Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thriller Thursday - part 2 of 4 - More of Girl's Torso Found


More of Girl's Torso Found

Lower Part of Body Fished Our Further Up North River.

Clue in Pillow Slip

Initial “A” on Cloth, Rock and Paper Wrapper Aid Police.

May be New York Crime.

Father Writes of Missing Daughter – Victim of Illegal Operation.

Another fragment of the body of a young woman who had been murdered and dismembered was fund in the North River yesterday afternoon near the West Shore ferry in Hoboken, about opposite West Forty-second street, Manhattan, and about three miles south of where a part of the torso was found by children last Friday night.

The fragment found yesterday gave the police of this city and of Hudson county, New Jersey, something definite upon which to base an investigation. It was the lower part of the torso and perfectly joined the upper part that was found last Friday.

It had been placed in a white cotton pillow slip on which was embroidered in white silk the letter A about an inch and a half from the edge of the slip. On each side of the slip are hand embroidered floral designs.

Around the pillow slip and its contents had been wrapped heavy brown tar paper of the sort that is used to discourage moths. Within this wrapping was a piece of rock, gneiss, weighing about ten pounds, a kind of rock thag [sic] is found everywhere in Manhattan and The Bronx but is not common in New Jersey.

Page of a Newspaper.

Also within the wrapping paper was part of a page of the New York Times of August 31. The bundle had been carefully and strongly tied with fine thread-wrapped copper wire such as is used by milliners in hat making and trimming.

Dr. George W. King, county physician of Hudson county, satisfied himself yesterday that the girl had been murdered in New York, probably in the upper part of the city, and that the murderer, who was wither a doctor or else a man remarkably familiar with surgeons' tools, had dropped portions of the body into the North River on different days so as to lessen the chances of detection.

The county physician and the police believe now that the young woman, who was probably about 25 years of age, of dark complexion, rounded figure and of medium height or a trifle less, was the victim of a criminal operation.

Last night Dr. King communicated his information to the police in this city. The District Attorney's office was informed of the evidence discovered by the Jersey authorities and Deputy Assistant District Attorney Deacon Murphy went to Hoboken to confer with the authorities there and to be present this morning at an autopsy which Dr. King will conduct at Volk's morgue, 638 Washington street, Hoboken.

Thinks it His Daughter.

A singular letter received yesterday by A. J. Volk, the morgue keeper, has provided the only suggestion so far as to the possible identity of the murdered woman. A man wrote that he was Peter H. Sternemann, a veteran millinery salesman to be found at Berg's tin roofing shop in Williamsburg, insisted that the murdered girl was his daughter Ella, who had been decoyed into an immoral life and who had been known for some time as Julia Alois.

The letter was incoherent, in many parts incomprehensible, but the writer was positive that is was his daughter who had been killed by a doctor after or during an illegal operation. The Hoboken and the New York police were looking last night for Sternemann, the writer of the letter, to see if more information was obtainable from him.

The fragment of a body which was discovered yesterday afternoon was found by Joseph Hagman and Michael Brennan, paper hangers, who live at 504 West Fifty-third street and who had gone over to the Weehawken side of the river very early yesterday morning to look for crabs. They were working up and down the river in the vicinity of the West Shore ferry house and of the Delaware and Hudson coal piers.

At about 8 o'clock they saw a partially submerged bundle of some kind off Hamilton place and about 300 feet north of the Delaware and Hudson coal docks. The bundle lay in barely a foot of water and had obviously been exposed by the ebbing tide.

It seemed most unlikely that the bundle could have drifted to such a position because that part of the river near the shore was blocked off by small boats, kreckage [sic] and odds and ends of driftwood.

Dropped Near Same Spot.

The police assume that the bundle had been dropped into the river at the place where is was found, and that the murderer, or the one who disposed of the parts of the body for him, had used a boat for the purpose of cunningly getting rid of the dismembered body.

For several hours Hagman and Brennan kept hands off the bundle, although they passed it several times. At 1 P. M., however, they hooked it from the river and turned it over to Stephen Hamilton and Stephen Sullivan, Erie Railroad watchmen. The watchmen notified the Hoboken police station and Detective Sergeant Michael Lyons took the bundle to Volk's morgue.

Dr. King, the county physician, who had examined the fragment found on Friday, and who had already made a little progress toward speculating, at least, concerning the murdered girl and the motive for the crime, examined the new found fragment for several hours.

In the first place he joined it to the portion of a torso that was found Friday. That was the upper half of a torso. The new found fragment, the lower half, joined accurately. It was obviously the missing part of the torso.

It had been cut away with a very long and very sharp knife used by one familiar with anatomy and with surgical knives. The lower part of the torso had been cut away just below the navel and just above the hip joints.

Looks Like Doctor's Work.

“It looks as if the dismemberment had been done by a physician,” said Dr. King.

Further on in his examination Dr King satisfied himself that the girl had been the victim of an illegal operation.

“There, of course, is a motive established,” said the doctor.

What interested him particularly was the finding of a ten pound piece of rock peculiar to the New York side of the river.

“No such rock is to be found here in New Jersey,” said Dr. King. “Therefore, I believe that the murder was committed in New York. The rock is gneiss such as is uncovered in every sort of excavation made in Manhattan and The Bronx.”

Last night the New York police were inquiring of all hotels that come under “A” in the directory, seeking to locate the hotel from which the pillow slip had been taken. That work was of course only a shot in the dark. The “A” embroidered on the pillow slip might have been a family initial, the initial of the murdered girl, or of the murderer. It was a pretty tenuous clue at best.

