Amazing Stories from Middle Village & Maspeth - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the November 2009 Juniper Berry Magazine

Amazing Stories from Middle Village & Maspeth

Caruso Convicted of First Degree Murder; Killed Doctor after Death of Little Son

April 8, 1927, New York Times-A jury in the Kings County Court late last night brought in a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree against Frank Caruso for the killing of Dr. Casper B. Pendola of Maspeth in February.

Caruso, 36 years old and the father of five children, killed the physician when he found his 9-year-old son, Joseph, who was being treated by Dr. Pendola for diphtheria, had died.

The jury returned to the courtroom at 11:51 o'clock, after most of those who had listened all day to the trial had left the room. The defendant heard the foreman's announcement with little visible e concern. He arose at the call of the clerk, walked a few steps forward and gave his pedigree in an even tone.

Caruso said he had been sixteen years in this country. He was a native of Italy. He lived at 36 Third Street, Brooklyn, and had been convicted and fined $100 eight years ago for having a pistol.

The case went to the jury at 8 P.M. Twice the jury returned to the court room, once to inquire about the different degrees of murder, and again to have a part of Judge McLaughlin's charge read. In the first hour of its deliberation a report reached the Court that it stood 7 to 5 for first-degree murder.

After the verdict was announced Judge McLaughlin turning to the jury said: I thank you for the careful consideration you have given to this case. The verdict will make for law and order. Any other finding would have been a miscarriage of justice.

In summing up George Voss, attorney for Caruso, declared that the defendant was moved to the frenzy that resulted in the killing because Dr. Pendola laughed when he heard that Caruso's son had died following treatment for diphtheria. He told the jurors that under the same circumstances they would have felt the urge to kill. He asked them not to class Caruso with the cold-blooded gangsters who murder with deliberation. He raised the technicality that the doctor had been killed by strangulation instead of stabbing, as charged in the indictment.

In his summing up Chief Assistant District Attorney Joseph V. Gallagher said that the testimony of a Holy Family Hospital ambulance surgeon and the autopsy report of Assistant Medical Examiner Gregory Robillard showed that Dr. Pendola had been stabbed to death. He said that the two knife wounds indicated that the murder was premeditated.

County Judge McLaughlin, in his charge to the jury, said the murder was neither legally justifiable nor excusable. After explaining the distinction between first and second-degree murder he cautioned the jury to abandon all sympathy and sentiment in deciding the case.

Caruso will be sentenced on April 18.

Four Macy Balloons Land

Fifth Released Thanksgiving Day

Is Reported Drifting Out to Sea

Four of the five balloons representing grotesque figures and released at the close of Macy's Christmas parade on Thanksgiving Day had been accounted for last night executives of the store said. The fifth balloon, a fantastic ghost, was reported as having been sighted moving out to sea over the Rockaways with a flock of gulls in pursuit.

The first balloon to alight was the Sky Tiger. It came down on the roof of the home of C. Sheppard of 10705 110th Street, Richmond Hill, L.I. Its arrival stirred the neighborhood and a tug of war was ensued for its possession. While Mrs. Sheppard's two sons ran to the roof to obtain it, neighbors and motorists rushed up from all directions. The rubberized silk skin burst into dozens of fragments.

The capture of the Early Bird was effected more peaceably. It alighted on the premises of Mrs. Lena Steiniger, 90 Furman Avenue, Middle Village, L.I. The Sky Elephant, the third to be recovered, descended on a dock at Fourth and Front Streets, Long Island City, and was claimed by Andrew Ilardi, 5627 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, a clerk employed by the Long Island Railroad.

The fourth balloon, the Humming Bird, was last seen in the East River. It was broken in half and both sections were floating with the tide and pursued by two tugboats.

Upon proper authentication of the claims of the finders, each will receive the $100 reward offered by Macy's for the return of the balloons.

