In the late 19th and early 20th centuries getting away with murder was not a difficult thing in the United States of America. That was only beginning to change in the 1920's as police utilized forensic science to help solve murders that previously went undetected. During this same time one of the primary reasons for murder was insurance money. Crooked insurance salesmen and unscrupulous characters often worked in conjunction to place life insurance policies on relative strangers and murder them. This is a strange tale of one such plot.
Michael Malloy was an Irish immigrant living in New York that had fallen on hard times. He was at one time a firefighter, but now was a homeless alcoholic. He was a frequent visitor to a local speakeasy in the area. While prohibition had made owners of such illegal establishments rich since its implementation in 1920; there was a push to end the law with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Seeing their livelihood in danger; the owners were looking for a way to pad their bank accounts. The homeless man who drank himself unconscious frequently at their bar seemed the perfect target. Using connections with an insurance agent, they placed a $3,800 life insurance policy on Malloy($65,105 in today) and instantly started plotting his demise.
Initially they thought Mike Malloy would simply drink himself to death if given the chance. The speakeasy owners gave him unlimited drinks at the bar. Day after day, Malloy would show up the moment he was awake and drink until he passed out. It soon became clear that this would not work. So, they started substituting normal ethyl alcohol with denatured alcohol. Still...Malloy survived and came back every single day. Then they tried things like antifreeze(then a blue alcohol based fluid) and Turpentine. Still...Malloy lived. Finally they tried Methanol. Methanol was killing people left and right in Prohibition era New York...but it did not kill Malloy.
It was clear that if bad drink did not kill Malloy, then perhaps bad food would. They would get Malloy drunk and feed him all sorts of things attempting to kill him. They fed him spoiled fish and meat in sandwiches. At times these sandwiches contained things like shards of glass, rat poison, metal shavings, or even tacks. Mike Malloy would gobble them down with a smile and wash them down with tainted drink day after day. Clearly...the man had an iron stomach. More drastic measures were needed.
One winter night they decided to get Mike Malloy drunk and try to kill him with exposure. When Malloy passed out and the group of men carried him to a park and dumped him on a snowbank. Making sure to get the job done they soaked him with water first. The weather report shows that the temperature reached a low of about -15 degrees Farhenheit that night. The owners, feeling confident of their success were shocked when Mike came walking in the next day for his free drink showing no ill effects. Frustrated, they then upped the ante and ran him over with a car. Still Malloy lived. However, it did take him three weeks to recover from broken bones.
Finally Malloy's luck ran out on February 22nd, 1933. The owners again gave Mike enough free hooch to make him lose consciousness and then proceeded to stick a gas line in his mouth. What should have taken minutes to kill Malloy instead took roughly an hour. But finally Micheal Malloy was dead and the owners were able to collect their money. However, they were rather dumb about keeping quiet regarding the matter. This caused the authorities to look into the death of Michael Malloy and it was then they uncovered this macabre plot and the incredible durability of "Iron Mike" Malloy.
|News headline from 1933 detailing the trial of "The Murder Trust"|