Thursday, January 20, 2005


Pete Hamill, noted New York journalist, writes in his latest book, DOWNTOWN, about what murder means to the newspaperman.

�From the nineteenth century on, most New Yorkers knew that there were only a few basic scripts for murder. Some desperate fool with a rented gun would try a stickup, panic, and shoot the owner of the delicatessen. Another fool would try a mugging on a dark street and get gunned down himself when the victim turned out to be an off-duty cop. A busted-out gambler would be drinking in an after-hours club when a tall gunman and a shorter partner walked in with guns blazing. The cops, and the tabloids, would then send out an alarm for a Mutt-and-Jeff bandit team. The felons were always caught�.

His take on the newspapers angle on murder hits the mark. So is his analysis of murder notoriety.

�The truth is that human passion drove most homicides. One night in the early 1960�s, a sad-eyed detective named Ray Martin told me: �The biggest killer in New York? It�s not drugs. It�s not robbery. It�s not greed. It�s jealousy.� That seemed true then and remains true now. While there was so many of these crimes of passion not all of them made the newspapers, unless they fit into a special category: Murder at a Good Address.

A murder driven by jealousy on Park Avenue (in Manhattan) was bigger news than a similar murder in Brooklyn.� I�m sure our colleagues in Manhattan South will attest to this!

Murder at a good address. Sure to make a headline. If I may add my own comment here, murder on the subway also makes a great headline. A lot of people use the subway every day; people who have no idea what it looks like outside the station of Nostrand Avenue on the �A� line take a train that goes passed the station; a person who rides a subway � no matter how frequently � is immediately drawn to a newspaper story about a murder on the subway. (Just another one of those things �you learn new every day�).

Hamill notes further how, during the hey-day of crime in New York City (before the police officers were so �productive� and murders were driven below the 600 mark!) editors looked for some special twist in a story. �Concrete nouns, active verbs, and details � good details.�

Lamenting about a particularly slow �news day�, Hamill recalls standing around the city desk with the city editor remarking �what we need here is a good murder.� To which the city editor quickly commented, �At a good address.�


Generally speaking, body temperature will drop 3 degrees during the 1st hour after death, then 1 degree subsequent hours. This will continue until the body drops to room temperature. After approx 30 hours, the body temperature will begin to rise again.

That is why the MLI will take body temperature as well as the ambient temperature at the location.

Using this approximate - general - guide, and taking into consideration environmental factors (heat, cold, etc.) an ME will make an "estimate" concerning time of death.

It is important to remember that this is an estimate only.

At best, according to many experts, the estimate will be within 4 hours plus or minus. It's not as exact as they get on CSI, but will provide a general time frame.

It's always best to discuss time of death direct with the ME who performs the post mortem exam when such time of death is a critical factor. Don't leave it to the MPS Detective to pass on their version of the ME's determination; speaking to the doctor directly can help to clear up questions you may have.


Pete Schrammel of the 75 Squad made a recent contribution on an item of particular interest. This is an item that I make sure to cover on training presentations I give, to all new MOS and newly assigned investigators.

Often referred to by MOS, but not always easily defined, is the term ANI-ALI, or, as it is referred to over the air, �Annie Alley�.This is actually a technical term from derived from the telephone company, that has to do with the 911 enhanced system that provides information on the calls made to the 911 system.And what is the ANI-ALI, you ask?

ANI : Automatic Number Identification (the callback #)
ALI : Automatic Location Identification (Address/Cross streets of caller)

Pete is right, that a lot of people may not know the origin of ANI/ALI.

I recall reading a DD5 submitted from a detective who indicated that he interviewed the 911 caller, a �Mr. Ani Ali�, at the location.

I guess you may be able to add this into the file that You Learn Something New Everyday?


In the latter part of the 1800's when NYPD "Patrolmen" were being paid $600 annually, those patrolmen holding the rank of "Bicycle Patrolmen" received $100 more each year.

At the same time, those who were "Mounted Patrolmen" were paid a whopping $800 a year for a 100 plus hour work week, including reserve time in the station house.

