True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

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Mug Shot Monday! Joseph MacAvoy, 1943

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Joseph MacAvoy, 1943


sig_15067_macavoy

 

During the summer of 1943, sixteen-year-old Anna Milroy, lived and worked on a farm outside her hometown of Sutton, Nebraska, a small city of just 1,400 people. She was a junior in high school and the oldest of eight children. She worked during the week and on the weekend, she was free to do as she pleased.

Anna Milroy, victim

Anna Milroy, victim

On Saturday evening, August 7, she was brought into town by her employer who dropped her off near a movie theater where she met up with her sister, Wilma, and their close friend Barbara Carl. The three spent the day together and prior to going home, their last stop was at Yost’s Service Station in Sutton. Anna, who was tired and wanted to go home, told her friends she was going to use the station’s restroom. After waiting for several minutes for her to return, Wilma and Barbara assumed she had gone home on her own.

The next day, the family realized Anna had not returned and notified the Clay County Sheriff. At two o’clock in the afternoon Sunday, Sutton officials blew the fire whistle to call for searchers. Despite their efforts, night came and there was still no sign of Anna.

On Monday, a farmer found Anna’s nude and battered body while mowing weeds along a gravel road one mile south of Sutton.

An autopsy performed later that day showed she had been raped. Besides having her skull bashed, there were holes in her head which appeared to have been made by a chisel.

Later that evening, county investigators were led to a vehicle that had been purchased on Saturday at Yost’s Filling Station. The car, which was parked outside a tavern in Sutton, had what looked to be blood-splatter on the body. The owner, Private Joseph T. MacAvoy was first questioned in Sutton, then taken to an adjacent county and interrogated further.

By 5:30 the next morning, the twenty-four-year-old married solider from Brooklyn had confessed. MacAvoy was serving his second enlistment at nearby Harvard Army Airfield, a small training base sixteen miles south of Sutton. MacAvoy had recently been demoted from sergeant, and was out on bond pending trial for attacking a woman in Hastings. After he was arrested in that case, his wife, Evelyn, returned to Brooklyn. It was later reported that she left because she could not find adequate living arrangements.

In his confession, MacAvoy claimed he knew Anna and had made a date with her that night, the two planning to meet at 11:30 near Yost’s station.

“I knew her because I had met her once before,” MacAvoy related. “I called her aside and told her I would pick her up at 11:30 on the corner by Yost’s garage. We got into the car and drove out to this road.”

On that road, the two had an argument when she refused his advances. They both got out of the car and in the middle of the road, he beat her to death.

“I grabbed her by the throat and threw her down. I grabbed the crank and she started hollering. I hit her about four times on the head and body.”

“The crank entered at her left ear and was driven through the head coming out at the right temple,” a state sheriff told reporters.

Although she was nude, and an autopsy report said she sexually assaulted, MacAvoy, denied raping the sixteen-year-old, but later said they had intimate relations, implying it was consensual. He also denied driving a chisel into her head.

He further stated that he returned to the airbase at 1:30 a.m., and on Sunday, he drove back out to view the body, then left. As to why he was in a tavern on Monday night in the same small community that was electrified by the tragedy, the same small town that was the girl’s home, was never reported on.

joseph-macavoyMacAvoy was turned over to civilian authorities and was held at the state penitentiary in Lincoln until his trial could begin one month later in Clay County. Although he initially pleaded guilty at his August arraignment, at the start of his trial, he changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Following jury selection, his six day trial began on September 9, and after several outbursts by the defendant, in which he had to be restrained, was handed to the jury on September 15. Two hours later, they came back with a guilty verdict and recommendation for the death penalty.

When he heard the sentence, MacAvoy collapsed, and had to be carried out of the courtroom. His mother and sister from Brooklyn attended the trial.

Despite pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, no sanity hearing was granted by the courts, and no doctors are known to have testified at his trial. Instead, prosecutors focused on his confession which was heard and witnessed by eight people, including a stenographer.

Although he was supposed to be electrocuted on December 30, several appeals and a broken electric chair extended MacAvoy’s life until March 23, 1945. For most of that time, the state was unable to get the parts it needed to repair the electric chair, not used since young Henry Sherman went crazy and killed three people back in 1928. Sherman was electrocuted the following year, and it went unused for seventeen-years.

But by 5:50 a.m. that Friday morning, the chair was fixed, tested, and ready for its next customer. The day before he died, MacAvoy was visited by his mother between two and four o’clock in the afternoon. Then, he was taken away and his head was shaved. His only visitors, besides prison officials, were Chaplain Lessten and Father Sherman. Chaplain Lessten, who was with him praying and talking most of the night, reported he ate a large portion of fried chicken and was in good spirits.

When the warden went to MacAvoy’s cell to get him, a newspaper reported the following conversation.

The warden asked: “How are you?”

MacAvoy: “I’m all right.”

Warden: “Are you sure?”

MacAvoy: “Yes.”

The former soldier showed no unwillingness as he was taken from his death cell.

After he was strapped in, MacAvoy, who had become resigned to his fate in recent weeks, was asked if he had any last words.

He said only, “Good-bye Chaplian, good-bye Warden.”

Both responded, “Good-bye Joe.”

At 5:59, MacAvoy was hit with 2,300 volts for twenty seconds, but it didn’t kill him. Unconscious, doctors could still detect a heartbeat. A second shock was applied at exactly 6:00 a.m. and at 6:01, MacAvoy was pronounced dead.

Notes:

Up until the end, MacAvoy denied driving a chisel into her head. At trial, it was proven that a chisel he had access to, and was in his car, was used to make the wounds in Anna’s head.

Anna’s funeral was held at the Congregational Church in Sutton on Friday, August 13. It’s unclear where she was buried, but I assume in Sutton. If she were alive today, Anna Milroy would be eighty-nine-years-old.

 

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The HCD Blog is Now Mobile Friendly with New Responsive Design

Home | Recent News | The HCD Blog is Now Mobile Friendly with New Responsive Design


Today I’m excited to announce that the HistoricalCrimeDetective.com blog is now 100-percent mobile friendly, with a responsive design, and features some new design modifications.

These design changes include:
1. An attractive new header and logo.
2. A new menu bar at the top.
3. Slight design changes to the right sidebar.
4. New Share Buttons added to the bottom of each story.

But best of all, HCD will scale down completely to fit inside your cellphone browser. This is a project we’ve been working on for two weeks now, and my mobile friendly website designer did a great job converting and updating the old website to fit inside any sized browser using Responsive Design techniques.