To Spend $15,000 and Die

October 20, 1911, New York Times-

Paul Newman, 35 years old, of 538 East Ninety-Fourth Street, Manhattan, told Magistrate Fitch in the police court at Flushing, Queens, yesterday that after the sudden death of his wife and child he had determined to spend all his money, $15,000, and then die. He failed, and was arraigned on a charge of attempting suicide by shooting himself three times beside the graves of his wife and child in the Lutheran Cemetery at Middle Village, L.I., on Oct. 2. Before making the attempt upon his life he ordered and paid $250 for a tombstone for himself.

Just two months ago yesterday, Newman's wife and only child died within a few hours of each other, leaving him without a relative in the world. He is a machinist.

I decided that life was not worth living, said Newman in court. But I could think of no one to whom to leave my money, so I decided to spend it and then end my life. The $10000 in my wife's name was part of her estate, and I could not get it without going through numerous formalities in the Surrogate's office, so I decided to spend my own $5,000 first.

Newman went to Europe and threw himself into a life of pleasure and gaiety, always with the intention of quickly getting rid of his money and then ending his life. But to a man like Newman, trained to live economically and save his money, it was not easy to spend $5,000 and he returned to America, tired of Europe, with about half his money still unspent. He had heard, he said, that automobiles were expensive so he decided to take a long ride in one. He arranged to motor trip to Niagara Falls, selecting that place because he and his wife went there on their wedding trip. The ride did not use up all his available cash, either, so when he returned he decided to give up the attempt to spend his fortune and die.

On Oct. 2 he went to the Lutheran Cemetery, stopping outside long enough to order and pay cash for a $50 tombstone at the Homeyer Marble Works. Then, kneeling beside the graves of his wife and child, he shot himself over the heart, in the jaw, and in the head. For days his death was expected in the German Hospital but he finally recovered. Two of the bullets were extracted, but the third is still lodged in his throat.

I am not sorry I tried to kill myself; without my wife and child I do not wish to live, said Newman in reply to a question by Magistrate Fitch. The latter held him in $1,000 bail to await the action of the Grand Jury. Newman objected to being handcuffed to another prisoner and taken by trolley car to the county jail at Long Island City, asking that he be permitted to engage a taxicab for the trip. His request was denied.

Newman had with him about $200, all that is left of the $5,000 he took to Europe less than two months ago. He expects to apply to the Surrogate of New York County for enough money from his wife's estate to burnish cash bail.

Mystery in Man's Death

Frank Longfelt's Body Found Beside Long Island Road Tracks

Father Discovered Identity by Chance

In a Store Where a Detective Was With

His Son's Hat

November 18, 1900, New York Times- Strange circumstances surround the death of Frank Longfelt, son of Mr. Longfelt, a broker of 516 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, whose body was found lying along side the Long Island Railroad tracks near Collins Avenue, Maspeth, at 7:40 Tuesday morning by Charles Dow, a section foreman on the road on his way to work.

There were no marks of violence on the body and it was evident that he had not been struck by a train. Dr. B.G. Strong, one of the Coroner's physicians in Queens, performed an autopsy yesterday afternoon and found that death was caused by carbolic acid poisoning. The police say that a very careful search had been made in the neighborhood where the body was found but no trace of a bottle could be seen.

The body was in a most desolate spot and his friends know of nothing that would have taken him to the place. The remains were taken in charge by the police of the Newtown Station, and lay in Rouff's morgue at Maspeth until Friday afternoon before they were identified.

In the pockets were found 50 cents and a blank warehouse receipt and a slip of paper on which was written the name of Miss Jessie LaBean of 37 West Twenty-eighth Street. The young woman was found in Manhattan by the police and taken to Maspeth.

After looking at the body she declared that she could not be sure of the dead man's identity, but thought he was one whom she had met casually in Brooklyn and whose name she only knew as Frank.

It was about to be buried by the authorities when Capt. Timothy M. White of the Newtown Police examined the hat and found that it had been supplied by William H. Gough, a hatter of 95 and 97 William Street, Manhattan.

