Reprinted from the Useless Information Home Page. A condensed version is also available.
Possibly history's most bizarre murder scheme.
You probably have never heard of Michael Malloy. After all, he never did amount to much in life. He was a sixty year old unemployed fireman in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. Malloy originated from Ireland, but that really has little to do with this story. In fact, all you really need to know about this guy was that he was an alcoholic - a man who would do anything for a drink.
In fact, it was Malloy's drinking problem that got him into trouble. He became the victim of one of the most unusual murders in American history.
So let's set our watches and clocks back to January, 1933 and make a visit to a speakeasy operated by a guy named Tony Marino. Should you ever be in the neighborhood, be sure to make a visit to its former location - 3804 Third Avenue.
Michael Malloy was a frequent customer at this bar. Initially, Malloy was a good paying customer, having occasionally worked as a janitor to support himself. However, he eventually ran up a tab that he could no longer pay.
Tony Marino needed Malloy's money and could no longer give him an open tab. Malloy was cut off.
But, Malloy continued to visit the speakeasy, cadging drinks off of other paying customers.
But business was bad and Tony Marino needed some quick cash. Another customer named Francis Pasqua, an undertaker, had the solution - take a life insurance policy out on Malloy.
Other patrons of the bar chipped in and they bought three policies on Malloy. The first policy was for $800 from Metropolitan Life. Two additional policies of $494 each were taken from Prudential Life. The policies had a double indemnity clause - if Malloy just happened to have an accidental death, then double the value would be paid.
Now all they had to do was bump Malloy off. They assumed that this would be an easy task. After all, Malloy was old and in pretty bad shape - a few too many drinks and he would be a goner.
They figured wrong.
Their first move was to relax all credit restrictions against Malloy. He could drink all that he wanted. So, for the first week he drank like a fish from the time he wandered in until he staggered off at night. Each day the "Murder Trust", as they would soon be known as in the tabloids, would wait for news of Malloy's death. Instead, Malloy would wander back into the bar each day to get more drinks.
The Murder Trust knew they had a problem. They had invested a lot of money into the insurance policies and the alcohol, yet Malloy seemed no closer to death.
So they decided to spike Malloy's drinks.
Night after night they added antifreeze (poisonous wood alcohol), but this had no effect on Malloy. Day after day he was back - refreshed and wanting more to drink.
They then tried adding turpentine, horse liniment, and rat poison at various times to Malloy's drinks.
Any of these ingredients would do the ordinary man in, but Malloy was a hardened alcoholic and he could somehow tolerate these poisons.
Pasqua then recalled how he had buried a man that had died from consuming raw oysters and whisky (it seems to me that many people do this each day with no problem). They decided to soak tainted oysters in wood alcohol. Malloy downed piles of this delectable meal. Unfortunately, Malloy was back the next day for another meal.
The Murder Trust then came up with what they felt was a surefire killer. They opened a can of sardines and allowed it to spoil for about one week. Once it smelled really awful they prepared a delectable sardine sandwich. Of course, no sandwich is complete without minerals, so they ground up the tin can and added it in. As an added measure they added some chopped up pins to this concoction. I'm sure you can guess what happened next. Malloy downed the sandwich, licked his fingers, and left. Did he die? Of course not. He wandered in the next day looking for more. Most people would give up at this point, but not the members of the Murder Trust.
Their next move was to get Malloy really drunk until he passed out. At this point, they loaded Malloy into a taxicab (owned by another Trust member named Harry Green) and took him to Claremont Park. They took Malloy out of the cab and laid him in the wet snow. They opened up his shirt and poured water on his exposed flesh. Normally, this would not be a problem, but it just happened to be 14 degrees below zero Fahrenheit that night. Malloy would surely freeze to death.
Not the indestructible Michael Malloy. He somehow survived and wandered into the bar the next day complaining of a slight chill.
They decided it was time to get an expert. They hired a hitman named Anthony "Tough Tony" Bastone to do the job.
Tough Tony decided that they should just murder Malloy out-and-out. He had a plan that would make it look like an accident, meaning double the insurance money.
The very next night, they got Malloy drunk (the usual) and threw him into Green's taxi. They drove him out to a deserted intersection and took him out of the vehicle. Marino and Bastone held Malloy up while Green accelerated the car to 45 mph. Marino and Bastone jumped out of the way and the car crashed into Malloy.
