How the Gophers got 'Patsy Doyle'
On this date in 1914...
William Moore, better known by his Manhattan gangland alias of "Patsy Doyle," was relaxing at his favorite West Side watering hole early Saturday evening, November 28, 1914, when the bartender called him to the telephone. Moore had been chatting with two women but left them to take the phone call at about seven-thirty. The bartender overheard a portion of the brief conversation that followed. It sounded like Moore was arranging a meeting. "That's the man I'm looking for," the gangster said, "and I'll be here."
|NY Times, Nov. 29, 1914.|
Committing to remain in a particular location while in the middle of a gang war - effectively putting himself "on the spot" - was not Moore's best idea, but evidently he felt comfortable in his surroundings and considered himself beyond the reach of his enemies in Owen "the Killer" Madden's Gophers gang. The base of Madden's Gophers was nearly a mile away.
A short time later, about eight-thirty, Moore was approached by twenty-two-year-old Margaret Everdeane. Everdeane had recently ended a relationship with Moore's lieutenant, William "Willie the Sailor" Mott, prefering to hang out with Owen Madden's faction and a Madden aide named Arthur "the King" Stein. (Mott was reportedly an active-duty U.S. seaman, who lost Everdeane when his vessel took him from New York harbor into action in the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, Mexico.) Mott was determined either to get her back or punish her in some severe way for her disloyalty. He had just sent her an ultimatum letter and was awaiting a reply.
Everdeane greeted Moore, slipped him a note and then left the saloon. A more experienced underworld figure might have been alarmed that Everdeane knew his location, particularly given her recent fondness for Madden's Gophers. But this too seems not to have troubled him.
Moore might have thought that the note was intended to be passed along to "Willie the Sailor," a response to the ultimatum, but he found that it was for him, written by his own ex-paramour Frieda Horner, who over the summer had left Moore to become Madden's mistress (Madden was married to another woman, with whom he had a baby girl).
After the loss of Horner, an enraged Moore lashed out at whatever Madden men he happened to find. He beat up several of them. When Tony Romanello, of 431 West Thirty-sixth Street, made the mistake of taunting Moore about the relationship on August 19, Moore stabbed him. Moore would have gone to prison for the stabbing, but Romanello refused to cooperate with prosecutors and went into hiding rather than appear in court.
In the note passed by Everdeane, Frieda Horner expressed an interest in returning to Moore. What Moore thought of the idea was never revealed; he had no time to express it.
At about eight-forty, three Madden men, reportedly John Vincent "Hoppo" McArdle (also called Thomas McArdle, some say he became known as "Hoppo" or "Hoppy" because of opium use, while others suggest the nickname sprang from a leg disability), Arthur "Jimmy Ward" Bieler and William Mulhall, entered Otner Brothers saloon (also known as Nash's saloon), 640 Eighth Avenue just north of Forty-first Street. McArdle pointed out Moore, and Bieler drew a pistol and fired two bullets into Moore's chest.
The Madden men quickly left the saloon, headed south on Eighth Avenue, turned west on Thirty-ninth Street and disappeared into some tenements near Ninth Avenue.
In his final seconds, Moore turned, moved through a side door and staggered up a stairway leading to apartments over the saloon. He collapsed and fell dead on the stairs.
Early accounts of the "Patsy Doyle" killing contained a number of details later shown to be errors.
New York County Coroner Israel Lewis Feinberg repeatedly pulled the investigation in an incorrect direction by insisting that the shooting death of Moore was connected somehow with the murder of independent poultryman Barnet Baff at West Washington Market a few days earlier. Feinberg's efforts resulted in a number of confused press accounts. The local press proved itself capable of confusing things all on its own.
The morning after the murder, the Brooklyn Standard Union
reported that Moore was killed following a drunken squabble over the Great War, recently erupted in Europe.
|Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 29, 1914.|
The New York Times
reported that Moore was killed as he was on his way out of the saloon and that he was attacked by five gunmen. The idea that Moore was leaving probably grew out of his final position on the stairs. Feinberg later resolved the issue by indicating that Moore moved out of an unconscious reflex after being shot.
The New York Sun
described the attack as a two-way gunfight, in which Moore's attackers were fired upon and wounded by some of Moore's men.
While the coroner continued to try to link the Moore and Baff murders, the police were convinced that Moore was killed as the result of West Side gang warfare. They initially took six witnesses in for questioning. These included saloon staff and proprietor Morris Otner (Morris partnered with his brother Oscar in a number of alcohol-related businesses in Manhattan). These witnesses were released after questioning.
Detectives then began rounding up Gophers gang members. By the end of the month of November, nine gang members were in custody, held at the West Thirty-Seventh Street Police Station as material witnesses. Police attention then turned to several women who had knowledge of the Moore killing.