This is going to make viewing and reading the HCD blog more convenient for everyone who relies on their cellphone or tablet to surf the web.

I hope everyone likes the new changes and be sure to bookmark HCD on your cellphone or tablet.

— Jason Morrow
November 16, 2016

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Famous Crimes the World Forgot Published in Czech Republic

Home | New Books, Recent News | Famous Crimes the World Forgot Published in Czech Republic


zapomenuti-seriovi-vraziIn January of this year, I was contacted by the Omega publishing company in the Czech Republic about acquiring the Czech language rights to my December 2014 book, Famous Crimes the World Forgot: Ten Vintage True Crime Stories Rescued from Obscurity. Since it is an independently published book, I found this to be a great opportunity to reach an international audience beyond what Amazon and this blog is capable of doing. Omega’s parent company also owns a chain of book stores throughout the country.

In February, I sold the rights under a standard contract and read that it could take up to 18 months before the book is translated, edited, printed and released. Well, I was recently amazed to discover they accomplished all that in seven months, far ahead of schedule. A representative with the publisher contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know that not only were they finished translating the book, they had also released it under the title: Zapomenutí sérioví vrazi – which translates to “Forgotten Serial Killers.”

czech-flagThis is a proud moment for me, and although I don’t like to talk about myself, I did want to share it on my blog. Any kind of acknowledgement from your peers is both a blessing and humbling. I am very grateful to the staff with Omega publishing company, SRO, for doing such a fine job in translating and publishing my book for the beautiful people of the Czech Republic. From my heart, thank you.

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The Mysterious Murder of 15 year-old Nora Fuller, 1902

Home | Feature Stories | The Mysterious Murder of 15 year-old Nora Fuller, 1902


Introduction:

On January 11, 1902, fifteen-year-old Nora Fuller disappeared after she left her home. She told her single mother of three that she was going to meet with a man about a job as a nanny after she found his advertisement in the local newspaper. She didn’t come home that night or the next, and the search for Nora Fuller began. Her nude body was found one month later in an empty apartment.

The careful planning and attention to detail by her cunning killer is what makes this case so intriguing. Added to the mystery is that Nora may have been secretly meeting with a much older man, confiding to one friend that he was her boyfriend.

In a story that was on going, with front-page coverage in San Francisco newspapers between January and March 1902, the city was captivated by the mysterious murder of Nora Fuller. This extreme level of publicity put enormous pressure on the San Francisco Police Department to solve the case.

Beneath this introduction is a 3,000-word feature story written by retired San Francisco Police Captain Thomas A. Duke in his book, Celebrated Criminal Cases of America, published in 1910.

According to Duke’s story, the police were eventually able to identify a strong suspect, or so they believed at the time. Unfortunately, he left town before he could be arrested and was never seen or heard from again. What is most fascinating about Duke’s story is the long-running account of circumstantial evidence that police believed connected the murder to this man.

The pressure to solve the case also meant that dozens of other men who were rounded up and interrogated had their names published in the local newspapers as well. With the public’s fear and anger already inflamed by those same dailies, the lives of these men were effectively ruined.

At the end of the story is a link to download a three-page .pdf file containing the front and two interior pages San Francisco Call published on February 11, 1902—three days after Nora’s nude body was discovered. Nearly every square inch of those three pages is devoted to the Fuller murder.

sfcallthumbThe information within those three pages may not match up with Duke’s account, who wrote it years later and had a more complete view of the crime.

I have also added a link to an October 17, 2016, sfgate.com article.

I will add more links to this feature story, including links to more pdf files, in the near future.

 

The Nora Fuller Case

nora-fullerEleanor Parline, better known as Nora Fuller, was born in China in 1886.

In 1890 her father was an engineer on the Steamer Tai Wo. One night he was sitting asleep in a steamer chair on the deck of the vessel while at sea. Shortly after he was seen in this position his services were required in the engine room, but when a helper was sent after him the chair was vacant, and Parline was never seen again. A year later Mrs. Parline married a man named W. W. Fuller, in San Francisco, but seven years later she obtained a divorce.

As she had four small children, Mrs. Fuller experienced much trouble in getting along. In 1902 she lived at 1747 Fulton Street. At that time Nora, who was then fifteen years of age, decided to quit school and seek employment.

On January 6 she wrote to a theatrical agency, and after stating that she had a fairly good soprano voice, asked for employment. Two days later the following advertisement appeared in the Chronicle and Examiner:

“Wanted—Young white girl to take care of baby; good home and good wages.”

At the foot of the advertisement was a note directing anyone answering to address the communication in care of the paper the advertisement was found in. Nora Fuller answered it, and on Saturday, January 11, she received the following postal:

“Miss Fuller: In answer to yours in response to my advertisement, kindly call at the Popular Restaurant, 55 Geary Street, and inquire for Mr. John Bennett, at 1 o’clock. If you can’t come at 1, come at 6. ‘ JOHN BENNETT.”

Mrs. Fuller sent Nora to the rendezvous, and the girl took the postal card with her. About one hour later Mrs. Fuller’s telephone bell rang, and her twelve-year-old son answered.

A nervous, irritable voice, which sounded some like Nora’s, told him that the speaker was at the home of Mr. Bennett, at 1500 Geary Street, and her employer wanted her to go to work at once. (It was subsequently learned that 1500 Geary Street was a vacant lot).

The boy called out the message to his mother, who instructed him to tell Nora to come home and go to work Monday. The boy repeated the message, and the person at the other end said: “All right;” but before any more could be said by the boy the receiver at the other end was hung up. Nora Fuller never came home. A few days later the distracted mother notified the police.

F. W. Krone, proprietor of the Popular Restaurant, was questioned and he stated that about 5:30 on the evening of January 11, a man who had been a patron of his place at different times during the past fifteen years, but whose name he had not up to that time heard, came to the counter and stated that he expected a young girl to inquire for John Bennett, and if she did to send her to the table where he was seated.

The girl did not appear, and Bennett, after waiting one-half hour, became restless and walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant for several moments. He then disappeared.

This man was described as being about forty years of age, five feet nine inches high, weighing about 170 pounds, wearing a brown mustache, well dressed and refined appearing.

A waiter employed at the Popular Restaurant, who frequently waited on “Bennett,” stated that the much-wanted man was a great lover of porterhouse steaks, but the fact that he only ate the tenderloin part of the steak earned for him the sobriquet of “Tenderloin.”

On January 16 lengthy articles were published in the papers in regard to the mysterious disappearance of the girl.

On January 8, [three days before Nora’s disappearance] a man giving the name of C. B. Hawkins called at Umbsen & Co.’s real estate office, and, addressing a clerk named C. S. Lahenier, inquired for particulars regarding a two-story frame building for rent at 2211 Sutter Street. The terms were satisfactory to Hawkins, but Lahenier asked the prospective tenant for references. He replied that he could give none, as he was a stranger in the city, but as he had a prepossessing appearance the clerk let him have the key after paying one month’s rent in advance. The man then signed the name “C. B. Hawkins” to a contract.

He stated that he was then stopping at the Golden West Hotel with his wife. The description of Hawkins was identically the same as the description of Bennett.

On the following day the real estate firm sent E. F. Bertrand, a locksmith and “handy man” in their employ, to the Sutter-Street house to clean it up.

Many days after this a collector for the firm named Fred Crawford reported that the house was still vacant—judging from outside appearances. He went to the Golden West Hotel to inquire for Hawkins, but he was not known there.

On February 8 the month’s rent was up, and a collector and inspector named H. E. Dean was sent to the house.

Using a pass key he entered, but finding no furniture on the lower floor, he went upstairs, where he found the door to a back room closed. This he opened, but as the shade was down the room was in semi-darkness. He discerned a bright-colored garment on the floor, but as he seemed to know by intuition that something was wrong, he hurriedly left the building, and meeting Officer Gill requested him to accompany him back to the house. The officer entered the room, and upon raising the shade found the dead body of a young girl lying as if asleep in a bed. On the bed were two new sheets, which had never been laundered, a blanket and quilt. An old chair was the only other furniture in the house. Neither food nor dishes could be found. Nor was there any means of heating or lighting the house, as the gas was not connected.

The girl’s clothing was in the bedroom, also her purse, which contained no money, but a card with the following inscription thereon:

“Mr. M. A. Severbrinik, of Port Arthur.”

(It was subsequently learned that this man sailed for China on the Peking three hours before Nora Fuller left home on January 11.)

On the floor was the butt of a cigar, and on the mantle-piece in the front room was an almost empty whiskey bottle. There were no toilet articles in the house except one towel.

Many letters were found addressed to Mrs. C. B. Hawkins, 2211 Sutter Street. They were from furniture houses and contained either advertisements or solicitations for trade. A circular letter addressed to Mrs. Hawkins and bearing a postmark of January 21, 11 p. m., or ten days after the dis-appearance of Nora Fuller, had been opened by someone and then placed in the girl’s jacket, which was found in the room. Mrs. Fuller identified the clothing as belonging to her daughter, and subsequently identified the body as the remains of Nora. No trace was ever found of the postal card Nora received from Bennett.

Dr. Charles Morgan, the city toxicologist, examined the stomach and found no traces of drugs or poisons. Save for an apple, which the deceased had evidently eaten about one or two hours before death, the stomach was empty.

There was a slight congestion of the stomach, possibly due to partaking of some alcoholic drink when the stomach was not accustomed to it. Mrs. Fuller stated that Nora ate an apple shortly before she left home on January 11.

Dr. Bacigalupi, the autopsy surgeon, found two black marks on the throat, one on each side of the larynx, and as there was a slight congestion of the lungs, he concluded that death was due to strangulation. But the child had been other-wise assaulted and her body frightfully mutilated, evidently by a degenerate. Captain of Detectives John Seymour took charge of the case.

B.T. Schell, a salesman at J. C. Cavanaugh’s furniture store, located at 848 Mission Street, stated that at 5 p. m., January 9, a man of the same description as “Hawkins” or “Bennett,” and wearing a high silk hat, called and said that he wanted to furnish a room temporarily. He purchased two second-hand pillows, a pair of blankets, a comforter and top mattress. He insisted that the goods be delivered at night or not at all. This Schell promised to do. The customer then wanted to know what assurance he had that the salesman would not substitute another mattress, and Schell suggested that he put his initials on the mattress as a means of identification. Acting on this suggestion Hawkins used a large heavy pencil and wrote the letters “C. B. H.” on the mattress. After leaving word to deliver the articles that night to 2211 Sutter Street the man departed.

Lawrence C. Gillen, the delivery boy for this firm, stated that he had to work overtime in order to take the articles to the Sutter Street house that night.

When he arrived the house was in darkness. He rang the bell and a man came to the door, and from what he could see with the lights from the street lamps he was of the same description as the man who made the purchases, and he wore a silk hat. Gillen asked him to light up so he could see, but he said, “Never mind, leave the things in the hail.”

Richard Fitzgerald, a salesman employed at the Standard Furniture Company, 745 Mission Street, stated that a man of “Bennett’s” description bought a bed and an old chair from him on January 10, and that he engaged an expressman, Tom Tobin, to deliver the same to 2211 Sutter Street.

Tobin stated that this man was present when he arrived, and requested him to set up the bed in the room where it was found. This man he described as being of Bennett’s ‘appearance.

It is probable that the sheets, towel and pillow cases were purchased at Mrs. Mahoney’s dry goods store, 92 Third Street, which was just around the corner from the Standard Furniture Company. These articles were carried away by the purchaser.

On the floor of the room where the girl’s body was found was a small piece of the Denver Post of January 9, upon which was a mailing label addressed to the office of the Railroad Employees’ Journal, 210 Parrott building.

When this paper arrived at the Parrott building it was given by Exchange Editor Scott to a Mr. Hurlburt, a delegate from Denver to a railroadmen’s convention then in session in the assembly room in the Parrott building. After glancing at it he threw it on a large table, and some other delegate picked it up and took it to Dennett’s restaurant, where he left it on the dining table. The steward of the restaurant, Mr. Helbish, picked it up, and after taking it to the counter began to read it, believing it was the San Francisco Post. He laid it down, and Miss Drysdale, the cashier, glanced over it. She laid it down, and how it got to 2211 Sutter Street remains a mystery.

A seventeen-year-old girl named Madge Graham met Nora Fuller in June, 1901, and they became very friendly. Madge boarded at Nora’s house for a while until her guardian, Attorney Edward Stearns, requested her to move away, because a lawyer named Hugh Grant was a frequent visitor at the Fuller home.

She claimed that Nora Fuller frequently spoke to her of having a friend named Bennett, also she believed that the advertisement was a trick concocted by Nora and “Bennett” to deceive Mrs. Fuller.

john-bennett

John Bennett

She furthermore stated that Nora often telephoned to some man, and that one day Nora requested her to tell Mrs. Fuller that she and Nora were going to the theater that night. Madge did as requested, but she stated that instead of going with her, Nora went with some man. It was also claimed that someone gave Nora complimentary press tickets to the theaters.

A. Menke, who conducted a grocery at Golden Gate and Central Avenues, stated that Nora Fuller frequently used his telephone to call up someone at a hotel, although she had a telephone in her own home a few blocks away.

Theodore Kytka, the handwriting expert, made an examination of the original slips filled out by “Bennett” for his advertisement for a young girl, and also the signature of “C. B. Hawkins” to the contract when he rented the house, and found both were written by the same person.

On February 19 the Coroner’s jury rendered the following verdict:

“That the said Nora Fuller, aged fifteen, nativity China, residence 1747 Fulton Street, came to her death at 2211 Sutter Street in the City and County of San Francisco, through asphyxiation by strangling on a day subsequent to January 11 and before February 4, 1902, at the hands of parties unknown. Furthermore we believe that she died within twenty-four hours after 12 m., January 11. In view of the heinousness of the crime, we recommend that the Governor offer a reward of $5,000 for the discovery and apprehension of the criminal.

“ACHILLE ROSS, Foreman.”

Believing that the person who committed this crime might have changed his address and sent a written notification to that effect to the postal authorities, Theodore Kytka examined 32,000 notifications of changes of address. Of this number he found three signatures that bore considerable resemblance to the Bennett-Hawkins style of penmanship, and one of these three was almost identically the same.

This proved to be the signature of a man in Kansas City, Mo., and Captain Seymour went east to make a personal investigation. It was found, however, that the man had nothing to do with the crime.

On January 16, five days after the disappearance of Nora Fuller, but three weeks before her fate was known, the papers of San Francisco gave considerable space to the mysterious case. Two days later a gentleman connected with a local paper notified the police department that a clerk in their employ named Charles B. Hadley had disappeared. It was afterward said that he was short in his accounts with his employers.

Detective Charles Cody was detailed to locate the man, and he found that he had lived at 647 Ellis Street with a girl born and raised in San Francisco, who had assumed the name of Ollie Blasier, because of her infatuation for a notorious character known as “Kid” Blasier.

No trace of Hadley was found. Finally the body of Nora Fuller was discovered, and photographs of the signature of “C. B. Hawkins” on the contract with Umbsen & Co., and the “C. B. H.” on the mattress, were published in all the papers.

The Blasier woman had a photograph of Hadley in her room, upon the back of which he had written his name, “C. B. Hadley.” Seeing the great similarity in the handwriting she delivered this to Detective Cody, who in turn delivered it to Theodore Kytka for investigation.

Kytka determined at once that the person who wrote “C. B. Hadley” on the photograph also wrote “C. B. H.” on the mattress, and “C. B. Hawkins” on the contract.

While Hadley had the same general physique as “Hawkins,” it was known that he was always clean shaven. Miss Blaiser stated, however, that she had seen Hadley wear a false brown mustache about the house, and it was subsequently learned that he purchased one at a Japanese store on Larkin Street.

In addition to this, Chief of Police Langley, of Victoria, B. C., made an affidavit to the effect that a Mr. Marsden, a storekeeper in Victoria, B. C., had stated that he had been a companion of Hadley’s, and that while out on a “lark” he had seen Hadley wear a false mustache. Miss Blasier made a further statement substantially as follows:

“I now recall that after the disappearance of Nora Fuller Hadley made a practice of getting up early in the morning and taking the morning paper to the toilet to read.

“On the day of his final disappearance he followed this practice, and after he left the house I found the morning paper in the toilet, and I noticed a long article about the disappearance of Nora Fuller. It was evident that his mind was greatly disturbed on this morning.

“The next day I was making up my laundry, and at the very bottom of the pile of soiled clothing I found some of his garments which had blood on them. I burned them and also his plug hat.

“It is well known that Hadley is partial to porterhouse steaks and that he eats only the tenderloin.

“On the evening of January 16, Hadley telephoned to me that he would not be home. I confess that I suspect he committed this murder.”

Theodore Kytka obtained Hadley’s photograph and altered it by giving him the appearance of wearing a mustache and plug hat. This was shown to different persons who had dealings with “Hawkins,” with the following results:

Tobin, the expressman, said it looked very much like him; Lahenier, the real estate man, said it bore a marked resemblance. Ray Zertanna, who had seen Nora in the park with a man, stated that the picture was a good likeness of this man. Schell, who suggested that “Hawkins” place his initials on the mattress, said it was an exact likeness of Hawkins. Fred Krone, the restaurant man, who had the conversation with “Bennett” on the evening Nora left home, said it was not a likeness of Bennett.

Hadley left his money in a certain bank in this city, where it remains even now.

An investigation was then made as to his past, and it developed that he was an habitue of the tenderloin district, and that he was on the road to degeneracy. His true name was Charlie Start, and his respected mother resided in Chicago.

On May 6, 1889, Superintendent of Police Brackett, of Minneapolis, issued a circular letter offering $100 reward for the arrest of Charles Start for embezzlement.

About two years before the murder of Nora Fuller, Hadley enticed a fifteen-year-old girl into a room and outraged her. He then purchased diamonds and jewelry from a certain large jewelry store in San Francisco and gave them to the girl, who is now a respectable married woman residing in the neighborhood of San Francisco.

The country was flooded with circulars accusing Hadley of this murder and calling for his apprehension, but he was never located.

Many believe that he committed suicide.

Links:

Download 3 page .pdf file of February 11, 1902, San Francisco Call

Read sfgate.com October 17, 2016, article about the case.

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New Book: Unwanted: A Murder Mystery of the Gilded Age, by Andrew Young

Home | New Books | New Book: Unwanted: A Murder Mystery of the Gilded Age, by Andrew Young


A Sensational Crime and Trial that Confronted Racism, Sexism, and Privilege as America Took to the World Stage

1577170371On the foggy, cold morning of February 1, 1896, a boy came upon what he thought was a pile of clothes. It was soon discovered to be the headless body of a young woman, brutally butchered and discarded. She was found just across the river from one of the largest cities in the country, Cincinnati, Ohio. Soon the authorities, the newspapers, and the public were obsessed with finding the poor girl’s identity and killer. Misinformation and rumor spread wildly around the case and led authorities down countless wrong paths.

