The Real Crimes Behind L.A. Noire Cases: “The Nicholson Electroplating Disaster”

Posted on June 14 2011, 12:00pm | Author: R* Q | Filed Under: Games

Our first L.A. Noire DLC case, “The Nicholson Electroplating Disaster” is coming June 21st to give all the intrepid detectives out there fiending to get back on the job another juicy case to crack – and this one’s a doozy.
The story is inspired by an incident that is quite unlike the relatively obscure crimes that inspired most of the other cases in the game, and was a major national headline back in 1947 Los Angeles.
Beyond just the name of the plant being changed in our fictionalized interactive version (changed from O’Connor to Nicholson, in a direct nod to – guess who) ours also adds a ton of intrigue, twists and turns far beyond what investigators discovered in the real case – which was much more straightforward, if shocking and embarrassing to the plant’s executives.

On the morning of February 20th, 1947 – the O’Connor Electro-Plating plant at 926 East Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles erupted in a terrific explosion that rocked the city for miles around. The mushroom-shaped cloud that formed over the area led many to initially panic with the thought of a nuclear bomb having been dropped on L.A. News reports told of planes ten miles away that were said to have felt the shudder, and of neighboring buildings’ windows that shattered for blocks around. In all, 151 people were injured and 15 were killed – the casualties ranging from innocent pedestrians (including a twelve-year old boy riding his bicycle two blocks away who was struck by a stray pipe from the blast) to the very person inside who the police concluded was responsible for the disaster…

The man who would become the primary person of interest in this case was the plant’s chief chemist, Robert Magee.

Magee had attained his position by impressing plant executive, Robert O’Connor, during an interview with his weighty credentials (a bachelor of science degree from the University of Indiana, a master’s from the University of Pittsburgh, a Ph.D from M.I.T. as well as graduate credit from Caltech) and with his presentation of a remarkable new chemical compound he’d created – a special blend of perchloric acid that could plate aluminum to gleam like silver without the costly expense of a polishing and buffing process.

O’Connor was sold – Magee and his magical new metallurgic formula would be his secret weapon to revitalize the business and give them a clear edge on the competition. 

That fateful February morning, however, Magee was practically evaporated along with his assistants in the blast.
And O’Connor truly learned that all that gleams is not gold.
Who was this Doctor Robert Magee, investigators wondered…
According to reports, they discovered that M.I.T. had no transcripts or record of him ever having attended the school…
Checks with the other schools returned similar results – the closest to validating his academic history was Caltech who said that he had taken a short night war training course there, but that was it.
According to the police investigation, it turned out Magee had never even graduated high school – having dropped out of Steubenville High School back in his native Ohio.

His knowledge of and knack for chemistry was all purely self-taught, and indeed had impressed even some of his genuinely accredited scientist peers at the plant – according to testimony gathered in the lengthy inquest that followed the disaster. But nevertheless, it was determined that this was clearly a case of tragic negligence, as the dangerous formula was ultimately mishandled by Magee and his team (a team which included a newly hired young assistant, Miss Alice Iba, who also had dubious academic qualifications according to detectives assigned to the case) – chalked up to the ineptitude of an unqualified chemist, and a critical lack of due diligence by the plant itself on a human resources level.

A vilified Robert O’Connor was sued by blast victims and would plead the fifth amendment during the official inquest on the explosion, responding in the affirmative to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney S. Ernest Rolls question, “Do you mean to tell me that you refuse to testify on the grounds that the testimony might tend to incriminate you?”

When you play our forthcoming DLC case later this month, you’ll see for yourself how our version, as you can imagine, introduces a whole lot more intrigue, twists and turns to the story. Get that notebook ready…

In the meantime, check out some historical photos from the disaster which appear in the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society’s Flickr photostream slideshow below.

Also read Time Magazine’s original 1947 report “CALIFORNIA: The Amazing Brew”:,9171,854621-1,00.html

The Real Crimes Behind L.A. Noire Cases: “A Marriage Made in Heaven”
“The Red Lipstick Murder”: Real Crime Stories of 1947 Los Angeles that Inspired L.A. Noire Cases

  • R* Yon June 21 2011, 10:19amReplyFlag
    @joshy10001 @Lanoireiscool We expect the Nicholson Electroplating DLC to become available throughout the day across all regions, we'll be sure to let everyone know when the content is live worldwide
    • joshy10001on June 21 2011, 9:00amReplyFlag
      its 2oclock in the afternoon and iv been checking every other hour in the in game store for the dlc and it still says coming soon, what the hell is going on?? the stupid thing is that its available on the marketplace, but i have the pass so i need to wait until the store decides to say its available to download, anybody else got this problem???
      • Lanoireiscoolon June 21 2011, 1:43amReplyFlag
        So why when I check this morning that it is not in the store maybe I will wait till lunch time
        • R* Yon June 15 2011, 10:52amReplyFlag
          @BaglessHobo87 @ash447 Glad you guys are excited about the upcoming DLC