To-day a virorous [sic] search will be made for four miles or more along the Jersey side of the North River in the hope of finding the head. If that search is successful, identification would be possible. Without the head identification would be unlikely.

Reaching out for any sort of information, any sort of clue, Dr. King and the Hoboken police gave considerable attention to the curious letter that Undertaker Volk received yesterday. The writer, Peter H. Sternemann, was so confused and vague in most places that the police could hardly do more than guess at his meaning.

Mentions a Doctor.

Among the persons mentioned as knowing his daughter Ella by Sternemann in the letter to Mr. Volk was Dr. William Mosier at 1827 Third avenue. There was no Dr. William Mosier at that address last night, but Dr. O. L. Mosier, who conducts the Yorkville Dental Parlors, at the northwest corner of Third avenue and Eighty-ninth street, said that he had formerly employed Sternemann, but hadn't seen him for a long time.

“He has two daughters,” said Dr. Mosier. “One is insane, I believe. The other is at Middle Village, L. I., I have been informed.”

Dr. Mosier added that he has a brother, William Mosier, who was formerly a doctor, but who gave up the practice of medicine. William Mosier is living near Asbury Park, his brother said. He didn't know the address.

“I have read in the papers,” Sternemann wrote, “of the finding of a body 22 years old. Already have I sent a description [he meant a description of his own missing daughter, it was gathered] to Chief of Police Hayes of Hoboken.

“I have lived.” the letter continued, “in Hudson county from 1892 until seven years ago. A French woman [the name was furnished] who associated with loafers had a sister. The sister combined with a man to make immoral my oldest daughter, who is now in a hospital.

“My youngest daughter, Ella, fell into the hands of bad people [Sternemann gave the names of the persons he had in mind] and Ella was placed in bad places. An illegal operation was performed on her. [Here Sternemann gave the name of a doctor who knew his daughter, he says.]

“My daughter Ella was known as Julia Alois. She was weak minded, 22 years of age, auburn hair, large eyebrows, gray eyes, small head and mouth, long, straight nose; overlapping upper teeth, childlike in her talk.”

Police Get Names

The names and addresses supplied by Sternemann were turned over to the police, who started last night in cooperation with the New York detectives to see if there was any truth in the man's seeming incoherencies.

Undertaker Volk recalled yesterday that on Saturday a man who appeared to be 55 years old, who was sharp faced, wore eyeglasses, who stooped and seemed to be nervous, called at the morgue and asked if the portion of a body that was first found has been identified.

Inquiries made about Sternemann by The Sun last night produced some information. The only address he gave for himself in his letter to Undertaker Volk was “Berg, Tinroofer, Bushwick avenue, near Arion place, Williamsburg.”

Herman Berg, a tinsmith of 576 Bushwick avenue, told a Sun reporter last night that he knew Sternemann, who lived formerly in Olive street, Williamsburg.

Appeared to Worry.

“Sternemann,” said Mr. Berg, “is a peculiar man, very peculiar. He used to talk to me when I was busy. I never paid much attention to his ramblings, but he appeared always to be in trouble or to be worrying over his daughters. He had two. One of them is now in the Kings Park lunatic asylum. She tried to jump out of a front window last June.

Sternemann in order to be near her moved to somewhere down near the asylum. I haven't seen him recently. The other daughter, the younger, disappeared about a year ago. She was about 22 years of age.”

In Sternemann's letter to Mr. Volk he said that his missing daughter had worked for Frank Shaefer, who had a millinery store in Third avenue, between 122d and 123d streets.

Last night Stephen Harper, a young man who works for Shaefer, said that is was true that Ella Sternemann had been employed in the store, but that she had gone to Middle Village, L. I., to live with an uncle, and that a Mrs. Mae Wilkinson of Hoboken, whose address Harper did not know, could tell of the girl's present whereabouts.

With these developments the case rested last night. This morning Dr. King will perform an autopsy in the Volk Morgue. Prosecutor Robert S. Hudspeth of Hudson county will be present, as will Assistant District Attorney Deacon Murphy of New York.

List of Missing Girls.

The police have sent out general alarms for the following girls and received no reports yet as to their whereabouts.

Ida M. Bowles, 23 years old, of Charleston, W. Va. Black eyes, dark hair, weighing 140 pounds and tall.

Louisa Antone, 17 years old, of 3878 Third avenue. Black eyes and brown hair, weighing 130 pounds, 5 feet 1 inch tall. Missing since August 31.

Anna Sullivan, 28 years old, of 522 West Twenty-first street. Blond hair and brown eyes, weighing 130 pounds, 5 feet 3 inches tall. Missing since September 1.

Anna Simpson, 16 years old, of 407 Suydam street, Brooklyn. Brown hair and eyes, weighing 130 pounds, 5 feet and 4 inches tall. Missing since September 1.

Julia Kolosowoga, 25 years old, of 458 Eleventh avenue. Brown hair and eyes, with scars from burns on both ears, weighs 110 pounds and is 5 feet tall. Missing since August 29.

Annie Halpin, 20 years old, of 311 East Thirty-fourth street. Missing since August 9. Dark eyes and brown hair, weighing 90 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches tall.

Mary McBeth, 25 years old, of Newark, N. J. Dark eyes and hair, weighing 95 pounds and 5 feet 2 inches tall. Missing since August 15.

More of Girl's Torso Found, The Sun, 8 September 1913, page 1, column 7, and page 2, column 1.