Initially, it appeared the crime would go unsolved. An autopsy, however, revealed that the victim was four months pregnant, presenting a possible motive. It would take the hard work of a sheriff, two detectives, and the unlikely dedication of a shoe dealer to find out who the girl was; and once she had been identified, the case came together. Within a short time the police believed they had her killers—a handsome and charismatic dental student and his roommate—and enough evidence to convict them of first-degree murder. While the suspects seemed to implicate themselves, the police never got a clear answer as to what exactly happened to the girl and they were never able to find her lost head—despite the recovery of a suspicious empty valise.

Centering his riveting new book, Unwanted: A Murder Mystery of the Gilded Age, around this shocking case and how it was solved, historian Andrew Young re-creates late nineteenth- century America, where Coca-Cola in bottles, newfangled movie houses, the Gibson Girl, and ragtime music played alongside prostitution, temperance, racism, homelessness, the rise of corporations, and the women’s rights movement. While the case inspired the sensationalized pulp novel Headless Horror, songs warning girls against falling in love with dangerous men, ghost stories, and the eerie practice of random pennies left heads up on a worn gravestone, the story of an unwanted young woman captures the contradictions of the Gilded Age as America stepped into a new century, and toward a modern age.

You can read more of Andrew Young’s work online at his blog http://www.IrregularStories.com

 

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Mug Shot Monday! Luis Monge, 1963, Executed 1967

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Luis Monge, 1963, Executed 1967


luis-monge-hcd

 

In the summer of 1963, Denver residents Luis J. Monge and his spouse, Leonarda, 43, had nine children and his wife was pregnant with their tenth child. Also pregnant with Luis’s child was his sixteen-year-old daughter, Gloria.[1]

Although Gloria was keeping her incestuous affair a secret from her mother, Luis knew it was only a matter of time before his wife discovered the truth.[2] He may have brooded over the problem for some time before deciding his only way out was to kill his entire family on the night of June 29.

However, according to a 2014 book[3] by Gloria, she reports that her father’s rage began that night when he was caught and confronted by one of her sisters who wasn’t afraid to stand up to him. [Now going by the name Diann Kissell, she co-authored the self-published book with her psychotherapist, Kathy Bird. You can read more about Kissell and her book in a Westword online interview.]

After everyone had gone to sleep, Monge pocketed a sheathed stiletto, grabbed a three-pound fireplace poker, and fixed his mind on what had to be done.

When he was ready, Monge tip-toed down the stairs to the first floor and at the bottom, he turned, and carefully crept over to the master bedroom where his wife and youngest daughter were sleeping. Looking down at his pregnant wife, the woman he married nearly twenty years ago, he raised the three-pound iron bar above his head and focused his eyes on a broad area of her skull. With shame and anger and humiliation fueling his strength, he shattered his target with a power blow. And then another one. And another one. And another one.

Monge then walked over to the bassinet, pulled out his stiletto, and with less thrust and more care, he pushed the ugly blade into the heart of his eleven-month-old daughter, Theresa. When he knew she was dead, he picked up the little girl, and gently placed her in bed next to her mother.

Unsettled by all the blood he had seen but still determined to go through with his plan to annihilate his family, Monge went back upstairs, picked-up his sleeping son, Vincent, and carried the four-year-old back down to the basement where he choked him to death. He was then carried into the master bedroom and carefully placed next to his dead sister.

Six-year-old Alan was next. After taking two blows to the head, the young boy woke, looked up at his father holding something long and thin, and cried out, “Daddy! Daddy!” and then fell back dead.

Monge struck him one more time, and when he was sure the boy was dead, he washed the blood off Alan’s face and carried him to the bedroom where he was later found lying beside the others.

Overwhelmed with shame and guilt, Monge “could go no further” with his plans to kill the other children in the house, which included: Luis Jr., 18, Gloria, 16, Danny, 15, Eddie, 14 Diana 13, and Gerald, 8. Another son, Anthony, 11, was away at summer camp.

Like other men who kill their families, Monge ‘wanted’ to kill himself next. His suicide plan, death from carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in a running car parked in the garage, seemed tame compared to the violent, bloody mess he had made. But like most men who become family annihilators, he couldn’t do to himself what he had done to others.

He called the police, instead.

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Monge was taken to the station that night and later gave a full confession. He was formerly arrested and held until defense counsel could be appointed. On July 12, with new defense attorneys whispering in his ear, Monge pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to a sole charge of murdering his wife. On a first-degree murder charge, with death penalty as one of two options, the court was forced to order Monge to a thirty-day psychiatric observation commitment at the Colorado State Hospital at Pueblo.

In their August report submitted to the judge, doctors there determined Monge was sane, and was able to aid in his own defense. Without an insanity defense, and running out of options, Monge tried to plead guilty to the second-degree murder of his wife during an October 23 hearing.

Rejected. The trial judge refused to accept it. Knowing where the case was going, he steered it toward a jury trial.monge

Monge was given the option of pleading not guilty to first-degree murder charges and taking his criminal case to a jury. He refused, and after extensive warnings from the judge, and a signed declaration that he understood the risk he was taking, Monge pled guilty to first-degree murder.

In 1963, Colorado was ahead of the legal trend, which called for a jury to decide death, or life, for all first-degree murder defendants, including those who pled guilty, rather than a single judge or panel of judges. Convened in December, Monge’s jury chose to impose the death sentence. It was an easy decision. During the testimony phase, which included Monge’s dreadful description of how he murdered his family, the prosecution showed the jury the provocative crime scene photos.[4] News reports recount they were visibly affected.

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Monge in court. Although he wanted the death penalty, he didn’t like the jury gave it to him. It was all about control.

The jury’s decision was one that should have pleased Luis Monge, who, up until that time, was insisting he wanted the death penalty. But when he actually heard it, he didn’t like how it sounded and cried out, “You want to kill me? Kill me.”

A few weeks later, he instructed his attorneys to file an appeal.

They did.

Although originally sentenced to die in March 1964, his lawyers were able to postpone his execution until 1967. However, in March of that year, Monge had another change of heart. In a self-authored petition in which cited “ancient laws,” the now forty-eight-year-old declared he was asserting his “ancient, common-law right to die in public as a man should die, facing his accusers and not to die by poison gas like an insect.”

