The Real Crimes Behind L.A. Noire Cases: “A Marriage Made in Heaven”
(In the L.A. Noire Traffic desk case, "A Marriage Made in Heaven", a man is found dead in the street - the apparent victim of a hit and run. A case inspired by the true story surrounding the death of Jay Dee Chitwood in 1944.)
Today, we present the real crime story that inspired L.A. Noire’s “A Marriage Made in Heaven” Traffic desk case.
On August 10th 1944, Los Angeles county resident Jay Dee Chitwood was found killed at the corner of 203rd St and Western Avenue in Torrance (203rd has since been renamed Del Amo Blvd). Upon examining the body and scene, traffic detectives concluded that Chitwood was the fatal victim of an apparent hit-and-run.
In response to this traffic death, local Torrance City Council lawmakers sought to improve pedestrian safety in the area by constructing new sidewalks. Area newspapers reported that without those paths, many local residents of new housing developments and trailer parks in the surrounding neighborhood had been forced to walk on the highways putting themselves in danger.
A sad and unfortunate case indeed, but it appeared to at least have led to an improvement in local safety to prevent future accidents. Jay Dee was laid to rest - and his widow, Helen thereafter remarried and re-settled down again in San Pedro.
Fast forward about two and a half years later to January 1947.
Local detectives are alerted to a tip from a male friend of Helen’s that she had suddenly related a quite shocking tale. The apparent revelation being that counter to how things originally seemed that fateful August night, it was no hit-and-run case at all.
San Pedro detectives stated to the news media that Mrs. Chitwood confessed to having stabbed her husband following an argument they had that night in the street near 203rd and Western Ave, jabbing him twice in the chest with a knife. As he fell, the story goes, he was struck by a passing car.
The surprised detectives subsequently booked Helen on suspicion of murder pending a new full investigation. Quite a wrinkle in a seemingly straightforward traffic accident case.
But just one day later, the true life plot turned once again.
A revisiting of the original autopsy findings yielded that there was no evidence of a knife wound on the body – the conclusion being that Chitwood died of a punctured lung from the impact of his chest being struck by an automobile.
Why would Helen lie about such a thing so many years later?
“I was drunk and didn’t know what I was saying and wanted to make my present hubby angry” was her explanation as reported by in the papers.
She was released from custody. And the traffic death case of Jay Dee Chitwood was closed. Again.
They say that truth is so often stranger than fiction, and this odd tale of twists certainly applies.
While L.A. Noire’s fictionalized case “A Marriage Made in Heaven” is inspired by this story of a dream wife who lies about killing her previous husband in order to upset her new husband – it doesn’t quite play out in the same way.
In our case, is it in the end a straightforward hit-and-run accident? Is the wife in our rendition guilty of foul play? Are there other persons or factors involved? What’s that note in his inside pocket say?
Like all cases in L.A. Noire, an already interesting true story was used to inspire an original crime case with even more elaborate turns and revelations you’ll have to play to discover…
“The Red Lipstick Murder”: Real Crime Stories of 1947 Los Angeles that Inspired L.A. Noire Cases