Byrnes’s text: #173 David Mooney

Link to the REVISED entry on #173 David Mooney

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-eight years old in 1886. Born in New York. Single. Shoemaker. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 4 inches. Weight, 147 pounds. Dark wavy hair, dark eyes, dark complexion; dark brown beard, when grown. The lower lip is quite thick and projecting; high and expansive forehead. A noticeable feature is his eyes, which seem to twinkle behind eyelids almost closed, thus giving him a sharp expression. Has letters “N.E.S.,” and figures “13,” and two dots of India ink on left wrist.

RECORD. “Little Dave” Mooney is a well known New York thief. His specialty is private house work, entering generally by the second story window while the people are down stairs at their meals. He is well known in all the principal cities in the United States, and is considered a very clever “second-story man.”

He was arrested in New York City on August 19, 1874, and delivered to the police authorities of Hunter’s Point, Long Island, N.Y., where he was wanted for burglary. He was convicted and sentenced to two years in State prison at Sing Sing, in the Queens County Court of Sessions at Hunter’s Point, on October 19, 1874, by Judge Pratt, under the name of John H. Smith.

He was arrested again in Albany, N.Y., on December 30, 1880, and taken to Boston, Mass., for the murder of his partner in crime, Edmond Lavoiye, alias Frenchy Lavoiye, and Charles E. Marshall, at No. 22 Florence Street, Boston, where they were rooming, on the night of February 12, 1880. He was also charged with breaking and entering the house of George Norman, in Boston, on the night of February 11, 1880, and stealing therefrom bonds and jewelry valued at $1,500. He was tried in the Supreme Judicial Court of Boston on September 16, 1881, and found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to Concord prison for life on September 19, 1881.

The following article clipped from the Boston Herald, of January 1, 1880, gives a detailed account of his arrest and statement concerning the murder:

Manacled Mooney. — Particulars of His Arrest in Greenbush, N.Y. — His Whereabouts Since His Flight from Boston. — He Denies Committing the Lavoiye Murder. David Mooney, alias John H. Hill, alias James P. Brady, who was arrested in Greenbush, N.Y., Thursday night, December 30, 1880, on the charge of murdering his pal, Edmund A. Lavoiye, at the house No. 22 (now No. 20) Florence Street, this city, reached here last evening in custody of Inspectors Gerraughty and Mahoney. The murder was committed on the evening of February 12, but was not discovered until several days after, when the body of the victim was found in an advanced state of decomposition by Mr. Orpen, the landlord of the house.

It appears, according to the Albany authorities, that Mooney has been residing in Greenbush, a suburb of Albany, for some time, being known to his neighbors as “David Farrell.” For about four weeks Detective Riley, of Albany, has suspected him to be the fugitive, but it was not till within a few days that he became confident that Farrell was really Mooney. The detective Thursday evening went to Greenbush about nine o’clock, and, after waiting quietly in a beer saloon on Broadway, smoking a cigar, he soon had the satisfaction of seeing the man he was in search of come in with a tin pail, for the purpose of getting beer. He had no sooner set the pail on the counter than Riley approached him, and stated that he was wanted in Albany to give some information about a diamond pin that had been stolen. Detective Brennan was in company with Riley, and together they brought Mooney across the river and took him to the chief’s office, where it was found that he corresponded in every particular to the description contained in the circular, thus leaving no doubt of his being the right party. He was then committed to jail by Chief Malloy.

In answer to questions put to him, Mooney stated that he had been living in Greenbush for the past three months, and had also stopped at Newburg, Hudson, and other river towns, and admitted having been in Boston quite frequently in his lifetime. On going up to the jail he said to Riley, who had previously told him what he was arrested for: “Young fellow, the parties that gave you the ‘tip’ gave it to you straight.” The chief telegraphed to Supt. Adams, informing him of the arrest, and soon afterwards officers went to Albany. During the night Mooney maintained a sullen disposition, but early yesterday morning exhibited an inclination to be defiant. He told one detective (Dewire) that he would not be taken to Boston alive, and said it in such a way that the detective became suspicious that he might attempt to make good his tlireat. The officer searched him, and found, carefully concealed in his clothing, it is claimed, a piece of steel wire, some four inches long, filed down to a sharp point at one end. Mooney felt quite chagrined, but repeated his threat. He was carefully looked over, and all the marks contained in the description given of him in the Boston Herald at the time of the murder were found on him.

