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The Murder of Alfalfa – Part III
This is the final part of the three-part series The Murder of Alfalfa. In 1954, Carl was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and got into a fight with the police when they brought him to the station. Bail was set at $100.
In January of ’58, he was walking out of a bar and into his car – when a bullet came crashing through the window and hitting him in the arm. The identity of the mysterious sniper is not known. Carl told police he didn’t know who would want to shoot him.
In December of the same year, he pleaded guilty to petit larceny for cutting down 15 cedar trees in the Sequoia National Forest. He was fined $225.
Then a month later, on January 21, Carl was shot and killed by his old friend, Bud Stiltz, 38. Bud was a mechanic and welder, and he and Carl had worked together as hunting and fishing guides. Carl had borrowed one of Bud’s dogs and then lost it during the trip. When the dog was found and returned, the man demanded a reward, and Carl offered him $65. He felt, since he was Bud’s dog, Bud had a responsibility to repay him. Bud was tired of Carl teasing him. In order to remove her hair, she told Carl that she would give him $35.
That night, Carl had a few drinks with his friend, photographer Jack Piott. They went to Bud Stiltz’s house. He lives with Crash Corrigan’s ex-wife and their three children. Carl presented Jack as a police officer, and Jack showed a fake badge. Stiltz said he had no money, and Carl got into a fight. They started fighting. Mrs. Corrigan and her two daughters fled the home, but Stiltz’s 14-year-old stepson, Tommy Corrigan, stayed behind. He said Carl hit Stiltz in the face with a clock. Stiltz went into the bedroom to retrieve a .38-caliber handgun from the bedside cabinet. They were suffering. The gun fired harmlessly, but flying debris from the bullet hole in the wall slightly wounded Tommy Corrigan. Carl disarms Stiltz, then Stiltz pushes Carl into the locker room and takes the gun away. At that point, Tommy ran to the front porch, where he heard gunshots. Before the police arrived, Jack Piott lost the fake badge.
During the investigation, Stiltz gave tearful testimony. He was wearing an eyepatch because of his severe injuries during the battle. He said Carl came out of the room with a jackknife, and he shot in self-defense. The jury returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.
But 40 years later, long after Stiltz was dead, Tommy Corrigan spoke out clearly saying that he was upset by the rumors he heard on the Internet. It was surprising that people were not interested in Alfalfa in 2001, but they were saying that he was killed because of drugs, and it was not true. Tommy said he couldn’t believe what his stepfather had done. He said Bud was cruel. “He used to push me.” He accused Stiltz of intentionally killing Carl Switzer. He said, “He didn’t have to kill her.” He volunteered to testify at the trial, but was not called.
Tommy “Butch” Bonds didn’t give Stiltz any credence. He believed that Carl was unarmed. “Yes, he used his fists,” he said, “because he was an old boy from the village.” Then the person who caused the problem was released. But every year until his death in 1984, Bud Stiltz received a secret Christmas card, addressed to “Alfie.”
Carl was 31 years old when he died.
His elder brother Harold also died a tragic death in 1967. According to his daughter, he got into an argument with a man and shot him to death. A few hours later, he committed suicide.
Carl’s ex-wife gave birth to a son. Then he remarried, and the boy grew up not knowing who his real father was. When he later found out, in his 20s, he joined several of the remaining members of Our Gang, including Spanky McFarland. He told them that he wanted to know more about Carl.
He worked with the biggest names in the industry. George Cukor, Fritz Lang, Joseph Mankiewicz. Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, Natalie Wood, and Mickey Rooney. Directors such as Stanley Kramer, Alan Dwan, and Edward L. Cahn used him again and again because they loved working with him.
Few star children have been as well known and loved as Alfalfa. Even after his death, he made headlines with the name he had created 20 years earlier. ALFALFA HAPPENED TO $50.
Carl Switzer was a bright, ambitious, gifted dynamo, full of energy and personality. He loved the movie business, and was not afraid to destroy its restrictive gates.
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