Strange Times 155: These Men Have No Hearts
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Additionally, this issue features stories of racist violence and the kidnapping of a young child, so feel free to close the email now if any of that is not what you’re in the mood for this morning.
Today we have a helpful dog, an unhelpful mob, and an exceedingly unhelpful gang of kidnappers. Go silently to the Tombs on…
June 4, 1921
In Tulsa, martial law is ended, four “Negro agitators” are arrested, and rumors circulate that the massacre was provoked by the secret society known as the African Black Brotherhood. The African Black Brotherhood was an actual organization—you can find some interesting first person documents about its brief history here.
A Berlin court acquits Saloman Teilirian, the Armenian student who killed the former Turkish Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, after testimony is introduced documenting the horrors of the Armenian genocide which Pasha oversaw.
San Antonio treasure hunter Adam Fisher requests permission from the Mexican government to remove a stash of bullion that he discovered on Saddle Mountain, which he estimates to be worth $73,000,000.
The Supreme Court dismisses Robert Cusack’s $250,000 suit against a surgeon whom he accused of using his “left over” body parts after an operation to graft onto another patient.
40,000 children, arranged into “a living wheel” serenade President Harding, providing what Harding calls “the supreme music of all my life.”
The Weather: Cloudy and cooler today, probably showers; Sunday fair, continued cool; fresh northwest winds.
The first time I read this, I pictured a terrier, maybe a Yorkie. The second time, I noticed the phrase “large farm dog” and found that made more sense.
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y., June 3.—To the timely arrival of his dog during a severe fight with a yearling bull in his barnyard, Grant Hawley, a farmer of Lookout, Pa., attributes his life.
The bull, which had been considered harmless, suddenly attacked the farmer and for some time he fought the beast empty handed. He was finally knocked down, but just then the big farm dog appeared on the scene. Seizing the bull by the nose, the dog enabled Hawley to escape. He was not much hurt.
This story is extremely horrifying! Another of our regular reminders that white supremacy has always been the rule of law everywhere in this country—not just the south.
So battered and weak, with his face cut and bruised, that he could hardly stand up, Thomas Hazelwood, a negro, 37 years old, of 152 West 132nd Street, was arraigned in the night court last night before Magistrate Joseph E. Corrigan on complaint of Miss Irene Porter, 19 years old, of 199 East 120th Street. Hazelwood, charged with disorderly conduct, was discharged, Magistrate Corrigan remarking, “I think he has been punished enough.”
Hazelwood testified in his own defense that “several hundred white men and boys” had set upon him at 120th Street and Park Avenue, beaten him with baseball bats and punched him with their fists.
Miss Porter testified that she and Miss Mae Farrell of 110 East 120th Street were walking through 120th Street at Park Avenue when Hazelwood came dashing along and ran right into them.
Miss Porter said she protested vehemently and that Hazelwood thereupon “kicked me in the left ankle and stepped on my feet.”
Hazelwood said: “Those two girls walked right into me. I asked them what was the idea in stepping on me and then one of them called me a vile name.”
A fruitless update in the ongoing search for a kidnapped five-year-old. There’s lots of fascinating detail in here, but the part I’m fixated on is that the NYPD had an Italian Squad. Leonardo DiCaprio has been working for years to get a movie made about the squad’s origins, but there have actually been several made already. I’ve seen the Borgnine one. I remember it vaguely!
Twelve hours of continuous grilling by detectives of the Italian Squad failed to elicit from five men arrested the whereabouts of Giuseppe Verotta, the five-year-old son of Salvatore Verotta, a motor truck chauffeur, who was kidnapped from in front of his tenement home at 354 East Thirteenth Street on the afternoon of May 24 last. The detectives piled the five prisoners with questions up to the minute of their arraignment at 10 o’clock yesterday morning before Magistrate Joseph S. Schwab in the Essex Market Court.
Two of the suspects—John Melchionne, 28 years old, who lived at the Victory lodging house on the Bowery, and Roberto Raffaelo, 24 years old, of 171 Palisade Avenue, Union Hill, N.J., were alleged by the detectives to have admitted participating in an attempt to extort $500 from the parents of the boy on the promise to restore Giuseppe to them unharmed, but even when the Magistrate held the five men in $25,000 bail each for examination next Monday they protested they did not know where the boy was being held by the kidnappers.
