Hollywood Remains to Be Seen
A Guide to the Movie Stars' Final Homes

Ralph Oscar Trump
(1902 – Oct. 24, 1928)

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 1928, Ralph Trump, 26, gave his girlfriend, Marjorie Ulmen, 18, a ride home from work. Ulmen worked at her father's bakery, at 7701 Melrose Ave., and lived with her parents, Charles and Selma Ulmen, at 6555 Homewood Ave., three blocks south of Sunset Boulevard, and less than a mile from Trump's home at 931 Vine St.

At the end of the ride, Trump parked his car in front of Ulmen's house. The couple sat chatting in the front seat when two men approached the vehicle from behind.

"We were sitting across from my home after Mr. Trump had driven me there from the bakery," Ulmen recalled. "He was facing me with his left arm on the steering wheel, his back toward the street, and I was facing him. Suddenly, two men came up to the car -- and I don't think he saw either of them -- one standing at the right fender, and the other coming around the corner behind Mr. Trump. This man fired one shot, and they both ran."

Trump was hit with a .32-caliber bullet on the left side, about six inches below his left armpit. The bullet pierced his heart, and Trump slumped over the steering wheel and died. Ulmer's father heard the shot, and called police.

Since nothing was taken in what appeared to be an attempted armed robbery, police initially focused on three possible motives for the shooting -- Trump was targeted by someone who disliked him, he was the victim of mistaken identity, or he was slain accidentally by a nervous robber.

After the initial investigation, police focused on the third theory -- Trump’s murder was an accident. But it took almost two years before police were able to determine that theory was correct.

Ralph Oscar Trump was born in 1902 in Lincoln, Nebraska, the third child of William Jackson and Cora Bustard Trump, after his older brothers Lyle, born in 1896, and Clifford, born in 1898. The Trumps' fourth child, Paul, was born in 1908.

William Trump was born in Indiana, and worked at an assortment of jobs, including working in the gold mines in South Dakota. During the time his first four children were born, William Trump was working in the insurance and collections business in Lincoln.

After Paul's birth in 1908, the family moved to Upton, Wyoming, where William Trump was a homesteader and farmer. Twins Vernon and Kennard Trump were born in March 1910 in Wyoming, but both died in infancy.

The Trump family returned to Lincoln in 1913, and William Trump opened the city’s first bowling alley. He also worked as a salesman for a monument company, before starting his own monument business -- W.J. Trump Memorials -- in 1921. (After several ownership changes, Trump Memorials and Funeral Services is still in business in Lincoln.)

At about the same time as his father was starting the monument business, Ralph Trump graduated from Lincoln High School, and began his studies at the University of Nebraska. He graduated in 1924 with a degree in business administration. In 1927, he moved to Southern California, following his older brothers, Lyle and Clifford, who both worked as firefighters for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Ralph Trump was enrolled as a post-graduate student at the University of Southern California. He initially found work as a gas station attendant. At the time of his death, he was working in the advertising department at William Volkner & Company, a furniture dealer on East First Street. He had also recently passed the examination for a position with the Los Angeles Fire Department, following in the footsteps of his two older brothers.

Trump's younger brother, Paul, was living in Chicago, and was a member of the U.S. Navy. At the end of his military service, Paul worked as a musician in Chicago, before he also moved to Los Angeles.

Ralph Trump was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, California, in Section M, which is highlighted by a large Masonic memorial sculpture, and surrounded by hundreds of grave markers featuring the Masonic square and compass symbol.

Trump's murder remained unsolved for nearly two years. In August 1930, police arrested two suspects in a string of armed robberies and, after 18 hours of questioning, both eventually confessed to the robberies, and also confessed to their involvement in Trump's slaying. Marjorie Ulmen was brought to the police station, and she identified both men.

LAPD Sgt. Wallace Creton was credited with making the arrest. He said he saw the two young men sitting in a parked car, and approached them. "I just didn't like their looks, so I decided to bring them into the station to investigate," Creton said.

The shooter, 22 years old at the time of his arrest, told police that he and his accomplice, 19, were both under the influence of drugs at the time they attempted to rob Trump, and the shooting was accidental.

"In pulling the automatic from my pocket, the safety catch must have been released," he said. "I didn't know it and, when I pointed the gun at the man, I squeezed the grip. I was as much surprised as anyone when the gun went off. Seeing what had happened, we got away as quickly as possible, and agreed to stick together."

The pair also confessed to five armed robberies of drug stores during the previous two months. In the middle of their first trial for murder and robbery, they pleaded guilty to two of the armed robberies, and were sentenced to 14 years to life in prison on each charge.

During their first trial, the defendants attempted a variety of strategies against the murder charges -- they blamed each other for firing the fatal shot, they claimed they were elsewhere at the time of the shooting, they didn't even know each other, and their confessions were made while they were under the influence of narcotics.

LAPD Det. Lt. George Gibson testified that the 19-year-old accomplice confessed that the gunman picked him before the shooting, and asked if he wanted to make some money. "I'm sort of cash and would like to get some," the accomplice said. "How will we get it?"

"Let's go out and find a 'petting party,'" the 22-year-old replied. The pair was driving along Homewood Avenue when they noticed Trump and Ulmen parked on the street, and stopped to rob them.

The jury at their first trial was unable to reach a verdict, but the jurors at their second trial quickly found both guilty of murder. Both were sentenced to life, in addition to their robbery sentences, and sent to San Quentin State Prison.

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