Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thriller Thursday - part 5 of 6 - Trace River Victim by Sale of Pillows



Trace River Victim by Sale of Pillows

Only Two Like One Into Which Torso of Woman Was Thrust Have Been Bought.

Those Sales Not Listed

Autopsy Shows Murderer Was Skillful - Woman Tells Police It May Be Her Sister.

Upon the identification of the purchaser or purchasers of two "Chicago grade" pillows, stuffed with new feathers, 20 by 27 inches in dimensions, depends the discovery of the murderer of the woman whose dismembered torso now lies in the Volk's morgue in Hoboken, N. J. The pillow ticking in which the upper portion of the body was found is the product of the Robinson-Roders Company of Newark, N. J.

At the Elks' Club, in West Forty-third Street, last night, Cyrus H. Young, Vice President of the company, said that the ticking in question had been manufactured in two sizes of pillows, one 17 by 26 inches and the other 20 by 27 inches. The ticking proved to be a poor seller, and the manufacture of pillows from this grade of cloth was discontinued. Only one order for pillows of the larger size was made by the factory. This order was delivered on March 10 last to George Sachs, a furniture dealer with a second-hand license, whose store is at 2,762 Eighth Avenue. The order called for twelve pillows, and this was the only order of its kind revealed upon the books of the company after a careful search yesterday.

Of these twelve pillows investigation showed that Sachs has still ten in stock. Investigation further revealed the fact that the two pillows were sold separately, and only the sales record of one, and that record incomplete, is on hand.

When reporters talked to Vice President Young of the Robinson-Roders Company last night he said that the ticking in which the upper portion of the body had been tied had been positively identified as the covering of a 20 by 27 pillow made by his factory.

When the water-soaked tag bearing the penciled numerals "89" was shown to Mr. Young he said that this figure was a retailer's price and that the only retailer for whom pillows of this size and description had been made was Sachs.

Sales Not Recorded.

A visit to Sach's store was disappointing to a certain degree. Mr. Sachs readily admitted that the tag upon the pillow ticking bore his price mark, and was evidently in his handwriting. He also made an inspection of his stock, which showed that he had still ten of the original twelve pillows on hand. A search of his books was confusing, because of the fact that many of his sales are unrecorded and because he was accustomed to make sales at less than his store marked prices. A search of the store led to the discovery that Mr. Sachs had in stock a number of pillows obtained from the Robinson-Roders Company of the smaller size.

"I conduct a purely cash business," said Mr. Sachs, "and I do not keep a record of all my sales, except in the case of second-hand goods. Such goods I am obliged to record under the terms of my license as a second-hand dealer. In the case of new stock, such as these pillows, a sale is sometimes recorded, but is more often omitted."

When an examination of the sales book was made it appeared that on April 22 a new pillow have been sold for 80 cents. It was recorded because of the fact that the purchaser has paid a deposit of 25 cents to hold the pillow, and had later called with the balance and had taken it away.

"That was probably one of our 89-cent pillows," said Mr. Sachs. "We frequently make a reduction from the marked price rather than allow a customer to go away unsatisfied."

"I am almost certain," interrupted Mrs. Sachs, who assists her husband in the management of the store, "that this was one of the large size Robinson-Roder's pillows. I remember the sale, for I made it myself, and was rather surprised to have the purchaser make a deposit on such a small sale. She was a stout, ill-dressed woman, of medium height, and apparently about 45 years of age. I think that I could identify her is I saw her again, but I am not sure."

No record of any other sale of pillows appeared which corresponded to the price of the one in which part of the murdered victim's body was found, except for an entry on April 23, which showed that two pillows had been sold to a Mrs. Clarke, at 201 West 147th Street, for $1.80, and two smaller pillows for $1.

Pillows of the Material.

A visit to 201 West 147th Street resulted in the identification of the purchaser in this instance as Mrs. Ethel Clarke, who said that she was the wife of George Medill Clarke, who, she said, was associated with his father in the firm of Brooks & Clarke, special representatives of the medical department of the Fidelity and Casualty Company of New York.

A sample of the pillow ticking in which part of the woman's body was wrapped was shown to Mrs. Clark and she was asked whether she had ever seen a pillow made of such material.

"Oh, yes, I have," she said. "I bought two pillows like that when I furnished the adjoining apartment on this floor for the purpose of subletting the rooms. I did not have any luck and I finally gave up the apartment after a month and sold most of the furniture to the daughter of the janitress, who was about to be married. The name of the janitress is Mrs. Messerschmidt, but I do not recall the wedded name of her daughter. However, her daughter lives just around the corner, and I can get the pillows if you would like to see them."

A few minutes later Mrs. Clarke re-appeared with the pillows, which were of exactly the same ticking but of the smaller size. They were price-marked in Sach's handwriting 59 cents.

"I only paid $1 for them," Mrs. Clarke said. "I purchased at one time or another about $100 worth of goods from Sachs, but these are the only two pillows I bought."

"The books at the store show that you bought four pillows, of two different sizes, and that you paid $1 for one pair and $1.50 for the other," she was told.

Mrs. Clarke then left the house and went to Sach's store. After looking at his book she admitted that she had bought two other pillows, but said that they were of a different ticking. Sachs confirmed her in this statement.

"I believe that they were blue-striped pillows, made by the same factory," he said.

