It seems like wherever there was LA crime, Harry Raymond was there. He made enemies. He crossed double crossers. He ended up as the victim of a heinous crime and survived, to be case in the unlikely role of vice crusader.
Harry James Raymond was born in Kansas in 1881. Harry spent his early years in Argentine, Kansas. As of 1900 the family had moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming and from there to Denver, Colorado. In 1903, Albert Raymond died and Harry married a local girl, Beulah Estelle Early.
About 1909, the couple, along with Harry’s younger brother and his widowed mother, relocated to Los Angeles, where Harry established himself as a private detective with the Citizens’ Detective Agency. (At this time, the P.I. profession was not licensed in California).
In 1912, Harry was doing some sleuthing for the Guy Eddie Case. Guy Eddie, the LA City Prosecutor, had been arrested in his office in the City Jail Building on October 2, 1912, accused of inappropriate behavior a young woman, Mrs. Alice Phelps, age 20, who came to see him, ostensibly to seek his advice about getting a divorce. Phelps reported Eddie’s alleged inappropriate conduct to the LAPD. Police investigator F. W. Lloyd and others secretly observed Eddie with Phelps on a subsequent visit and made the arrest.Eddie claimed the case was a frame-up.
Eddie was noted for having introduced City Ordinance No. 25640 aka the “Rooming House Ordinance” which made it unlawful for any person to rent, let, or assign any room or apartment in the City of Los Angeles to unmarried couples. It was used to raid rooming houses that operated as brothels.
In November 1912, F.W. Lloyd was himself arrested on charges of extortion. Cecil Nicholson accused the officer of trying to shake him down for $20 in order to “fix” a gambling charge for him. Nicholson later admitted he’d lied. The county grand jury opened an investigation. Harry Raymond had reportedly been instrumental in bringing about Lloyd’s arrest and was said to be working for City officials in a conspiracy to discredit Lloyd, the main witness against Eddie. The grand jury indicted Raymond and the others on December 7, 1912. Raymond initially pleaded guilty on December 21 but later changed his plea. The DA’s office dropped the charges on March 1, 1913 for “lack of sufficient evidence.”
In August 1914, Harry Raymond sold his interest in the Citizens’ Detective Agency to former LAPD officer Hubert M. Kittle. Harry continued to work as a private detective.
On November 4, 1914, Harry was at the home of C. Fred Harlow when they, along with another detective, Thomas M. Miller were held up by three armed robbers who stole about $3000 worth of jewelry and cash. Harlow had often served as a front man for shady cafe/nightclubs run by the local underworld. On February 16, 1915, Raymond and Miller spotted one of the thieves in front of the Pantages Theater on Broadway and alerted the police, who arrested the man. The two accomplices were picked up days later.
Not long after this, Harry began working for the police as a special investigator, reporting to Assistant Chief George K. Home and paid from the department’s “secret service” fund. In September 1916, he was order to begin working directly for Chief Clarence E. Snively. Only days later, Snively abruptly demanded his resignation, ostensibly because Snively intended to abolish the secret service slush fund.
Only a couple weeks later, On October 2, 1916, Harry and Thomas M. Miller were involved in an altercation with Fred Harlow in which Harlow pulled a gun on Miller. Harry told reporters it had nothing to do with the burglary the three men had been involved with in November 1914. It was, Harry said, because they’d been hired to shadow Harlow and Harlow had found out. Harlow was arrested. The judge in the case dismissed the charges on November 28 due to insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution.
On November 13, 1917, Harry Raymond was suddenly appointed interim chief of police in Venice (not yet incorporated as part of Los Angeles) to replace the city’s ousted incumbent chief, Bert Reynolds. The position was made permanent the following month.
In August 1918, Chief Raymond was indicted by the county grand jury, accused of falsely imprisoning Frank Alexander Johnson and extorting him to secure his release. It was not the first such accusation during Raymond’s tenure to date.
In a big break for Harry, when his case came to trial on September 10, 1918, Johnson was missing and could not be located. Without the testimony of the principal witness, there was no case and the charges were dropped on September 30. On October 21, the city’s Board of Trustees removed Raymond as chief of police and installed T.H. Griffin.
Los Angeles, too, had seen a turnover in its police chiefs. Snively had departed in October 1916, shortly after he fired Raymond. His successor John Butler, left in July 1919, and was replace by George K. Home.
By the Fall of 1919, Harry was again working as a special investigator for the LAPD, reporting to now Chief of Police George K. Home. It was in this capacity that he served with Guy McAfee of the vice squad, who had been reinstated to service only a week prior. On October 25, 1919, they raided a basement gambling club at 223 West Third Street, run by Farmer Page. Page’s brother Stanley was also arrested. It’s likely the knew of the raid before it happened.