The “die in public” part was a demand to be hanged on the courthouse steps—in full view of everyone. He wanted to die in front of an audience.

One month later, he fired his attorneys and ordered all work on his appeals to stop. His execution, in the gas chamber and not by noose, was finally slated for June 2, 1967. But even then, the current governor wanted to make sure they weren’t about to make any mistakes, and called for a last minute sanity hearing. When he was found sane and competent, there were no more interventions on Monge’s behalf.

“For him, it was the chicken’s way out,” Kissell said during her 2014 Westword interview. By seeking his own death, he was able to escape the smoldering resentment of his children. “He never had to deal with the anger of his children. He died with the love of his children intact.”

A week before he died, Monge had a dinner with his seven remaining children. Although the local press was shocked by this, Kissell dismissed it as merely the duty of a Catholic family.

At 8:01 p.m. on June 2, he entered the small, steel gas chamber wearing only a pair of white boxer shorts—standard procedure for men condemned to die in the gas chamber. As the sodium cyanide pellets dropped into a crock of sulphuric acid, Monge held a black rosary in his hands.

At 8:20 p.m. he was pronounced dead and by nine o’clock, he was laying on an operating table having his eyes removed. In the months before his death, he had heard of a young reformatory inmate who needed a cornea transplant and through an arrangement with prison officials, Monge willed his eyes to the young man.

He may have been sincere with his donation, or he may have been seeking some publicity and good will with the governor.

Upon his death, Colorado newspapers finally hinted at his murderous motive. By pleading guilty in 1963 and avoiding a criminal trial, Monge had managed to keep his dark secret from the press. News reports that he murdered four family members to hide the fact he was molesting his daughter would lead to public disgrace that would be more painful to him than death.

However, in prison, his motive was made part of his prison records and as soon as he was dead, those records were made available to reporters. In a brief news report distributed nationwide, the Associated Press ended their execution story with a one-sentence explanation. “Prison records noted he committed the murder ‘to conceal from his wife activities with his oldest daughter.’”

“Activities with his oldest daughter” in 1967 was newspaper code that didn’t have to be explained.

After his eyes were removed for a cornea transplant, Luis Monge was buried in the Colorado State Prisoner section of Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery. Nearly all the graves there are marked with an aluminum marker, similar but smaller to a license plate, and mounted a square, steel rod pushed deep into the ground. Nearly all of the markers are rusted. Most of them are stamped “CSP Inmate,” – the only epitaph to a life wasted. A few others, like Monge’s, feature the inmate’s name.

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Monge’s bullet-riddled aluminum grave marker on “Woodpecker Hill Cemetery,” Colorado State Prison.

Monge was the last person executed in the United States until Gary Gilmore’s execution in Utah in 1977. During the intervening years, the United State Supreme Court drifted back and forth with the death penalty with Furman v. Georgia in 1972, and Gregg v. Georgia, in 1976.

A Turquoise Life via Amazon.

Monge vs the People, 406 P.2d 674, 1965

[1] This is mentioned in one source, and I am unable to confirm this pregnancy from other sources. It seems to be hinted at in the book description.

[2] According to the book, Mountain Murders: Homicide in the Rockies, there is speculation his wife may have already known her husband was molesting their oldest daughter, and had threatened to make it public if he continued. His motive for the murders, to cover-up the incestuous affair, was not made public until 1967.

[3] The self-published book, A Turquoise Life: One Woman’s Triumphant Journey by Diann Kissell and Kathy Bird (a psychotherapist) details the abuse she endured, how she struggled afterward and eventually triumphed through survival. The names have been changed.

[4] It was a tactic that worked, and later cited as one of the primary errors in an appeal.

Woodpecker Hill Photo Gallery, courtesy of Cemeteries of Colorado.   Luis Monge is one of only a few prisoners to have his name posted on his aluminum marker.

Rusted aluminum markers on steel posts identify the grave sites of prisoners executed long ago at the Colorado State Prison in Canon City.
"CSP Inmate" is how most of the markers are labeled. The man buried here is nameless and forgotten.
A barren landscape is the final resting place for executed prisoners, and those who died while serving out their sentences.
The prison can be seen from the cemetery.
A pitiful reminder of a life wasted.

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Jack McCullough asks Court for Certificate of Innocence

Home | Recent News | Jack McCullough asks Court for Certificate of Innocence


When Jack McCullough was arrested in 2012 for the 1957 murder of Maria Ridulph, Sycamore, Illinois authorities boasted they had solved the nation’s oldest cold case. Following McCullough’s trial and conviction, the long-running television series 48 Hours profiled the case in an episode, CNN produced a special web feature on it, and author Charles Lachman wrote a book about it called “Footsteps in the Snow.” His 2014 book was then used as the basis for Lifetime Network documentary.
 
jack-mcculloughAll four of those works presumed McCullough was guilty. A second book about the case, “Piggyback,” by self-published author Jeffrey Dean Doty was also released in 2014, and theorized that McCollough was innocent. In 2015, a new state prosecutor for DeKalb County reviewed the case and determined that evidence that would have exonerated McCullough was suppressed during his original trial.
 
In a March 2016 hearing, that new prosecutor asked the court to dismiss the charges. A judge vacated the sentence and McCullough was released in April 2016. The charges were dropped one week later. Now, McCullough is back in the news asking the court for a certificate of innocence.
 
According to the original FBI investigation, they reasoned she was abducted and killed between 6:45 and 7:00 o’clock on the night of Dec. 3, 1957, near her Sycamore home. At approximately that same time, Illinois Bell Telephone records indicate McCullough was in Rockford, Illinois, 40 miles northwest of Sycamore, and had placed a collect call to his mother.
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Maria Ridulph, – Wikipedia
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Mug Shot Monday! Henry Martinez Porter, 1975, Executed 1985

Home | Mug Shot Monday, Short Feature Story | Mug Shot Monday! Henry Martinez Porter, 1975, Executed 1985


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During the month of November 1975, three armed robberies in the Fort Worth area eventually produced a description of the suspect’s vehicle. On the morning of November 29, a car driven by Henry Martinez Porter was pulled over by Fort Worth Police Officer Henry Paul Mailoux. A confrontation between the two men led to a struggle in which Porter was shot in the left side of his abdomen, and Mailoux was shot and killed. Porter then fled the area to San Antonio (270 miles south) where he hid out on the city’s northwest side.

