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Looking Back to 1930 crimes: Police seize homemade beer, dog killer wanted for strychnine poisoning 

Looking Back Paso Robles

This look back at Paso Robles history comes from local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. News for this column is selected with the assistance of the society’s Vice President Nancy Tweedie and Research Director Jan Cannon.

Excerpts from the Thursday, October 23, 1930, Paso Robles Spotlight:

Dog-killing maniac sought after outrage

Three animals near death as wide police search is undertaken. Citizens angry. Believed work of madman; pet lovers guarding their favorites

Police throughout San Luis Obispo County were on the lookout today for a ruthless, believed to be maniacal, dog killer, following a relentless strychnine poisoning orgy in San Miguel yesterday in which three valuable dogs were placed near death and a dozen others painfully injured.

The poisoned dogs, for whom slight hopes are held out, belong to O. Renner and C.J. Stanley, associated Almond ranchers. The three dogs are valued at almost $300.

Indignation is high in San Miguel. Animal lovers, embittered by Renner’s and Stanley’s mishap, threaten bodily harm to the poisoner if caught.

Looking Back Paso Robles

Click here to read the full front page of the Thursday, October 23, 1930 Paso Robles Spotlilght

Come to master

Shortly before noon yesterday, two of Renner’s dogs, a thoroughbred, champion stock, police dog, and a fox terrier with an enviable stud pedigree, whimpered to the feet of their master. Instinct told Renner his beloved animals were poisoned. He immediately began administering antidotes. The animals, conscious of kindly human hands, seemed eager to assist Renner in clearing their tortured stomach of the life-draining poison.

At a late hour the animals were still living with the outcome of the poisoning problematical.

Learning of the San Miguel happening, Claude Azbell, Paso Robles chief of police, issued warnings to all who own dogs.

Yearly occurrence

“It seems that this is the time of year when ruthless, unthinking persons, begin orgies of dog destruction,” Azbell said. “Dog killing is a crime for which there is no proper punishment in the category.” Azbell communicated the warnings to county police departments and a sharp watch is being kept.

That the animals poisoned did not eat squirrel poison bait was demonstrated when it was shown that wheat forms the basis of the bait. Squirrel poison in the San Miguel area is negligible since rodents are virtually eradicated there, it was said.


Tenants flee home when police seize store of home brew

With the abrupt disappearance of the tenants of a little green house at the foot of East Twelfth street, police today were in possession of two known facts. The first is that the department has the custody of 216 bottles of pale amber home brew. The second is that in the disappearance of the tenants of the little green house the department has effectually throttled one source of relief for the sundry dry throats of the city.

The little green house was raided last week and the beer confiscated. The tenants might have protested the seizure on the grounds that it was home made for home consumption. It seemed, however, that the police knew more about the home consumption part of it than was good for the liberty of the tenants. In consequence the tenants decided to decamp. Police, Monday making a call, found no one received them. The 216 bottles of pale amber brew from the little green house may fall under the wrecking hammer, police indicate.


Woman reports clothes loss in home entry

Mrs. G.E. Wiest loses wardrobe; vandals overlook other costly items

Mr. and Mrs. Wiest returned home to find their “home looked as though one of Anderson’s fairy tales had been enacted within.”

“Only clothing and a moderate priced bracelet were taken, according to Wiest, who reported the robbery to Constable Herman Anderson.” (Editor’s note: There is no evidence of a relationship to the aforementioned Anderson of the fairy tales.)

The robbers overlooked a valuable bracelet and a “costly beaded bag, brought to Mrs. Wiest from Europe by her brother.” The vandals “left behind a graphic fingerprint tale of their work.”

The missing clothing was valued by Wiest at between $175 to $200. “Reporters tactfully refrained from asking Mrs. Wiest for a detailed list of the missing articles. The subject was, she said, unmentionable.”


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Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.