Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thriller Thursday - part 3 of 4 - River Yields More of Woman's Body


River Yields More of Woman's Body

Lower Part of Torso Found Three Miles Below Place of First Discovery.

Rock a Valuable Clue

Of a Kind Found in Manhattan but Not in New Jersey - Letter "A" Worked on Pillow Slip Covering.

The lower part of the torso of the young woman whose dismembered body had been sunk in the Hudson River was found yesterday afternoon at the water's edge at Weehawken, N. J., opposite Thirty-ninth Street. This was about three miles below Woodcliff, N. J., where a part of the body, packed in a pillow half full of feathers and wrapped in heavy manila paper, was found on Friday afternoon.

In the bundle in which the lower part of the body was found yesterday was a piece of New York schist weighing about nine pounds. This is a greenish-gray rock glittering with mica, which occurs everywhere on Manhattan Island, but is rarely or never found on the New Jersey side. The piece was irregular in shape and appeared to have been broken off by blasting. Such a piece might be found anywhere in Manhattan where foundations are being excavated.

This find led County Physician George W. King and Prosecutor's Detective William J. Charlock to believe the woman had been killed in New York City. Last night the police and District Attorney's office of New York were notified by telephone and Assistant District Attorney Murphy made a visit to Hoboken to begin an investigation.

The package found yesterday afternoon lay on a cinder bed of the Jersey Junction division of the West Shore Railroad. The railroad runs at the edge of the water, and the cinder roadbed forms the bank of the river. Extending more that a hundred yards into the Hudson at this place is a flat which is used for the graveyard of barges, schooners, and small boats which have been burned or wrecked along the Hudson. The place is called the Baxter Wrecking Company's basin. At low tide the rotting hulls of hundreds of small craft are exposed, but high tide submerges everything except the tops of the ribs of the larger wrecks.

There were more that a score of boys with nets hunting crabs in the ships' graveyard from the shore of from the hulls of the boats all day yesterday. James Hagman, a young paperhanger, of 504 West Fifty-third Street, and Michael Brennan, a painter, of the same address, who were climbing about the skeletons of old sloops at the foot of Hamilton Place, Weehawken, were the first to see the bundle. This was at 6 o'clock yesterday morning. It was low tide then and the bundle was lying just above the water line. The two crab hunters paid no attention to it at this time. They went ashore to rest, however, at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and noticed the bundle again, this time under about a foot of water, as the tide was coming in.

Hagman with a long stick rolled the bundle to shore. It was wrapped in heavy brown paper, evidently of the kind which is treated with chemicals for use in wrapping clothes to keep moths away. Around the bundle several yards of fine milliner's wire had been wound. After taking off the wire, Hagman found a pillow-slip inside the bundle. Within the pillow-slip was the section of the woman's body wrapped in a newspaper.

Hagman and his companion called others to see their discovery, and a few minutes later the Weehawken police were notified. Detective Michael Lyons, Capt. Charles Hessner and Policeman James Weir were sent to investigate. Detective Lyons examined the bundle and found the chunk of rock with tended to establish the fact that the crime had taken place in New York City. The newspaper in which the section of the body was wrapped bore the date of Aug. 31, and this date tallied with the conjecture of County Physician King that the crime had taken place recently. From the condition of the body Dr. King believes that the woman probably died last Monday or Tuesday.

In spite of the fact that the bundle was weighted with a nine-pound rock, Dr. King was of the opinion that it might have been sunk somewhere in midstream and have floated to the Jersey side. On the other hand, it is possible that the bundle was thrown into the stream from the shore in front of the Baxter Wrecking Company's basin and that it did not move from the spot where it sunk. If the bundle was thrown into midstream from a boat it must have found a channel at high tide which would take it through ten or twelve rows of wrecked ships in front of the place where it was found.

The first part of the body was found in a pillow which had been ripped open and half emptied of its feathers. The second part was wrapped in the slip which had evidently gone over the pillow. The slip furnished the authorities with what is believed to be a valuable clue.

On the slip was the embroidered latter "A," with fancy designs on either side. It was hand embroidery which had evidently been done by one who was a beginner at needlework. The "A" was about an inch high and began and ended in a flourish, which made its width about an inch and a half. On each side of the "A" a circle was embroidered, and within the circles were a number of embroidered dots. On three sides of each circle were embroidered what appeared to be curving branches each bearing several leaves. The "A" had evidently been slightly beyond the powers of the embroiderer, as its sides were uneven and the flourishes at the end were poorly executed. The embroidering was in white silk on a white cotton pillow slip of the size 32 by 21 inches. The handwork led the detectives on the case yesterday to believe that the body had been dismembered in a private residence.

The autopsy was not held yesterday because of the evidence which made it probable that the crime had been committed in New York City. On this account Dr. King wished a physician representing New York County to be present, and the autopsy will probably be held to-day or to-morrow.

Dr. King, however, stated yesterday that there was evidence that the woman had died undergoing an operation. The two portions of the body fitted perfectly, showing that they were from the same person. The legs had been severed from the body a few inches below the hips, the bones evidently being cut with a surgeon's saw.

Chief of Police Leonard Marcy of North Bergen had five detectives in motor boats making their way yesterday along the Jersey Shore for several miles above and below Woodcliffe, where the section of the body was found on Friday, in search of bundles containing other parts of the dismembered body.

Other detectives went to various manufacturers of women's wear in an effort to trace the undergarment wrapped about the upper part of the torso which was found Friday. The search along these lines had not led anywhere last night.

Chief of Police Hayes and A. J. Volk, keeper of the Morgue in Hoboken, each received an anonymous letter by special delivery yesterday. They had evidently been written by a lunatic. Both letters were several pages in length, but neither contained a sentence which made sense. They were written about the finding of part of the woman's body at Woodcliffe, but neither Chief Hayes nor Undertaker Volk was able to interpret successfully a single idea that the letters were intended to convey.

River Yields More of Woman's Body, The New York Times, 8 September 1913