These women were Horner, nineteen, of 355 East Eighty-first Street; Everdeane, of 355 West Forty-third Street; Mrs. Edwin Hill, twenty-six, of 2299 Eighth Avenue; Mary O'Donnell, twenty-six, of the same Eighth Avenue address; and Josephine Moore of West Twentieth Street.
Hill and O'Donnell appear to be the women who were speaking with Moore at the saloon when he was summoned to the telephone call. Horner and Everdeane were the women who had jilted Moore and Mott in favor of Madden gangsters. Josephine Moore identified herself as the widow of the slain man.
Fear, jealousy and a bit of chivalry merged into detectives' working theory of the case, though vengeance and underworld rivalry were probably bigger factors. Detectives reasoned that Horner and Everdeane had been threatened by their ex-lovers. They and Buckley communicated the threats to Madden's gang. Madden supposedly sought to protect the women - and avenge harms previously done to them - by acting against Moore and Mott. Madden hoped to use the women to locate his targets and hold them in place while he dispatched gunmen to eliminate them.
Looking into Moore's background, police found that he previously lived in Brooklyn, where he was briefly associated with the Red Onion Gang of Myrtle Avenue. He reportedly had been convicted of selling narcotics (one source says he was convicted of carrying firearms) around 1912 and served a prison sentence. Following his release from prison, he moved to Manhattan's West Side, where some said he associated with the Hudson Dusters gang and others indicated his membership in a branch of the Gophers at war with Madden.
On December 16, 1914, indictments for first-degree murder were returned against Owen Madden, Arthur Bieler and John McArdle. William Mulhall had escaped. The indictments were announced by Assistant District Attorney Walter Deuel at a long-delayed inquest presided over by Coroner Feinberg.
The first Gopher defendants to be tried were Bieler and McArdle, charged with direct involvement in the killing of Moore. Their cases went before Judge Thomas Crain in General Sessions Court early in 1915.
Bieler employed a bit of trickery to ensure that neither he nor McArdle would be convicted of first-degree murder and face the death penalty. He offered to make a full confession and assist in the prosecution of the other defendants in exchange for a plea deal on the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.
The deal was arranged. and Bieler was convicted and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He was brought to the witness stand to testify about McArdle's role in the crime. But Bieler's testimony put the entire blame for the Moore murder on himself. He claimed that McArdle, unaware of Bieler's anger toward Moore and unaware that Bieler was armed, merely pointed out Moore for him. Bieler stated that he was carrying a pistol not intending to use it against Moore but for personal safety at a dance later in the evening. (Gang violence frequently erupted at dances, also known as "rackets.") When he approached Moore, Bieler said, a shot was fired at him and he drew his weapon and fired it in self-defense.
McArdle was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Bieler was received at Sing Sing on March 26. McArdle was received there on April 7.
|NY Evening World, May 24, 1915|
Owen Madden's murder trial began May 24 in General Sessions before Judge Charles Nott. He was charged with ordering and supervising the murder of Moore. He was represented by attorney Charles Colligan, a former prosecutor.
Assistant District Attorney W.H.L. Edwards delivered the opening statement for the prosecution. In it, Edwards said Madden set out to kill Moore because he considered him "a rat." According to Edwards, Madden was known to have said, "I have had it planned to croak Patsy Doyle because he is a squealer... When he had a fight he called a cop and I wouldn't dare trust him."
The state's key witnesses were "Willie the Sailor" Mott, Margaret Everdeane and Frieda Horner. While they had sought Madden's protection from Moore and Mott, Everdeane and Horner evidently did not want to see anyone killed. Their feelings about Madden and his gang changed abruptly following Moore's death.
Mott testified that he personally saw Madden waiting across the street from the saloon where Moore was shot. Everdeane and Horner told of their changing relationships with West Side gangsters. Everdeane said she responded to Mott's threatening letter by going to Madden's gang hangout, a lunchroom at Thirty-third Street and Tenth Avenue and speaking about it directly to Madden. Madden then hatched the plan to attack Moore and Mott in the saloon.
According to her testimony, Mott saw her in the saloon and immediately took her outside. That may have saved his life.
Horner testified about the conflict between Moore and Madden. She said that, when Moore was released following the Romanello stabbing, Madden sent him a note revealing that "Madden had got him out of trouble..., so that he could have the pleasure of getting Patsy himself."
Horner admitted that she telephoned Moore at the saloon the night he was killed.
