The Stories Behind the Stones

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store (or the brand new downtown location) on your way out and pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks!

LAPD Capt. Walter H. Auble
(Nov. 26, 1862 - Sept. 9, 1908)

July 10, 2015 -- Capt. Walter H. Auble, who served a one-year appointment as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and was in charge of the detective bureau when he was shot to death by a suspected burglar in 1908, remains the highest-ranking LAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Auble was born in central Illinois in 1862, the middle of five children of Herman C. and Hannah C. Parminter Auble. The family moved to Missouri, where Auble's father died in 1886. The following year, while the rest of his family remained in Missouri, Auble moved to California and started work as a 24-year-old officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. Three years later, Auble was promoted to detective.

In 1888, a year after he arrived in Los Angeles, Auble married Florence Andrews. They had three children -– Earle, born in 1890; Julia, born in 1892; and Gladys, born in 1894.

Throughout his career, Auble was well-known and popular among both the members of the LAPD and the citizens of the city. In July 1903, Auble was promoted to captain, in charge of the patrol department, and his activities were often reported in the newspapers when he would raid and close down illegal alcohol and gambling establishments, houses of prostitution, and other dens of vice.

In June 1904, Auble was investigating reports of a major illegal gambling operation in Chinatown, but the building was heavily fortified and guarded, and lookouts were posted on the street to warn the gamblers inside of approaching police officers. Auble stationed several officers outside, far enough from the building so as not to arouse suspicion. He then climbed to the roof of the building, and observed the gambling operation through a skylight. Auble removed a metal screen and crashed through the skylight, showering the gamblers and gambling tables with broken glass. When the gamblers ran for the exits, the waiting officers moved in, and 35 men were arrested.

While gamblers didn't have much public support or political influence, Auble's work enforcing the city’s liquor ordinances attracted the attention of the Retail Liquor Dealers' Association, which accused the captain of "unwarranted interference with our business," and demanded his resignation. Members of the group complained about hefty fines and lost licenses due to Auble's strict enforcement of the law.

When the Police Commission and Chief William A. Hammel ignored the group's pleas, the association reportedly began to spread unfounded rumors about Auble's off-duty conduct which made him unfit for his position as a police officer, including rumors of a possible divorce. When Auble heard the rumors, he and his wife went to the chief to deny them, and both the chief and the commission continued to give Auble their full support.

As a sign of that support and confidence, after Hammel resigned in October 1905, the Police Commission selected Auble to serve as acting chief until a permanent replacement could be found. As soon as Auble was appointed as acting chief, there were regular discussions, debates and political maneuverings in both City Hall and the LAPD over who would be named the new chief, and when. Among the top contenders were Auble and his long-time friend, Paul Flammer, then captain of the detective bureau.

To settle the uncertainty, in November 1905, the Police Commission officially named Auble chief of police -– not just acting chief -– for a term of one year. That would give the commission enough time to assess Auble's performance as chief, and allow Auble to keep his Civil Service rating as captain. Also, there was a mayoral election coming up, and the new mayor might have his own ideas about who should be the new chief.

When Auble's term as chief expired in November 1906, there was indeed a new mayor about to take office in Los Angeles. At the time, Auble was reported to be seriously ill with jaundice and other medical problems, and there were rumors that he might have to take an early retirement. And so the Police Commission appointed L.A. City Councilman Edward F. Kern as the new chief of the LAPD.

There were many in the city who felt that Auble did an exemplary job as chief, and should have been retained. They also questioned the appointment of Kern, who had no police training or experience.

A few weeks before Auble's term expired, the L.A. Times published an editorial, urging the Police Commission to extend Auble's appointment as chief. "Capt. Auble has filled the office to the satisfaction of everybody excepting evildoers," said the Times. "Auble has virtually grown up with the department. His services are of great value, and the city cannot well afford to lose them."

