Monday, July 18, 2011

Suspicious Scholars

We have the 'What'  -- Max Eglau's murder
We have the 'Where'  -- art studio on 4th floor of school
We have the 'When'  --  afternoon of February 10, 1896
We need the 'Who', 'Why', and 'How' to solve the case.

     Superintendent David Greene found professor Max Eglau lying dead on the floor of his art studio.  He immediately sent for the doctor and police.  The investigators started that afternoon and continued into the night with no one permitted to enter or exit the building except for police or any person belonging there.  Coroner Fitzpatrick, who had arrived at 7:00pm, was in the studio where the murder occurred, assisting Captain Casey until 9:00pm.  All the day scholars were permitted to return to their homes at 8:30pm, except for three of the older pupils who were placed under arrest and locked up in the East 67th Street police station under suspicion that they, or at least two of them, may have been the murderers.
      The suspects were Peter Wolfe, aged 18, a blacksmith who resided at 414 E 66th St; Adolph Pflander, aged 16, also a blacksmith who resided at 7 Extra Pl; and Edward Eck, aged 18, a vendor who resided at 154 W 25th St.  The suspicion against Peter Wolfe and Adolph Pflander were aroused from the fact that they worked for Mr Eglau in the studio.  Adolph received 50 cents a month to clean paintbrushes but was replaced by Peter when he became ill.  Adolph returned to work and he exchanged words with Mr Eglau the Saturday before the murder.  The police would not say how Edward Eck was connected with the murder or why they suspected him.
     When the police examined the studios after the murder they found in the painting room, near an easel, where Mr Eglau had been at work on a painting, part of a bone cuff button.  In Peter Wolfe's pocket they found the other part of the same button.  Nothing in the painting room had been disturbed.  There were only a few drops of blood in the painting room and those were near the door leading into the room.  Mr Eglau was found lying on his back in front of the door leading to the painting room.  On the floor beside him lay a shovel (the kind used for mixing clay).  in the modelling room a heavy short stepladder was found overthrown and among the tables was another blood smeared weapon.  This was a piece of hard wood about 18 inches long, square on one end and rounded at the other and used as a pestle in working with clay.  Right beside the door leading into the painting room in the wooden wainscoting was found a deep fresh cut and two dents beside the door, one in the wood of the door frame and one in the plaster beside it.  Coroner Fitzpatrick believes the attack started here.  The first blow struck with the shovel, missed its intended victim and cut into the wainscoting.  Then blow after blow until Mr Eglau was down and that last fatal blow kept him down.  There was blood oozing from the cuts in his head and neck, which seem to have been made by the sharp edges of the shovel, and his nose seem to have been crushed by a blow from the wooden pestle.  The wounds which seem to have been made by the shovel consisted of a long deep cut in the left side of the neck, another smaller cut just above this one, and a long deep cut which reached to the bone, almost squarely across the back of his head.  In one place on the floor was a large blood mark.  On one side of this mark was the print of a bloody right hand, and on the other side a similar print of a left hand.  Mr Eglau's thumb and another finger on the right hand were broken.
     Coroner Fitzpatrick didn't think any of the regular 'inmates' (students who 'live' at the school) had anything to do with the murder.  He said that the front door of the Institution was usually left open so anyone could walk in and through the building.  He also said that there was a fire escape to the yard opening from one of the windows in the painting room.  Coroner Fitzpatrick believed that whoever committed this murder was concealed in one of the rooms when Mr Eglau arrived and attacked him almost immediately.  The coroner also said that the murderer either entered the room from the fire escape or left that way because the window was closed but not fastened.
     It had been ascertained that all three boys under arrest were in their places at the dinner table.  The coroner suggested to Captain Casey that he ascertain whether they could have had time to have gone to Mr Eglau's room and committed the murder between the times when they left their different classes and when they appeared in the dining room.
     Coroner Fitzpatrick believed that the guilty person (or persons)was someone who had been an inmate of the school and knew their way around the building.

-these facts taken from the New York City newspaper, The Sun.;words=Max+Eglau?date1=1896&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=New+York&date2=1896&proxtext=max+eglau&y=16&x=18&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=5

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