On cross examination, prosecutors established that Horner had altered her story between the McArdle and Madden trials. Horner said that she lied in the earlier case but was being truthful in the Madden trial.
|Madden (back row, center) and his Gophers.|
Bieler and McArdle were brought from Sing Sing by the defense to testify that Madden was not near saloon when Moore was shot. Madden gangsters Owen Lawlor, "Dodie" Fitzsimmons and Martin Ellis testified that Madden had not been aware of Mulhall, Bieler and McArdle heading out to the saloon because Madden was not at his lunchroom headquarters that night.
As the defense brought its case to a close on May 31, Madden took the stand in his own defense. He claimed that he had not been involved in the Moore shooting and had not been near his lunchroom or the saloon that night. That Saturday night, he went to a dance at Park Avenue and Fifty-first Street and then to another dance in the Bronx. He returned to Manhattan about two o'clock the next morning.
Madden got into an argument with prosecutor Deuel during cross examination. He stood up and accused the assistant district attorney of trying to frame him: "I'm not getting a fair chance. Why can't you give me a fair show? You might as well take me out and kill me and get it over with!" The gang boss completed his outburst by kicking over the witness chair. Judge Nott ordered that Madden be taken out of the courtroom and then called a recess.
The defendant was more composed when court resumed. He answered most of the questions put to him on cross examination by claiming he did not remember.
Madden's jury went into deliberations on June 2. After seven hours, the verdict was returned.
|NY Tribune, June 3, 1915 (shows Madden, Everdeane, Horner).|
Conviction and sentence
Reporters noted that Madden seemed anxious about the verdict and then relieved to learn that he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. That conviction called for a lengthy prison sentence but removed the possibility of an end in the electric chair.
He was sentenced on June 8. Before announcing the punishment, Judge Nott spoke to Madden, discussing his foreign birth (he was born in Leeds, England, to Irish parents) and his youth in New York City. Two versions of the judge's remarks were published in the press.
The New York Sunday News
quote - containing an error about Madden being born in New York - read:
You are a young man, only 23 years old. You were born and brought up in a great city with good schools for your education and every chance to be a comfort to your family, but you chose deliberately a career of crime. Such a course brings its own reward and you are to receive it now. You meet the fate of all who choose to make of themselves menaces to the public welfare and nuisances to the citizens of New York.
The New York Press
recalled the statement differently but perhaps more correctly:
The sentence I am about to pronounce is going to be such that I hope it will be a warning to men of Madden's class. He had all the advantages of an education in this city, coming here as a small lad, but he disregarded those advantages. He belongs to a class that has for years terrorized the section in which he lives. He did not work, and in some way or another he lived. I have examined the testimony in the case thoroughly and I find no extenuating circumstances. Madden has been such a pest in the neighborhood and an annoyance to God-fearing and honest citizens that I feel, however disagreeable the circumstances, I must give him the limit.
Judge Nott sentenced Madden to the maximum penalty allowed under the law, a period of ten to twenty years in prison. Madden began his term at Sing Sing on June 16.
But the story of the "Patsy Doyle" murder case does not end there. In October, the state's key witnesses against Madden changed their views of events and supported Madden's request for a new trial.
Interestingly, Margaret Everdeane and Frieda Horner, the women who had been involved with Moore the faction and then switched to the Madden group and then testified against Madden at trial, went to Judge Nott and admitted to lying on the stand. (This was a more troublesome position for Horner, who had admitted to lying in the McArdle matter before reversing herself in the Madden case.)
Even Moore's buddy, "Willie the Sailor," recanted. He claimed that he lied about seeing Madden near the saloon when Moore was killed. He did so, he told Judge Nott, because that is what Assistant District Attorney Deuel wanted him to say. Willie Mott, removed from duty in order to participate in the case, was prepared to say whatever was necessary in order to get out of the trial and back aboard his ship. Mott revealed that Deuel paid him $60 before the trial as compensation for the pay he was losing as a Navy gunner.
Everdeane and Horner told the judge that they, too, were compelled to testify falsely by Deuel. Everdeane claimed that Deuel wrote out her testimony and delivered it through a Marian M. Goldman, who instructed her to memorize it.
Judge Nott saw no reason to believe the recanting witnesses. On November 4, he denied Madden's request for a new trial and denounced Everdeane, Horner and Mott for falsely accusing public officials of wrongdoing. That day, Everdeane and Horner were arrested on perjury warrants and locked up in the Tombs prison. They were indicted on charges of perjury a few days later. (The outcome of the perjury cases is unknown.)
Owen Madden did not serve his entire prison term at Sing Sing. His registration card for the U.S. World War I draft was filed from Auburn State Prison. He was soon transferred back to Sing Sing and then was paroled from there in 1923, after serving about seven years of the ten-to-twenty-year sentence.
His time in prison kept him from the underworld hazards and the underworld rewards of the opening years of the Prohibition Era. But he was released just at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance. Madden became a part owner of a number of popular Harlem entertainment spots, including the famous Cotton Club. It is said that he became involved in organizing bootlegging activity and gambling.
