Annals of Crime #39

Original Caption:

Youths Confess Murder of Druggist

Brooklyn -- This youthful quartet from the notorious Navy Yard gang confessed yesterday that they took part in the attempted robbery in which Paul J. Gillman, druggist, was slain in his store at Court and Amity Streets. Yesterday the youthful gunmen re-enacted the crime in detail, under heavy police guard, for Assistant District Attorney Wilson. They are left to right: Stephen Collins, John Keogh, William J. Evans and Frank Evans. (1922)


Kyle said...

But what about the fifth boy?

Tommy O'C said...

The NY Times on ProQuest reported that Gillman was found dead, shot through the heart, on the night of February 23. 1922.

The Times said four boys were alleged to have confessed. The Grand Jury that indicted them on 1st Degree Murder commended the police officers credited with solving the case. Of one of the officers, Sergeant Brosnan, the Grand Jury stated, “Of course, Mr. Brosnan’s record is an open book in the department. We who have served on Grand Juries before know that he can get information that is unavailable to others in the department.” Holy third degree, Batman.

The police ultimately rounded up a total of ten “youthful robbers” who were part of a gang said to have participated in a series of drug store hold-ups over a period of six months. Of the four who confessed to Gillman’s murder, William J. Evans, 22, said he actually killed Gillman when the druggist struggled with robber, whose gun went off. Evans said that the gang relied on him to commit murder because he was a consumptive, did not have long to live, and had no fear of the electric chair.

During the trial, Evans claimed that he went to the drugstore to rob it but was drunk at the time, couldn’t remember what happened, and that his confession was obtained by “forcible means.” He was sentenced to be executed. His brother, Frank, received twenty years to life. Their two accomplices, Keogh, age 16, and Collins, age 20, were sentenced to ten to twenty years each.

Evans was put to death in the electric chair at Sing Sing late on the evening of April 20, 1923, despite a written plea to Governor Alfred Smith that he receive a thirty day reprieve so that he could see his young son for the first time, who was about to turn one-year old.

It would seem that Keogh, the youngest, is the individual numbered "1" and the names in the caption read left to right, with the fifth man being unidentified.

Kyle said...

nice sleuth-work Tommy. I sorta forgot that I could look this stuff up by myself with the magic of the internet. I guess my question was silly, seeing how that was a police lineup. I was just baffled by the captioner's lack of explanation of the 5th person.

Tommy O'C said...

Not silly at all, Kyle. I just happen to have access to ProQuest, and even then it took a bit of searching. I'm not sure I would have found anything at all otherwise.

swac said...

The fifth man looks kind of like Brad Pitt. Is this some bizarre form of viral marketing for his upcoming Bobby Button movie?

(Just kidding...although I note these guys look exactly like the characters in Once Upon a Time in America. I wonder if Leone used this pic for research?)