Bizarre Tales: The Case of the Cross-Dressing Slasher
Witness Tells of Seeing UC Student Stab Wife
Elaborate Preparations of Defendant to Waylay Young Spouse Described at Hearing
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 19, 1956
Elaborate preparations made by Harold L. Von Mueller, 21, University of Caliofornia at Berkeley student, to waylay his estranged wife in a downtown office building restroom were described before Municipal Judge Joseph L. Call yesterday at an attempted-murder hearing.
Mueller is charged with attempting to kill Mrs. Ida Nichols Von Mueller, 19, of 1207 S. Kent St., Compton, last Sept. 11 in a lavatory at 510 W. 6th St. She was stabbed 40 times and slashed so severely her wounds required nearly 400 surgical stitches. [Note: The attack occurred on the third floor. Some accounts also claim that she was only stabbed eight times.]
Described by Eyewitness
An eyewitness to the knifing was Mrs. Joyce Hooley, secretary, 9312 E Rose St., Bellflower. She went into the women’s restroom in mid-afternoon to see Von Mueller holding his struggling wife on the floor and stabbing her repeatedly. Von Mueller was attired in a woman’s dress and wore bronze pumps. [Note: The Valley Times mentioned that, in addition to the stabbings, he was beating her with a rubber mallet.]
Von Mueller was overpowered by E.M. Philpot Jr., office manager; Earl W. Gard and Louis R. Clayton of the office staff. The spring-blade knife with which the stabbing was committed was taken from Von Mueller. [Note: The Valley Times also claimed that Von Mueller had slashed his own wrists shortly before being overtaken.]
“I just wanted to talk with her,” he was quoted as saying. [Note: He was also quoted as saying, “I just wanted to hurt myself.”
Even Carried Perfume
Det. Sgts. M.A. Pozzo and R.W. Lane reported that Von Mueller had supplied himself with a woman’s purse, complete with a vial of perfume, and several paperback books. Three cherry bombs (powerful firecrackers) also were found on his person. [Note: The Valley Times stated that he had waited inside the lavatory for approximately four hours. Numerous women had seen him inside the restroom but had failed to recognize Von Mueller as a male.]
Judge Call ordered Von Mueller held for Superior Court arraignment Oct. 2. He is in custody in lieu of $5000 bail.
The Rest of the Story:
Harold Lawrence Von Mueller, a law student, met Ida Nichols Von Mueller at Berkeley and were married in 1955. After the marriage deteriorated, a court granted her a interlocutory divorce decree in 1956.
Following his arrest, Von Mueller was taken to the General Hospital prison ward where he was booked for intent to commit murder. Ida Von Mueller was taken to Georgia Street Receiving Hospital before being transferred to Las Companas Hospital in Compton. She survived the attack.
On May 23, 1957, Von Mueller was sentenced to one year in the county jail along with five years’ probation. Superior Judge H. Burton Noble also ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment.