Apple Podcasts Logo
Spotify Logo
Stitcher Logo
google podcasts link

17: Mike "the Durable" Malloy - He. Just. Won't. Die.

On today's episode, Cody and Greg discuss the incredible Michael Malloy: the man that just wouldn't die. The guys talk about Malloy's invincibility and the men who decided to test it.

Apple Podcasts Logo
Spotify Logo
Stitcher Logo
google podcasts link

Episode Information

Mike “the Durable” Malloy was born in Donegal, Ireland in 1873. I’m almost tired of saying this, but we know nothing of his actual upbringing. What we do know is that Malloy had emigrated to America as many other Irish people had done around the time. He supposedly worked as a fireman and a stationary engineer working on industrial machines. But, his work soon dried up thanks to a little known, bummer of a thing called the Great Depression. 

 

Malloy was living in New York City when the depression hit, and New York City was hit hard. People were being put out of work constantly. People that had left their home countries in search of a better life were absolutely not finding it in America. Further still, Americans themselves were not having a good time in the Depression. We’ve spoken about it before, but the Great Depression was an awful time period for the entire world.

 

As an Irishman, Malloy was obviously the kind of man to like a bit of a drink, especially in this time period. However, while today’s story is taking place during the Great Depression, there was also another unfortunate thing that had swept the nation around the same time: Prohibition.

 

Most listeners will be familiar with the prohibition. But for those of you who aren’t, Prohibition was a national ban on the manufacturing, transportation and sale of alcohol during the 1920s and 1930s. When compared to modern times, this seems a bit odd. But at this time in history there had already been a big temperance movement in many countries. Temperance was the abstinence from drinking alcohol. This had been a movement since the 1700s, so we’re talking about a strong movement that would finally culminate in the prohibition in the 1920s. However, we can safely say that this was pretty bad timing.

 

Even now, as the world is battling a virus, I want a beer. So, we can only imagine how Mike Malloy, an Irishman, must’ve felt in a time where no work was available and no alcohol was allowed. From Malloy’s perspective, the entire movement can be seen as an attempt by the upper-class to control the lower-class riffraff. Because you know for a fact that those hoity-toity, virtue-signalling pricks were still having a wine with their fillet mignon.

 

But anyway, you can see the trouble in which Mike Malloy would find himself. However, he wasn’t the only person subject to the terrible time period. A few of his acquaintances were suffering as well: Tony Marino the bar owner, Red Murphy the barman, Frank Pasqua the undertaker, Daniel Kreisberg the fruit-seller, and Hershy Green the cabbie. All of whom will soon have a deadly part to play in Mike Malloy’s story, and collectively they would come to be known as the Murder Trust.

 

Speakeasies

We’ve already set the scene for our story as during the Great Depression and Prohibition, so some listeners may wonder how Tony Marino could own a bar. Well, that’s because this bar was a speakeasy. I hope I’m not insulting anyone’s intelligence by telling you this information, I just want to be thorough. But a speakeasy was a hidden bar that operated during Prohibition that allowed people to have a damn drink once in a while.

 

Now, I’m going to give a bit of a caveat here with some speakeasy information because speakeasies are very interesting bits of history, and it will also help set the stage a bit for our story. First of all, the age of jazz music was truly ushered in by speakeasies. This actually ties in directly to our Emmett Till episode. Our listeners might remember the Great Migration that we discussed where 6 million African Americans migrated from the South to the North.

 

As you would expect, some of the African Americans were musicians. These musicians travelled to northern cities like Chicago, and they were in turn employed by gangsters who owned speakeasies. The gangsters began spreading the word of this new “fun and exciting” music, and soon speakeasies were bouncing with jazz music all over the country. 

 

Another interesting bit of information on speakeasies is the development of the martini and mixed drink culture. Prior to Prohibition, America was very well known for its cocktails. However, Prohibition forced the country's best mixologists to travel to other countries or find new professions. Further to this, the alcohol that was now being served was not regulated; it was incredibly strong compared to what people were used to. Because of this, people began having martinis and other mixed drinks to dilute the strong alcohol’s flavour. So, the next time you have a Jack and Coke, you can thank the speakeasies of the 20s for making it a possibility.

 

The other thing about speakeasies, especially in relation to Tony Marino’s speakeasy, is that they didn’t always make great money, at least not during the Great Depression. Some of the larger ones owned by gangsters may have turned a healthy profit, but Marino was no gangster. He and his friends were in the same boat as everyone else; poor, down of their luck, and near homelessness. Because of this, Marino and his four previously mentioned friends began to cook up new ways to turn a profit. One of the group came out with the idea for a scheme that had been used by many up to this point: the good ole insurance scam.

The Insurance Scam

Most you true crime buffs will know the insurance scam from many different killers. Basically, you take out life insurance on someone then you make sure the policy pays out. You kill them. Just so we’re clear. Now, it’s not entirely certain which of the men floated the idea of the insurance scam as an idea to get a bit of cash, but I would argue that it was Marino. Because this wasn’t actually his first time using the scam. 

 

Three years prior to the meeting Malloy, Marino, a married man, had had a girlfriend on the side by the name of Mabelle Carlson. She came from a somewhat wealthy family but had fallen into a relationship with Tony Marino at some point. This would prove to be a fatal decision on her part. Apparently, Mabelle was prone to drinking a bit too much sometimes, so Tony decided to take advantage of this. After taking out an insurance policy on her Tony waited until Mabelle had passed out from drinking. He then poured a bucket full of water on her and opened a window. This was during the New York winter, which can very easily get below freezing temperature frequently. Thus, Mabelle died that night from hypothermia and Tony collected on his money.

 

Three years after the death of Mabelle, Mike Malloy walked through the door of Tony’s speakeasy and began drinking him out of house and home, which sparked the idea for the scam once again. However, Mike Malloy would not, in any way, shape, or form, make it easy on Tony Marino and his friends.

Drink Mike, Drink

When Mike Malloy first walked into Tony’s speakeasy he was down on his luck. He was offered credit for his drinks, which he promised to repay. Which he did not. But he kept coming back, kept getting credit, and kept drinking. It wasn’t long before Marino had had enough. He approached his four friends and told them of his plan to take out an insurance policy on Malloy, then kill him. If they wanted, they could all join in on the scam and they would split the money five ways. As they were all struggling, they readily agreed. I should point out that the amount was relatively low for an insurance payout. They would be looking at around $3,500 ($50,000 - $60,000) split between five people. So, it wasn’t an incredible amount to actually kill a man. Either way, the men all agreed and the policy was taken out. All that was left was to kill Malloy.

 

The men decided that it was best to find a way to kill Malloy in a way that showed no harm to his body and where there were no witnesses. They felt that the most obvious way to take Malloy out was to let him do it himself, they just needed to give him a little nudge. Marino decided to offer Malloy his drinks all on the house for a full night, nonstop. The men sat in the speakeasy and convinced Malloy to drink, and drink, and drink. And he did. He drank, and drank, and drank, happily accepting every drink. Surprisingly, even after drinking bottles of whiskey Malloy was no closer to dying than the other men. Apparently, the men had forgotten that Mike Malloy was Irish. So, the first attempt on Mike’s life was a failure.

 

The men decided that since Malloy liked to drink so much, they would offer him a bit of the stronger stuff. Instead of whiskey, they offered Malloy antifreeze. Antifreeze is very likely to kill you within an hour if you ingest enough of it, and Malloy ingested a ton of it. However, he didn’t actually die. Greg, do you want to know why he didn’t die? Listeners, do you want to know why he didn’t die? Well then sit back and let me tell you a pretty boring scientific reason I found online from a somewhat large woman.

 

Apparently, the men were giving Malloy the alcohol (which contains ethanol) constantly. In between these drinks, they’d also give him the antifreeze (which contains methanol). Well, the men didn’t actually know that the ethanol they were giving beforehand was taking its place inside Malloy’s body. The places it was making its way to were the areas the methanol needed to travel to in order to kill Malloy. Since there was no place for the methanol to go, it was excreted. Had they given him the alcohol after the antifreeze it would have likely killed him. Basically, being a drunk saved Malloy’s life.

How About Food

At this point, the men decided that drinks of any kind would just not kill this man, so they decided to try food instead. The men found a tin can of sardines in the bar and left them out for days until they spoiled. They then made a sandwich with them. Thinking the sardines wouldn’t be enough to kill Malloy, the men also added broken glass, carpet tacks, and even the chopped up sardine tin itself to the sandwich. Malloy ate the sandwich in its entirety, and asked for another. There’s not really a scientific explanation about why he didn’t die from this sandwich. He was probably just a tough son-of-a-bitch.

 

After three attempts to take his life, the men would have to think outside the box a bit more. I mentioned that one of the members of the Murder Trust, Frank Pasqua, was an undertaker. He had seen many different forms of death and he had recently buried a man who had died from eating rotten oysters. “Golly gee,” Frank told the other men. “Maybe this’ll finally do the trick, duhhh.” That was obviously not how Frank spoke; he was an Italian man from New York. Anyway, they soaked a jar of rotten oysters in formaldehyde and fed them to Malloy, and FINALLY, he still didn’t die.

The Old Trick

It became obvious that food and drink would not kill Malloy. Something about this man was apparently very strong against any sort of internal damage. Now, I should point out that the Murder Trust were still paying Malloy’s insurance premiums, so they were not very happy. Marino was particularly upset because he had not had anywhere near this much trouble with killing off his tiny ex-girlfriend. But that gave him an idea. He would kill Malloy himself the exact same way he had killed Mabelle.

 

The Trust got Malloy drunk again to the point that he completely blacked out. The men then dragged his body to a nearby park, pulled off most of his clothes, and dumped cold water all over him. This, like with Mabelle, occurred during the extremely brutal New York winter. The men then left him there to freeze and waited anxiously for the death to appear in the newspapers. But it never did. 