When a "Mounted Patrolman" got transferred from one precinct to another precinct his horse and all its equipment went with that patrolman to his new command. Each horse and the saddle, etc. was assigned to a specific police officer, and when you were transferred, your horse and all its equipment went with you as specified on the orders.

You were responsible for the care and grooming of that horse and you attended to that horse's welfare on your own off-duty time when necessary. In most cases when a patrolman was transferred from one command to another, not only was the command specified, but the assigned patrol post was also specifically assigned on the orders. Roundsmen and Sergeants also had to care for their own mounted steed, but Captains were excused and their horses were assigned to a patrolman or hostler for care and feeding. Note that there was no rank of lieutenant on the job at the time.

Close formation mounted drill and riot control was held each Sunday morning for the entire department for all mounted patrolmen that had just worked the late tour.

Late tours in the 1800's were for six hours and ended at 0600 hours. The 3 hour mounted drill started at 0900 hours and was usually conducted in Central Park.

Furthermore, you were expected to drill and get there and back, all on your own off-duty time.

When the weather was inclement, the training was conducted in the West 66th Street Armory. (Now an WABC TV studio between CPW and Columbus Ave.) in today's 20 Precinct.

When the NYPD opened its new mounted training school with 45 horses and new stables on August 1, 1905, mounted training for the entire department was then moved to Richardson Ave. and East 241 Street in the 47 Precinct.

Also, the Brooklyn Police Department also had its own Mounted Squad, which was established on April 3, 1875 with its stables and headquarters on Bergen Street, just off Flatbush Avenue.

(Thanks to Mike Bosak for that contribution).


On January 18, 1935 Ptl. James J. Killion #6906 of the 17th Pct was killed in the line of duty.

At about 7 pm, Jan. 18, 1935, while on patrol duty Ptl. Killion and Ptl. Walter B. Curtis interrupted a robbery at a leather goods store at 548 5th Ave. Manhattan.

Four bandits were holding up the store when the officers entered the store. Shots were exchanged and Ptl. Killion was hit and fell to the floor. His assailant ran from the store, and after a short chase was caught by a Mounted Patrolman Henry J. Ferger, Mtd Sqd No. 1.

Back at the store the gunfight between the remaining three bandits and Ptl. Walter Curtis continued. When Ptl. Curtis cornered the bandits in a rear room he threatened to blow their heads off; the three surrendered, not knowing that Curtis had fired his last round and was out of ammunition.

Curtis with the assistance of Ptl. Henry Quinn, Traffic D, disarmed and arrested the bandits.

Ptl. Killion was rushed to Polyclinic Hospital where he died the same day.

Ptl. Killion was appointed to the NYPD on Sept. 27, 1929. He was 30 years old, married with two children.

On May 27, 1936, a posthumous award of the NYPD Medal of Honor was presented to his widow, Mrs. Nellie Thompson Killion, at City Hall Plaza by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia.

Ptl. Walter Curtis was also awarded the NYPD Medal of Honor for his courage and actions on Jan. 18, 1935.

Ptl. Ferger was awarded Honorable Mention and Ptl. Quinn a Commendation. All of the holdup men who took part in the robbery of the store and the death of Ptl. Killion were arrested, convicted and put to death in the electric chair.


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The Best Legal Web Sites (so they say !!). Be sure to check out all the links.

Investigators Guide to Sources of Information: There is some good information here. It is Downloadable, free to print and good to put into a binder for your desk.

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Local and State Governments

Federal Agencies

Directories, Reference Works


Investigators' Guide To the Internet


What is the proper way to light a cigar?

If you use a match, wait until the sulphur burns off before using it to light your cigar. Wooden matches are recommended over regular matches.

If you use a lighter, use a butane one. The gasoline based ones impart a flavor to your smoke. Of course, Zippo will be irritated by this; they recommend you allow the flame to burn for a few seconds to allow the disturbing odor to dissipate.

Preheat the open end - the foot - by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame at an angle allowing a tiny black ring to form all the way around the wrapper. Try not to let the flame touch the cigar.

Then place the cigar in your mouth, and draw in as you repeat the process, slowly rolling the cigar at an angle above the flame, but never letting the lighter flame actually touch the cigar.

About a 1/2 inch or so away. Slowly spin the cigar to establish an even burn.

Once it appears to be fully lit pull it away from the flame, away from your mouth and actually look at the glowing foot to see if it's fully lit.

If the burn is uneven, repeat the previous step on the appropriate side to even the burn.

You can also try to blow on the end if there is a small bit of uneven burn, to help intensify the heat there, and then take a couple of steady draws. Then wait just a little while before continuing to puff; this short delay will allow the cigar a chance to stabilize and self correct the burn.

If the smoke happens to go out, knock off the ash, gently blowing through the cigar to clear out the old smoke, then begin to draw in while rolling the cigar through the lighting process.

And you thought lighting a cigar was easy?

�It is not how they died that makes them a hero, but how they lived their lives�.

January 21, 1932 Ptl John Walsh, 17 Div, Shot-off duty robbery
January 21, 1941 Ptl Daniel Piselli, 88 Pct, Killed-line of duty incident
January 21, 1948 Ptl William Von Weisenstein, 101 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
January 21, 1958 Det Francis O�Rourke, 32 Sqd, Line of duty heart attack
January 21, 1986 Det Anthony Venditti, OCCB, Shot-investigation
January 21, 1995 Det Alfred Boesch, Housing SNEU, Line of duty incident
January 22, 1971 Ptl Robert Bolden, 75 Pct, Shot-off duty altercation
January 23, 1934 Ptl Joseph Misichia, 114 Pct, Shot-arrest
January 23, 1943 Ptl Pasquale Venturelli, 45 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
January 23, 1987 PO Michael Reidy, 41 Pct, Shot-off duty robbery
January 24, 1967 Ptl John Barry, PA, Line of duty heart attack
January 24, 1975 Ptl John Scala, ApplicInv, Shot-off duty robbery
January 25, 1994 PO Nicholas DeMatiis, 106 Pct, Auto pursuit
January 27, 1908 Ptl John Loughman, 15 Pct, Shot-off duty incident
January 27, 1938 Ptl Edward Roos, 8 Sqd, Auto accident on patrol
January 27, 1943 Ptl Angelo Dimuro, 1 Pct, Line of duty incident
January 27, 1972 Ptl Gregory Foster, 9 Pct, Shot-assassination
January 27, 1972 Ptl Rocco Laurie, 9 Pct, Shot-assassination
January 28, 1938 Sgt David Kilpatrick, 40 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
January 28, 1980 PO Cecil Sledge, 69 Pct, Shot-car stop
January 30, 1930 Ptl Maurice O�Brien, 28 Pct, Shot-arrest
January 30, 1956 Ptl Benny Bruno, GCP Pct, Auto pursuit

Monday, January 10, 2005


Good detectives pay attention to details � little details, with diligence and follow up, that so often make the difference between success and failure.

Another example of the painstaking attention to details is exhibited in the work done during the investigation of �The Mad Dog Killers�, two Mutt-and-Jeff hoodlums who went on a killing spree starting on Christmas Eve in 1962.

Starting out in Woburn, Mass. on Christmas Eve 1962, Henry Dusablon and Emanuel Samperi wanted to treat their sweethearts to a trip to New York for the holiday. Dusablon was a hulking lug who was described as having �quick fists and slow wit�. Samperi was the swarthy shorty who grew up on the lower East Side, who spent his life trying to prove he was a tough guy.

They started by holding up an antique store that Dusablon once worked in, knowing that cash would be on hand. It wasn�t enough to just rob the place, though. Dusablon made sure to shoot the owner in the head before making off with the one-hundred dollar haul.

They left for New York with their sweethearts, soon finding themselves out of money by December 26. They then took off to holding up a variety store owner as he opened up for business, and once again shot the owner at point-blank range after ordering to lie on the ground. They made sure to remove a diamond ring from the body before leaving with the $15 cash that their latest heist produced.

Next they found themselves in Jamaica, robbing an Army-Navy store, and shooting that owner as well before leaving. A little while later, in the Bronx, a liquor store was also robbed, and the proprietor shot dead. This was followed by another liquor store in uptown Manhattan, with the clerk once again gravely wounded. All four victims that day had been shot in the head, with the cash registers left empty.

