'Murder While You Wait'
Memoirs of a Murder Man (1930)
Arthur A. Carey was a second-generation police officer who served for almost forty years on the New York Police Department and led the department's Homicide Bureau for eighteen years. He was born on Staten Island and joined the force on March 1, 1889. He learned his craft under Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes and Captain George W. McClusky. He was made a detective in 1892. A few years later, he took a bride, Lucy. They eventually had seven children together. Around the turn-of-the-century, Arthur's police work focused almost exclusively on homicide cases. He participated in the investigation of the 1903 barrel murder case and in the related arrest of the dangerous Tomasso "the Ox" Petto.
Carey was promoted to lieutenant in 1906 and captain the following year. He assumed temporary leadership of homicide detectives in 1908. Carey was moved out to command a Brooklyn precinct between 1910 and 1914 but then returned to the Homicide Bureau. He reached the rank of deputy inspector in 1926. Late in 1928, Police Commissioner Grover A. Whalen forced him into retirement, as the centralized detective system was dismantled. He briefly continued his work as a sleuth for the Westchester County district attorney. Carey died Dec. 13, 1952, at his home, 312 Bedford Park Boulevard, the Bronx. He was 87 years old. Two of his sons, Arthur Jr. and Donald, followed him into the New York Police Department. They were serving as detectives at the time of his death.
Carey's 1930 book, Memoirs of a Murder Man, focuses in large part on Carey's experiences with homicide cases. Chapter X of the book, "Murder While You Wait," deals with the infamous "barrel murder" of the Giuseppe Morello Mafia organization in New York City and presents a noticeably different view from that provided by William Flynn of the Secret Service in The Barrel Mystery (1919). The text of the chapter is presented here in the interest of providing the NYPD perspective and in the belief that Carey's work has passed into the public domain due to expiration of copyright. (We will be happy to remove the material if a legitimate copyright holder requests it.)
Memoirs of a Murder Man
MEMOIRS OF A
ARTHUR A. CAREY
LATE DEPUTY INSPECTOR IN CHARGE OF THE HOMICIDE
BUREAU, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
IN COLLABORATION WITH HOWARD MCLELLAN
DOUBLEDAY, DORAN AND COMPANY, INC.
GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK, 1930.
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT
ITALIANS who came to this country at the beginning of this century had a penchant for grouping into small colonies. They came in great numbers to New York City and settled in districts which became known as Little Italys. The colonization laid them open to attacks by various criminal organizations from the Old World who brought with them much experience in murder and blackmail.
In 1902 and 1903 members of these colonies were terrorized by a series of outrages and murders. Bodies were found in sacks, boxes, and barrels in various sections of the city. In a good many cases the victims' tongues were slit, thus advertising to the colonists that the work was that of imported, professional villains.
The eighteen-year-old stepson of Giuseppi Morello, counterfeiter and leader of a Sicilian gang, was kidnaped, tortured and murdered. His tongue, too, had been slit. He had betrayed secrets of his stepfather's society. Morello senior was the known associate of notorious bad men - Ignacio, Lupo the Wolf and Tomasso, Petto the Ox. When the names of these men were mentioned in the presence of Little Italy residents they crossed themselves and frequently appealed to parish priests for protection.
During these years counterfeit United States bills and coins made abroad flooded the United States.
112 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
One of the shrewdest murders that ever engaged. my attention was one of these Italian terroristic killings. It was shrewd because it showed the perpetrators' long experience with murder. They did one little thing that marked them as professionals.
In April, 1903, the United States Secret Service Division set operatives to watch suspected sources of counterfeit money in the Italian section of the lower East Side. Three of these operatives were Laurence Richey, now one of President Hoover's secretaries, Captain John J. Henry, and George L. Burns.
They took up their stations near a butcher shop at No. 16 Stanton Street, operated by one Sarconi. Frequent visitors to this place were Lupo the Wolf, Petto the Ox, a hulk of a bull-necked man a little past twenty-four, and Morello. The plan of the secret service was to watch these men and all others who came into the butcher shop to join them, and when all their connections were established to swoop down and corral the entire band.
They were especially eager to locate a man about thirty who was suspected of being the gang's traveling agent and who distributed the counterfeit bills to dealers throughout the United States. Our Detective Bureau at the same time was trying to run down the slayers of a number of Italians. We suspected several of Morello's gang, but no one could be found who would testify against the suspects. Those who might have proved good witnesses were terrorized.
