Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride,
Boulder City Museum & Historical Association
Was it cold-blooded murder or justifiable homicide? The jury of 12 men who sentenced Grace Nusser to life in Nevada State Prison for shooting her husband, George, didn’t deliberate very long before returning a verdict of first degree murder. If they had found Grace guilty of a lesser offense or exonerated her, what ideas might that have given their own wives?
Boulder City Magazine®
|George Nusser worked for the Bureau of Power and Light of the City of Los Angeles and he and Grace had moved to Boulder City on June 1, 1936. They rented the company house at 421 Ash Street. George’s and Grace’s marriage was troubled. George beat Grace, at one point inflicting an abdominal injury for which he refused to allow her medical help. He ground her spirit and destroyed her self-confidence. He was also an unrepentant philandererGrace hoped their move to Boulder City would jumpstart the passion in their marriage. Grace loved Boulder City at first: everything was clean and new, although, as she wrote, “It cost twice as much to live in Boulder as it did in Los Angeles.” Grace bought a piano and made a cozy home. It wasn’t long, however, before George took up with a waitress named Greta Schofield who worked at the Green Hut Cafétoday’s Coffee Cup. Greta herself was a rounder who’d been caught seducing an elder in the local Mormon church. Grace was made a fool of and wrote, “I felt almost anything was better than living in Boulder City where everyone knew our affairs. Everyone watching.”
George filed for divorce without telling Graceshe found out only when his lawyers telephoned her. Broken and shatteredand finding a love letter from George’s paramourGrace drove to Las Vegas the evening of April 27, 1937, bought a .38, came back to 421 Ash Street and shot George to death as he lay sleeping.
Grace spent less than three years in prison before she was remanded to the Nevada State Hospital in Reno. She grew more and more delusional and paranoid, obsessed with the failure of her marriage and the ruin of her life. She received poor medical care in a facility where lead-based paint peeled from the walls and where roaches were so thick they were scraped from the dormitories with snow shovels. In June 1952, in severe pain, Grace was rushed to a hospital in Reno where she died on June 9 of an obstructed bowel-which had developed from the injury inflicted by her husband, George, years before. Her grave in Reno, overlooking a wrecking yard, is unmarked.
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