Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thriller Thursday - Nearer to Solving the River Murder


Nearer to Solving the River Murder

Tar Paper Covering the Victim Sold Across Street from Shop Where Pillow Was Bought.

Have a Man's Description

Neighborhood of Eighth Avenue and 147th Street is Searched for Further Traces of Him.

Detectives searching in the neighborhood of Sach's furniture store at 2,762 Eighth Avenue, where the pillow was sold in which part of the torso of a woman was found in the Hudson last Friday, obtained a partial description last night of a man suspected of having a part in the murder. The man, according to their information, is about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches tall, of dark complexion, medium build, and has a close clipped brown mustache.

Lieut. O'Neil of the West 152d Street Station, in charge of the detectives working in this neighborhood, spent the day with his men in apartment houses in the vicinity of Eighth Avenue and 147th Street, where Sach's store is situated, trying to get a trace of the two pillows sold by Sachs of the size and pattern of the one used by the murderer in disposing of his victim's body. Only twelve pillows of this kind have been manufactured and ten of these are unsold in Sach's store.
The most important clue furnished to the detectives yesterday was the discovery that two sheets of the medicated manilla paper of the kind used to wrap the two portions on the woman's body found in the Hudson were sold last week by S. H. Hurwitz, a druggist, whose shop is at 2,755 Eighth Avenue, directly across the street from Sach's furniture store.

When the bundles containing parts of the dismembered girl's body were found near the Jersey shore of the Hudson, the wrapping paper was immediately recognized as the tarred manilla variety devised to keep dry goods safe from moths. Hurwitz said yesterday afternoon that during the spring, when there was a large demane for the paper for storing goods through the Summer, he had kept a large quantity under his counter. The paper, however, is seldom called for during the Summer, and several weeks ago the druggist stored the tar paper with a quantity of other unseasonable articles, on top of the telephone booths in his shop.
"I remember the sale particularly," said Hurwitz last night, "because I had to get a chair and climb for the paper, It is the first time it had been called for in months.

Buyer Was in a Hurry.

"Another thing that struck me as peculiar was that the purchaser should have been in a great hurry. He wanted it right away and would not wait for it to be wrapped. He only wanted two sheets, and he had the 80 cents ready for it when I climbed down from on top of the telephone booths. He put the money on my counter, took the sheets from my hand, and walked out rapidly.

"All this struck me as rather strange, because buying tar paper is not a matter of life and death. The man who bought is was about 5 feet 6 inches in height. He was in his shirt sleeves and wore no hat. His complexion was dark. My impression is that he poorly dressed and had about a two days' growth of beard.
"I am not sure whether I would be able to identify him. If I saw him some feature of his might call him back to my mind. It was Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday of last week that I sold him the paper. It was in the morning, I think. There are hundreds of persons in the store in a week, and, of course, I do not take particular note of customers as a rule. Consequently I am not able to describe the man in greater detail."

The sheets of paper sold by Hurwitz were 40 by 18 inches and bore the following words: "Fine Tar Moth Sheet. White Tar Paper. Made in New York, U.S.A. The White Tar Company."

While the water-soaked wrapping paper, taken from the two bundles containing dismembered parts of the woman's body, was recognizable as being of the same color and weight as the tar paper sold by Hurwitz, it had been torn and crumpled by handling so that its dimensions could not be ascertained. On the sections of the paper in the Hoboken Morgue there were no evidences of printer's ink.

Detectives W. J. Charlock and Frank E. Bennett from the office of District Attorney Hudspeth of Hudson County were convinced yesterday that the tar paper purchased from Hurwitz was that used by the murderer.
"It will be found undoubtedly," said Detective Bennett, standing at 147th Street and Eighth Avenue, "that the crime was committed within a few blocks of here. The pillow i which the first part of the body was found was unquestionably sold by Sachs. The tag on this pillow had the price '89' written on it in Sach's own handwriting. The sale of the tar paper in the drug store across the street goes far toward making it certain that the crime was committed near here."

Limits of the Territory.

The statement by the druggist narrowed the territory in which the detectives are making their search for clues. They presume that the purchaser of the tar paper went to the drug store nearest the place where the body was dismembered. The drug stores nearest Hurwitz's place are on Eighth Avenue at 145th and at 149th, on Seventh Avenue at 146th and 148th, at Bradhurst Avenue and 152d Street, and at St, Nicholas Avenue and 145th Street. The detectives believe that it will be found that the murder took place within the territory surrounded by these neighboring drug stores.

The fact that only two sheets were purchased makes it seem probable that the murderer disposed only of the two sections of the torso in the river. If the head and limbs were thrown into the river the detectives believe that the murderer did not take the pains to wrap them in a paper heavy with chemicals.

Detectives from Headquarters and from the Hudson County Prosecutor's office put in most of the morning yesterday questioning George Sachs, the furniture dealer, and in going over his books. Sachs recorded none of his cash sales, so that there is no way of tracing the pillows if they were paid for when they were purchased. His books, however, showed seven sales of pillows since March, but the size or kind of pillows sold was not noted. For this reason the detectives found it necessary to trace every sale. They examined pillows in six different apartments in the neighborhood, but each time found that they were different in size or pattern from the one used by the murderer.