At one o’clock p. m.. Detectives Gerraughty and Mahoney, of Boston, with Mr. Henry Orpen, at whose house the murder was committed, on Florence Street, arrived here. They presented their papers to Chief Malloy, who pronounced them in proper form and all right. Detectives Riley and Brennan at once proceeded to the jail, and soon after brought Mooney to police headquarters. The prisoner’s appearance was in sad contrast to that which marked him while in the “Hub.” He was dressed in rough and ill-fitting garments, in place of the broadcloth in which he was wont to appear while mingling in society in Boston. He wore a plush jockey cap, and, with his short and newly-grown bushy whiskers, looked more like a recently-arrived Canadian than the American he has been described.

On being introduced to the Boston officers his face changed to an ashy hue, but he said nothing until placed directly before Mr. Orpen, who, without hesitation, said: “That is the man who was at my house with the murdered Lavoiye.” Mr. Orpen, continuing, said: “Well, Hill, you look somewhat changed since I saw you last. Don’t you know me?” Mooney — “Oh, yes; I know you. I don’t deny that I was there. It’s kind of hard. Well, I am somewhat changed, but not altogether so good-looking.” Mr. Orpen — “Well, it’s many a dollar your doings at my house has cost me.” Mooney — “Well, I am sorry for it; but I suppose you will, or ought to, get your share of the reward.”

Mooney soon after was questioned by Detective Gerraughty as to his threat that he would not be taken to Boston alive, whereupon the prisoner remarked he would give his word of honor that he would go to Boston peaceably and without trouble. The officers, with their man, left for Boston on the 2:30 train, and arrived here at 9:45 last evening. During the evening a Herald reporter had an extended interview with Mooney. At first he declined positively to say anything bearing on the subject of the murder of Lavoiye or the robbery of Mr. George H. Norman’s house, until he could have an opportunity of consulting counsel, but he finally yielded to persuasive pressure, and said: “Why, one would think from the manner I was arrested at Greenbush that I was some sort of a wild animal. Those officers of Albany are a hard lot. After I left Boston I visited several places, but most of the time I spent at Greenbush, where I boarded and roomed nearly the whole time. It is an easy thing to try a man on circumstantial evidence, especially before he is brought before a proper jury, and I feel certain that at the proper time my claim of innocence of the crime with which I am now charged will be satisfactorily established. I can conscientiously say that I am not guilty of the murder of Lavoiye; neither do I know anything about the robbery of Mr. Norman’s house. I do not, however, claim to have a fair or unblemished character, and, more than that, I do not claim to have always been honest. To make such claims would be foolish under the circumstances in which I am now placed.”

It is hardly necessary for me to go into the details of what my professional calling has been. It is enough to say that it is not altogether complimentary to myself; but yet I can truthfully say that I have never committed murder, neither have I garroted a person or broken into a house. I am now thirty years of age, and I am sorry to say that my education has been sadly neglected. I was born in New York City, and during the war my father kept a hotel on the Hudson River. He died ten years ago. My mother, a brother and sister are of good character and above reproach. I am grieved at the sorrow I have caused them. I suppose I may attribute my misfortunes to the company I kept in my youth.