As a forlorn hope he directed Detective Henry H. Peake to take the hat to the store and see if the dealer could tell to whom he sold it. As the detective went into the store he was closely followed by Mr. Longfelt, the father who, came there at that time by a mere coincidence.

The hatter knew of the missing youth and, turning to him said: I am afraid Mr. Longfelt that this is your boy's hat. Mr. Longfelt at once recognized it and hurrying to Newtown identified the remains as those of his son. Yesterday afternoon they were removed to the family home, and funeral services will be held there this afternoon.

Mr. Longfelt is in business at 151 Pearl Street which is not far from the hat store. An uncle of the young man who was seen at the Lafayette Avenue house last evening said that the young man, who had a position as a clerk, had been in perfect health.

He had been last seen by his relatives on Monday morning but they were not alarmed about his continued absence for a day or two, for he was in the habit of going away from home on somewhat protracted visits without saying anything about it.

Posses of Men Hunting in Vain a Ghost on Long Island

New York Times, July 27, 1884- Dismal swamps, stagnant bogs, and thick undergrowth lie between the Lutheran and Mount Olivet Cemeteries, near Maspeth and Fresh Pond, Long Island. In this unlovely neighborhood a ghost has squatted himself, much to the annoyance and alarm of the residents of that quiet neighborhood. It first shied its castor into the ring on Thursday afternoon, when a number of women and girls were quietly gathering peas for the evening meal on the farm of Mr. W. H. Ring, which lies close to Mount Olivet Cemetery and is skirted by the Newtown road. Suddenly cries were heard issuing from the cemetery, apparently of distress. With mingled benevolence and curiosity, all of them left their pails and went toward the voice, which they followed to the edge of a pool, where it faded away into a hollow groan. The peas were left behind, while the women ran to the farmhouse of Mr. Ring and told him their story. They were so frightened that he could not persuade them to return to their work. Aroused by their earnestness, Mr. Ring accompanied them to the only warlike man he knew, the town constable, Mr. Henry Bosch. The officer of the law was not to be taken by surprise. He had heard about the mysterious voice and its still more mysterious embodiment, which had been represented to him by a tall man, six feet in height and perfectly nude, and he was ready for war. Constable Bosch had no difficulty in securing a posse, and with 10 able-bodied citizens he set out to solve the mystery, leaving the trembling and admiring women behind.

The sun was just sinking as they reached the border of the cemetery. At the fence, one man remarked that he had forgotten to take a bag of flour home to his wife, and if the rest would excuse him, he guessed he would go back, as they wouldn't have supper at home. Besides, it was getting late. He wasn't afraid, oh no! but still he didn't like the idea of walking around in a graveyard after sundown. His sentiments, strangely enough, found an echo in every heart, and with singular unanimity they faced about and returned to the house of Constable Bosch, where they found a big crowd collected. Among them was Miss Barbara Emerine, who declared that she had seen the ghost frequently and that it was tall and thin, always dressed in white, and that it brandished a huge carving knife.

John Trinless, the gravedigger, while excavating, had often heard the mysterious cries of Oho! and so had John Devon, the stonecutter, and both had the reputation of being honorable men. To them the constable explained that they had returned to collect information and decide upon a plan of action, and for this purpose he invited them all into the neighboring barroom, where they lined up and found a whole row of bottled spirits. Then they prepared themselves for action on the homeopathic theory that with similia, they might tackle similibus.

Thus strengthened, the band set out just before midnight, numbering 50 with 50 shotguns, and went to Mount Olivet Cemetery. There they heard the mysterious voice, and the whole party advanced toward it, but try as hard as they could, it always kept the same distance from them. They went tramping through the mud for almost a mile, until they reached the Lutheran Cemetery, where the mysterious voice ceased and could be made to speak no more. On the next night, the gallant constable again headed a searching party and the voice led them on a similar chase and sent them home puzzled and frightened.

Since then, the people who have heard the mysterious being in its travels around and between the two cemeteries are increasing in number. As yet, the mystery is unsolved, and doors are always carefully locked and prayers more often said than ever before, even in that moral community.