A hundred-year-old murder in Elysian Heights

This week’s Flashback Friday comes to us courtesy of L.A. Creek Freak, an incredibly informative and unique blog that addresses both the ancient and the modern history of Los Angeles’ rios and arroyos, many of which are currently “degraded and forgotten.” The writers speak out and seek to educate readers on L.A.’s ecology, believing that “our rivers and creeks are vital to our communities and our planet.”

A few months ago, Jessica Hall of the Creek Freak website posted a fantastically creepy story about a murder that occurred in Elysian Heights over one hundred years ago. The story came from an old L.A. Times article, found by reader David Kimbrough. Here’s the story, as summarized by Jessica:

On the evening of December 27, 1904, Columbus C. Champion, 67, committed fratricide, shooting down his brother Thomas in a “deadly fusillade…in front of the Elysian Springs bottling plant,” for whom Thomas worked as a water delivery man. Columbus, called “Lum,” lived on property next to the bottling company.

Lum had already been abandoned by his wife, son and father several months previously, and neighbors believed it was “worth almost any effort to keep on good terms. It is said he has terrorized the neighborhood on numerous occasions…” Earlier in the day, he fired BB shot at his niece, threatening to kill the entire family, which precipitated the deadly confrontation with his brother.

Thomas, returning to the Elysian Springs Bottling Company, rode his wagon with his son Sam past Lum’s property:

“At once the old man rushed out of the house and began to abuse his brother. Sam Champion, fearing for his father’s safety, secured a revolver from the home, and started up to where his father and uncle were quarreling.  The younger brother (Thomas) was trying to ward off the attacks of Lum, and just as Sam arrived his father told Lum to go back into his own lot and leave him alone, or he would knock him down.  With an oath, Lum started toward the cottage, crying out that he would kill the whole outfit. He quickly reappeared with his gun, and when within twenty feet of this brother fired the load of shot into his breast. Thomas sank to the ground and expired almost immediately.”

The villain was unrepentant and actually joking with the police who carried him away.

Creepy! So if you’re ever wondering about possible hauntings in Elsyian Heights, this might be a good place to start.

Also, how cool is it that there was a bottling plant in Elysian Heights?

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