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.
More after the jump…