On the night of April 12th a man answering the description of the traveling agent walked into Sarconi's butcher shop, remained a little while talking to the Wolf and the Ox, and then left. His name and identity being unknown to the secret service men they called him the Newcomer. On the next night he reappeared, saw the Wolf and the Ox again, and came out. One of the secret service operatives followed him to an Italian pastry shop in Elizabeth
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT - 113
Street which was run by Pietro Inzarillo. After a few minutes the Newcorner came out of the pastry shop, walked gingerly down the street, turned into Prince Street, and entered an Italian saloon in the rear of Which Morello operated a small restaurant that was a blind for his counterfeiting operations.
The secret service operative waited until the lights went out in the place. The Newcomer did not come out. The operative discontinued his watch and went home.
The next morning Mrs. Frances Connors, an elderly woman, appeared upon the street in front of her home in the lower East Side. She was shrieking frantically. Two patrolmen rushed up to her. Incoherently she told them that she had just looked upon the body of a man jammed into a barrel standing in the shadow of a lumber pile in the east end of the Italian section. She took them to the barrel, and they reported the finding of the body.
Inspector McClusky assigned McCafferty, Detective Sergeant Joseph Petrosini, the Detective Bureau's expert on Italian matters, and myself to the case. In addition twelve other detectives, including Italian-American plain-clothes men, were detailed to circulate in the Italian colonies to learn what they could.
The man's body had been jammed into the barrel, over the top of which had been thrown an overcoat. Around his throat, tightly wound, was a coarse burlap sack of foreign manufacture. The dead man was young and fairly well dressed. His left hand and right leg protruded from the barrel, making it obvious that his murderers had intended that the body should be discovered so that it might be a warning to others. The body was still warm. The head was almost severed by an ugly wound running from. ear to ear. A razor-sharp knife had been used. A watch chain dangled from his vest; the watch was gone. Both ears had been pierced for earrings, the mark of a native
114 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
of Sicily. In one of his pockets I found a crumpled note in the handwriting of a woman. Petrosini translated it:
"Come in a hurry. You understand that it is most urgent."
It was unsigned. This letter had probably lured the man to his death. He was killed indoors. The presence of the gunny sack around his neck indicated that it had been placed there to prevent blood from spattering or falling.
There was not a scrap upon the body to establish identification. It was taken to the morgue and a photograph of the man's face appeared in the newspapers next morning.
In the bottom of the barrel I found a thick layer of sawdust thrown in apparently to prevent blood from leaking out. This sawdust had been walked upon and in it were chawed ends of black Italian stogies and onion skins. This sawdust, I concluded, had come from some cheap Italian restaurant where floors usually are covered with it.
The barrel had contained sugar. There were particles of it caught between the staves. On the bottom of the barrel, outside, was a stenciled mark: W.&T. -233. On the Long Island side of the East River were a number of large sugar refineries. I visited these until I found a manufacturer who identified the barrel as his and explained that W.& T. were the initials of grocers, Wallace & Thompson, No. 365 Washington Street, Manhattan. The figures designated the shipping lot number.
Employees of Wallace & Thompson told me that they had received six barrels of sugar in the 233 lot, but could not tell where they had shipped these barrels. No record was kept of buyers of this lot.
"Have you got any Italian customers ?" I asked.
"Only one," was the reply. "Pietro Inzarillo, who has a pastry shop in Elizabeth Street."
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT - 115
An examination of the victim's stomach revealed that immediately before death he had eaten a heavy meal of potatoes, beans, beets, spaghetti, and salad. Petrosini described it as a typical Sicilian meal. Morello's restaurant served only Sicilian food. Thus the dead man was placed in this restaurant a short time before he was killed. The barrel came from Inzarillo's. But it was useless to question frequenters of these places. They would just arch their shaggy eyebrows and say nothing.
On his way from Brooklyn Secret Service Operative Henry came upon the photograph of the dead man's face in a morning newspaper and visited the morgue. He viewed the body and felt quite sure it was the suspect known as the Newcomer. Operative Richey came in later and made a positive identification. The dead man was the Newcomer whom he had shadowed to Inzarillo's and then to Morello's on the night of April 13th and who never came out of the latter place.
But who and what was he?
Petrosini, fearless and therefore respected in Italian quarters, circulated among the slain man's countrymen and heard hints that if an unnamed convict in Sing Sing Prison was approached he might establish the identity of the slain man. I knew of a convict, Giuseppi de Priemo, who was serving a four-year term in Sing Sing for counterfeiting. He was reputed to have been one of Morello's gang.