The detectives could obtain little information of value from Antonio Marino, 35 years old, stepfather of James Ruggiero, 24 years old, a chauffeur, who, the detectives said, admitted that he wrote two letters to the missing child’s parents arranging for the delivery to Melchionne of the ransom. Ruggiero was arrested with his father and Santo Cosumano, 46 years old, in their home at 349 East Thirteenth Street, diagonally across the street from the tenement in which the Verottas lived.
Fail to Find Missing Boy
Three hours before the five men were taken to the Magistrate’s court, Detective Sergeant Michael Fiaschetti, head of the Italian Squad, obtained the name and address of a young Italian baker who, the detectives believed, was one of the two men who actually kidnapped the boy, but when the detectives went to the suspect’s home they found Giuseppe was not there, nor had the suspect been home since the day of the kidnapping.
The father of the suspect returned to Police Headquarters with the detectives, and said he was certain his son was not connected with the kidnapping of Giuseppe. He revealed a faulty memory when questioned about his son’s activities during the period immediately preceding the kidnapping.
Miss Rae Nicoletta, the policewoman through whom the detectives obtained a clue to the alleged connection of Marino and his stepson with the plan to extort $500 from the Verottas, actively participated in the questioning of the five prisoners up to the time they were arraigned before the Magistrate. During the twelve hours the men were being subjected to a rapid fire of questions Miss Nicoletta repeatedly appealed to them to reveal the palce in which the boy was concealed, so that he could be returned to his mother, who is in delicate health.
“These men have no hearts,” the policewoman said wearily, just before the prisoners were taken from Police Headquarters to the police court. “There is no question in my mind that at least one of them knows where little Giuseppe is being held, but they seem determined to keep closed mouths on that point, evidently in fear of the vengeance of the actual kidnappers.”
Detectives Still Have Hope
Despite the failure of the detectives to uncover the boy’s whereabouts, they expressed hope last night that the boy would be returned to his parents within twenty-four hours.
Inspector John Coughlin, head of the Detective Bureau, said last night that he was confident the boy would be found. He added that he felt the arrest of the five men would scare the men who had the boy into releasing him. He said that he did not believe the kidnappers would kill the boy, as was threatened in a letter received several days ago by Mrs. Verotta. All of the detectives who participated in the round-up of the five men Thursday night renewed their quest for the boy last evening, after less than three hours’ sleep.
In the confession Melchionne was alleged to have made to the detectives he was reported to have declared that the two men who escaped at the time he was arrested were the only persons of the seven involved in the kidnapping who knew where the child was being detained. Melchionne was said to have added that he did not believe any harm would come to the child.
From their questioning of the five men the detectives were inclined to the belief that the boy was kept in a house on the block in which his parents lived for at least twenty-four hours.
School Children Aid in Search
The arrest of the five men created renewed interest yesterday on the part of the neighbors, who surged about the entrance to the Verotta home in such numbers that three policemen had to be assigned to drive them away. At noon hundreds of the children from Public School 19 ran to the building to ask the Verottas whether their boy had been found. When the policemen informed them no trace had been obtained of him the children left in groups, determined to canvass every tenement in the neighborhood for Giuseppe.
In the forenoon Mrs. Marie Marino, wife of one of the prisoners, created a scene in Mrs. Verotta’s home when she demanded of the stricken mother if she believed her husband really knew anything about the kidnapping of the boy. Mrs. Verotta was ill in bed when the woman burst into the apartment, but sympathetic neighbors came to her assistance and forced Mrs. Marino out of the Verotta home.
The five prisoners were removed to the Tombs yesterday afternoon. In the afternoon three men and a well-dressed woman drove up to Police Headquarters in an automobile, and one of the men announced that he had been requested to furnish bail for Marino, the one prisoner of the five who has refused to make any statement to the detectives. He was instructed to go before Magistrate Schwab to arrange for the man’s bail. The automobile bore a license plate issued to Giuseppe Serra, a builder, at 559 Boulevard, Long Island City.
Robert L. Levinson, counsel for Marino, declared that the admissions obtained from Melchionne, Raffaele and Ruggiero by the detectives followed threats made by the detectives when the men were taken to Police Headquarters Thursday night.