When Mrs. Anna Genthe, the daughter of Mrs. Messerschmidt, the janitress of 201 West 147th Street, had been found at 2,542 Seventh Avenue she said that she had bought most of the furnishings of the extra apartment fitted up by Mrs. Clarke, but added that the 17x26 pillows were the only one which she had seen in that pattern of ticking, and that the two pillows shown by Mrs. Clarke were the only ones she had bought.

"There is no doubt," said Mr. Sachs later, "that the pillow in the ticking, of which a section of the body was found, was bought in my store. I identified the price mark as mine, and only two are missing from the lot in that size. My customers all live in this immediate neighborhood. I would do anything in my power to help the authorities to trace the culprit, but you can see from my books that my cash sales records on new goods are incomplete."

Results of the Autopsy.

The autopsy yesterday afternoon in Volk's Morgue in Hoboken, N. J., over part of the dismembered body of the young woman, left the motive for the crime unexplained, and showed the manner of it to have been more brutal that was at first supposed. It appeared from the autopsy that no attempt had been made to perform an operation on the victim. In the second place, it was established that the death wound had probably been inflicted by cutting her throat with a knife, and that her body had been dismembered immediately afterward.

"It is possible," said County Physician George W. King of Hudson County, "that the murderer tortured his victim. There is strong reason to believe that she remained alive while her limbs were being amputated. The murderer performed six distinct operations in cutting off the head, the arms, and the legs, and in severing the trunk. All this was done very rapidly. The woman could not have been dead more than a few seconds before the dismemberment was complete. If there had been a delay of a minute of two, the circulation would have stopped and blood would have remained in the arteries."

Dr. King was assisted in performing the autopsy by Coroner's Physician Timothy H. Lehane of New York and Assistant County Physician Arthur H. Haskins of Hudson County. Detective Lieutenant Wood, who was assigned to the cast last night by Inspector Faurot; Assistant District Attorney Murphy of New York County, Coroner Schlemm of Hudson County, and Detectives Charlock and McDonald of Hudson County were at the Morgue during the autopsy.

The autopsy physicians found that death had been caused by hemorrhages from the carotid artery, when the neck was severed, or from the brachial arteries when the arms were cut off, or from the femoral arteries when the legs were cut off, or from the abdominal aorta when the trunk was divided at the waist.

Skill of the Murderer.

"The blood flowed freely from each cut," said Dr. King, "and it is impossible to tell which came first. Any one would have caused death. The clean-cut character of the work and the speed with which it was done makes it certain that the murderer was trained to use a surgeon's knife and saw. He may not may not have been a surgeon, but he was not a novice at this kind of work.

"Shortly before she met her death the woman gave birth prematurely to a child. The fact, however, appears to be in no way connected with her death. Whether a criminal operation had been performed cannot be ascertained. If so, there were no ill effects from it. The accident, or crime, which prevented her from becoming a mother might have occurred as much as a week before her death.

"An examination of the lungs showed that no chloroform or other anesthetic had been administered. The woman may have been stunned by a blow on the head before the knife was used. It might even appear, if the head was recovered, that the woman was shot. It is most likely, however, that she was conscious when the death wound was inflicted."

District Attorney Hudspeth of Hudson County set a corps of stenographers to work yesterday afternoon attempting to decipher letters sent to Undertaker Volk and Chief of Police Hayes by Peter Sternemann, who was alarmed for the safety of his daughter Ella. The effort to make something out of the letter was wasted, however.

A search continued unsuccessfully all day long yesterday for other parts of the dismembered body which are believed to be lying near the water's edge on the New Jersey side of the Hudson, probably above Weehawken. The arms, legs, and hear, it is thought, will remain on the bottom of the river where they were sunk, if they were disposed of in the same manner as the torso.

Inspector Faurot, who has [sic] notified on Sunday night by Prosecutor Hudspeth of Hudson County that the finding of a piece of New York schist used to sink the part of the torso found on Sunday made it appear that the crime had been committed in Manhattan, sent six Headquarters detectives into New Jersey yesterday afternoon after receiving a report from Lieut. Wood of the Headquarters Squad that there was strong reason to think that the crime had taken place in this city.

Find Body of Child.

Policeman Whipple, employed to patrol the Interstate Park given by Mrs. E. H. Harriman to New Jersey and New York, and extending from opposite Washington Heights up the river, found on Sunday the body of a child, prematurely born, floating near the shore opposite 210th Street. An examination yesterday showed that the premature birth had probably caused the death of the mother.

County Physician King said last night that this find seemed to him to have no significance in relation to the murder. The woman who had been murdered, he said, had suffered no serious injury from the premature birth of her child and was to all apppearances [sic] in excellent health when she was slain.

Mrs. Mary Spillane of 210 East 101st Street reported yesterday to the police of the East 104th Street Station that her sister, Kitty Shea, who had been in this country four months, disappeared more than a week ago from a home in Larchmonth [sic], N. Y., where she was employed as a domestic. On last Tuesday Mrs. Spillane received a postal card mailed at Station Y, which said that Kitty had fallen from a car in motion and had been removed to a hospital. Nothing indicated how badly the girl had been hurt or to what hospital she had been taken. Mrs. Spillane sent a telegram to the home in Larchmont where her sister had been employed, and received a reply that the girl had left the week before. Detectives Carsetta and Genaro of the East 104th Street Station made an investigation and found that the girl, when she left her employment, was soon to become a mother. They were unable to trace the girl from the time she had left Larchmont. Mrs. Spillane has been asked to visit the Hoboken Morgue to-day to view the remains found in the river.

Trace River Victim by Sale of Pillows, New York Times, 9 September 1913.