Saturday, April 4, 2020

Murder Told in Pictures.

Robert Hoey told police that as he was coming home from work in the early hours of March 15, 1898, he literally tripped over the body of a dead woman in the courtyard of the tenement where he lived at No. 27 Monroe Street in New York City. An autopsy revealed that the woman had been strangled to death and the police believed that the body had been dragged to the courtyard known in the neighborhood as “Hogan’s Alley.” She was about thirty-five years of age, with light complexion, light brown hair and blue eyes. As she lay in the morgue several people claimed to identify the woman but in each case the identity proved false.

Mrs. Downing, housekeeper at 27 Monroe, said she had seen a group of men standing in the courtyard at around 2 o’clock that morning. Hoey changed his story then, and said he and two friends, wagon driver Thomas Cosgrove and mandolin player Charles Weston, had seen their friend John Brown leaning over the body. Brown was a “deep water” sailor whom the press would refer to as “Sailor” Brown. None of them knew who the woman was.
Three more people were arrested after Mrs. Lynch, another tenant of 27 Monroe told police she had heard fighting in the Hoey’s apartment. Following some noisy quarreling and door slamming, she heard a woman calling for water. Robert Hoey’s common law wife Mary was arrested along with two others who had been in the apartment that night, Mamie Largo and James Dee. Mary Hoey told police that “Sailor” Brown had been there with the murdered woman, but none of them knew her name. The police now believed that “Sailor” Brown had murdered the woman in the Hoey’s apartment.

Maggie Crowley
On March 19 the body was positively identified by Mrs. Maggie Clark as her daughter Margaret (also called Maggie) the widow of John Crowley. Detective Kenly had seen Mrs. Clark wearing blue and white shawl, a distinctive item of clothing identical to one found on the body, and asked accompany him to the morgue. After overcoming the shock of seeing her daughter on a mortuary slab, Mrs. Clark said, “The girl was always a good girl, and her only fault was that she drank too much mixed ale at times. I suppose the poor dear got too much drink on and the men took the chance to kill her.”

Jennie Isaacs, who kept a saloon at No. 19 Monroe Street, said she had seen “Sailor” Brown in her saloon with Charles Weston and his wife Mamie. After they left she saw Brown outside with the murdered woman.

John "Sailor" Brown
Four of the suspects were released, but John “Sailor” Brown, Robert Hoey, and Thomas Cosgrove were indicted for the murder of Margaret Crowley. Brown’s case went to trial the following July. He was prosecuted by Assistant District-Attorney McIntyre. In a strange twist, Brown’s attorneys, probably court-appointed, were McIntyre’s two sons. On July 11 the district attorney called Jennie Isaacs to the stand but she could not be found. The judge asked the younger McIntyres if they would consent to having the affidavit of Jennie Isaacs read in court. They refused. When the district attorney said he had no other testimony the judge said, “Then I direct the jury to acquit the prisoner. A case should not be submitted to a jury on mere conjecture and suspicion.”

Charges were dropped against Hoey and Cosgrove as well. No one was ever convicted of murdering Maggie Crowley.

Originally posted January 18, 2014.


"Strangler Mark on Dead Woman's Neck Told of Murder." New York American 15 Mar 1898.
"Murder Told in Pictures." New York American 16 Mar 1898: 2.
"4 Men Arrested." New York American 16 Mar 1898.
"Seven Murder Suspects Held." New York Tribune 19 Mar 1898.
"More Clews to Dark Mystery of the Strangler." New York American 17 Mar 1898: 1.
"Strangled Victim Positively Identified as Maggie Clark." New York American 19 Mar 1898: 7.
"'Sailor' Brown Goes Free." New York Tribune 12 Jul 1898.


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