New York · School Violence

Man shoots teenaged daughter, self after girl refused to come back home

July 4, 1940
Valhalla, New York
A man shoots and kills his 15-year-old daughter when she refused to leave a school “for girls with problems” to live with him

Joseph Moshell arrived at his daughter Melba’s school, though she was hesitant to see him. When she reluctantly met with him, he lamented to one of the school’s Sisters “See, she doesn’t love me!” and demanded she return home with him before he drew a pistol and shot Melba in the chest. He fired twice more: one bullet lodged in his own chest while another was unable to be found. Melba died from the shooting while her father managed to survive.

It was discovered during the investigation that Melba’s mother had died 8 months before and so the teen was placed with her father. She was then sent to the boarding school after complaining of mistreatment by her father, including an attempted assault three months prior to her murder.

Morshell pleaded not guilty in July of 1940, was convicted in March of 1941, and was scheduled to be executed in January of 1942. His sentence was commuted to life at the eleventh hour.

Clipping: The Bakersfield Californian. July 5, 1950

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