Posts Tagged ‘Sing Sing executions’

A corrupt city cop is sent to the electric chair

November 25, 2013

CharlesbeckerThe NYPD has fielded lots of bad-apple police officers, especially in the notoriously crooked late 19th century.

But Lieutenant Charles Becker (left) went down in history as one of the most rotten.

Born in upstate Sullivan County, Becker worked as a bouncer at popular beer garden the Atlantic Garden on the Bowery.

After meeting corrupt state senator and Bowery fixture Big Tim Sullivan, he was able to buy an appointment on the force in 1893 for $250.

Like so many others, Becker became a cop on the make. Appointed to the vice squad, he patrolled the infamous sin district the Tenderloin, centered roughly between 23rd and 42nd Streets from Broadway to Eighth Avenue.

Hotelmetropole1900mcny2He took thousands in kickbacks from gambling houses and brothels in exchange for agreeing to keep police off their backs.

Then, in 1912, a minor gangster and casino owner named Herman “Beansy” Rosenthal blew the whistle on Becker.

Rosenthal and Becker had agreed that for a price, Becker would steer clear of Rosenthal’s Hesper Club casino on West 45th Street.

But Becker decided to have the private club raided to get on the good side of new police chief Rhinelander Waldo, a progressive reformer.

Two days after Rosenthal’s story hit the press, he was gunned down by four mobsters inside the Hotel Metropole on 43rd Street in Times Square (above, photo from the MCNY).

CharlesbeckersingsingDistrict Attorney Charles Whitman was sure Becker was behind Rosenthal’s murder. He had Becker transferred to desk duty in the Bronx, then placed under arrest.

After two first-degree murder convictions—the first verdict was overturned on appeal—Becker was brought to Sing Sing (left, heading from New York to prison).

In 1915, two years after the gangsters he hired met their fate in the electric chair, Becker was electrocuted as well. Charles Whitman, now governor of New York, signed his death warrant.

He execution lasted several minutes and surely caused Becker agony in his final moments. He maintained his innocence until the end.

The Lonely Hearts Killers of the 1940s

May 22, 2010

Ex-con Raymond Fernandez had a sociopathic way of meeting women: He would answer lonely hearts ads—the 1940s version of JDate and Craigslist—gain a single woman’s trust, and then rob her.

In 1947, he answered an ad placed by Florida resident Martha Beck, who promptly fell in love with him, abandoned her kids, and moved into his West 139th Street apartment.

She became his common-law wife and accomplice. Posing as his sister, she helped Fernandez romance and rob vulnerable single women via the lonely hearts ads around the country.  

Problem was, she’d become jealous, and that led her to start killing the women in a rage. 

From 1947 to 1949 she and Fernandez killed 20 women, police suspected. They were finally nabbed by police in Michigan when a young widow’s family became suspicious.

Extradited to New York, they stood trial for three murders. It was a sensational case in the summer of 1949, with lurid tabloid tales of sexual depravity and cracks about Beck’s weight.

Fernandez and Beck were convicted of all charges. Before being executed at Sing Sing in 1951, Fernandez’s last words were supposedly, “I love Martha! What do the public know about love?”

“Petty city thug” Francis “Two Gun” Crowley

April 28, 2010

Francis Crowley, nicknamed “Two Gun” because of the number of weapons he carried, had been in trouble with the law as a poor foster kid in Queens.

But he really amped up his bad-boy rep in February 1931, when he was 19, by shooting a couple of guys at a dance in the Bronx, then shooting a detective who tried to arrest him days later.

Over the next few months, Two Gun robbed a bank, burglarized the West 90th Street home of a wealthy real estate broker, and killed a dance-hall hostess.

His final crime: murdering a Long Island police officer. Days later, while hiding out with an accomplice in an Upper West Side apartment, hundreds of cops descended on the block, hell-bent on capturing Crowley.

After a two-hour gun and tear-gas battle at West End Avenue and 90th Street (above) witnessed by 15,000 New Yorkers, the police got their man. Crowley was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

His anti-police antics made him a popular national figure. But newspapers reported that he was a stupid street punk, “undersized, underchinned, underwitted” as a 1932 New York Times article states.

Only 20 when he was strapped into the chair at Sing Sing, his last words were reportedly, “You sons of bitches. Give my love to mother.”