An image of Maila Nurmi as Vampira taken in 1955. It is a part of a huge collection of vintage LAPD crime scene pictures unearthed by photographer Merrick Morton in 2014.
Fototeka is a large photo digitation service that works in conjunction with the National Film Archive to enhance historically relevant vintage photographs. Started in 2009, the photographic archive has digitized photos that were taken as early as the 1920s. In 2014 LA photographer Merrick Morton (who also spent time as an LAPD reserve officer) was hipped to the existence of a massive collection of crime scene photos taken for the LAPD that had been long forgotten. The photos were in such bad shape that their decay posed a fire threat thanks to the instability of the cellulose nitrate-based film and negatives. Cellulose nitrate was used widely in the film industry up until the late 1940s or early 1950s when it was “retired” from use due to the dangers associated with the decomposing film.
Morton and his group of film archivists spent hundreds of hours toiling to rescue the photos that had been slated for the trash pile owing to their condition. The grim collection includes pictures that chronicle crimes such as mob hits and bank robberies, as well as other curious images such as one of Maila Nurmi dressed as Vampira posing in what appears to be a dingy-looking storage facility (pictured at the top of this post). Some of the more infamous photos that were salvaged by Morton include the aftermath of comedian Lenny Bruce’s overdose in March of 1966 and a shot of members of the Manson Family arriving at their arrangement in 1970. Many of the images that follow are NSFW.
A lifeless body lying underneath a bridge over the Los Angeles River in 1955.
February 4th, 1949.
A truck carrying a huge load of seized marijuana photographed on October 11th, 1935.
An LAPD officer administrating a field sobriety test to a woman on July 6th, 1958.
It didn’t end well.
A photograph of a crude note given to a bank teller in 1961.
A strange shot from 1947.
Member of the Manson Family arriving for their arraignment in 1970.
Photos taken at the Hollywood Hills home of comedian Lenny Bruce following his overdose on August 3, 1966.
Bruce’s home office.
An alleged mob hit at a restaraunt.
A tattooed man in the morgue, 1945.
A jewlery store heist gone wrong on July 23rd, 1932.
September 23rd, 1950.
A victim who had his throat slashed in his car photographed on March 11th, 1929.
A “John Doe” victim lying in a yard found on July 13th, 1930.
A chilling photograph of a dead body taken on January 11th, 1932.
HT: Feature Shoot
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Crime Wave: Vintage photos of when Chicago was a gangster’s paradise
Crime and punishment in Japan during the Edo Period included tattooing the faces & arms of criminals
Old New York crime photographs superimposed on their present day locations
Remember the Alamo: The lengthy list of crimes committed by the members of Black Sabbath
The Original CSI: Crime scene photos from the early 1900s