A piece of cord busts a 1936 Manhattan murderer

BeekmanplacemurderOn April 10th, 1936, Nancy Titterton, a 34-year-old writer and book reviewer, was found dead in the empty bathtub in her apartment at 22 Beekman Place.

She’d been raped and strangled, her body left unclothed except for a pair of rolled-down stockings. The pajamas she’d worn the night before were wrapped around her neck.

The murder made headlines because it was so brutal. “There were signs of a struggle in the bedroom,” wrote Michael Kurland, author of Irrefutable Evidence: A History of Forensic Science.

Beekmanplace“Ligature marks on the victim’s wrists indicated that she had been tied up before she was raped, but the rope had apparently been cut off and taken away.”

Adding to the media fascination was the fact that Titterton was known in literary circles; her husband was an NBC bigwig.

Also, crimes so vicious just didn’t happen on posh Beekman Place, a two-block residential enclave in the East 50s (above photo).

Luckily police had evidence to work with. Underneath Titterton’s body in the bathtub was a 13-inch cord, similar to the cord of a Venetian blind.

They traced the cord to a Pennsylvania upholstery wholesaler. It just so happened that the two men who discovered Titterton’s body were from a local upholstery shop; they were delivering a couch to the apartment.

Fiorenza Leaves for Death HouseOne of the delivery men, the shop’s owner, was cleared. The other, a 24-year-old assistant named John Fiorenza, had spent time in prison for theft, where a psychiatrist labeled him a possible psychopath.

Police brought Fiorenza in for questioning. He admitted to raping and murdering Titterton, who he’d met the day before when he came to her apartment to pick up the couch.

“He claimed to have returned to the apartment convinced that Nancy Titterton had fallen for him during their brief encounter the day before,” wrote Kurland.

“When she rebuffed him, he became so furious he tied her up and raped her. . . . Afterward, he had strangled her and left her in the bathtub.”

Convicted of murder in a trial that started six weeks after the slaying, Fiorenza (at right, the morning of his execution) went to the electric chair at Sing Sing in January 1937.

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5 Responses to “A piece of cord busts a 1936 Manhattan murderer”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Got what he deserved. Nowadays, he’d spend decades in jail as his appeals went through, being fed and fattened while the wheels of justice moved along. What rot! Bring back Capital Punishment, give them what they deserve!

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    At first the jury was deadlocked; some wanted to go with an insanity plea. But the no-nonsense judge ordered them to go back to the jury room to reach a verdict.

  3. Makeout Says:

    @ Mick- yup it should move alot more quickly….

  4. Lady G. Says:

    If only justice was so swiftly met these days. I don’t understand when I see brutal murders like these committed (many much worse) and the person gets like 20 to life. Come on! The old insanity plea, this man was discovered to have psychopathic tendencies, but he still got the chair. New York needs to release that moratorium on the DP. I think it’s been there since the 60’s.

  5. Ricky Says:

    That would have been right around the time that Mame Dennis was living at 3 Beekman Place.

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