Malloy was surely dead, or was he?
The Murder Trust members checked the obituaries daily searching for Malloy's name. No luck.
Well, if he wasn't dead, then Malloy had to be in a hospital. They knew that they had hurt him badly. Unfortunately, he could not be found at any of the hospitals.
Clearly, Malloy was dead. Yet, without a death certificate or obituary notice, the Trust could not claim the insurance money.
So they decided to bump off another guy named Joseph Patrick Murray, someone they felt nobody would miss. The Trust got Murray really drunk and tried the old run him over in the usual taxicab routine. They didn't just run over him once - they did it a second time to make sure that they did it right.
The real trick was how they were going to pass Murray off as Michael Malloy. Pasqua placed letters addressed to Malloy into Murray's pocket. In addition, there was a card indicating that Pasqua be called in case of an accident - in which case he would identify the body as being of one Michael Malloy.
As you can imagine, this plan also backfired. Murray somehow survived and spent fifty-five days recovering in Lincoln Hospital.
To make matters even worse, about three weeks after the initial "accident" Michael Malloy came wandering into the speakeasy. He had somehow survived.
His "friends" showed great concern for his health (yeah, right). When they questioned where he was, he said that he had been hit by an automobile (Do you think they were shocked by his answer?). He had suffered a concussion of the brain and a fractured shoulder. He had spent the time in the hospital, but for some reason they never bothered to register him.
The Murder Trust was really thrown into turmoil. Tough Tony made it clear what had to be done - they had to kill Malloy ASAP. No more trying to be clever - they had to bump him off and get the insurance money.
Tough Tony challenged Malloy to a drinking bout. The only trick here was that Tony drank normal whisky while poor Malloy was given more of the dreaded wood alcohol. Eventually, Malloy fell into a state of unconsciousness.
They then carried Malloy up to Murphy's apartment and threw him down on the bed. Murphy then proceeded to hook a rubber hose up to a wall gas jet and place the other end in Malloy's mouth. Unfortunately, the hose did not reach and they had to pull Malloy off the bed and drag him closer to the hose. Another Murder Trust member named Daniel Kreisberg turned the gas on, claiming during the trial that he "could hear the sizzling sound" of the escaping vapors.
They had finally succeeded in doing what they had set out to do so many weeks before - they killed Malloy on February 22, 1933.
Getting rid of Malloy's body was simple. If you remember from earlier in the story, Pasqua was an undertaker. He took care of everything from this point on. An ex-alderman named Dr. Frank Manzella was called in to write a phony death certificate declaring that Malloy had died from lobar pneumonia with alcohol as a contributing factor.
Pasqua placed Malloy in cheap ten dollar coffin and buried him in a pauper's grave in the Ferncliffe Cemetery in Westchester County. Of course, he wrote out a bill for $400 worth of services.
Of course, this is not the end of the story. It seems that these guys started to mistrust each other and word leaked out that the murder had occurred. When the police finally heard the story, they did not believe it. After two weeks of investigation the arrests were made.
During the process of probing into this scheme, the police learned of the death of a hairdresser named Mabelle Carlson nearly a year before. Carlson died on March 17, 1932. The coroner ruled that it was death due to terminal broncho-pneumonia complicated by acute and chronic alcoholism. It was later learned that Tony Marino had gotten Carlson drunk until she passed out. He took her up to his room and laid her down on the bed and stripped her naked. He then poured water over her body and opened the windows on a cold night. She froze to death. Marino just happened to be the beneficiary of her $800 life insurance policy. Does this story sound shockingly similar to another one that you recently learned about???
In the end the sentences were handed down. Harry Green, the taxi driver, went to jail. Dr. Frank Manzella served prison time for being an accessory after the fact. Frank Pasqua, Anthony Marino, and Daniel Kreisberg got zapped in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on June 7, 1934. Joseph Murphy (Murphy, Marino, Malloy, Murray - there are a lot of M's in this story) also went to the chair on July 5, 1934.
So what happened to Tough Tony Bastone? He was shot dead about a month after Michael Malloy's death.
And the insurance money? The trust had collected the $800 from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. However, they held off putting in the claims for the two Prudential policies. It seems that the beneficiary Murphy was in jail as a material witness for another case and his partners in crime did not want to bring attention to their scheme.
Sounds like the script for a good Hollywood comedy. On the other hand, nobody would ever believe it...