Hollywood Remains to Be Seen
A Guide to the Movie Stars' Final Homes

LAPD Street Signs

Officer Owen David Yancey
(Oct. 2, 1899 – Oct. 20, 1935)

It's likely that Officer Owen Yancey didn't realize he was approaching a fellow police officer's house at dusk on Sunday, Oct. 20, 1935. Yancey and his partner, Officer Archibald H. Hamilton, had gone to the house on Victoria Avenue, just south of Jefferson Boulevard, after neighbors reported hearing a woman's screams coming from the house.

And it's certain that the occupant of the house, Officer Eugenia "Jean" Peirce, didn't realize that Yancey and Hamilton were police officers when she saw the shadowy figures of two men with flashlights outside her bedroom window.

Believing that the men were prowlers attempting to break into her home, Peirce grabbed her .38-caliber service revolver from her dresser and fired a shot through the window. She wasn't trying to hit anyone, she said later. She just wanted to scare them away.

The bullet hit the badge on Yancey's cap and was deflected downward, into his forehead. He died at the scene, less than three weeks after his 36th birthday.

Yancey was born Oct. 2, 1899, in Oklahoma, the eighth of nine children of Hezekiah Ransom "H.R." Yancey and Elizabeth "Betty" Holland Yancey. His parents were both born in Georgia, where they had seven children before moving to a farm southwest of Chandler, Oklahoma, in January 1895, where Owen and his younger brother, Harral, were born. Hezekiah Yancey and another farmer in the area donated land that became the Star Valley Cemetery, where many members of the Yancey family are now buried.

Yancey worked on his father's farm until he moved to Southern California in the early 1920s, following his older sister, Susan, who was 18 years older, married, had five children, and was living in Manhattan Beach.

At the time he moved west, Yancey had a girlfriend, Lorraine Louise Morgan of Chandler. Their plan was that, once Yancey was settled in Los Angeles, he'd send for her, and they’d get married.

Yancey found work as a streetcar operator in Los Angeles, and when he was accepted into the L.A. Police Academy in about 1924, he sent for Lorraine. As soon as she arrived on the train from Oklahoma, she was brought to Yancey's sister's home, where Yancey was waiting with a preacher, and they were married before she unpacked her suitcase. The Yanceys had two children -- Owen Jr., born in 1927, and Donald, born in 1932.

In March 1929, Yancey was nearly killed in a gun battle with two men who had just robbed a grocery store. One shot hit Yancey in the chest, just above his heart, but the bullet was deflected and slowed by a thick book of traffic citations in his pocket, and stopped just beneath his skin.

In 1932, Yancey directed traffic during the Summer Olympics, outside Olympic Stadium -- now the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Peirce had been a member of the police department for about a year, and worked as a matron at the Lincoln Heights Jail. She said she arrived home on the morning of the shooting, and knew nothing about screams coming from the house.

After the shooting, and several hours into the investigation, another police officer was discovered at the scene. Officer Ernest L. Hice was found hiding in a closet in Peirce's home. Hice said he had given Peirce a ride home from the Lincoln Heights Jail, and spent the day at her house.

Both Peirce and Hice were taken into custody on suspicion of manslaughter. Hice, who said he was asleep in another room at the time of the shooting, was eventually released, but Peirce was charged with manslaughter. During her trial, Peirce said that she left work early on the day of the shooting because of illness, and Hice helped her treat a painful boil on her neck before he fell asleep.

After a jury trial, Peirce was found not guilty. According to testimony from Peirce and neighbors, Yancey and Hamilton never knocked on the door to Peirce’s house or identified themselves as police officers.

Although she was cleared of the manslaughter charges, Pierce was required to appear before a police board of rights committee to determine if she would be reinstated to her former position. A few days before that hearing, however, Peirce submitted her resignation to the police department, citing her failing health.

After funeral services were held in Los Angeles, Yancey's body was sent back to Oklahoma, where he was buried in the family plot in the Star Valley Cemetery near Warwick, Oklahoma, where his parents, and a number of his siblings and other relatives are buried.

Officer Yancey's sign is located on the southeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Victoria Avenue, two blocks west of Crenshaw Boulevard.

Back to main LAPD page