The E-Sylum:  Volume 6, Number 29, July 20, 2003, Article 20


  The power of the internet to bring people together never ceases
  to amaze.  Earlier this week I received the following note from
  retired Los Angeles Police Department detective Sherman
  Oakes (great name!), in response to our earlier discussion in
  The E-Sylum regarding the murder trial of coin dealer and
  author Frank Lapa:

  "A partial article was sent to me regarding a  article by Bill
  Rosenblum regarding Frank Lapa who was convicted of murder.
  The article had few facts, not even the identity of the victim.
  I was the detective that was assigned to the investigation.  If Mr.
  Rosenblum  in further details, he is more than welcome to
  contact me at any time."

  I forwarded the note to Bill Rosenblum, who corresponded
  with the gentleman and asked his permission to publish his
  information.  Bill writes: "The detective said he saw no problem
  with running this in the E-Sylum with the following caveat: "Just
  remember that it occurred twenty eight years ago and it is as I
  remember the facts.   The actual case file is in my barn and has
  not been looked at in over twenty years."   Here is Detective
  Oakes' account:

  "The Yablum murder generally took from three to four hours
  of explanation to the district attorneys office.  The murder
  drew a lot of attention in Chicago for several reasons.  John
  O'Brian of the Chicago Tribune was a friend of Ray Yablum,
  second the conspiracy was conceived in Chicago, third, one
  of the suspects was the nephew of  Machine Jack McGurn,
  who committed the St.Valentine Day Massacre.   There were
  other unrelated murders and crimes that were connected,
  including the robbery of the DuPont family rare coins.   The
  suspects in this crime were found executed not far from the
  crime scene.  Frank Lapa alleged that he had a rare dime from
  this collection.  The F.B.I. had a sting operation aboard the
  Queen Mary to buy the coin from Lapa on Saturday during the
  show.  That Friday night, we arrested Lapa for murder, and
  the sting never occurred.  The F.B.I. was outraged and in a
  sense became more of a problem than Lapa.  We had to
  release Lapa, due to lack of evidence.  The murder occurred
  on Friday the 13th.  It took a year and 13 days to solve the
  murder without a body.  After the arrest, we found the grave
  of Ray Yablum off  Sherman Hill near Bridgeport, California.

  The crime and conspiracy was as follows.   Ray Yablum was
  in possession of some rare coins (never recovered).  Due to
  his poor health, Lapa told him that he had met VanCleff, the
  owner of a jewelry store in Beverly Hills, who just happened
  to be a coin collector and would be on the same flight as
  Yablum from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Van Cleff was in fact,
  the nephew of Jack McGurn.  He introduced himself on the
  airplane and escorted Yablum to Lapa's ex-wife's house in
  West Los Angeles.  She was at work during this time.  When
  Yablum became suspicious, Frank Lapa picked up a heavy
  glass ash tray and hit him over the head.  They stripped the
  body and wrapped the head in plastic, and Yablum
  suffocated to death.  They transported the body to Northern
  California and buried him.   His grave was dug up by a
  mountain lion and a camper found the skeleton and called the
  sheriff's office.   After the arrest of Lapa, Mr.. & Mrs. Crosby,
  Lee Samuel Rusettos, his girlfriend, Patty Harder, who is now
  in the Witness Protection Program and Lapa's girlfriend who
  entered the U.S. Air Force and became involved in a Black
  Operation of unknown origin and basically disappeared off the
  face of the earth.  She was never heard from again.  All
  suspects were convicted.  The Crosby's committed suicide in
  Long Beach, California prior to sentencing.   During the follow
  up investigation, we served a search warrant on Lapa's
  ex-wife's residence.  The rear garage was surrounded by large
  bushes and trees on two sides.  The garage was not near the
  property line, which seemed strange.  We finally found a false
  wall that revealed a lab to manufacture rare coins.   We believe
  that Yablum's coins ended up with  Lapa's attorney, who died
  a short time later.  His wife was a pretty woman, sort of a wall
  flower, quiet etc.   The word was that after his death, she found
  new wealth and had shed the wall paper, and found a new and
  exciting life, who knows.  The whole story was interesting, and
  we had a movie offer, which never occurred.  One of Lapa's
  associates went to high school with me.  During investigation
  he was found murdered on the dividing line between West Los
  Angeles Division and Wilshire Division where I worked Homicide.
  West Los Angeles never solved that  murder, but they won in
  the end.  At the end of the Yablum murder, we discovered that
  he was in fact murdered in West Los Angeles Division, and they
  were credited with the solution statistically.   I am the only living

  person from the Yablum Murder, my partner died young of a
  heart attack, the District Attorney also died young.  If you
  have any questions please feel free to ask."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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