In January 1920, The Los Angeles Record reported on the number of fired officers and officers forced to resign, including Guy McAfee, Harry Raymond and Hubert Kittle (who had since sold the Citizens’ Detective Agency) had been reinstated by Chief Home, noting the “unsavory” record of Raymond and others working out of the secret service division. In some cases, the rehirings were also a violation of the civil service rules that required officers to retake an exam for placement.
Raymond offered his resignation and went to work for the theft bureau of the Automobile Club of Southern California. He left that post in February 1924 and announced he was again to open a private detective agency. That didn’t happen. Instead, Harry briefly returned to work for the LAPD, now headed (six police chiefs after George Home’s departure), at least for a few more months, by August Vollmer, on loan from the city of Berkeley. On March 19, DA Asa Keyes announced that Raymond was to become his chief of detectives. As such, Raymond would supervise all criminal investigations, coordinating with the Sheriff’s office and the LAPD.
Almost immediately after this appointment, he joined George Contreras– then head of the DA’s liquor enforcement detail (Aka the ‘booze squad”) – and raided a roadhouse on Washington Boulevard called Ford’s Castle.
At the end of August 1924, Raymond was put in charge of all detectives in the DA’s office, with the exception of Contreras’ booze squad. Less than a month later he’d be forced to resign.
Back on August 17, 1924, Arthur J. Nicholson, a wealthy Long Beach cafeteria man, had been arrested for a statutory offence and attempted bribery of sheriff’s deputies after being “caught” in the Hollywood bungalow of a young woman, Florette Duvall. The officers declared Nicholson had offered them $4000 to let him go. Nicholson said he’d been doped and the whole thing was a frame up perpetuated by his ex-wife.The grand jury ultimately declined to indict Nicholson and Keyes would drop the case on October 2.
On September 18, information “leaked” out that Chief Deputy DA Buron Fitts had demanded, and DA Keyes had accepted, the resignation of 15 DA’s office staffers, including Harry Raymond on September 12. Keyes denied the story, and denied specifically that Raymond’s handling of the Nicholson investigation had nothing to do with it. In December, however, he admitted Raymond had indeed resigned.
Harry returned to the police department (now headed by R. Lee Heath) as a special investigator. In May 1925 he helped foil an asserted kidnapping plot involving Mary Pickford. Later that year he again left the LAPD to form the Raymond Detective Service Bureau.
In April 1927 he was back on the force as part of a newly formed special robbery squad serving alongside Richard “Dick” Lucas. That same month, Detective Lieutenants Dick Lucas, Charles Hoy and John Bowers of the squad cornered and gunned down hijacker “Mile-Away” Thomas supposedly as he attempted to burgle a stash of liquor hidden in a garage. The public was not well pleased. Thomas had been ambushed by the officers and killed when he could easily have been captured. Harry Raymond, it was whispered, had been the one to put Thomas “on the spot,” telling him where to find the liquor. The officers were cleared by the police commission but bad feelings lingered.
On August 5, 1927, City Councilman Carl Jacobson was arrested on a morals charge at the home of Hallie Grimes, a woman constituent, by several high-ranking LAPD officers, including Harry Raymond and Dick Lucas- who were ostensibly responding to a “disturbance call.” Jacobson had been critical of Charles Crawford, Farmer Page and Albert Marco and loudly calling on the police to investigate their vice activities. The councilman called the incident a frame-up. Grimes, it turned out, was the sister-in-law of LAPD officer Frank Cox. Cox had been a motorcycle patrolman but was lately promoted to the vice squad. Raymond claimed he didn’t know Cox, but this would later be shown to be false. Read my full post on the Jacobson case here.
In December 1927, Harry Raymond and Dick Lucas were dispatched to Oregon to retrieve Edward Hickman, the kidnapper/murderer of little Marion Parker in Los Angeles. There would later be accusations that they’d let Hickman slip through their fingers in the first place in order to collect the reward for his capture.
As 1928 began, the Jacobson case was not going away. The Hollywood Citizen News called on Mayor Cryer to fire officers Harry Raymond, Dick Lucas, Sydney Sweetnam, Charles Hoy, Chief James Davis and others, writing on May 25, 1928: “The honest policemen of Los Angeles are entitled to a decent chance to bring their department out of disgrace and out of control of the gang of criminal graft-collectors”
Rather, in June 1928, Chief of Detectives Herman Cline assigned Special Detective Raymond and Acting Detective Lieutenant Lucas to a new gun squad! “This city is going to be kept clean of outside gangsters as well as local talent.” Cline stated. Later that summer, the city council noted that while the homicide squad, led by “Lefty” James had arrested 10 racketeers suspected in the murder of “Little Augie” Palombo, the gun squad had yet to throw a single gunman in jail.