I have for a long time been well acquainted with Boston, and was here off and on several months before the murder of Lavoiye. I never knew him by that name, however, but was always under the impression his name was Charles E. Marshall, and I called him Charley. I met him during a visit here, and went to lodge with him, but not with any desire to be connected with him in the busmess he followed. He was a quiet and very peaceable man, and always kept his business to himself, as I did mine. While at the house I never had any trouble with any one, and always paid my bills and treated everybody decently. I sometimes drank a glass of lager and occasionally a glass of whiskey, but never indulged in strong liquors to excess. I was seldom with my companion when he was out of the house, and never saw anything about him or the room that would indicate his calling. I did not know that he carried a revolver, and did not know anything about the robbery of Mr. Norman’s house, on Beacon Street, until the day after it is said to have been committed, when I read it in the Boston Herald. Marshall, I suppose, also saw a report of the robbery — although he did not tell me of it — as he was in the habit of reading the daily papers.

“I remember something I read about calling on Mr. Orpen relative to the key of my room. It happened that Marshall was out, and had the key of the room with him, on the day it was said I left. Mr. Orpen said he would get a key, and I finally said, ‘No matter,’ and later on met Marshall and got his key. I did not leave Mr. Orpen’s house on the day after the Norman robbery, but went away some days afterwards, and when I last saw Marshall he was alive and well. The day I left him I told him I was going away to be absent some time, but would return. I went to New York. While there I saw in a paper an account of Marshall’s murder. I was astounded, and could hardly believe it, and read the report over, and over again. I soon realized my position, felt almost bewildered, and went to get the opinion of some of my intimate friends, to see what was best for me to do. My first impulse was to surrender myself to the authorities of Boston. My friends urged me to wait, as they said a certain cop or other party was going to Boston to see if he could identify Marshall. I concluded to wait, and after the identification was established again proposed to give myself up and stand trial. On second reflection I concluded that on account of the excited state of the community, it would be best for me to wait until the heat of the people had time to cool off. I argued that if I went among strangers without money I would stand a poor chance of getting justice; so I concluded to keep out of the way, with the intention of waiting until I got together sufficient money to employ able counsel; but this wish I have never been able to realize, although I have managed to live comfortably.

I soon left New York, and came up in the vicinity of Greenbush, a very retired place. I secured board and lodging in a very respectable family, which never until now suspected my calling. One night, shortly after my arrival at my new abode, I was in a saloon on South Pearl Street, Albany, when two men, representing themselves as Boston detectives, came into the place. One of these men was quite drunk, and loudly proclaimed he had come to Albany to get Mooney and the reward offered for his arrest. I stood facing him, and as he spoke he exhibited before my astonished gaze a copy of my photograph, which has been spread broadcast throughout the country. Although startled I tried to keep cool, and left the place without any delay, without exciting any suspicion. I went to several places from time to time, but continued to hold my residence in Greenbush. In the latter place, soon after my arrival, I learned that a woman had been attracted by a certain resemblance between me and a cut of myself in the Police Gazette. She made allusion to it, but hearing nothing further from her, I came to the conclusion that she had forgotten all about the matter.

During last summer I went once or twice to Springfield, where I had friends interested in horses, and was not discovered, or ‘given away.’ I felt at times that I would not be discovered, because my brother, since Marshall’s death, has twice been mistaken for me by officers. I felt, however, that at some time or another I must surely stand my trial. For weeks I have anticipated arrest. Several times I again thought of surrendering myself, but the old fear — lack of money to supply desirable counsel — would always come up, and I would give up the idea. I am now glad, however, that I am arrested, and that I will be tried, as the agony I have suffered has been terrible; not because of any crime I have committed, but simply because the charge of murder was constantly hanging over my head.

All I ask now is a fair trial, and I am willing to abide by whatever may be the result. I understand one suspicious circumstance counted against me is the fact that I stood with the door of my room ajar while the little girl of Mr. Orpen came up to deliver towels on the day the murder was committed. The inference I draw is that I was supposed to have kept the little girl out so that she could not see anything that had occurred within. This is a very funny circumstance if it is to be considered as evidence, considering that both Marshall and myself commonly stood in the doorway in the same way when either of us was lying on the bed and did not want to be seen.