The seventh sale was to a Japanese, who lived at 231 West 145th Street. It was found there that three months ago the Japanese had moved into 110th Street, and the detectives did not succeed last night in finding him at his new address.

Search Laundries.

The laundries in the neighborhood of 147th Street and Eighth Avenue were visited for clues. At the Princess Laundry, 147th and Eighth Avenue, it was said yesterday afternoon that a blood-stained short had been received within the last two days. The name and address of the sender were given to the detectives. They refused to say last night whether the man described as a suspect was the sender of the shirt.

After investigating the clue furnished by the laundry, however, Lieut. O'Neil and Detective Bennett returned to Hurwitz's drug store and asked the proprietor to try and remember whether the purchaser of the tar paper had a short brown mustache. This memory of the druggist failed him on this detail.

No pillow slip resembling that in which the second part of the dismembered body was wrapped could be found in stock in any of the score of small dry goods shops in the vicinity. Expert embroiderers who saw the "A" and the fancy design worked in silk on the pillow slip said that the design was an unusual one. The fancy work on the slip, it was said, had probably been stenciled there from a design taken from a fashion paper before it had been embroidered. The uniform opinion was that the workmanship on the pillow slip was amateurish.

Inspector Faurot, in charge of the Headquarters detectives in the absence of Second Deputy Commissioner Dougherty, sent two of his men in a motorboat to Kreischerville, S. I., where the finding of the hair and part of a skull of a woman was reported by Anthony Elder, a retired policeman. John Reid, a 13-year-old boy, son of John Reid, a contractor, living at 2,799 Eighth Avenue, made the grewsome [sic] find while he was out rowing last Thursday during a vacation spent with the ex-policemen. Young Reid saw in the water what he thought was a piece of driftwood. When he picked it up and found it was a part of a skull covered with long dark hair, he was horrified and dropped it back into the water. Ex-Policemen Elder thought nothing of the incident till he read of the findings of parts of a dismembered body, and then, yesterday, he notified Police Headquarters.

Chief of Police Marcy of Hoboken gave up the effort yesterday to trace the crime by means of the undergarment found covering part of the dismembered body in the first bundle, which was found last Friday at Woodcliffe, N. J. It was learned that scores of manufacturers had turned out garments of the same pattern and material.

Two motor boats with detectives from Hoboken and Weehawken continued yesterday to make trips up and down the New Jersey side of the Hudson in search of floating bundles that might contain other parts of the murdered woman's body. Their search developed nothing, however.

Two detectives were sent out from Hoboken yesterday when it was reported that Miss Mary Bann of Woodcliffe, who discovered the first bundle containing the upper part of a woman's torso, had made another important find. She had seen a trunk floating in the river near the spot where the first discovery was made. It was reported in Hoboken that this contained the rest of the dismembered body, but the detectives who brought it to shore found a water-soaked lidless trunk which afforded them no clue.

The bombardment of the authorities with letters from Peter Sternemann concerning his daughter, who disppeared five years ago, continued yesterday. In the morning Assistant District Attorney Deacon Murphy received by special sdelivery a letter in the writer's familiar disjointed style, in which Sternemann gave the address of 113 Globe Avenue, Jamaica, L. I., and said that he was at the service of the District Attorney. The letter was accompanied by a postal card repeating the unintelligible phrases of the letter.

Sternemann lives with Mrs. Matilda Weiss at his address in Jamaica, but when he was asked for there to-day Mrs. Weiss said that three men who seemed to be persons in authority came to her residence at 1:30 o'clock in the morning and called for Sternemann. After he had dressed and talked with the callers for a few minutes, Sternemann departed in their company. During the conversation Mrs. Weiss said that she learned that one of the three callers was a newspaper man, and that she came to the conclusion that the other two had the same business. At Police Headquarters and at the Jamaica Station it was denied that any plain-clothes men had been sent to see Sternemann.

Mrs. Weiss and other friends of Sternemann said yesterday that his daughter Ella, had been missing for five years, and that it was a habit of Sternemann's to connect her with all the murder mysteries that were given much space in the newspapers.

Inspector Faurot received a telephone message yesterday afternoon from a man who said the Ella Sternemann was alive and that she could be found at Ruthmann's bakery, 1,583 Silver Street, Fresh Pond, L. I. Ruthmann said that a girl of that name had been in her employ two years before. A detective from Headquarters visited a silk mill at Fresh Pond, where the girl had worked after leaving the bakery, but is was said that she had given up her place after two days at the mill.

Detective Bennett of the Hudson County Prosecutor's office investigated yesterday the story of the mysterious disappearance of Miss Jeanette Genevieve Norman, known off stage as Alice Wood. Miss Norman assisted a Hindoo fakir in his levitation act at Palisade Park, Fort Lee, but friends of hers reported to the police that she had been missing since Aug. 31.

Detective Bennett said he had found out yesterday that the Hindoo closed his act on Aug. 31 and departed for Syracuse, N. Y., taking Miss Norman with him.

Nearer to Solving the River Murder, The New York Times, 10 September 1913.