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Saturday, March 10, 2012

51 Murder Mysteries in Two Years


The New York City newspaper, The World, printed this map in their July 18, 1897 edition, indicating the locations of 131 murders in the city during the previous 28 months. The accompanying story had some interesting statistics regarding New York’s murders. To an overwhelming degree, the killers who were captured received only minor sentences; only fifteen of the murderers were sentenced to death or to life in prison. And in fifty-one of the cases—more than a third of the total—the mystery was unsolved and likely to remain unsolved. The World assessed the situation this way:

Thus the murderer’s chances in New York, estimated from the experience of two years past, may be summarized about as follows:

Of capital punishment  ………………………………………… 1 in 18
Of life imprisonment    ………………………………………… 1 in 16
Of minor punishment   ………………………………………… 1 in 3
Of escape altogether …………………………………………… 1 in 3

Though the murder rate in New York City 1895 - 1897 seems high, according to Memoirs of a Murder Man by Arthur A. Carey—who was the head of New York’s Homicide Bureau during this period—of all the major American cities, only Los Angeles had a lower murder rate than New York. These were bloody times.


The World article lists all 131 of the murders and surprisingly, only one of them has already been covered at Murder by Gaslightthe murder of Domenico Cataldo by Maria Barbella. This is likely to change.


While there is little point in duplicating their entire list, a few selections from the unsolved mysteries may be interesting:

DARKEST OF THE MYSTERIES
  • Henry Neumeister – Struck on head by an unknown person and killed at Columbus Avenue and One Hundred and First Street March 1895. A mystery.
  • William H. Bower—Killed with a billiard cue at 1502 Lexington Avenue Feb.27, 1897. John Cotter accused of the killing, has never been arrested according to the entry in District-Attorney’s office.
  • Michael Healy—Stabbed in the eye, Nov. 9, 1895, on Grove street with umbrella in hands of unknown person. Died from injuries. A mystery.
  • Dennis Hurley—Killed, May 4, 1897, by brick thrown from roof of 210 East Forty-fourth street by unknown person.
  • Prof. Max Eglau—Killed in the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes. Lexington  Avenue and Sixty-Seventh Street. Feb. 10, 1896. Several of the pupils in the school were arrested on suspicion and discharged. The murder is still a profound mystery.
  • Maggie Riley, alias “Diamond Flossie” Murphy—Killed at 228 West Twenty-fourth street, April 22, 1897. Strangled. Still a mystery.

Sources:
  • Carey, Arthur A., and Howard McLellan. Memoirs of a murder man,. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1930.
  • "Fifty-One ‘Murder Mysteries’ in Two Years." The World [New York] 18 July 1897: 28.

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