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Date: Fri 09-Oct-1998



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Date: Fri 09-Oct-1998

Publication: Bee

Author: CURT

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From the Case Files of Laslo Briscoe -- Installment VII


The quietude of a library can free the mind to wander to unexpected -- even

dangerous -- places. And so it happened this week, in a windowless room of the

Booth Library, that Joanne Zang and Barbara Yarbrough came to discuss what

motivates people to commit brutal crimes. Both avid mystery readers, they

wondered how true crime in Newtown stacked up when compared to the detective

fiction they set out at the Friends annual book sale.

A good murder, they decided, would include at least one mysterious character,

a few red herrings, and a bit of gore. With this criteria in mind, they

stopped packing books and made a beeline to the police department to consult

the case files of Private Investigator Laslo Briscoe. They were filled with

fiendish delight when they came across...

No. 688 -- The Case of the

Cobbler's Crushed Skull

One Sunday last month, I met up by chance with Charles Cavanaugh on Church

Hill Road and became engaged in fine discourse about the European war. Having

had sequestered myself for the previous two days in an attempt to make current

my files and address other business, I was not in a hurry to take my leave of

such stimulating company, so I accompanied The Bee's field agent on his errand

to pick up some shoes at the cobbler shop. The German cobbler is known about

town as someone at the ready to converse about the war.

The cobbler was at his shop, indeed, but was in no condition to contribute to

our conversation having had his skull crushed in by the blunt end of an axe.

Upon entering the tiny building, it was immediately apparent some dastardly

deed had transpired. The shop was in confusion, the trunk open and articles

scattered about. We looked over the counter to see the legs of Green

protruding out, blankets, and mattress and the pillow being on top of him.

Cavanaugh hastened up Church Hill Road to give the alarm. Word was dispatched

to Deputy Sheriff Austin B. Blakeman, who had just entered Trinity Church to

attend morning service. He and the medical examiner arrived, and together we

examined the scene. The cobbler, known to be a patient and kindly old man, had

been murdered in a most brutal fashion.

The fiend who committed the heinous deed evidently struck six or seven blows

to Green's head, any of which the doctor reported might have caused his death.

The skull was fractured from the right orbit, right around the front of the

skull to the side of the skull. The brain was so pierced with splinters of

bone that it was entirely disorganized.

It seemed the cobbler had been working at his bench behind the counter. His

glasses had been on his head, and his awl was in or near his hand and a piece

of leather in his lap. The assassin surprised the man, no doubt, and then

attempted to camouflage his bloody work by dragging the mattress and clothing

from the rear and flinging it over Green's body.

Inquiry as to Green's background yielded information -- some of which is quite


Green was a fake name used by the cobbler; William Gore is his true identity.

No one knows why he changed his name.

He was 64 years old, a thick set man, who spoke English brokenly.

Two years before coming to Newtown he was located in Hawleyville having a shop

in what is now the blacksmith shop where he had all the work he wanted to do.

He removed to Church Hill road between four or five years ago.

He had been married but had separated from his wife.

He was known to be stolid in disposition and a man of few words, but had a

kindly side and did his work thoroughly and well.

During the cold weather he suffered more or less from rheumatism.

He lived alone in the little building, sleeping in the rear of the room and

cooking his meals on a stove in the basement.

He made trips to Bridgeport where he bought supplies or visited his brother or

a friend.

Saturday night his paper remained on the floor of the piazza, which suggests

the murder took place between 4:30 and 5 o'clock, when the Rev J.B. Howell had

stopped at the store to see no one about. (But he did not look behind the


An amount of cash under $10 was found on the body.

Constable Thrall of Sandy Hook had detained a man by the name Michael Brennan

who was spattered with blood and his coat covered with blood. He was acting

suspiciously. On this foundation he was locked up. Then news of the murder

reached the constable and Brennan was held over for the inquest.

Brennan professed his innocence throughout. The hired hand claims not to have

known the cobbler, but admits to visiting his shop the day of the murder.

After having purchased a can of tuna, Brennan said he stopped by the cobbler's

shop hoping the owner would have a knife or other instrument with which to

open the can.

Brennan was closely questioned by the state police. After a time, he was

allowed to go as nothing of an incriminating nature was found against him.

What could be the motive for such a brutal attack? Revenge -- the work of some

former enemy attempting to get even in a back-hand style. Or was the cobbler

struck down in the heart of the borough by some degenerate crazed wild rum,

who wanted money for further debauch and did not care how he got it?

We have taken out advertisement in The Newtown Bee soliciting anyone with

knowledge of the crime or possible motive, to contact me or the state police.

It is my instinct, however, that the cobbler's murder will remain one of

Newtown's great mysteries.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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