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The Burton Abbott Murder Trial, Oakland, 1955

Stephanie Bryan was last seen on April 28, 1955, on the way home from school taking her usual shortcut through the parking lot of the Claremont Hotel. A large-scale search failed to find her. Then in July 1955, Georgia Abbott, Burton Abbott's wife, reported finding personal effects which had belonged to the girl, including a purse and an ID card, in the basement of the home she shared with her husband and his mother, Elsie Abbott. In interviewing the Abbotts, the police learned that Elsie Abbott had found the purse earlier but did not connect it with the case.

Police subsequently dug up Stephanie's glasses, a brassiere, and other evidence. No one in the family could account for how the victim's personal effects came to be in the basement. Burton Abbott stated he was driving to the family's cabin 285 miles away when Stephanie disappeared. Two weeks later the victim's body was found in a shallow grave a few hundred feet from the cabin. Shortly after, Abbott was charged with her rape and murder.        Courtesy  Wikipedia

The Trial Ends January 25, 1956, Oakland, California
I covered it for KPIX TV San Francisco

Presiding Superior Court Judge Charles Wade Snook
speaks to reporters. I'm standing far right.

I interviewed Governor Goodwin Knight at KPIX, San Francisco during the Abbott trial.

The Governor had agreed to a stay of execution for Abbott.

At 11:15 am Abbott was led to the gas chamber and strapped in the chair while the governor was contacting the warden by telephone. The executioner pulled the lever three minutes later and 16 pellets of sodium cyanide dropped into the sulfuric acid as Governor Knight reached the prison warden to stay the execution. The warden told him it was too late, and Abbott died at the age of 29 as the governor hung up the telephone.

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