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.
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.
One 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.