          @Waggie The Nicholson Electroplating case comes out June 21st and Reefer Madness on July 12th, more details soon

          @scareface1970 Thanks for helping out @agentfordham
          • scareface1970on June 15 2011, 8:27amReplyFlag
            @ agentfordham
            You had to ask this question here:
            @ Rockstar Game Tips: L.A. Noire Pointers & Rare Vehicles
            But I do have the answer

            You can find the Buick Business Coupe here
            In the first case the "Upon Reflection" Case
            when you see the bloodstained door and it's at a parking lot at the East There i found this car
            I hope for you that you also find it here

            ***Rockstar*** it's awesome that you and Team Bondi have made the cases based on actual crimes
            some times the crimes are realy hard and creul but that's the way it is in the real world.

            ***Rockstar*** Your The Best
            • BaglessHobo87on June 15 2011, 2:08amReplyFlag
              As others have already said... can't wait! Just like RDR, this is a game I'll take any excuse to go back into.
              • Red_dead_fan_123on June 14 2011, 11:46pmReplyFlag
                @agentfordham I found the Buick Business Coupe during the very start of "The Red lipstick murder" outside of central police station before I drove to the crime scene.
                • agentfordhamon June 14 2011, 9:03pmReplyFlag
                  R* I KNOW this is off topic but its annoying the hell out of me!

                  I have litereally spent 4 hours of my life trying to find the Buick Business Coupe! I can't find it at the alleyway crime scene, north west Hollywood or the gun store! I looked for every guide I even did the thing where you go in to the gallery and then free roam and its ment to appear across the road! No luck please i have 76/95 and LOVE this game...all except this one damn car!...on another random note is annoys me how there is no gun in Coles holster on the Hawkshaw!
                  • ash447on June 14 2011, 8:09pmReplyFlag
                    After reading this i cant wait, i also though it was a June 29th release so pleased about that as well!
                    • scareface1970on June 14 2011, 7:43pmReplyFlag
                      Sorry for the dubble post

                      A good slide show ***Rockstar***
                      I have respect for those fireman wokers - policeman and docters in those day'(s)
                      and to all the helpers that i forgot that have done everything to help,
                      What they have seen than my god RESPECT

                      • scareface1970on June 14 2011, 7:30pmReplyFlag
                        WOUW that was something then on that day
                        But i can't wait to solve this case “The Nicholson Electroplating Disaster”

                        Let It Come ***Rockstar***
                        And also "Reefer Madness" Case

                        • Waggieon June 14 2011, 6:19pmReplyFlag
                          sorry R*Y im a d**k :/ thought it was july 21st
                          • Waggieon June 14 2011, 6:15pmReplyFlag
                            How is it one week?
                            • R* Yon June 14 2011, 6:17pmReplyFlag
                              @xjohndoex86 @Bosack01 @emmi18176860 Cheers guys, just one week left until the case releases
                              • VeryHushHushon June 14 2011, 6:02pmReplyFlag
                                Great Slideshow...personally the Arson Desk was my favorite - it got more technical there - loved
                                that :-) So can't wait find out...what that "CHRIST! WHAT WAS THAT....SOMETHING BIG!" is all about :-)
                                Playing LA Noire for the second time - still focusing on the story...have lots to do yet.

                      's to-do's are done...time to say hello to the boys:
                                Mr Jack D, Señor Cigarillos and Cole Phelps :-D
                                • JohnDoe_86on June 14 2011, 5:13pmReplyFlag
                                  beyond amazing! can't wait for the reefer madness case, too. :)
                                  • LIL-WEEZY-UKon June 14 2011, 4:48pmReplyFlag
                                    yaaaaaay another setion of "press square for doubt" (all u have to do to complete this game) seriously though ... wont be buying any DLC for this game - I EXPECT NOTHING BUT THE BEST FROM R*

                                    lol gurantee this comment will get deleted -> :(

                                    TRUTH HURTS :)
                                    • killlinyou78on June 14 2011, 4:42pmReplyFlag
                                      Just a short one from killlinyou78 today. RockstarGames makes me able to divide by zero.
                                      • MasterGamesTVon June 14 2011, 2:46pmReplyFlag
                                        I mean my friend


                                        • MasterGamesTVon June 14 2011, 2:50pmReplyFlag
                                          @Rockstar Games

                                          That remember me... World Trade Center.. AGAIN.. everytime when I saw a building smoking/burning.. reminds me WTC.. WTC.. WTC.. He was a Rockstar fan by 1998.. he had GTA 1, 2, London, State of emercency.. smuggler's run.. midnight club.. :( He was 12 but he died :( R.I.P Sorry for him so much :(

                                          My friend died there Rockstar :(

                                          Between awesome work..
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