In the early 1930s, Madden was sent back to Sing Sing for a year as a parole violator. Following his release in July 1933, he turned his attention to the spa city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. That city - specifically 506 West Grand Street - was his home for much of the rest of his life. He died of lung disease at Hot Springs on April 24, 1965.
- Asbury, Herbert, The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing, 1928, p. 352-355.
- Levins, Peter, "Justice versus Owney Madden," New York Sunday News, Nov. 6, 1932, p. 52.
- "Arthur Bieler," World War I Draft Registration Card, No. 606, Sing Sing Prison, Westchester County, New York, June 5, 1917.
- "Doyle witnesses give Baff clues," New York Tribune, Dec. 7, 1914, p. 12.
- "Dry padlocks snapped on nine wet doors; 'Owney' Madden's 'Club' is one of them," New York Times, June 23, 1925, p. 23.
- "Gangsters seek writs to gain their freedom," New York Evening World, Dec. 14, 1914, p. 4.
- "Gangsters take stand to prove alibi for Madden," New York Evening World, May 28, 1915, p. 12.
- "Girl acted as lure in a gang killing," New York Times, May 27, 1915, p. 20.
- "Girl admits luring a man to his death," New York Press, May 27, 1915, p. 3.
- "Girl death Delilah to 2 gang Samsons," New York Press, May 28, 1915, p. 12.
- "Girl says she lied when told to do so at murder trial," New York Evening World, Oct. 7, 1915, p. 2.
- "Girl tells how gang victim was lured to death," New York Evening World, May 27, 1915, p. 3.
- "Girl tells jury she gave signal for gang murder," New York Evening World, May 26, 1915, p. 1.
- "Girl's taunt sent gunmen to killing," New York Times, May 28, 1915, p. 6.
- "Girls arrested for perjury in murder case," Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 4, 1915, p. 10.
- "Girls in Owney Madden case indicted," New York Evening World, Nov. 8, 1915, p. 3.
- "Girls link murders of Baff and Doyle," New York Sun, Dec. 7, 1914, p. 12.
- "Guards district attorney," New York Times, May 29, 1915, p. 11.
- "James Ward," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 65324, received March 26, 1915.
- "John McArdle," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 65887, received April 7, 1915.
- "Killed gunman and then danced, Bielder asserts," New York Evening World, March 18, 1915, p. 8.
- "Madden convicted of manslaughter," New York Sun, June 3, 1915, p. 14.
- "Madden gets limit for gang murder," New York Press, June 9, 1915, p. 14.
- "Madden gets ten to twenty years," New York Tribune, June 9, 1915, p. 16.
- "Madden on trial as promoter of murder," New York Sun, May 25, 1915, p. 11.
- "Owen Madden," World War I Draft Registration Card, No. 255 (No. 123 N.Y. City is written on top), June 5, 1917.
- "Owen Madden sentenced," New York Sun, June 9, 1915, p. 7.
- "Owen V. Madden," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 66164, received June 16, 1915.
- "'Owney' Madden arrested in Baff murder quest," New York Tribune, Dec. 1, 1914, p. 14.
- "Owney Madden goes on trial for murder," New York Evening World, May 24, 1915, p. 3.
- "Owney Madden is put on defensive," New York Sun, May 28, 1915, p. 5.
- "Owney Madden, 73, ex-gangster, dead," New York Times, April 24, 1965, p. 1.
- "Owney Madden, found guilty in gang killing, escapes chair by manslaughter verdict," New York Tribune, June 3, 1915, p. 14.
- "Owney Madden's girl witnesses held for perjury," New York Evening World, Nov. 4, 1915, p. 8.
- "Says love led to band murder," New York Herald, May 25, 1915, p. 6.
- "Shot dead by five men," New York Times, Nov. 29, 1914, p. 13.
- "Shot dead in row over armies of war," Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 29, 1914, p. 1.
- "Slayer, he tells jury, but it finds his friend guilty," New York Herald, March 19, 1915, p. 6.
- "Takes back testimony against Owen Madden," New York Sun, Oct. 19, 1915, p. 5.
- "Ten trapped in Baff murder," New York Tribune, Dec. 17, 1915, p. 5.
- United States Census of 1920, Westchester County, Town of Ossining, Enumeration District 159, Sing Sing Prison.
- "William Moore," New York City Extracted Death Index, certificate no. 33926, Nov. 28, 1914.
- "Woman held as Doyle witness; hunt gangmen," New York Sun, Nov. 30, 1914, p. 5.
- "Woods to direct detective bureau," New York Tribune, Dec. 10, 1914, p. 3.