“The Red Lipstick Murder”: Real Crime Stories of 1947 Los Angeles that Inspired L.A. Noire Cases
(An element of our "Red Lipstick Murder" directly inspired by this case - the eponymous red lipstick scrawled on the corpse.)
In L.A. Noire, virtually all of the cases you’ll play are inspired in some part by real life incidents that happened in and around Los Angeles circa that crime-plagued era of 1947. Team Bondi meticulously researched stacks of original articles reported in the newspapers of the day to cull authentic elements of real life crimes that would inspire the in-game cases.
One of those is a case attendees of this weekend’s PAX East show are seeing in action, “The Red Lipstick Murder” from the Homicide desk. Like all such cases in the game, our version is an original story inspired by some element of the 1947 crime. It could be an intriguing aspect of the crime scene, or a particularly fascinating twist of a case, or a surprising lead. The game's writers embellished and fictionalized these real cases to create a thrilling playable story – including in some instances, re-imagined outcomes to real world cases that remain unsolved to this day.
“The Red Lipstick Murder” is based on the real life homicide investigation into the murder of Jeanne French. French was a 45 year old veteran Army nurse who was discovered stripped and stomped to death in an isolated lover’s lane type area of LA known as “The Moors” early one morning in February ’47.
Occurring just weeks after the notorious ‘Black Dahlia’ murder of Elizabeth Short, the killer in this case infamously created a stir when it was discovered that the letters “B.D.” (along with some obscenities) were scrawled in red lipstick on Mrs. French’s nude body. Was this the work of a serial killer, responsible for both killings, and possibly others? Or was it a sick copycat inspired by the Black Dahlia crime? As one would imagine, a sensational media frenzy ensued and the case of Jeanne French spurred a wide LAPD dragnet.
The investigation yielded an intriguing list of possible suspects who were investigated by the police.
French’s husband, who proclaimed his innocence as the tabloids reported he was abusive to Mrs. French and even had an argument with her the very evening of her murder.
The mysterious “other man” who shared a private post office box with her?
The unidentified ‘dark-haired’ male companion who reportedly shared a last meal with her at a Chinese restaurant hours before her death?
In the end, the case remained unsolved. French’s husband famously passed a lie detector test in effort to prove his innocence. The other men were proven to be false leads or never identified. Jeanne French was just another cold case from the year of 1947.
Our “Red Lipstick Murder” in L.A. Noire takes some very specific kernels of inspiration from this tragic story, including the eponymous red-lipstick scrawled on the corpse, other similarities to the crime scene, and the suspected husband who protests his innocence. But in the game’s original story, the player does close the case. The outcome is one we won’t be spoiling for you of course, leaving it to you to solve the mystery this May.
Look for more real crime case stories to come...