On September 1, 1928, two suspects in a liquor theft case, Orren E. Logan and Edward E. Fields accused Raymond and Lucas of beating them at the Rosslyn Hotel and said they failed to arrest the actual owner of the liquor the pair had been caught trying to steal.
In October 1928, DA Asa Keyes was indicted for bribery related to the Julian Oil scandal. Cheif Deputy DA Buron Fitts assumed his office and also successfully prosecuted Keyes.
In November 1928, the Jacobson case blew up again when the woman involved, Callie Grimes, admitted to the county grand jury that it had been a frame-up arranged by Charles Crawford and Albert Marco with the cooperation of Harry Raymond, Dick Lucas and the others. Harry Raymond had supposedly brought Grimes the rum later seized by the officers. The grand jury found Raymond and Lucas culpable and in January 1929 demanded their resignations. By the end of the year, Chief Davis himself was demoted to the Traffic unit.
Harry Raymond returned to private detecting. He also provided security at the dog track at Culver City and published a detective magazine.
In May 1931 Charles Crawford was murdered at his Sunset Boulevard office alongside journalist Herbert Spencer. Guy McAfee was the prime suspect, but had a perfect alibi. Former Deputy DA Dave Clark confessed to the crime, claiming self defense. Special Prosecutor W. Joseph Ford claimed to have received important information from Harry Raymond that he “expected would aid the prosecution in establishing motive for the double murder.”
Below: ads for Harry Raymond’s detective agency from 1930-1933.
On June 5, 1933, Harry Raymond was appointed San Diego’s Chief of Police! He had the job three months- let go on September 5, 1933 as “temperamentally unfit for the job.”
The LAPD snapped up the suddenly unemployed Raymond. James Davis had been restored to power with the election of mayor Frank Shaw and rehired Raymond as well as Dick Lucas, who was to be paid by the secret service slush fund. On September 9 Chief Davis announced that he was forming a new gangster squad to feature Raymond and Lucas.
The following year, on September 14, 1934, Raymond announced that he was taking a new/old position as head of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s auto theft bureau. In that job, while chasing a stolen car, he crashed his own vehicle into a pole on January 20, 1936, suffering a fractured skull, left leg fracture and a crushed lung. He wasn’t expected to live but Harry was a tough old bird and pulled through and his body slowly healed. He resigned his position at the auto club in January 1937.
In August 1937, the bankruptcy trial of Harry Munson, former police commissioner and Mayor Shaw campaign worker was underway in Hollywood. Lawyer A. Bringham Rose, representing Munson’s creditors, had attempted to trace the sources of Munson’s income and found he was well acquainted with Guy McAfee, Farmer Page and hinted that Munson had funneled campaign contributions to Shaw from the underworld. Rose also represented Clifford Clinton, the cafeteria owner who was leading a citizen’s campaign to investigate vice conditions in the city. On August 26, Rose announced that Harry Raymond would be called as a witness. Raymond would, Rose said make some “startling statements about local politics.”
In the wee hours of January 14, 1938, Harry Raymond turned on the ignition of his car and it exploded.
Raymond was nearly killed, with over 150 wounds. He survived. Brigham Rose said Raymond had been conducting investigations for him in connection with the Munson case. It would sometimes be mistakenly reported that Raymond was involved in Clifford Clinton’s investigation.
The story of Clinton’s vice investigation and the Raymond bombing is covered in my post “The Angels Take a Bath” here.
It quickly came out that the LAPD’s secret “spy squad,” which reported directly to Chief Davis and Mayor Shaw, had been spying on Raymond for some time and was responsible for the bombing. Earl Kynette, Raymond’s former colleague, was tried and convicted of the crime. Kynette tried to throw shade on Raymond, pointing out his underworld connections and revealing his role in the gunning down of Mile-Away Thomas in 1927. Raymond had allegedly been trying to shake down his old friends, threatening to tell Bringham Rose what he knew about LA “politics.”
The citizens of Los Angeles recalled Mayor Frank Shaw from office in September 1938. Superior Court Judge Fletcher Bowron was elected to replace him.
In 1939, Raymond decided to run for city council, representing the Ninth District. He lost.
He also brought a civil suit against Earl Kynette, former Chief David (who had been forced to “retire” in November 1938), former Mayor Shaw and Shaw’s brother Joe. The case was settled out of court.
Kynette, out of appeals, finally reported to San Quentin to begin serving his term in September 1939.Harry Raymond spent much of the rest of his life trying to keep Kynette behind bars, writing letters to the parole board and vocally opposing plans to release him.
Despite Raymond’s efforts, Kynette was paroled in January 1948. Raymond wrote to Governor Earl Warren, asking him to revoke it, vowing to fight Kynette’s parole for the rest of his life.
Kynette was set back to prison in February 1951 for violating his parole. He was released again in May 1952.
Harry Raymond died on April Fool’s Day 1957, age 76.