Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Suspects, More Clues

     On the afternoon of February 12, 1896, two more students from the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes were arrested "on suspicion of being implicated in the murder" of art teacher, Max Eglau.  The new prisoners were William Fitzgerald, aged 20 and his younger brother James, 18 years old.  The lived with their parents at 37 W 92nd St and attended the institution as day scholars.
     In the coal bin of the blacksmith's shop located on the first floor of the school, the police found a handkerchief, a pair of cuffs with spots of blood and a pistol.  There was the appearance that an effort had been made to conceal the evidence.  The police found it anyway after digging through the coals and had identified it as property belonging to William Fitzgerald.  The cuffs had been shown to William's mother who said that they looked like cuffs her son had worn.  William claimed to have lost the cuffs about two years ago yet a laundry mark on the inside of the cuffs identified the laundryman and that laundry had been in existence only three or four months.  The pistol was identified as William's by another boy in school who said that he saw William have a pistol just like the one the police found.  William denied owning a pistol.
     These two new suspects had nothing to do with the three who were already arrested nor did it clear away the suspicion.  The pupils who were taken into custody on the day of the murder were still being held.  Captain Casey did not allow the boys to speak to anyone on the outside.
     Edward J. Wolfe, Peter's father, found out about his son's arrest from the newspaper.  Mr Wolfe told Captain Casey that Peter was a day pupil who studied hard, liked the school and the teacher.  He also said that his son was the kindest and most loving child who wouldn't hurt a fly.  He was sure that his boy wasn't involved in the murder.
     Mr Wolfe had barely left the police station when Adolph Pflander's brother Charles came in.  He had heard about the arrest from a fireman at their neighborhood firehouse.  He was very upset that his parents were not notified.
     Edward Eck's mother arrived soon after Charles left.  She spoke to the detectives working the case and explained that her son was home with her until 3:00pm on Monday, February 10th and not at the institution at the time of the murder.  The police questioned Mrs Eck thoroughly and seemed satisfied with her story.  They told her that she needn't be afraid.  Mrs Eck left but wondered why her boy was still locked up and why she couldn't see him.
     The police had apparently given up any thoughts that the murderer could be someone outside the school.  They had not looked for anybody else and confined their work to the students.

Library of Congress historical newspapers:

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