Whats in That Embalming Fluid?
Dec. 18, 1907
Los Angeles County Coroner Roy S. Lanterman was arrested on charges of being drunk and disorderly at the Navajo, a bordello run by Ida Hastings, 309 Ord St. Hastings called police, who arrested Lanterman.
A Mills Seminary graduate nicknamed “Suicide Ida” because of her attempts to kill herself “every time she has a serious setback in her numerous ‘love’ affairs,” Hastings had contacted police earlier in the evening, asking for protection from Lanterman, saying that he had attacked her. Hastings notified police when Lanterman, who was married, returned to the bordello, went to her bedroom and after a fierce fight, removed several photographs of himself as well as a letter.
Upon arriving, police found Lanterman hiding in a bathroom and refusing to come out. When officers finally took him into custody, they discovered he was drunk and armed with two revolvers. They also seized the photographs and the letter Lanterman had taken from Hastings.
“The Hastings woman refused to make any statement of the affair when seen early this morning. She said the facts would probably come out in court,” The Times said.
Lanterman contended that he was summoned to the bordello because a woman was in hysterics and while attending her, he was arrested by a new and apparently inexperienced police officer.
The desk sergeant said: “He was drunk; good and drunk.” An observation corroborated by the arresting officers, the night jailer and several others at the police station.
Lanterman hired famed defense attorney Earl Rogers, but Hastings refused to appear in court to press charges, so the case was dropped. However, charges were later brought by prosecutor E.J. Fleming under an 1880 law demanding the dismissal of any official who is intoxicated while on duty.
Officials closed the Navajo, and in January 1908, Lanterman resigned as coroner. He was soon indicted on charges of making false statements about his election expenses and submitting fraudulent travel expenses to the Board of Supervisors. In April 1908, he was sentenced to a year in prison, but his conviction was overturned on appeal in 1909.
Lanterman’s legal troubles were far from over, however. He was freed on a technicality after being indicted in 1916 on charges of performing an abortion on 17-year-old Elizabeth Johnson. The Times said: “Dr. Lanterman has practiced in Los Angeles for many years and is one of the best-known members of the local medical fraternity. He has offices in the Grosse Building.”
He was arrested in 1917 on charges of performing a fatal abortion on Mrs. “Reggie” Regina Greenburg Evans of San Francisco, which he claimed was “spite work” by his political enemies. In her dying declaration, Evans told her brother that Lanterman performed the abortion, but she told others at County Hospital that she tried to perform it herself. He was found not guilty and after a petition drive, regained his medical license in 1921.
In 1918, he was accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, 20-year-old Marjorie Woodbury, during an outing to Malibu.
He and Dr. Paul Traxler were accused of murder in the 1929 death of film actress Delphine Walsh during an abortion. He was found not guilty, but lost his medical license for a second time.
He died in 1948 at the age of 79 in his home, 4420 Encinas Drive, La Canada, survived by his wife, Emily; and sons Lloyd and Frank. His services were conducted at Church of the Lighted Window, which his family helped found. The Lanterman mansion was turned into La Canada’s City Hall in 1985.
Bonus facts: His father, F.D. Lanterman, bought Rancho La Canada from the Verdugo family in 1875. The portion of the Glendale Freeway between the Ventura Freeway and La Canada is known as the Frank Lanterman Freeway in honor of the late state legislator, who served in the Assembly from 1950 to 1978.
e-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com