As for the thought of Kern in the chief's office, the Times said, "There are many persons who would like to have Los Angeles a 'wide-open' town. These would rejoice to see Ed Kern in the office of chief of police. The criminal elements would also rejoice to have such a man placed at the head of the police department. Kern has had no experience in such work as would be required of him if he were made chief of police. If he or any other green man were appointed to that office, every crook in the county would know it in a week. ... The word would pass along the line that an inexperienced man had been placed at the head of the Los Angeles police department. This would be sufficient to bring more criminals and toughs to Los Angeles then we have ever had, and crime would run rampant all over this city and section."

The Times also hinted at another possible issue that could influence the decision of the Police Commission: "We cannot afford to allow the office to pass under the control of the breweries, the saloons, or the class of people who support these admitted evils. Capt. Auble has 'made good,' and he should not be 'fired' to pay political debts owed to the liquor trust or to any other interests."

It's unknown how much pressure the liquor dealers’ association put on the Police Commission, but it's certain that its members were happier with Kern as chief.

(Kern resigned as chief in January 1909, and struggled with alcoholism. In April 1912, he committed suicide in El Paso, Texas.)

Shortly after Kern's appointment, Auble was fully recovered, resumed his duties as captain in charge of the detective bureau, and laughed off any reports that he was considering an early retirement.

In early September 1908, the owner of a boarding house at 937 Georgia St. contacted the police department to report on the suspicious activities of two of her tenants. The two men kept odd hours, they were often carrying packages in and out of the boarding house, and their room contained guns, whiskey, morphine, masks and an assortment of tools.

Auble and Flammer went to the boarding house, hid in an adjoining room, and listened to the conversations of the two men -– Carl D. Sutherland, 26, who had been recently fired from his job as a waiter at the University Club, and a 22-year-old chauffer named Frederick Horning. Auble and Flammer learned that the pair was planning a series of burglaries.

After Sutherland and Horning left the boarding house, Auble and Flammer searched their room, where they found two revolvers, false beards and moustaches, saws and chisels, several pieces of pipe, "a burglar's kit, a dope-fiend outfit ... and other articles used by thugs," Flammer later told the L.A. Times.

They also found a letter from Sutherland to Horning, detailing plans for burglaries in Los Angeles, and specifically mentioning the addresses of two houses where wealthy residents lived.

Auble and Flammer considered waiting at the two houses and catching the men in the act, but they decided that could endanger the residents. Instead, they decided to arrest Sutherland and Horning before they had a chance to strike.

On the morning of Sept. 9, 1908, Auble and Flammer followed Sutherland and Horning as they walked along 9th Street. At about 9 a.m., as the two suspects walked past the A.J. Mullen Carpet Cleaning Company, at 501 West 9th St., Auble decided that he would arrest Sutherland, who was carrying a small package, and Flammer would arrest Horning.

As Flammer struggled to take Horning into custody in front of the carpet cleaning business, Auble and Sutherland were on the side of the building, out of Flammer's view. Flammer said he heard someone shout a warning about a gun, then heard several shots. He ran to Auble, and found him on his knees and leaning forward, while Sutherland was running away, heading west on 9th Street.

"I tried to get him with my gun," Flammer said, "but there were many people on the street, and several in line with the fleeing man."

A woman who lived at 511 West 9th St. told police she saw the shooting. She said Auble first grabbed for the package Sutherland was carrying. Sutherland dropped the package, turned and pointed his revolver at Auble. Sutherland's first shot hit Auble in the neck. Auble tried to grab for the gun and, during the struggle, Sutherland was shot once in the left arm, just above the wrist. Sutherland pushed Auble away and fired two more shots, hitting Auble in the stomach and chest, and then ran off.

Another witness to the shooting was the Rev. Joseph J. Pritchett, pastor of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, at the corner of West 9th Street and Grand Avenue. Pritchett lived in the parsonage at the church and, as he was walking down the steps from his home, he saw the struggle between Auble and Sutherland, and saw the shots fired. He rushed to Auble's side, then noticed Flammer still struggling with Horning. Pritchett helped Flammer get handcuffs on Horning, then went back to Auble, while Flammer chased Sutherland. Pritchett also flagged down a passing car, and helped place the wounded Auble inside.