When Petrosini approached de Priemo he found the convict as dumb as a Wooden Indian. They chatted about this and that; then the detective produced a photograph of the dead man. De Priemo's huge body trembled. His lips set tight.
"Him dead?" said the convict. "He's my brother-in-law, Beneditto Madonia. Who kill him?" The prisoner fainted and was revived. Petrosini told of the killing. De Priemo said that a week back Madonia had visited him in prison and then went on to his home in Buffalo
116 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
to meet Mrs. de Priemo and arrange to have the counterfeiter transferred to Erie County Jail, which would place De Priemo closer to his home. Madonia had promised to return to New York City and demand property which Morello and the Wolf had taken from De Priemo and refused to give to Mrs. Madonia.
Petrosini wanted to know more about this property and the inside details of Madonia's connection with Morello and his gang.
"I say nothing," said De Priemo, scowling. His heavy jaw snapped. "Never minda," he said. "Bimeby I go down to New York and see those fella. Bimeby I meeta him. Alla him."
He said no more.
Mrs. Madonia was found in Buffalo. She had last seen her husband on April 3rd when he left for Sing Sing to see De Priemo. A few days later she had a letter from him in New York City saying he surely would be back on the twentieth.
He never came.
The woman identified the body of her husband, also the watch chain found on his vest, and described the case of the watch, which had a locomotive stamped into it. Madonia, she said, was a stone mason, but had given up this work to "go on the road for Morello." Just what he did on the road no amount of persuasion could get Mrs. Madonia to say. Her stepson identified the body as that of his father and said the chain was his, but he was as silent as his stepmother about the dead man's activities. Fear had seized both of them.
It was useless to attempt to build up the picture further with these frightened sources to work with. The best we could hope for would be to forge a strong chain of circumstantial evidence around the murderers. Circumstantial evidence is often the best in this type of case, for it is not easily fabricated, Whereas human testimony from fear-
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT - 117
stricken persons is faulty and governed by motives and foreign traditions not always ascertainable or understood.
The barrel was a pretty good mute witness if it could be placed in any of the rendezvous frequented by Madonia and the gang. I visited Inzarillo's pastry shop. In the rear room I found an empty sugar barrel marked "W.& T.- 233" which Inzarillo had received a few days prior to the slaying of Madonia. But there were no signs of foul play in the little shop, and it was concluded that the murder had not been committed here.
A visit was paid to Morello's little restaurant in the rear of the saloon. Here I scooped up several handfuls of sawdust from the floor. It contained onion skins and the chawed ends of black Italian stogies. The place was thoroughly examined for bloodstains, but not a speck was found. The sawdust was sifted for signs of blood but none was found. Then information seeped through to us from Petrosini's private sources, indicating that the murder had been committed here. One man had held Madonia's hands behind his back while the other cut his throat.
Moreover, we knew that Madonia had last been seen in this restaurant. The secret service man had seen him enter but not come out. He was murdered while the place was under watch. Old hands had done this murder. It was shrewdly planned and brazenly executed. Only professional murderers with long experience back of them would so skillfully and thoughtfully employ an absorbent gunny sack to prevent even a drop or speck of their victim's blood from falling on the floor or walls.
Inzarillo was mute when I questioned him about the sugar barrels. I arrested him. Petrosini had gathered information that on the day Madonia's body was found Petto the Ox had spent money recklessly in Inzarillo's and in a wine shop which Lupo the Wolf operated as a blind for counterfeiting operations. Morello had joined
118 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
the Wolf on the spree, and as they went about from place to place, growing more hilarious, acquaintances congratulated them for some unexplained achievement. Also on this day Petto's dark-eyed sweetheart blossomed forth in expensive raiment.
At midnight of the day I arrested Inzarillo, Petrosini and Detective Foye closed in on Lupo's wine shop. The Ox was there. When Foye stepped up to handcuff the bull-necked man he coiled a hairy arm about the detective's neck and drew a long stiletto. He was about to plunge it into Foye's throat when Detective McCafferty arrived. Throwing himself on the Ox he knocked the stiletto from his hand and floored him, relieving him of a .45 caliber revolver and a second stiletto which was hidden in a secret pocket in his trousers.
