Mapes is a former LAPD officer who worked in the Vice department. He was a notorious crooked cop and was hated by honest cops such as Herschel Biggs and Lachlan McKelty. His career as corrupt officer was well known, and he was admired by up and coming cops such as Roy Earle. After retiring from the police force, Mapes became the head of security for Howard Hughes' Los Angeles headquarters, Hughes Aircraft. Mapes also acted head of Hughes' personal interests outside of Hughes aircraft, such as performing illegitimate business deals and organizing prostitution for Hughes with Hollywood starlets.
Mapes learned of Harold McLellan's formula to chemically polish aluminum, a process of extreme value to Hughes Aircraft, hence established a business arrangement with McLellan. Their deal involved McLellan personally selling the process to Hughes through Mapes, while cutting out Fred Nicholson. Mapes also provided McLellan with a prop spinner for testing. Unfortunately, Lockheed, an aircraft manufacturing competitor, was also also aware of the process and resorted to industrial espionage to steal it from McLellan. Mapes in turn murdered an unnamed Lockheed employee, an accomplice of Tomoko Okamoto, and hid the body at her apartment. Mapes' intent was to eliminate competitors for the process and to secure it for Hughes.
Events of L.A. Noire
Unfortunately, McLellan and Okomoto were killed in a massive explosion at the Nicholson Electroplating Plant, during a test of the formula gone wrong. Detectives Cole Phelps and Biggs arrived at Hughes Aircraft to investigate links to the Nicholson Electroplating explosion. Mapes allowed them into the hanger and answered a few questions. Mapes later proceeded to burn down McLellan's home, in order to remove evidence of his corrupt deeds and implicating Hughes. However, he was caught by Phelps and Biggs, prompting Mapes to flee back to the hangar and after a car chase Mapes was finally killed in a shootout.
- Nicholson Electroplating (Killed)
- Lockheed Employee - Murdered in order to secure the aluminum polish process for Hughes Aircraft.
- Vernon Mapes is loosely based on the fictional character "Buzz Meeks," who appears in James Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" novels, specifically "The Big Nowhere" and "L.A. Confidential." In the Ellroy novels, Meeks possesses the same basic history and fulfills the same function as Mapes, a former crooked cop who is now Howard Hughes bag-man, pimp, and enforcer.