After You Killed Your Grandmother Catt, What Did You Do With the Body? (1933)

In 1931, my father, Brick Garrigues, was writing a regular column for the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News, “The Spotlight.”

Usually the reader could turn to “The Spotlight” to find a serious piece dealing with local politics. Sometimes, though, Brick’s columns turned biting.

As, for example, when a Senate committee chaired by Henry F. Ashurst of Arizona came to Los Angeles to investigate how bankruptcy cases were being handled. The examiner in these hearings was William Neblett, law partner to Senator William G. McAdoo of California.

Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News, November 15, 1933


By C. H. Garrigues

The Senate receivership hearing will probably go down as setting some kind of record for inept unfairness in the handling of witnesses. The inquisitors remind a veteran police reporter of six not-very-intelligent detectives giving a suspect the third degree.

Transfer the subject of the investigation into a situation that everybody understands, and a typical examination would go something like this:

NEBLETT: Now, Mr. Witness, tell us about this tragedy.

WITNESS: Well, Colonel (they all call Neblett “Colonel”), my grandmother’s cat was crossing the street when it was run over by a car. It was so badly hurt that my grandmother asked me to kill it. So I did.

NEBLETT: Now, Mr. Witness, after you killed your Grandmother Catt, where did you hide the body?

WITNESS: You didn’t understand me. I didn’t say I killed —

NEBLETT (roughly): We’re not interested in what you didn’t say. What did you do with the body?

WITNESS: If you mean the cat —

NEBLETT: Exactly. Did you bury her?

WITNESS: I didn’t kill my Grandmother Catt. I killed her —

NEBLETT: That’s it. You killed her. Did you bury the body?

CHAIRMAN ASHURST: Answer “yes” or “no,” please.


ASHURST: Now, Mr. Witness, do you seriously want to go on record as stating to this committee that you left the body of your poor old grandmother lying in the gutter for the street sweeper to carry away?

WITNESS (with infinite patience): I have a grandmother. Her name isn’t Catt. She had a cat — a feline — the sort of thing that has fur and kittens. The cat ran —

FIVE SENATORS (simultaneously):

We heard all about that.

We’re not interested in that.

You told us that before.

You’re cumbering up the record.

Please answer the question.

ASHURST: Now see here, Mr. Witness. This committee regrets that, being a lawyer, you are constitutionally incapable of answering a simple question. We would like to find out what you did with the body of your poor old grandmother whom you have testified you brutally murdered after stealing her jar of pennies. But our appropriation is limited. It will require practically all of it to pay for printing the long and evasive explanations you have made. Now tell us, did you bury the body? Answer “yes” or “no.”


ASHURST: I have never seen such utter callousness in a witness. The committee will consider legislation to make it illegal for a murderer to leave his victim’s body lying in the street where cats can run over it.

Twenty years later, Brick himself was called to testify before a legislative investigative committee. He was questioned by a guy named Nixon, no relation to the future president.

To read his testimony, click on Just Another Day in the Life of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1953).