That night the Tombs Prison held Lupo the Wolf, Petto the Ox, Morello, Pecoraro, Laduca, an employee of Sarconi the butcher, Inzarillo, and three other suspects. All were doubly armed with guns and razor-sharp stilettos made of files.
In the Ox's pocket we found a pawn ticket for a watch which had been pledged the day Madonia's body was found in a Bowery pawnshop. A clerk in this shop, which was not far from the Wolf's haunts, described the man who had pawned it as a stocky young man with a bull neck. But when we confronted him with the Ox the clerk could not positively identify him. The watch was Madonia's. It had a locomotive stamped on the case.
Petto claimed that the watch had been given to him by a stranger he met in an East Side boarding house on the night of April 14th, where he had slept that night. This story was proved false. Petto had not been near the boarding house.
The suspects were arraigned in the Magistrate's Court and held for further action. Eminent counsel appeared to defend them.
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT - 119
In the meantime, information had been gathered showing that the Ox and the Wolf were Morello's spies who went about Italian colonies selecting victims for Black Hand levies and reporting on members of Morello's gang whose disloyalty he suspected. Lupo's wine shop, it was learned, was the receiving station for cans of olive oil imported from Italy. These had false bottoms which carried the imported counterfeit money. In Lupo's, Inzarillo's, or Morello's back-room eating house the gang met, held their secret conclaves, and plotted their activities.
The motive for Madonia's killing was partly revealed by a letter he had written to Morello. While Madonia was in Pittsburgh, whither he had gone at Morello's direction, three of the latter's gang were arrested for passing counterfeit money. One of these men were Laduca, the butcher-shop employee. He was released. The others were sent to prison. Madonia wrote to plead with Morello that he had done everything in his power to save the other two and that he was through with that kind of business and was returning to his home in Buffalo. Morello feared that Madonia, out from under his domination, was a dangerous man to have about. It was after Laduca returned to New York that Madonia was killed.
Finally the prisoners were discharged by the police magistrate but were immediately rearrested by order of the coroner. McCafferty and I thought that Morello seemed to be weakening; that he might talk. It had not been unusual to find that gang leaders like him would talk, for the tradition prevails among this type of criminal organization that the king can do no wrong and Morello was a king; hence, if he talked it was his privilege which none dared dispute. We took Morello to the morgue. Madonia's body was brought out. I asked Morello if he knew the dead man. For a moment he swayed. Then his thick, flowing mustache twitched, and shaking his head ruefully he said softly:
120 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
"Poora feller. I never scena him before. I no know him."
This, of course, was a lie. The letter from Madonia proved their relationship. Morello's denial of this was a strong link on our chain. But the gang chieftain knew his own people, and his power, better than we did.
An inquest was begun May 1, 1903. Madonia's son was called as a witness to identify the watch found in the pawnshop as his father's property. The watch was handed to the lad. He looked at it and was about to speak when there was a shuffling of feet and hissing in the court room, which was filled with swarthy-faced men. One of these jumped up and put his fingers to his lips. Young Madonia was now not sure it was his father's timepiece.
Mrs. Madonia took the stand. The watch was handed to her for identification. There was the same shuflling of feet in the court room; the same dark-skinned man arose and crossed his lips with his fingers. Mrs. Madonia, positive the day before that the watch was her husband's, now suffered a lapse of memory. She couldn't tell. The one positive link in our chain connecting Petto the Ox with the murder, by legal proof weakened. The Madonias perhaps should not be blamed. There was the fate of young Morello to think of and a dozen more murders where talkative victims' tongues had been slit.
Inzarillo had shown signs of aiding the State. He was prepared, among other things, to admit the presence of the sugar barrels in the rear room of his shop. But when he appeared upon the witness stand he paled and became mute as the same sinister shuffling of feet occurred in the court room. Morello told conflicting stories upon the witness stand; and, to cap the climax, De Priemo, broughtdown from Sing Sing Prison to testify, laughed upon the stand and said that Petto was his very good friend and surely would not have killed his brother-in-law. Yet we knew he hated the bull-necked man.
MURDER WHILE YOU WAIT - 121
Petto was indicted as the actual assassin, and the others were not held. Later the indictment against him was dismissed. Some time later Morello and the Wolf were arrested by secret service men for counterfeiting. At the trial of Morello an Italian physician testified that the day Morello was supposed to have been working in his spurious money plant he was in bed, ill. However, men who had been shadowing the gang leader testified that on the day he was supposed to be ill he was about the streets and in the plant.
