Brutal Vintage Crime Scene Photos from the Los Angeles Police Department Archives
In 2014, Merrick Morton, a photographer residing in Los Angeles and a former LAPD reserve officer, came across a neglected collection of LAPD crime photographs dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. These images were captured on cellulose nitrate-based film and negatives, which had deteriorated and were considered a fire hazard.
Through collaboration with the Fototeka photo digitization service and the US National Film Archive, these photographs were restored to a renewed lease on life.
After undergoing restoration, the revamped collection features photographs of various crimes, often with a violent nature. It goes beyond the lighthearted moments involving marijuana plants and delves into a striking array of images. Among them are a peculiar photo of Maila Nurmi dressed as Vampira, snapshots capturing comedian Lenny Bruce's overdose in March 1966, and photographs documenting the Manson Family's arrival at their legal proceedings in 1970.
Some captions are provided by the author James Ellroy from his book LAPD ’53. “This is a pot pourri of crime,” says Ellroy. “It’s pathetic, it’s transgressive, it’s vile, it’s human.”