Detectives who had been working on the variety store homicide from earlier in the morning learned from a relative that the victim often wore a diamond ring, an anniversary ring that was missing from the body.

PAYING ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS: the detectives started a search of pawnshops looking for a recently pawned diamond ring. Bingo! One of the detectives found a receipt for a ring pawned at a pawnshop just blocks from the incident. The slip was signed by Henry Dusablon of Woburn, Mass.

CONTINUING TO PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS: the detectives learned that Dusablon and his friend left Massachusetts to go to New York on Christmas Eve. Detectives now fanned out throughout the Manhattan area checking hotels, armed with a photo of Dusablon they received from the Mass. authorities, and began a search of hotel records.

Bingo! Not only did they find a hotel clerk who recognized the culprits photo, they also found that he and Samperi checked in using their real names!

They then found Dusablon in his hotel room with his girl, and a short time later apprehended Samperi when he also returned to the room with his girlfriend.

Paying attention to details once again paid off. They found the pawned jewelry by poring over pawnshop records, and then found the killers by canvassing hotel to hotel, in person, until they found them.

By the way, the trial resulted in the pair being convicted and sentenced to death, but because of the repeal of capital punishment in 1965 they ended up spending the rest of their lives in prison. Samperi died in 1998, at age 64, and Dusablon will spend his 41st consecutive Christmas behind bars this year.

Interesting note is that the killers, who were dubbed the �Mad Dog Killers� after the spree became public, got less attention than they deserved at the time due to a newspaper strike.

When detectives asked Dusablon why he chose to murder for such paltry robberies, the thug answered: �Because dead men tell no tales.�

Pay Attention To Details!


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I learned very long ago that elevation in rank does not necessarily correspond to an increase in knowledge. I think this was very clearly displayed when, years ago (it was probably during the TV series� first season) the then-Chief of Detectives for the Transit Police contributed the (unused) idea that we should show parts of the television show NYPD BLUE during the newly appointed detective orientation program.

He liked the way Sipowicz conducted interviews.

I recently contributed to someone else learning something new, I�m quite sure.

When I met a retired detective, Walter Crosby, who is the current Assistant Chief Investigator with the NYS Attorney General�s Office, we spent some time discussing the fact that he retired twenty-two years ago from the 14th Homicide Zone, which worked out of the current Brooklyn North Homicide office in the 90 Precinct.

Crosby fondly remembered time spent in the office typing out DD5s on the �old� manual typewriters, and I informed him that we are still using some of those same typewriters � Louis Savarese types our roll calls on one of the �old� manual typewriters every week!

We then shared some notes regarding detective overtime. Crosby noted that there was no such thing as overtime � you worked the case doing what had to be done regardless. He mentioned that when he retired they let him make some overtime to help his pension in the last months, so that he could finish the last year with about � ten hours � of overtime.


A recent article in the NY TIMES Technology Section (December 16, 2004) by Cyrus Farivar outlined a new technology being explored by several police agencies to help detect the sound of gunshots.

It appears that soon police agencies around the country may be able to equip street corners with microphones and video cameras to fight gun-related crime.

The system, based on work by Dr. Theodore Berger, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California, uses the equipment and a computer to recognize gunshots, pinpoint where they came from and transmit the coordinates to a command center. It relies on software that mimics the way the human brain receives, processes and analyzes sound.

Several law enforcement agencies, including police departments in Chicago, Oklahoma City and Phoenix and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have expressed an interest in the system.

"When you put in automated gunshot recognition in a highly visible format like this, the residents no longer have to fear reprisal and the police no longer have to depend on the residents for accurate information," said Bryan Baker, 56, chief executive officer of Safety Dynamics. He and Dr. Berger co-founded the company in Oak Brook, Ill., 20 months ago to produce the system, called Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification, or Sentri.

The system is also reported to be able to distinguish gunshots from voices, car traffic and construction. "You can find that brains can do it, but you can't find physical systems that can do it," Dr. Berger said. "It's very hard to corrupt the signal in such a way that we don't know what's going on."