Morello and the Wolf were convicted of counterfeiting and sent to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for twenty-five and thirty years, respectively.
Inzarillo was convicted of altering his citizenship papers and sent to prison.
De Priemo suddenly became an exemplary prisoner in Sing Sing. His sentence was reduced and he was released from prison. He went quietly to New York City.
Shortly afterward Petto the Ox moved to Brownton, Pennsylvania. On the night of October 25, 1905, the bull-necked man stepped into the back-yard of his home and five shotgun blasts did to him what orderly justice had not been able to do.
Inzarillo, after coming out of prison, opened another little pastry shop, but hardly had time to get a fair start. He was shot and killed.
Laduca, the butcher, was slain- in Connecticut.
Three other members of the gang met the same fate.
A most tragic sequel robbed the New York Police Department of one of its bravest men. In 1908 Petrosini, then a lieutenant, was sent to Palermo on a secret mission to gather the prison records of many notorious Sicilian criminals in the United States. The federal government had agreed to deport them when proof of their criminal pasts were available. Petrosini was to return with the records. He was walking through a park in Palermo on
122 - MEMOIRS OF A MURDER MAN
his way to his hotel when an assassin shot and killed him.
Not long afterward Congress, stirred by this tragedy, sent a commission to Europe to investigate immigration matters. In Palermo a member of the commission was surprised to learn that Sicily was practically crimeless.
"How is it that you have so little crime here?" he asked a Palermo police official.
"My dear sir," he replied. "Our criminals have gone to America."
Black Hand terrorism suffered a setback with the disposition of Morello and his gang. My impression is that the processes of Americanization and tighter immigration laws were largely responsible. The old Italian gangs were lawless killers. We have successors to them to-day who are even more lawless and ruthless, and they are made up largely of native born. And a good many of them wriggle through the machinery of the law, but as a rule they reach about the same end that befell the Ox and some of his confederates.
Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, 121 Barrel Murder victim description, 113, 115, 117 Black Hand, 122 Bowery, Manhattan, 118 Browntown, Pennsylvania, 121 Buffalo, New York, 115, 116, 119 Burns, George L., 112 Carey, Arthur A., 113, 119 Connecticut, 121 Connors, Frances, 113 coroner's inquest, 120 counterfeiting, 111, 115, 119 deportation, 121 DiPrimo, Giuseppe, 115, 116, 120, 121 released from prison, 121 Elizabeth Street, Manhattan, 112 Erie County Jail, 116 Foye, Detective, 118 Henry, John J., 112, 115 Hoover, President Herbert, 112 immigration, 111, 122 Inzerillo, Pietro, 113, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120 convicted of altering citizenship papers, 121 murder of, 121 Laduca, Vito, 118, 119 murder of (confused with Giovanni Zarcone), 121 Little Italy, 111 Lower East Side, Manhattan, 112 Lupo, Ignazio "the Wolf," 111, 112, 117, 118, 119 counterfeiting conviction, 121 Madonia, Benedetto, 115, 116, 117, 119 letter to Morello, 119, 120 pocket watch, 116, 118, 120 stepson, 116, 120 Madonia, Mrs. Benedetto, 116, 120 McCafferty, Jim, 113, 118, 119 McCluskey, George W., 113 Morello, Giuseppe, 111, 112, 116, 120 arrested for murder, 118 counterfeiting conviction, 121 Mafia boss, 119 restaurant, 113, 115, 117, 119 stepson murdered, 111 New York Police Department Detective Bureau, 112 Newcomer (see also Madonia, Benedetto), 112, 113, 115 Palermo, Sicily, 121, 122 Pecoraro, Giovanni, 118 Petrosino, Joseph, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117 assassination in Sicily, 121 Petto, Tomasso "the Ox," 111, 112, 117, 118, 119, 120 arrest of, 118 girlfriend, 118 indicted for murder, 121 murder of, 121 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 119 Prince Street, Manhattan, 113 Richey, Laurence, 112, 115 Sarconi (Giovanni Zarcone), 112, 118 Sing Sing Prison, 115, 116, 120 Stanton Street, Manhattan, 112 stiletto, 118 Tombs Prison, 118 tongue mutilation, 111, 120 United States Congress, 122 United States Secret Service, 112, 115 Wallace & Thompson, 114 Washington Street, Manhattan, 114 witnesses terrorized, 112, 116, 120