince on the boat and had allegedly been seen by other guests to have bruises on her. Her story is rendered highly implausible by the fact that Margaret Livingston was on the same cruise. It's not likely the normally cautious Ince would have taken such a risk within the narrow, gossipy confines of a 280-foot yacht. Several months later Kinsolving gave birth to a daughter out of wedlock and, soon after that, she was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the grounds of San Simeon. Her baby girl was sent to an orphanage and supported by funds Davies provided.

At the Culver City studios Ince founded, several reports have surfaced about his ghost having been seen on the premises. In one such incident, in 1988, a workman doing renovations was reportedly confronted by an apparition that angrily stated, "I don't like what you're doing to my studio!" before vanishing into the wall. The description of the ghost appeared to fit that of Thomas Ince.

Patty Hearst
Patty Hearst

A number of other books have been written about Hearst over the years, some lightly touching on the Ince incident without making value judgments or speculating on probable cause. Others don't mention it at all. One of the more interesting books to cover the topic was a 1996 work of fiction — "based on fact," of course. It is titled Murder at San Simeon and it names the players in the Ince drama by name, even while contorting the storyline. The principal author is Patricia Campbell Hearst, better known to the world as "Patty." Daughter of Randolph Hearst and granddaughter of W.R., she made headlines in the mid-1970s with her "kidnapping" and subsequent crime spree exploits with the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Today, the fabulous Hearst estate at San Simeon is a major tourist attraction along the highway through California's Big Sur country. It was so huge and unwieldy that Hearst, in his dying days, realized that no one individual could ever manage it again and he donated it to the State of California as a historical site.

Although the mystery surrounding Ince has never been solved, in the minds of those who were inclined to believe the worst at the time, there was no room for doubt. How else to explain the nickname given to the Oneida shortly afterward: "William Randolph's Hearse."

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