New York

The eventual death of “Iron Mike” Malloy

February 22, 1933
The Bronx, New York
“Iron Mike” Malloy is (finally) murdered

Malloy was once a firefighter but had fallen on tough times and had become homeless and an alcoholic. In January of 1933, five of his friends — Francis Pasqua (left), Tony Marino (right), Joseph “Red” Murphy, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg — decided to kill Malloy to collect on life insurance claims they took out against him.

The group, dubbed “The Murder Trust” by the media, first attempted to kill Malloy by allowing him to drink himself to death. Marino owned a speakeasy (an illegal bar during the Prohibition era) and offered Malloy unlimited access to its booze. Malloy did his part and drank far past the point of excess, but he failed to succumb to alcohol poisoning. The Murder Trust upped the ante and began spiking the drinks with antifreeze, which also failed and was replaced with turpentine, then a topical pain relieving balm used on horses, and finally a mixture containing rat poison. None were successful.

With so many unsuccessful attempts, the Trust began to think outside the box. Pasqua had claimed to have seen a person die by ingesting oysters and whiskey, so the group fed Malloy raw oysters and wood alcohol. Next, they tried a sandwich made from spoiled sardines with poison and carpet tacks mixed in for good measure. Malloy lived.

Still failing to kill Malloy, they grew desperate. They allowed him to pass out from drinking, carried him to a park, left him in the snow, and poured 5 gallons of water on his bare chest, hoping he would die of exposure. It seems likely this method had worked for Marino previously, as he had collected insurance money on another drunk named Mabelle Carlson, who was found frozen to death in 1931. But the trick did not work twice. Again, Malloy survived.

With every failed attempt, the group became less subtle. Having survived the freezing temperatures of winter, Green simply hit Malloy with his taxi while driving 45 mph. The car did more damage than the previous methods, leaving Malloy to heal his broken bones in a hospital for three weeks. But, still, Malloy survived.

The Trust grew weary of trying to make Malloy’s death accidental. In a final attempt, they grabbed Malloy and shoved into his mouth a hose used for gas lighting. The gas was turned on and Malloy expired within the hour, his official cause of death attributed to pneumonia and he was hastily buried.

Rumors of “Iron Mike” and “Mike the Durable” quickly spread. When police caught wind of the rumors and heard of his death, they had his body exhumed in May 11 and examined, leading to the arrests of the Trust. Green testified against the others and was given a 5 year sentence for assault. Kriesberg, Marino, and Pasqua were executed in the electric chair on June 7, 1934, and Murphy on July 5, 1934.

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