He didn’t get very far, though. Officer Frank Marz emerged from the dark in hot pursuit. He ordered the man to stop, but the wounded criminal kept going. Gunfire popped five times; every shot a miss. Marz finally felled the criminal with his final chance: his sixth bullet made contact.
The dead mugger and suspected rapist turned out to be Joe Parra, a recent San Quentin parolee with a 40-count rap sheet who’d been living nearby. Around the corner police found Joe’s 17-year-old nephew Henry P. Parra waiting in a car. He’d been his uncle’s getaway driver these past few months. At the inquest concerning Joe Parra’s fate, Joe’s brother Ysreal caused a scene slinging threats and lunging at photographers, but despite Ysreal’s protestations there was no doubt that the summer of attacks had cooled down. It looked like they’d gotten their man.
Florence Coberly, a young wife and mother, had joined the force three years before after some modeling work. It was her experience as a gym instructor, however, that made her feel confident she could hold her own on the tough streets of L.A., and her role in the Parra sting proved just that.
The buzz and accolades around Coberly’s photogenic undercover work lasted for a while. She gave television interviews, was awarded the 1953 Exchange Club title “Policewoman of the Year,” and was invited to exclusive parties about town.
Several years, later, however, the shine faded and her life began to unravel. Florence’s marriage disintegrated In 1955. She married fellow cop David V. Stanton June 18, 1957, and he adopted her son from her previous marriage, Scott Neal. While her personal live appeared to stabilize, there was further trouble ahead for Officer Florence.
In 1958 Florence Stanton was on a grocery run with her mom Gertrude Klearman at a San Fernando Market when Gertrude got busted stealing $2.22 worth of groceries including a knockwurst, a can of coffee, a package of wieners and an avocado. Coberly was arrested and searched as well, but ultimately got off on because her search and seizure was deemed unreasonable.
PHOTOS: USC digital archive/Los Angeles Examiner Collection, 1920-1961
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