Jan13

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Looking for Julia Connors' murderer, Police posted messages at a movie house in 1912While helping a friend find some records for her family, I learned of the terrible murder of Julia Connors in the Bronx in 1912.

The horrific story was one that not only took over the New York area, but from the large number of newspaper reports found over at Chronicling America in 1912, it spread across the country.

I do not wish to go into the details of the murder, and while it didn’t need any additional outrage to remain in the public’s eye, the case was fueled on by the facts that a local girl lied to the police about witnessing her that day and also by the subsequent suicide of her murderer.

But, one thing I found intriguing was the piece of reporting at right, taken from The Evening World, July 9, 1912 edition.

In the center of the long and detailed article, they reported:

“The following announcement was repeatedly flashed last night upon the screen of a moving picture show at the lot where the body of Julia Connors was found,

‘Anybody in this audience who knows any facts which might lead to the apprehension of the murderer of Julia Connors will kindly call at the box office without delay.’

In this way the following facts were established:

‘That a foreign looking man, gray haired with piercing black eyes, had been lurking in the neighborhood for a month past.
That this strange person offered many children presents of money and sweetmeats if they would accompany him.
That the mysterious man is probably the degenerate fiend who murdered the Connors child. And he is still at large.’

For the  record, none of those “facts” ended up being true or at least relevant to the case.

This ad-hoc method of using technology to solicit information from the public is a sort of early precursor to the Amber Alert system we know today.

One thing I find most odd, if you didn’t catch it, is that this wasn’t flashed at the local movie house, but on “the screen of a moving picture show at the lot where the body of Julia Connors was found.”

Really? They showed movies? At the site? Incredible.

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