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Officer Henry Paul Mailoux, courtesy of Officer Down Memorial Page

By 1975, thirty-three-year-old Porter was a hardcore heroin addict with a long-history of mental problems, (diagnosed psychopathic personality with indications of paranoid-schizophrenic behavior), who had served terms in a mental institution, reform school, and then prison—dating back to when he was fifteen-years-old. Past charges included car theft, burglary-robbery, assault, and forgery.

Three days later, a tip led San Antonio police to an apartment building in the 1300 block of Donaldson Street. Fifteen police officers surrounded the building, entered the apartment, and found Porter in the bathroom, unarmed and nursing his bullet-wound. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released back into police custody.

During his 1976 trial, Porter’s defense argued the shooting was an accident, rather than intentional. The jury didn’t buy it. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Porter’s case was appealed in state court 1979 and 1981, and again in 1983 in federal court followed by a 1984 effort before the United States Supreme Court. All efforts failed and by July 6, 1985, the Los Angeles Times reported Martinez had asked his lawyer not to intervene or prevent his execution scheduled in three days, July 9.

During the last hours of his life, Porter, forty-three-years-old then, visited with relatives in his holding cell and asked for steak, refried beans, flour-tortillas, salad, ice-cream, and chocolate cake for his last meal.

After he was strapped down, the prisoner, with the words “Love” and “Hate” tattooed across his fingers, was asked if he had any last words. It was from this moment, more than any other moment in his life, that he is most remembered today.

I want to thank Father Walsh for his spiritual help. I want to thank Bob Ray (Sanders) and Steve Blow for their friendship.

What I want people to know is that they call me a cold-blooded killer when I shot a man that shot me first. [This differed from his first trial when he claimed it was an accidental shooting]. The only thing that convicted me was that I am a Mexican and that he was a police officer.

People hollered for my life, and they are to have my life tonight. The people never hollered for the life of the policeman that killed a thirteen-year-old boy who was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. The people never hollered for the life of a Houston police officer who beat up and drowned Jose Campo Torres and threw his body in the river.

You call that equal justice. This is your equal justice. This is America’s equal justice. A Mexican’s life is worth nothing.

When a policeman kills someone he gets a suspended sentence or probation. When a Mexican kills a police officer this is what you get. From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didn’t tie anyone to a stretcher. I didn’t pump any poison into anybody’s veins from behind a locked door. You call this justice. I call this and your society a bunch of cold-blooded murderers.

I don’t say this with any bitterness or anger. I just say this with truthfulness. I hope God forgives me for all my sins. I hope that God will be as merciful to society as he has been to me. I’m ready, Warden.

Officer Henry Mailloux is remembered on the Officer Down Memorial Page database. He would be sixty-nine-years-old if he were alive today.

 

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A Crime Convention for True Crime Fans, 2017

Home | Recent News | A Crime Convention for True Crime Fans, 2017


CrimeCon 2017, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 9-11, 2017, at the JW Marriott Hotel. There are lots of different “immersive” programs planned, but from what I can glean, the guest/expert speakers, presenters, and VIP attendees are yet to be announced.

See more at: http://www.crimecon.com/

crime-conPrice for admission, Standard to VIP packages, range from $199 to $575, depending on when you register. HistoricalCrimeDetective fans and blog readers get a 10 percent registration discount by using the coupon code, HCD10. The $199 “early bird” registration price ends today, which is unfortunate because I just found out about it recently. Military and law enforcement personnel qualify for registration discounts, as well as groups of five or more people.

Description:
“A celebration of all things true crime, CrimeCon brings the cases you love to life through immersive experiences, incredible guests, and a ton of mystery and intrigue. It was created for those of us who binged on Making a Murderer or who spend more hours watching ID and Dateline than we’d like to admit. Made by fans, for fans, CrimeCon’s mission is to bring together thousands of creators and consumers for a weekend they’ll never forget.

“CrimeCon transports fans from the couch to the crime scene and into courtroom. If your idea of the perfect night involves alibis, motives, and a bottle of wine, then this is the event you’ve been waiting for. Grab a few true crime-obsessed friends and join us in Indy for a weekend you won’t forget.”

Specific Detail:
“When many people hear “convention” they think about tens of thousands of people walking around gigantic exhibit halls, but that’s not really what CrimeCon is. This is a far more immersive and individualized program that is much more about creating an authentic experience than it is about walking through miles of exhibit halls.”

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The Wrath of George Geschwendt and the Abt Family Ambush, Trevose, Pennsylvania, 1976.

Home | Short Feature Story | The Wrath of George Geschwendt and the Abt Family Ambush, Trevose, Pennsylvania, 1976.


john-cathy

John Abt, with his daughter Margie.

When Michael Abt arrived at his family home in Trevose, Pennsylvania, he knew something was wrong. For a family of seven, the two-story house in the suburbs of Philadelphia (in Bensalem Township) had its own current of energy flowing through the walls, the floors, the ceiling and everything in between. But on Friday, March 12, 1976, the twenty-one-year-old couldn’t feel that energy, and as he looked around, he saw why.

“He saw blood stains and bloody rags and ran out of the house,” a United Press International report stated a few days later.

In the basement, Bensalem police found the bodies of six people, all shot once in the side of the head. Five of them were Michael’s family members; the sixth was the boyfriend of his sister. Alongside them lay the family dog, a friendly St. Bernard, also shot and killed.

The Abt family of Trevose was now reduced to two people: Michael, and his wayward brother Clifford, who was in jail on a forgery charge.

Three days into the investigation, the local police gave the standard “were tracking several leads” line, but before the interview was over, even they had to admit that “they did not know who shot the victims, and above all, they did not know why.”

But they did know one thing about the shooter; he was a very patient and determined man. This was no ‘burglary gone wrong scenario,’ it was a cold-blooded ambush. He had sat in the Abt family house for hours, calmly waiting for each family member to walk through the door so he could shoot them in the head. As he sat there, alone, he had hours to think about what he was going to do. He could have easily changed his mind and left.

But he never did.

The first two to die were Cathy, 15, and John Jr., 13, who arrived home from middle school just after three o’clock. He shot the two kids dead and carried them down to the basement, carefully laying their bodies next to the dog he had shot and killed after he broke into the house through the back door.

Two more hours went by until he shot his next victim, Margaret Abt, 46, an employee with the Internal Revenue Service. She arrived home from work about 5:15 p.m. A few minutes after she was killed, her daughter, nineteen-year-old Margie, arrived home from her job, walked through the front door, and was immediately shot in the head. Like the others.