Pritchett, 36, was deeply affected by the incident. According to news reports, he collapsed at the scene, and never regained his health. He couldn't sleep, and couldn't forget the sight of Auble’s shooting. As his health declined, Pritchett was sent to his father's home in Lebanon, Missouri, to recover. He recovered briefly, but died on Nov. 15, about two months after the shooting. Doctors listed the cause of death as "paralysis of the brain." Pritchett left a wife, a 9-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.

Horning was taken into custody, and Auble was taken to the Receiving Hospital, where he died from his wounds about six hours later. In addition to being the highest-ranking officer killed in the line of duty in Los Angeles, Auble, 45, was also the longest-serving member of the LAPD, with 21 years on the force, and was the third LAPD officer to be killed. He was survived by his wife, Florence; their son, Earle, 18; and their daughters, Julia, 16, and Gladys, 14.

After Auble's death was announced, hundreds of residents came to the police headquarters to pay their respects. And, as county and federal law enforcement officers offered assistance to the LAPD to help catch Sutherland, "hundreds of men, heavily armed, hurried to police headquarters to take up the hunt," according to the Los Angeles Times. "Through the streets trooped rangers on galloping horses, carrying their Winchesters ready for instant action." Others arrived with their bloodhounds, offering to help track Sutherland.

The county officers were under the command of Sheriff William A. Hammel -– the man Auble succeeded as chief of the LAPD.

Detectives checked with Sutherland's known acquaintances to try to determine where he might go. One of Sutherland's old friends, upset that Sutherland had killed a police officer, told them that Sutherland might try to come to his house on the edge of town, at 77th Street and Moneta Avenue (now South Broadway), so a group of officers went to the house. Shortly after 8 p.m., they saw the shadowy figure of Sutherland coming toward the house through an open field, and he appeared to be holding a gun in his right hand.

LAPD Sgt. Frank Benedict rose up from his hiding place, pointed a shotgun at Sutherland and said, "Throw up your hands or I'll fill you full of buckshot."

Realizing that he was surrounded, Sutherland tossed his gun to the ground and raised his right arm over his head. In his left hand, he was holding a small bottle of cyanide. He quickly raised the bottle to his mouth, drank it, then raised his left arm over his head.

When officers approached him, Sutherland said, "Well, I guess you've got me, boys." Sutherland was placed in handcuffs and walked a few feet with the officers before he collapsed. He died in a patrol wagon on the way to the Receiving Hospital.

In his pocket, police found a note written by Sutherland: "To my darling wife, in case of my death. I love you, dear, better than my life. I tried to do right, but the world wouldn't let me. Be brave, and try to hold on to the little farm." At the time, Sutherland's wife was working as an operator for the Home Telephone Company in Long Beach.

Sutherland, who was born in Missouri in 1882, had a lengthy history of criminal activity, including shootings and robberies in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Washington, Oregon and San Francisco. He left a detailed list of his crimes in his room at the boarding house.

Auble's funeral service was held on Sept. 12, 1908, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 929 Hope St., which was filled to capacity, with more than 3,000 additional mourners gathered outside. In addition to city officials, civic and business leaders, and members of the LAPD, representatives of police departments from around the area, and from as far away as San Diego and Oakland, attended the service. A procession of 21 cars traveled from the cathedral to Inglewood Park Cemetery for the burial service.

Meanwhile, Sutherland was buried quietly at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.

Auble's widow, Florence, died in 1947, at the age of 79. She's buried with her husband at Inglewood Park Cemetery. Son Earle died in died in 1965 at the age of 74, daughter Julia died in 1970 at the age of 78, and daughter Gladys died in 1971 at the age of 77.

In May 2014, the LAPD unveiled a series of memorial street signs, one for each of the more than 200 officers who have died in the line of duty. The signs are posted at or near the locations where each of the officers were killed.

Auble's sign is located on the east side of Grand Avenue, just south of 9th Street.

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