Monday, January 28, 2013

A Murder-Suicide in the Family Makes the Front Page

On June 24, 1908 former President Grover Cleveland died. As expected a majority the newspapers were dedicated to stories of his life and presidency. Had Great-great Grandpa Victor Henry waited just one more day to murder his wife's cousin and take his own life we might never have had this story. 

The day before, on June 23, 1908, the article transcribed below appeared on the front page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 

It is interesting to note that Mary Cassidy was born Mary Hinch and was the cousin of Victor Henry's wife, Annette Hinch-Henry. The previous year, Victor's mother Mary Henry was living at the same address at which this murder-suicide occurred. It was the home in which Victor's mother died. Based on those details, with some certainty, I can assume that the property was owned by some member of the family; who exactly, though, I am not sure.

The article below is pretty salacious. I have my doubts that Mary and Victor were having an affair. I suspect he suffered from some mental illness and somehow thought this woman was living rent-free in his mother's house; all speculation on my part though. 

I have one digital photo of Victor. It is a digital photo taken of the picture in a photo album. It was not taken straight on and thus there is some distortion in the image; seems appropriate though.



KILLED COMELY WIDOW WHO SPURNED HIS LOVE

Ozone Park Man, With Wife and Family, Wanted Her to Elope
 

REFUSAL COST HER HER LIFE
 

After Killing Her Victor Henry Sent Three Bullets Into Own Body and Soon Died
 

Victor Henry, an Ozone Park painter married and having a family, shot and killed Mrs. Mary Cassidy, who refused to elope with him a week ago, in the back yard of her home, 95 Water street, Woodhaven, at 10:05 o'clock this morning, and then, turning the revolver on himself, sent three bullets into his heart.

After running twenty yards, following the shooting, Mrs. Cassidy fell to the ground and died in ten minutes. Henry lived for half an hour, but was never conscious during that time and consequently the motive for his act could not be secured from him. Henry had a wife and three children, who live in a tenement just north of Broadway, on Wyckoff Avenue, in Ozone Park.


From the back stoop of her residence next door, Mrs. Joseph Herzog watched every detail of the tragedy from Henry's first arrival at the house to the time that Mrs. Cassidy breathed her last. At twenty minutes of ten she saw him come through the front gate and walk to the rear of t he house where, in the thick shade of a grape arbor, Mrs. Cassidy, who was forty-five years old and comely, was bending over a wash tub. 


They talked in a low tone at first, according to the story told by Mrs. Herzog immediately after the shooting. In a moment Mrs. Cassidy cried in angry tones: " I don't want you to come around here any more. You have a wife at home. I want you to stay away."

With that Mrs. Cassidy resumed her washing and Henry bent over to make a reply, which was not audible to Mrs. Herzog. Henry continued talking for over two minutes when Mrs. Cassidy again stopped her work and exclaimed: "What! My money?" Henry again made a short reply and then, with an oath pulled the revolver from his pocket, pressed it against the side of Mrs. Cassidy's head and fired. 


With a scream that could be heard for blocks, she jumped toward her murderer and then ran wildly from under the arbor to the back fence, where she dropped to the ground, moaning and with the blood spurting from the wounds in her head.

Henry never moved from the spot where he stood, but turned the gun on himself and dropped by the side of the half-filled wash tub after the three bullets from the .32 caliber revolver had entered his breast.


Arthur M. LaPage, who lives at 88 Water Street, was also a witness in the murder and suicide, and when he saw Mrs.Cassidy fall telephoned to the Richmond Hill police station for the ambulance. Then he summoned neighbors, who rushed to revive her with stimulants. She died while they were attempting to pour whisky down her throat. 


Forty-five minutes after the police had been notified by telephone, the ambulance from St. Mary's Hospital in Jamaica arrived, but Ambulance Surgeon Voltz, who came in it, found his services were not needed. With his permission, and the consent of the police authorities, the bodies were removed to the morgue of Edward J. Ruoff, Jr., in Ozone Park.

Mrs. Cassidy moved with her four children to the Water street house, from Newark, N. J., after the death of her husband on February 29. Henry appeared at the house for the first time in the second week of May, and was assiduous in his attentions to the widow. He was well known in Woodhaven, and his visits became a scandal in the village.

2 comments:

  1. I would put very little stock in the affair speculation. It says right in the story that Victor Henry died before his motives could be known. Newspaper articles back then, in my experience, sensationalized a lot of stories, especially front page stories, in order to sell papers. They were poorly researched and full of a lot of speculation vs. fact. But still, very salacious indeed. That's definitely a story that adds a lot of color to a family history!

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  2. Like so many murder-suicide stories, we'll never know the whole story and I think that is where the color definitely comes from, Cousin Mary...we get to finish coloring in the picture the way we want to.

    All I know for sure is that that is the strangest necktie I have ever seen on poor ole Victor up there.

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