cops and dicks

In 1943, Wayne Lonergan, who had been a young cadet in the Royal Canadian Air Force, killed Patricia Burton Bernheimer, heiress to a brewery fortune, after she filed for separation and cut her husband out of her will. She was found in their lavish apartment nude, her skull crushed with a silver candelabra.

image found here

After telling arresting officers that he had killed her, Lonergan then changed his story and said that he had spent the evening of the slaying with another woman. But witnesses gave a differing account. A male friend testified that Lonergan had come to his apartment immediately after the killing to change clothes. And the woman he supposedly had been with contradicted his alibi.

Lonergan then said that he had been with another man–that he had been the victim of an overbearing mother, which forced him into occasional homosexual periods. As the trial started  Time Magazine published this report

Against the windows of Manhattan’s Criminal Courts Building the bulletlike drops of the first spring rains beat and splashed with homicidal violence. The crowd of cops, dicks, court attendants, learned counsel, loafers and prurient goons who infest such scenes beat against the court’s doors. One of the most sensational murder trials in Manhattan’s legal history was just beginning.

Crowd of cops found here

The trial was also a clinical study of unusual interest to doctors and psychiatrists. For it was obvious last week that Defense Attorney Edward Broderick would make some plea of insanity involving homosexuality

There was already talk about his perversion: Assistant District Attorney Jacob Grumet testified that Lonergan confessed (this unsigned confession is now repudiated by the defendant and his lawyers) to homosexual relations, both before and after his marriage. One of the men involved is said to have been William Burton, Lonergan’s wife’s father.

image found here

To most people Lonergan does not look like a homosexual. Contrary to popular legend, homosexuals are not necessarily physically abnormal, though sometimes a glandular disturbance is involved. As a rule, homosexuals are made, not born. Psychologists W. Norwood East and W. H. Herbert list seduction in childhood as the commonest precipitating cause. Other causes: 1) a tendency to varied and primitive sexual outlets; 2) an inherited tendency. From Lonergan’s repudiated confession to the police he would seem to fall into the varied and primitive sexual outlet group.

image found here

The defense may try to prove that Patricia Lonergan led a lively life herself, that since Lonergan is a psychopath, his impulse to kill her was irresistible.  Testimony so far has been dull, and the only humorous sally of the first few days was macabre:

Defense Attorney Broderick asked the medical examiner: “Did you remove the calvarium of Patricia Lonergan by sawing from the superior orbital regions to the inferior occipital regions?”

Dr. Halpern: “Did I take off the top of her head with a saw?”

Broderick: “Yes.”

image found here

Not all the psychotics were in the courtroom. As the Lonergan trial got under way, novelist James Thomas Farrell (The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan) was having trouble with the Manhattan police. His publisher was visited by four different parties of cops who professed to see a connection between Wayne Lonergan and Studs Lonigan. Later a cop from a prowl car tried shyly to buy a copy of the novel from a First Avenue bookshop. It was out of stock.

image found here

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a honey. Why ever did she want a separation, one wonders…

    • Some gals are never satisfied…..

  2. What an idiot! Everyone knows the time to bash your wife’s head in with a candlestick is before she cuts you out of her will.

    • everyone except Wayne apparently

  3. Dicks beating themselves at the court’s doors? … oh the images! *steadies himself with a cup of tea and a gingernut*

    • Gingernuts: they cure everything!

  4. “Prurient Goon” is the name i use for my online dating profile. Wonder why i’m not finding many takers?

    • It’s a mystery to me daisyfae

  5. Didn’t Donnie Lonergan record that great song “My old man’s a dustbin”?

    • Oh no, now I have an earworm

    • Dustman! And if it’s the same fellow who sang ‘England Swings’, then his name is Lonnie Donnegan, though I’m not sure of the spelling.

      • “…. he wears cor blimey trousers”

      • ‘and he lives in a council flat. He looks a proper nana in his great big hobnail boots . . .’

      • I can’t remember the rest :-(

      • He’s got such a job to pull them off that he call’s them Daisy roots! :)

  6. Awww. Shy cop trying to buy a popular paperback. Cute to see a prowl car on the prowl.

  7. The primitive paradise poster reminds me that I could use a long vacation somewhere tropical.

    • So could I. Roll on July….

  8. I know it’s been said before but doing her in after the will has been changed? Pah

  9. This all seems very ‘clue-like’
    Cadet Lonergan…
    with a candlestick…
    in the conservatory!
    *dun dun dun* :)

    • The big question is does anyone use a lead pipe or even have one anymore?

      • Plenty of lead pipes in old houses I think. Trouble is trying to steal one.

      • Wouldn’t a hacksaw do the trick?

  10. Cost Plus/World Market has great skull-bashing candelabras, though they’re pretty much one-time-use things.

  11. What a fecking eejit.

  12. As an overbearing mother, I resent all this whining about overbearing mothers.

  13. Look, I have to be serious for a moment. I’ve watched CSI. I’ve watched NCIS. I’ve even watched Numbers (shudder) and Lie to Me (shudder reminiscent of epileptic fit).

    And as long as it takes for the biscuit to drop on those shows, even they wouldn’t have needed a sensational trial to put poor Wayne (abnormally homosexual or not) away immediately.

    Why are all these old investigators so stupid?

    • Because they don’t have scriptwriters?

  14. I love the name Studs, it would have all sounded so different if it had been “Spuds Lonigan”.

    Off to find our candelabra…

    The King

    • To light the way I hope

  15. Nursemyra always knows how to find the boys and the booze.

    • nursemyra does but her alter ego is a one glass screamer

  16. Damn, what a story! Where do you find this stuff NM? I imagine you having a humongous library just packed with old books about ghoulish things and happenings throughout history.

    • I have a HEAD full of ghoulish things, most of what I read comes from our local libraries. I ran out of room for more books long ago :-(

      Looks like you’re really enjoying Thailand!

      • “A head full of ghoulish things” Is that inherited, acquired or environmental? Yes we’re having a blast over here. I had not been to Asia before so everything is new..a’hem, different here.

  17. You are the Dominick Dunne of the internet – outstanding.

    And a Joan Crawford cameo always does it for me. I’ve been impersonating her a lot myself lately.

  18. Most of my ex-girlfriends suffer insanity involving homosexuality.


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