Now, things were happening fast. The father would be home soon and the killer didn’t have time to carry the women downstairs. Instead, he dragged them to the top of the stairs by the back kitchen door and threw them down the steps.

Then, he wiped up the blood trails and waited.

Between 5:30 and 5:45, John, the devoted father and scoutmaster, arrived home from his job with the telephone company. He was shot as soon as he closed the front door.

Margie’s fiancé, Gary Engle, was the sixth and final victim. He was killed around six o’clock when he entered the house. He was there to celebrate the third anniversary of the first date they ever

michael-1991

Michael Abt pictured here during his 1991 interview.

went on.

Then, around 6:30 that night, the killer got up and left. He knew about Michael and Clifford, and wanted to kill them most of all, but the telephone kept ringing and ringing and ringing. It made him nervous.

What if a neighbor heard the shots and was calling to check on the family? he thought to himself.

Ten days later, police arrested Michael’s former childhood friend and neighbor, George Geschwendt. During their pre-teen and teen years, brothers Michael and Clifford were friends with George. Together, the three played pool, rode their bikes around town, and discovered the mischievous kind of trouble that boys their age, growing up in that era, could get into.

“We were real pains in the ass,” Michael said during a 1991 interview. “We were the best of friends.”

Maybe they were, maybe not.

The friendship broke apart after George was sent to juvenile court for vandalism. At the time, he was living with his mother, brother and abusive father who had tried to kill him on several occasions.

According to Michael’s 1991 interview, his mother forbade him from playing with George—fearing he would bring Michael down with him. Michael then claimed that for the next eight years, he and his brother, Clifford, never paid much attention to George, despite living diagonally across the street from each other.

Other reports of the friendship separation declare that Clifford and Michael bullied George by shooting BB guns at him and his house, sent unwanted flowers and taxicabs to his house, and for making fun of his mother who had a foreign accent. Of the two brothers, Clifford, the oldest, was reported to have bullied George the most.

Whether he felt bullied or betrayed by the Abt family in general, and Michael and Clifford in particular, George Geschwendt felt humiliated. His humiliation transformed to anger and a desire to set things right; to get revenge, and in his twenty-four-year-old mind, it was a justified revenge.

So George bought a pistol. He practiced with it. He set his mind to do it and on the morning of March 12, 1976, he put on rubber gloves, broke in through the back kitchen door of the Abt house, sat on the piano stool and waited.

He waited for six hours for the youngest of the family to come home from school.

By some twisted irony of life, the two he wanted to kill the most, were the two who got away.

Sorta.

george-geschwendt

George’s high school graduation photo.

On March 22, ten days after the murder, George was brought in for questioning by Bensalem Township police. Children fishing in a nearby creek found the murder weapon, which was traced back to George. That night, he confessed to killing the Abt family, calling it a “personal vendetta.”

He would later proclaim his ambush on the Abt family his “only achievement in life.”

When brothers Michael and Clifford found out it was their neighbor, who lived ninety-feet away, they got into fist-fight with each other in front of a newspaper reporter. The cause of the fight between them wasn’t reported on, but the implied message that comes through is—blame.

Breaking it off, Michael then tried to storm the Geschwendt house but was tackled by a police officer just inside the yard.

“I’m gonna kill him when I get him,” Michael Abt said through a swollen mouth. “I haven’t talked to him in eight years. It was senseless.”

Michael described his former friend as “a loner,” and said he couldn’t think of a reason why George would want to kill his family. If he and Clifford bullied George, he never mentioned it. Instead, he only had negative things to say about his neighbor.

“He always stayed at home,” Michael told a reporter after he had calmed down from the fight. “He’s strange…a very strange dude. Very quiet and withdrawn. He never left the house, never dated girls.”

During his confession, George shared his feelings of Michael and Clifford. “I would have stayed until midnight to get the other two,” but the phone kept ringing. He feared someone might have heard the shots.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Tried in July on six counts of murder, a Bucks County jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to die in the electric chair. When Pennsylvania’s old death penalty laws were ruled unconstitutional in 1977, his death sentence was commuted to six consecutive life sentences.

By 1983, he had exhausted all of his appeals. However, in February 1991, one of his old appeal arguments took root with a new federal judge who ruled the trial judge erred when he refused to instruct the jurors that “they could find the unemployed landscaper not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Had the jurors known of that option, “there is at least a reasonable possibility . . . they would have returned a different verdict,” the federal judge wrote. On November 8 of that same year, a three-judge panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Geschwendt “should get a new trial or be released from prison.”

george

George Geschwendt, circa early 1990s.

Disappointed county prosecutors appealed the three-judge panel decision to the full panel of judges. Following a second round of arguments in May 1992, the Third Circuit ruled against Geschwendt, reporting that the trial judge’s instructions for a third-degree murder conviction did in fact give sufficient allowance for his insanity claim.

After their family was murdered, brothers Michael and Clifford lost complete control over their lives. Clifford was in and out of jail over the next thirteen years. He died in August 1989 after suffering a bad reaction to an unspecified narcotic.

By 1991, Michael had lost his license, his job, any home he had, and during his Inquirer interview, was living in a motel with his pregnant girlfriend. For a ten-year period, he sold methamphetamines to make a living. During the interview, he claimed he was out of that business. In March of 1990, around the time of the fourteenth anniversary his family was murdered, Michael got drunk and crashed his 1972 Toyota in the back of two cars at an intersection. He was put on probation and ordered to pay $4,000 restitution.

They may not have been killed, but George’s actions led to their wrecked and wasted lives.

Conclusion

I could find no further information on Michael. According to a Topix internet discussion of the case, Clifford and Michael harassed and bullied George because they thought he was strange. It turns out George was a sensitive young boy whose father physically abused him (by 1950s and 60s standards) and tried to kill him on two occasions.

George, 64, is alive and serving out his life sentence at State Correctional Institution—Mahony, a medium security prison in Schuylkill County.

This is still a very sensitive case for many people from Bucks County, and evokes strong, emotional reactions from those who knew or were familiar with George Geschwendt, or the Abt family. Naturally, those connections produce a lot of thoughts and opinions about this case, which I am never going to go into. Every murder story I’ve ever written comes with an encyclopedia volume set of rumors and gossip and opinions. It’s normal. However, HCD is not a message board for rumors and gossip and opinions about old cases. Please don’t write to me about this tragic mass murder unless you have documented information. I’ve outlined the case above and believe it is a short but adequate report.

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