L.A.’s Boy Scout Ghostbusters and the Mystery of Rocking S Ranch

Boy Scout ghost hunters Jerry Wilkerson and Larry Gold in 1963 (credit: LA Times).

“A gun-toting, peg-legged ghost and his sidekick, a wild coal-black cat have been challenged by four Boy Scouts,” was the actual lede of an LA Times article on February 7, 1963.

A few weeks prior, four boys had placed a classified ad looking for a “genuine haunted house.” Within days they received a response from the owner of the Rocking S Ranch who claimed a dilapidated on his land was “well haunted.” He claimed the the previous owner of the home had died under mysterious circumstances and his wife disappeared soon thereafter.

The Boy Scouts were “Jerry Wilkerson, 12, Bob Strobe, 13, Steve Allen, 13, and Larry Gold, 14, of¬†Troop 465 of Chatsworth,” and were dropped off for the overnight excursion by their scout leader on a Friday night.

When the LA Times followed up with them, the boys reported no supernatural activity, only “boards creaking, and every once in a while glass tinkled from broken windows.” In the morning the boys discovered someone had tossed oranges at the house. “Sure it was a little scary,” said one of them. “But we stuck it out.”

Five years later, on October 12, 1968, two hunters walking through Rocking S Ranch came across the remains of a woman with a crushed skull. The body was identified as that of Marjorie M. Clennell, 59, who had gone missing more than a month prior, last seen leaving the West Los Angeles shoe store where she worked. While the LA Times covered Clennell’s disappearance, search, and the ultimate discovery and indentification of her ¬†remains, there are no reports that her killer was ever found.