On This Day in 1920: Five face the chair at Sing Sing.


Normally Sing Sing’s electric chair, the legendary Old Sparky, accommodated single or double executions. Triples were less frequent, quadruples a rarity and very seldom did five convicts die on the same day. December 9 1920 was one of those days. State Electrician John Hurlburt (in the post since 1914) was firmly established as perhaps the …

On This Day in 1944: A bad day for Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter, a birthday present for Burton Turkus.


Convicted of ordering the murder of candy store owner Joseph Rosen, Buchalter and accomplice Emmanuel ‘Mendy’ Weiss and Louis Capone (no relation) stood before Judge Taylor in the Kings County Courthouse to hear their fate. With no recommendation for mercy there could only be one sentence; Death, and Lepke knew it. Sweating, glaring and with …

On This Day in 1885, NOT Roxalana Druse.


Roxalana Druse, convicted of brutally murdering husband William, would have entered New York State’s chronicles of crime on this day in 1885. The Empire State’s last woman to hang (and the first hanging in Herkimer County) she had been condemned on October 6. Her defence had been diminished capacity caused by William’s alleged abuse. Prosecution …

On This Day in 1958: Virgil Richardson, cop killer and Sing Sing’s 600th electrocution.


The chances are that former clerk Virgil Richardson isn’t a familiar name today. To NYPD officers in 1956 (and especially the family of Patrolman William Long) his name was all too familiar. Virgil Richardson was Patrolman Long’s murderer and later the 600th convict to sit in Sing Sing’s electric chair. Only fourteen more would follow …

On This Day in 1944, Helen Ray Fowler and George Knight.


Neither is likely to be familiar, especially murderer George Knight. Had Knight alone been condemned for the murder and robbery of William Fowler on 30 October 1943 neither would have been even a footnote in history. Helen Fowler would have disappeared into New York State’s penal system and obscurity. George Knight would probably have vanished …

On This Day in 1941, Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles does the Half-Moon Hop.


On the night of November 12, 1941. Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, once a senior member of Murder Inc. and now one of the most important canaries in American history, prepared a makeshift ladder from the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, New York. He was in protective custody preparing to turn …

On This Day in 1918; Privates Ernest Jackson and Louis Harris, Shot Four Days Before The Armistice.


Considering the time of year, it seemed appropriate to remember those who went to war but never came back. That and this isn't yet another extended plug for my new book. During the First World War the British Army passed over 3000 death sentences and carried out over 300 executions by firing squad. Around 10% …