People v. Furlong

Decision Date15 January 1907
Citation79 N.E. 978,187 N.Y. 198
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Appeal from Court of General Sessions, New York County.

Frank Furlong was convicted of murder in the first degree, and appeals. Affirmed.

Edward T. Bartlett, J., dissenting.

John F. Cowan, for appellant.

William Travers Jerome, Dist. Atty. (Robert C. Taylor, of counsel), for the People.


The defendant has been convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree in having killed Margaret Keeler. The brief filed in the defendant's behalf on the appeal to this court commences with the following statement: ‘There is no dispute as to the facts and circumstances of the homicide. They would justify the conclusion that the homicide was either a brutal murder, or the act of a lunatic.’ On the 28th day of November, 1904, Margaret Keeler lived with her husband and two children in one of three apartments on the second floor of No. 82 East 115th street in the city of New York. On that morning her husband left the house at 10 minutes before 7 o'clock and did not return until after the homicide. After her husband left she called her two children and served their breakfast, and they then went to school. One of the children left the house for school about 25 minutes before 9 o'clock, and he says that his mother was then helping his sister put on her coat and that his sister left the house a minute later than he did, leaving his mother alone in the house. The children returned from school that day about 10 minutes after 12 o'clock, and found the doors of the apartment locked. The janitress of the building gave them some lunch and they returned to school. They returned to the apartment again about 10 minutes after 3 o'clock. As they were then unable to get into the apartment they called the janitress, and the three tried to open the doors, but were unable to do so, and they went into an adjoining apartment, and one of the children went on the fire escape to a window of the Keeler apartment and opened it, and so entered their kitchen. On the floor of the kitchen he found a pool of blood, and in the blood were two combs that had been worn by his mother. He went into one of the bedrooms, and there he found his mother lying on the bed, dead. The kitchen door was locked and the key was in the lock. The parlor door was locked and the key had been removed. Mrs. Keeler lay on the bed with her face down, her head was toward the foot of the bed, in a pool of blood, and one of her feet was between the bars at the head of the bed. Her hair was down and matted with blood. The homicide was reported to the police, and they came to the apartment and found the pools of blood and the body of Mrs. Keeler as stated. The tablecloth on the table in the kitchen and the chairs near it had blood stains and finger-marks on them, and near the pool of blood in the kitchen they found an iron bar on which were blood and pieces of human hair which resembled the hair of Mrs. Keeler. The autopsy showed 12 lacerated and ragged wounds on the front and top of the scalp. Eight of these wounds extended through the scalp to the skull, and four of them included a compound comminuted fracture of the skull and lacerations of the brain. The fractures of the skull included compound comminuted fractures of the frontal bone and depressed fractures of the left parietal and left temporal bones. Her face was blackened over the eyes, and there was a lacerated wound over the second joint of the index finger of the right hand about one inch in length. Death was caused by the fractures of the skull and injuries to the brain. The wounds could have been made by the iron bar that was found by the pool of blood. The condition of the body at the time it was found indicated that death had occurred several hours before. When Mr. Keeler left the house in the morning, Mrs. Keeler had earrings in her ears, two rings on her fingers, and there was on the sideboard in the apartment a purse with a small amount of money therein, and there was also in the apartment a watch and chain belonging to one of the children. When Mrs. Keeler was discovered after the homicide, the ear and finger rings were missing, the money had been removed from the purse, and the watch and chain could not be found. The defendant at the time of the homicide was about 19 years of age. He was a nephew of Mrs. Keeler, and came to visit the Keelers occasionally, and when he did so Mrs. Keeler generally gave him his breakfast or his meal, or whatever he wanted.

On the morning of the homicide a woman who lived in one of the apartments adjoining that of Mrs. Keeler started about half past 9 o'clock to go from her apartment to the floor below, and when she arrived at the stairs in the hallway she met a young man whose description corresponds with that of the defendant. He went in the direction of the door of the Keeler apartment, and she heard him knock. The woman proceeded to the floor below and did not see any more of the young man. About 20 minutes past 10 o'clock on the day of the homicide a young man, who had been accustomed frequently to meet and go around with the defendant, met him at 117th street and Third avenue in front of an oyster booth, where he was talking with a little boy. The defendant gave the boy a 10-cent piece, and then asked the young man who there met him to go into a saloon and have a drink with him. They went in the saloon and had a drink, and the defendant asked the others in the saloon, including the barkeeper, to have a drink. The defendant told the young man that he was going up to a poolroom, referring to a place where they had been accustomed to meet, and the young man met him there shortly afterwards, and they commenced playing pool together. The young man said that he noticed that the defendant was ‘acting kind of queerly,’ and that he asked him repeatedly what was the matter, without getting any reply, and that after asking him three or four times the defendant said, ‘Oh! There is nothing the matter with me, just let me enjoy myself,’ and he afterwards said that defendant's words were, ‘Let me enjoy myself to-day.’ He continued to ask the defendant what was the matter and the defendant showed him a spot on his trousers and said, ‘That ought to tell you.’ The spot on his trousers was above the knee on the left leg, and it was a dark red spot, and the young man said to the defendant, ‘That don't tell me anything,’ and the defendant said, ‘All right, never mind, come on and shoot pool.’ The defendant appeared to be sick and went into the toilet and vomited, and the manager of the poolroom asked him what was the matter, and the defendant said, ‘You will read about it in the papers to-morrow.’ He continued playing pool and showed the young man a pair of earrings and a finger ring, and he said: ‘There is nothing the matter, only I have got to have some money.’ He asked the young man to pawn them for him, but the young man refused. After remaining in the poolroom until about half past 3 o'clock in the afternoon he went to a pawnbroker's and pawned the earrings, giving the name of ‘Smith,’ and received $15 thereon. During the afternoon a ring was pawned at the same pawnbroker's, and at other brokers in the same avenue another ring and a watch and chain were pawned. The pawnbrokers who took the property other than the earrings were unable to identify the person from whom they received the property. The earrings and the finger rings which the defendant showed to the young man in the poolroom on the day of the homicide and all the property mentioned as having been pawned were fully identified as the rings and property taken from the Keeler apartment. Mr. Keeler also testified that the iron bar found in the kitchen had not been in the apartment prior to that day. The defendant was not in the places where he had been accustomed to spend his time after November 28th to December 3d, when he came into the poolroom where he had played pool on November 28th, hatless and wearing different trousers than those that he had worn when he was there the last time, and on leaving the poolroom he was arrested. The officers of the police department had been in constant search for him from the evening of November 28th until the time when he was arrested.

To the officer who made the arrest, and also to the officers at police headquarters, he talked freely. The officer who arrested the defendant asked him if he killed his aunt and he replied: ‘No, I didn't do anything.’ But he admitted to the officer that he had taken the rings and jewelry from his aunt and pawned them. At the police headquarters he was questioned by a detective sergeant in the presence of two other officers. The defendant was first told that anything he might say would be used against him in court. The examination was taken by a stenographer, and after it was typewritten the defendant read it over and signed it. In that statement he said that he took the earrings out of the ears of Mrs. Keeler and the rings from her fingers while she was lying on the floor of the kitchen in her apartment. He also said that he took 37 cents out of a pocketbook which he found on the sideboard in the bedroom off the parlor, and that he took the silver watch from the drawer of the dresser in the same bedroom where he got the money. He said he went out of the door of the apartment and took the key and put it in his pocket, and then went to the saloon at 117th street and Third avenue, and he stated with some detail what he did there and at the poolroom. He told about pawning the jewelry and watch, and of showing the blood stains on his trousers to the young man who was at the poolroom with him, and he also said that after pawning the articles he went down to Houston street and exchanged the trousers that had the blood stains on them for another pair that he then put on, and that he obtained another hat.

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