Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Places

Kreischer Mansion, Staten Island, N.Y.: Crime Family Bonanno Killing Place

Staten Island's Kreischer Mansion
Staten Island's Kreischer Mansion

Staten Island's Kreischer Mansion looks just like the sort of place that would star in neighborhood kids' ghost stories: a big Victorian house surrounded by iron gates and topped with an ominous turret. It even had someone who could fill the role of the mean caretaker who might chase away curious children or enterprising amateur sleuths; indeed, this tale has a twist worthy of Scooby-Do, in which the apparently supernatural events pale beside a real criminal act.

Ghastly rumors have long haunted this Arthur Kill Road hilltop manse. Area residents claim to have heard noises they attribute to long-gone children lamenting their punishments, or to a cook who they say committed suicide. Others say they've glimpsed a spectral couple wandering the grounds. That pair is thought by some to be the ghosts of Edward Kreischer and his grieving wife. His father, a German brickmaker, built this mansion and another like it for Edward and his brother in 1885 (the other building burned to the ground during the Great Depression). The elder Kreischer died just a year after building these houses. A few years later, the brick factory his sons inherited burned down. The family rebuilt it, but their business never regained its initial success. Distraught over the flagging family fortunes and quarrels with employees, in 1894 Edward Kreischer shot himself in the head and died.

Had anyone more closely investigated those Victorian ghosts in the mansion, they would have found themselves in the middle of a very different current-day case. Joseph "Joe Black" Young was no ordinary caretaker. Thanks to testimony from a Mafia snitch, the 29-year old ex-marine was found guilty in a fall 2008 federal trial of murdering Robert McKelvey at the mansion in 2005: stabbing him, drowning him in an ornate pool, then chopping the corpse into pieces and disposing of it in the house's basement furnace. Young and his turn-coat accomplice, Stefan Cicale, acted on the orders of Bonanno crew member Michael "Sonny" Maggio and on a $10,000 contract from mob boss Gino Galestro.

Cicale, Maggio and Galestro cooperated with the Feds; Galestro has pleaded guilty to ordering the hit and says that McKelvey owed him money. In testimony Young admitted dismembering and incinerating McKelvey, but he blames the killing on Maggio, saying that he fought with McKelvey but that it was Maggio who slit the victim's throat. Tapes submitted as evidence in which Young complains about not being paid and threatens the mobsters, convinced a jury that he took responsibility for the crime.

The Kreischer Mansion's latest ghost met his fate at the hands of an likely aspirant for inclusion in a modern ghost story: on his MySpace page, Young lists his occupation as "Death".

 

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