Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Murder of Chong Ong.

Little Murders
(From New York Herald-Tribune, New York, New York, November 21, 1885)

The Murder of Chong Ong.
A Cuban Charged with the Crime.

Arrested on the Testimony of a Boy who Saw the Chinaman Stabbed.
A tall Cuban, whose dark skin showed that he had negro blood in his veins, was locked up at Police Headquarters yesterday, charged with the murder of Chong Ong, the Chinaman who kept a restaurant at Spring and Wooster sts., under the name of Antonio Solao. The arrest of the Cuban was based on evidence which was kept secret by the police after the discovery of the murder, which occurred on November 2. The police were first informed of the crime by a vender who found the mutilated body of Chong Ong lying on the floor of the basement restaurant. It was believed that the Chinaman had been killed by a thief who also was a Chinaman. For a time the police were not able to ascertain that there had been any witnesses of the crime, and the indications were that Ong was murdered in the basement. On the evening of the murder, however, Captain McDonnell was informed that George Manz, a boy who was employee in the store of William Schimper & Co. at No. 138 Wooster st., had been a witness of the murder and could identify the murderer.

The boy’s story also put a different complexion upon the crime and indicated that the murder was the outcome of a quarrel. Manz said he was passing the Chinaman’s restaurant on the opposite side of Wooster st., about fifteen minutes before the discovery of the murder by the vender and saw a big Cuban run up the steps from the basement, closely followed by the Chinaman. They were disputing violently, but the boy did not understand what was said. While Chong Ong stood on the top step, near the sidewalk, the Cuban drew a big knife and made a thrust with it. The blade entered the Chinaman’s breast and the Cuban seemed to have difficulty in drawing it out again. Chong Ong turned to follow him, but fell headlong, and Manz heard a crash of breaking glass. Manz then ran to his employer’s store, but was too frightened for a time to tell what he had seen. Evidently the murderer dragged Chong Ong back into the basement to complete the bloody work.

Detective-Sergeant Haley, who was detailed to assist Captain McDonnell, took the boy to several factories in the city where Cubans were known to be employed but Manz could not point out the murderer. Inspector Byrnes procured he co-operation of the Chinese and Spanish Consuls in getting information about Cubans in the city and vessels starting for West India ports were watched. At length the Inspector’s attention was directed to a society of Cuban insurrectionists having a lodge room on the west side of the city. Some members of the society talked with Detective-Sergeant Haley and incidentally showed a photograph of the members in a group. Haley learned the address of the photographer and secured copies of the picture. Manz looked at the faces in the group and pointed out one as that of the man who stabbed Chong Ong.  “That is the man,” said the boy, “and if you get him you will find that he as an ugly scar on his cheek.” Haley learned that the Cuban was Augustine Rebell and that he was employed in a Brooklyn cigar factory. He arrested Rebell yesterday at No. 161 Pearl st., and learned that the man had worked in the factory of Mendz and Jauregui at No. 314 Washington st., Brooklyn.

Rebell is about thirty-seven years of age and has lived recently in a furnished room at No. 118 West Twenty-seventh st. He has a large scar on his face, the result of a wound infected a year ago by an Irishwoman with whom he was living. Soon afterward he was locked up at the Tombs for a time for assaulting the woman. His room in Twenty-seventh st., was searched yesterday, but the detectives found nothing which could be identified as Chong Ong’s property. Manz looked at the prisoner and said he was sure the man was the murderer of the Chinaman. Robell denied all knowledge of the murder and said he was working in the Brooklyn factory at the mire of the murder. It was ascertained that Rebell was credited on the factory books with making 100 cigars that day. The foreman of the factory said that Rebell could have made so many cigars in half a day. Inspector Byrnes praised the work of Detective-Sergeant Haley and said: “Rebell probably has a good alibi ready to fall back on by way of defense, and it may be difficult to convict him of the murder, but we have good reason to believe that he is guilty. Some evidence that we know of cannot be used in court, because the witnesses do not dare to let it be known that they have given assistance in finding Rebell.”


New York Herald-Tribune, New York, New York, November 21, 1885


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