Then it is hinted that I wrote the slip which was found in the room with the body, and signed ‘Charles E. Marshall.’ I can hardly read, let alone writing. The letter which was sent to Miss Annie Sullivan, the young girl who worked in a restaurant on Harrison Avenue, and who resided in South Boston, was written by Marshall for me. He signed the name ‘John H. Hill,’ and the letter was purely in fun. That is how I suppose, I have got the alias of ‘Hill.’ I never heard myself called James H. Brady until the police of Boston sent out their circulars for the purpose of effecting my arrest. I suppose I will find myself possessed of other aliases before I get through with Boston.

Now, in relation to the Sullivan girl, I always considered her a good young lady. I never courted her, or proposed marriage to her. My relations to her were like those of a person charitably inclined. I have never been troubled about women, and I never have intrusted any of my secrets with them. I do suspect, however, that the woman who thought she saw a similarity between my face and the police photograph was the woman who finally caused my arrest by apprising Detective Riley of her suspicions. When the detectives appeared in the beer saloon in Greenbush I supposed they were a crowd of railroad men who had dropped in to pass away a few hours. The first I knew, I was pounced upon by five of them, and although I called for an explanation, they hustled me off in a hurry towards Albany. They carried me to the ferry, and then only did they condescend to tell me a falsehood when they said I was wanted in the city for the larceny of a diamond pin.

When I reached headquarters I was shown my photograph, and of course at once surmised the real object of my arrest. In regard to my friend Marshall, I wish to say that while I was with him in Boston he frequently had other men call at the house, 22 Florence Street, to see him. I knew them by sight, and probably could recall some of the places they were in the habit of visiting. I knew them by their given names simply; they came frequently, at all hours, and it is possible that some one of them might have murdered Marshall.

I know of one instance, when I came home from the ‘road’ one morning, that I found a man asleep with Marshall. Another circumstance which has been held up to sustain the supposition that I committed murder is that the gold watch owned by the murdered man was missing when the body was found. Now I know that in January, prior to the murder, Marshall pawned his watch in Providence, because he told me he did. I asked him why he did not borrow from me, but he said he had rather pawn the watch. I had plenty of ready money at the time. I also know that Marshall had a large account in some bank in one of the Eastern cities, but he never told me which city. I am willing to bet that bank account is still standing, but I suppose it will be hard to find it, as it cannot be ascertained under what name he made the deposits. I think Marshall had considerable money, but cannot say how much.

While living on Florence Street he frequently made trips to New York, but for what purpose I cannot say. I was acquainted with a man named Glover in New York, and I suppose Marshall also knew him. I never had any dealings with the man. I never saw anything about Marshall to indicate that he was mixed up with the Norman robbery, and I do not know anything about the bonds said to have been stolen at the time. I never saw any crucibles about the room for melting jewelry; neither did I, to my recollection, hire a hack on Kneeland Street, in which I was said to have dropped a diamond ring which was claimed to have been stolen from the house of Mr. Norman. I did not get shaved on the day I left Boston; I had nothing I wished to shave off. It is very funny how stories get started. Time will show my innocence of the charges against me, and all I ask is that the press and the people will give me a fair chance.”

After arriving at the central office in Boston, Mooney was, after a short delay, placed in a cell in the basement of the City Hall, in charge of an officer. He appeared quite fatigued, and soon after reaching his cell fell into a sound slumber. He will be committed to jail to-day, to await trial.

The following article also appeared in one of the New York papers:

A Murderer’s Confession. — Why One Burglar Killed Another. — A Woman and Diamonds THE Cause. {Special Dispatch to the New York Evening Telegram?) Boston, September 27, 1881. — Mooney, the New York burglar, recently sentenced to imprisonment for life for kiUing his confederate, Lavoiye, has confessed his guilt. A quarrel arose, it appears, about a pair of diamond earrings. Mooney discovered that Lavoiye had given them to a woman, and Lavoiye denied the fact. Mooney, who had obtained them from the woman, then drew them from his pocket. Lavoiye became angered, and attempted to draw his pistol, when Mooney shot him. The earrings were stolen property, and Mooney feared they might serve as a clew.

Mooney’s picture is an excellent one, taken in January, 1881.