Over time, the system can learn to recognize certain sounds. "The gunshot has a particular unique signature, where you have the sound of the explosion when the firing pin hits the bullet and the sound of the bullet as it expels from the gun," Mr. Baker said. "You've got a little blip, and then a drop, and then a big blip, and with the training we've done now, we've picked it up so that both blips are part of what it has learned."

The system uses four microphones, contained along with the computer in a bulletproof box two feet by two feet by three feet. The system is able to determine quickly where a gun was fired, using the difference in time that the sound took to reach each microphone. The computer sends a signal to the video camera, which zooms in on the location. The system then transmits information and the video directly to law enforcement headquarters.

The devices, which cost up to $25,000 each, can cover an area with a radius of about 200 yards.

In about six months, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will test the devices, installing as many as 20 around Los Angeles County.

The information and video images can be immediately reviewed by officers at headquarters who may be able to determine the nature of the incident, he said. "Because of that we gain a tremendous tactical advantage before we arrive on the scene," he added.


Roundsman Richard Comisky was killed in the line of duty on March 11, 1883, in a highly unusual incident.

Comisky, 32 years old at the time, had 7 years of duty in the department when he was shot and killed by a jealous co-worker.

Roundsman Comisky was shot and killed by a fellow officer who was jealous of him. The two officers had been friends for many years and had hoped to get promoted together. When Comisky was promoted to Roundsman, the suspect became jealous. On the date of the incident Roundsman Comisky was the Acting Sergeant of the precinct and was at his desk.

Two other reserve officers were in the station house. The suspect entered and brought his .38 caliber firearm to Roundsman Comisky because it was not working properly. Roundsman Comisky repaired the firearm and handed it back to the suspect. The suspect then walked around the desk, exchanged words with one of the reserve officers and then stated, "I'll kill you" to Roundsman Comisky. Before the Roundsman could respond the suspect leapt across the desk and shot Roundsman Comisky in the head, killing him.

The suspect was taken into custody by the two reserve officers and charged with murder.


Lividity: The process by which the blood settles into dependent capillaries and eventually �fixes� in certain areas of the body.

Postmortem Lividity: Also known as livor mortis. Caused by the pooling and settling of blood within the blood vessels from the effect of gravity. It appears as a purple discoloration of the skin. During life, the pumping action of the heart maintains a constant flow of blood through the numerous vessels of the body. Upon death, this pumping action ceases, and the blood pools within the dependent portions of the body (lowest points).

Blanchability: When lividity first develops, if you press your finger firmly against the discolored skin, the pressure will cause �blanching�. When pressure is released, the discoloration returns. After four or five hours the discoloration becomes clotted and pressure will NOT cause blanching.


January 10, 1987 PO Francis LaSalla, ESS1, Fire rescue
January 11, 1908 Ptl Robert Fitzgerald, Bridge Pct, Drowned-Rescue
January 11, 1916 Ptl Joseph Gaffney, 26 Pct, Shot-arrest
January 11, 1929 Ptl Albert Bruden, Mcy Unit, Auto pursuit
January 11, 1941 Ptl Edward Maher, Traffic P, Shot-robbery
January 12, 1974 PO Timothy Murphy, 120 Pct, Shot-off duty incident
January 12, 1981 PO Robert Walsh, 7 Pct, Shot-off duty robbery
January 13, 1924 Ptl John Schneider, 3Div, Robbery investigation
January 13, 1950 Ptl Edward Carraher, 14 Pct, Injured on patrol
January 13, 1997 Det Kenny Fung, 72 Sqd, Heart attack during investigation
January 15, 1938 Ptl Frank Zaccor, 14 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
January 16, 1953 Ptl Thomas Sheehan, 10 Pct, Line of duty heart attack
January 17, 1947 Ptl Harry Schriffies, McyDist, Shot-investigation
January 18, 1935 Ptl James Killion, 17 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
January 18, 1960 Sgt Edward Johnson, 5 Pct, Stabbed by EDP
January 18, 1967 Det Harold Jacob, Safe Loft & Burg Sqd, Line of duty heart attack
January 18, 1979 PO Robert Manzione, 7 Pct, Line of duty heart attack