 

One evening, Malloy strolled into the speakeasy once again, sat at the bar ready for a drink, only ever complaining of a little chill. He had apparently been found by police and taken to a hospital, given brand new clothes, and released. However, as a little bit of poetic justice, one of the men who had helped carry Malloy to the park had gotten a cold that night. 

 

The men were done by this point. They had had enough of Malloy. They had already put a lot of their money into this scheme. So much money by this point that they were lucky to walk away with half of the profit they initially would have gotten. It was finally decided that more physical acts were necessary. So, for this the men looked to the previously mentioned Hershy Green, the cabbie.

Hit and Run

The plan was simple and easy to execute. The Murder Trust would get Malloy drunk, because that was necessary for all of their plans it seems. They would then make it look like Malloy was struck by a car. Since Malloy was known to the local area as a homeless drunk, it was easy for people to assume that he had been drunk and swaying a bit too much and was struck by a car. Hershy Green, since he was a cabbie, was the perfect person to do the striking.

 

So, once Malloy was completely tanked, the men dragged him out to the car and drove him to a street away from the bar. He was placed in the middle of the road and Hershy, along with the other Murder Trust members road in the taxi while they ran Malloy over. Job done...or so they thought.

 

Malloy arrived at the bar a few weeks later, no more the worse for wear. He had suffered a broken collarbone and bump to the head, but a police officer had found him in time to get him to a hospital before any real damage could occur. He was treated and released with fairly mild injuries. 

 

Again, some people claim this may be due to him being drunk. Since you are less likely to tense up while you are drunk, being struck by a car while drunk may help fight off any nasty injuries you may sustain. He was, possibly, once again saved by alcohol.

Malloy’s Death

The men were at their wits end with Mike Malloy. And to make matters worse, there was a gangster by the name of Tony Bastone who had been asking to be let in on the scam. He had finally gotten tired of being patient and told Tony Marino that if he didn’t kill Mike, and kill him soon, then Tony would kill Tony, so there’d be one less Tony.

 

With this new incentive, Marino developed a new and final plan. They once again got Malloy drunk (of course), and then took him to a nearby hotel where they had rented a room. Once in the room, the men placed Malloy on the bed and unhooked the tube from the gas light in the room. They put one end in Malloy’s mouth and turned it on. They held Malloy’s mouth and nose closed until finally they succeeded in their attempts at killing the indestructible man. 

 

It’s claimed that the with all of the free food, booze and planning, the Murder Trust had spent almost half of what they were meant to make from the killing. Unfortunately for the men, only one of the insurance policies paid out $800. Pasque, the undertaker, wrote a check to the insurance agency saying that he would be paying for a large funeral for his friend, so they also received another $400. However, they obviously pocketed the $1,200 and split it between themselves, and Mike Malloy was buried in a $10 coffin and $12 grave.

 

The men also paid off a doctor to list the cause of death as pneumonia and to bypass an autopsy. Malloy was quickly buried before anyone could know the wiser. However, good ol’ Tony Bistone was about to make a reappearance and the story was about to take a turn.

 

While in Tony Marino’s speakeasy, Bistone got into an argument with a gangster by the name of Joseph Maglione. Apparently, Maglione had wanted a piece of the Murder Trust pie as well. The argument escalated and Maglione shot Bistone dead. Maglione was arrested for this murder. This was the last thing anyone wanted, a death in the speakeasy. 

 

You see, just after Malloy’s death, rumors started spreading around the local neighbourhood about what really could have happened to poor old Mike. The only people he was ever seen with were his friends at the speakeasy, so people started to form their suspicions. Eventually, everyone began to believe that the five men had killed Malloy, including the police. So, with Maglione in custody, the police decided to offer him a deal if he were to rat on the other members of the Murder Trust. Which he did hard

 

All of the men were arrested and while Malloy’s body was exhumed and given a proper autopsy. Unfortunately for the Murder Trust idiots, Pasqua had buried Malloy without embalming the body. Because of this the carbon monoxide used to kill Malloy gave his body a red tint, which quickly pointed towards monoxide poisoning. Had Pasqua actually done the autopsy this would not have happened.

Further to this, along with the testimony of Maglione, the cab driver Hershy Green also turned state witness and testified against the men while confessing to his crime of running Malloy over with his cab. With this information, all of the men tried to turn on each other trying to get out of any punishment they could. However, it was all in vain. All of the men in the Murder Trust, except for Green, were charged with First Degree Murder and sentenced to death. Each of the men died in the electric chair in the Sing Sing prison outside of New York City.

Conclusion

Greed causes so many issues in our lives and the lives of others. These men felt so much greed that they felt it necessary to kill a down and out homeless man, just to make a quick buck. But we should also remember the time in which this story takes place. This was a desperate time and people were starving; their families were starving. And in the most terrible conditions is where we see the true awful side of human nature and the lengths we will go to survive in desperate times. But, even still, this meant the death of a poor, homeless man who really only wanted a drink and maybe some friends, and that, my friends, is pretty unfortunate.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram