Wild West

MURDER MOST FOWL

In April 1904 Los Angeles Humane Society chief officer Nathan W. Zimmer received a tip that a gambling ring was set to stage an illegal cockfight at Hunter’s Ranch, a few miles north of town along the east bank of the Los Angeles River. Zimmer hatched a plan to catch the lawbreakers in a sting. The operation would take cunning, precision and manpower. Among those he tapped for help was special officer Charles M. Carpenter, a middle-aged man of property whose zeal for protecting animals had led him more than 1,000 miles south from Wilbur, Wash., to work for the Humane Society. Carpenter’s primary duty was to destroy suffering animals—a harrowing task. Zimmer determined it was time his special officer got some experience in the field. The decision would have lethal consequences.

On the morning of May 1 Christian David Frey, a prosperous 32-year-old butcher, kissed wife Margaret goodbye and left their Los Angeles home in a horse and buggy, his three hunting hounds trailing alongside, ostensibly for exercise. His actual destination was Hunter’s Ranch. The arid Santa Ana winds marred what would otherwise have been a beautiful Sunday, but Frey remained undeterred. He’d be there if it killed him.

Outside one of his two butcher shops Frey picked up fellow cockfighting aficionado William C. Walsh, a 21-year-old house painter by trade. As Walsh stepped into the buggy, he tucked a gunnysack behind the seat. Inside was a

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