Welcome to True Crime Tuesday! Our first post of the day centers around the notebook of a notable 19th century private investigator, one Alfred Bird Lawson.
Lawson (1855-1895) was a well-known private investigator in Los Angeles, and this notebook contains copious notes & correspondence from is work on murders, forgeries, prostitution, land grabs, and other crimes. A true bargain for only $3500.
Interestingly, Lawson was ultimately shot and killed by one of his deputized men, a Ferdinand B. Kennett, who claimed he shot Lawson in self-defense during a dispute over back pay. Kennett was later found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin, where in 1897 the L.A. Times reported “(he) has won the goodwill of prison officials by his gentlemanly deportment…and they are making prison life as pleasant for him as possible.”
Kennett later testified against his former boss in a case where Lawson was alledged to have coerced a widow to surrender her husband’s life insurance policies to him when he had been hired by the very same insurance company to obtain them. He was posthumously found not guilty of fraud, though the facts show that Lawson was paid a large sum for obtaining the policies, which he immediately signed over to the company. In any event, Lawson didn’t live to enjoy his ill-gotten gains.