Confusion prevailed on the night of Nov. 10, 1929, when Southern Pacific's West Coast Limited was derailed and its passengers robbed behind today's Saugus Speedway & Swap Meet. How many bandits were there?
One? Two? More? Investigators followed all manner of leads until they ultimately settled on one party — Tom Averill, alias Buffalo Tom Vernon.
Meanwhile, one Lester F. Mead turned himself in and confessed. Apparently that's who (1929) Signal Editor Dad Thatcher was referring to when he reported there was a
confession, but that the confessor turned out to be a "crazy man" — "a recently escaped inmate of an insane asylum."
8x10 glossy news wire photo from Eyre Powell Press Service of Los Angeles, touched up by an unidentified newspaper photo editor who used only the mugshot area. Glued-on cutline reads:
(FROM FRANK B. HOWE)
CONFESSESS WRECKING TRAIN
Lester F. Mead, pictured here as he was taken to the scene of the tragedy by deputy sheriffs to explain his act in detail,
has confessed to Los Angeles authorities that he pulled the spikes which wrecked the West Coast Limited near Saugus, Calif.,
a week ago, in which robbers entered the train immediately after it was ditched and held up the passengers. Mead says he was
hired by two other men to do the job of removing the rail and that he did not participate in the robbery. Train wrecking is
punishable by death in California.
LW2859: 9600 dpi jpeg from original wire photo purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.