Saturday, October 10, 2015

Unrequited Love.

Little Murders

Andrew J. Gillen
When he was a young law student, Andrew J. Gillen was mentored by Michael Sigerson, Assistant Corporation Lawyer for New York City. Gillen was a troubled youth whose family had disowned him over his “habits of dissipation,” and appreciated Sigerson’s help and hospitality. He would often visit Sigerson’s home on Lewis Street, where he lived with his widowed mother, his brother John and his sister Mary.

The mentoring continued for several years and over that time Gillen fell in love with Mary Sigerson. She was thirty-years-old, brunette, short and somewhat stout, quiet and reserved, educated as a teacher, but did not feel robust enough to follow that occupation. Though she was described as “not particularly handsome,” Gillen was infatuated with Mary and, after passing the bar, he continued to visit the Sigerson home to see her.

Andrew Gillen was a fine looking young man with light hair and blue eyes, but he was only twenty-three and Mary did not take his advances seriously. Undeterred, Gillen persisted until his conduct became too annoying to tolerate. Mary and her mother requested that he cease his visits.

Devastated, Gillen sent Mary a note, appealing for an opportunity to win her affections. Mary sent a note back, agreeing to see him once more. She told her mother that she would dismiss Gillen after a few minutes. When he arrived, he was allowed into the family sitting-room on the second floor, and Mrs. Sigerson went in and out of the room several times, to make her presence known.

Gillen professed his love for Mary, and she continued to refuse him, he persisted until Mary and her mother said goodnight and told him to leave. He asked for a drink of water, and when Mary went to get it, he followed after her. When they reentered he sitting-room, Gillen threw his left arm around her neck. Mary called for her mother to take his hand away, and Mrs. Sigerson grabbed Gillen’s sleeve. Then, with his right hand he pulled a revolver from his pocket, placed the barrel against Mary’s head and fired, killing her instantly. Gillen rushed from the house, leaving his hat behind.

A search of  Gillen’s room revealed nothing. The police learned that he had an aunt living on Lewis Street, and when questioned, she said that Gillen had rushed into her rooms that evening and leaped out a rear window to the roof of another building. He told her that he would be dead before nine o’clock but said nothing more.

The police believed that Gillen had committed suicide but, since they had not found his body, they sent his description throughout the country just in case. Gillen had reportedly been seen in Pennsylvania, and outside of Jersey City, New Jersey, a man turned himself in to the police for committing a terrible crime, but would not say what it was. When asked if he had killed Mary Sigerson in New York, the man pulled out a knife and tried to cut his own throat.

Whatever the New Jersey man’s crime, it was not the murder of Mary Sigerson. Andrew Gillen was captured on December 3, in Cedar Keys, Florida. When arrested, he was wearing two pairs of pants. After the first pair was removed, the police could see that he had gunshot wounds in his legs. A bullet had entered his right thigh and come out below the knee, then entered his left leg, just above the ankle. He refused to say how he had shot himself. They sent for a doctor, but it was too late; Gillen had lost too much blood. Before he died, Andrew Gillen made the following statement:

"I have nothing to live for. I shot her by accident, intending the bullet for myself and that she should witness my death, and would rather meet her in Heaven than live without her. I might go back to New York and be acquitted, but I don't wish to live after my little girl."


"A Rejected Lover's Crime." National Police Gazette 27 Nov 1880.
"Fatally Shot By Her Lover." New York Tribune 11 Nov 1880.
"Is He Andrew Gillen?" New York Herald 15 Nov 1880.
"Miss Sigerson's Murder." New York Herald 18 Nov 1880.
"Mortuary Notice." Philadelphia Inquirer 6 Dec 1880.
"Summary Of News." Sentinel 13 Nov 1880.


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