top of page

Murder in Sububia

San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, Californa


Mr. and Mrs. Ryan married young. By their tenth year, young love had deteriorated into mature hatred.  In June of 2010, William Ryan, a successful building contractor was diagnosed with stage five cancer. When his wife Arlene was told she did a complete about face, canceled her divorce proceedings; abandoned her not so secret, secret lover and vowed to make her husband’s last few months pleasant.


       But vindictiveness ruled the mind of William Ryan.  “She’s just waiting for me to die. Lying, cheating bitch.”  He told himself. As his pain grew, so did his rage. William devised a plan to commit suicide and make it appear that his wife had killed him.  “She could spend the rest of her life in prison. Hell, maybe they’ll even hang the witch for a murder she didn’t commit.”


       He waited until mid August,  when Arlene planned a two day trip to Santa Barbara to celebrate her sisters birthday.   Arlene left their home Friday, August 11th at one in the afternoon.  The trip usually took two and a half hours.  But William had created a small leak in a rear tire and Arlene was  stranded on the freeway for over three hours.


       When Arlene returned home Sunday morning she discovered the doors to their detached garage were locked from the inside.  Sensing something was wrong she raced to a side window and saw William hanging by the neck from a beam in the middle of the garage. His feet dangled three feet above the pavement.


       Arlene called 911.  Within minutes paramedics and police arrived.  They had to batter-ram the garage doors because a sturdy 4x4 had been placed in brackets securing the door from the inside.


       A police photographer arrived and took pictures of the scene. Tuesday evening two plain clothed detectives came to the Ryan home and arrested Arlene for the murder of William Ryan.


The Prosecution presented these “facts” to the jury.


Mrs. Arlene Ryan had ample time and reason to kill her husband.

Family, friends and neighbors testified that there was “No Love Lost between these two.”


First she drugged him. Sedatives were found in his blood stream.

Arlene’s sister testified that she expected Arlene to arrive in Santa Barbara around 3:30; but she did not arrive until well after 8:00 p.m. Plenty of time to entice her husband into the garage and as the drugs took effect – used a simple hoist and a ladder to draw him upward and hang him. Then she removed all evidence and drove to Santa Barbara creating an alibi by blaming a flat tire and Friday afternoon traffic for her delay. 


Comments by the defense:


 “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury there is one glaring omission by the prosecution.  After allegedly murdering her husband and locking all the windows, and placing a 4x4 piece of timber in the garage door brackets; how?  I ask you how did my client leave the garage?”


A collective sigh came from the jurors.




“Ladies and gentlemen that one had me stumped too.  I’d like to enter into evidence this 4x4 board taken from the scene. Please note the two penny nail imbedded three inches from the end.

I’d also like to show the jury this bit of fishing line and fishing hook we found in a tackle box in the den of Mr. Ryan.  Please note that the hook at the end of the line is bent at an irregular fashion. I don’t know what kinda fish you’d catch with that hook.

I do know that it would perfectly go around the head of a nail.  And the hook and fishing line could easily be used to leverage this 4X4 into the garage door brackets. And with a flick of the wrist be unhooked and drawn out through the breach between the doors of the garage. I tried it myself and so did several police officers.



It was in the jury room on the second day of deliberation that Leslie Freed, juror number 8, asked. “Was there a sink, a hose bib or a refrigerator in the Ryan garage?” 


The jurors passed around the crime scene photos again. No one saw anything. Leslie smiled at the Jury Forman, “I have an idea. Please send this note,” she scribbled on piece of yellow notebook paper.


The note read.   “We need to visit the garage.”



The reader knows that William Ryan committed suicide.


What did Leslie Freed see in some of the photos?


Arlene Ryan was released from jail and all charges dropped within 48 hours.


Dear reader, 


Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you an unusual solution.

garage 2.jpg
bottom of page