Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Francis "Two Gun" Crowley

'Get It All Over With'

Francis Crowley in hospital bed after his arrest
Francis Crowley in hospital
bed after his arrest

The day after Crowley's capture, Grand Jury proceedings began in the Hirsch murder case. Crowley was held at Bellevue where nervous guards kept him locked in his room and tied to the bed. His photo had appeared in the New York press many times in previous weeks and he was famous all over the city. "Two Gun" took obvious pleasure in the notoriety, and whenever he had an audience, he played the "bad boy" role to the hilt. Gangsters of that era were sometimes idolized by the public and some were even considered "heroic," though Crowley never achieved that status. He did have a fan club, however, which consisted mostly of young women and mothers. During his stay at Bellevue, doctors received dozens of phone calls from females who were "concerned" about his health and wanted to know if he would recover.

Investigators questioned him while he lay in bed and Crowley expressed his distain for the police. "I learned to hate cops because they were always suspecting me," he said, "and on account of my stepbrother having been killed in a fight with a patrolman!" Detectives wrote down every word and before Crowley was transferred out to Long Island the next morning, they had accumulated a litany of statements to be used against him in court.

Patrolman Fred Hirsch was the third Nassau County police officer killed in the line of duty. On May 9, 1931, at 11 a.m., Hirsch's body was transported to the Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, Long Island. Several thousand people attended the funeral including more than 600 members of the Nassau County Police Department. Meanwhile, "Two Gun" was carted to Nassau Hospital where he was handcuffed to the steel railings of a bed on the fourth floor. Two uniformed officers guarded him closely. District Attorney Elvin N. Edwards and County Judge Lewis J. Smith held the arraignment in Crowley's room at noon that day. When the judge asked Crowley how he pleaded, the accused killer replied in a strong voice.

"Guilty!" he said. But the judge informed the defendant that a plea of guilty to first-degree murder was not acceptable under the law. There had to be a trial.

Daily News front page
Daily News front page

"Anything you say!" replied the teenager, "All I want is to get my girl out the jam and get it all over with!" The judge asked Crowley if he had any money to hire an attorney. When Crowley said he was broke, Smith appointed Charles R. Weeks, a former county DA to represent him.

"Isn't there any way we can get this thing over with before that?" said Crowley as he attempted to sit up in the bed. "Aww, I know I'm gonna burn," Crowley told reporters, "What's the use of fooling around wit' a trial, a bunch of lawyers and all that bunk!"

Rudolph Duringer, police file photo
Rudolph Duringer, police file

In the meantime, Duringer was being held in the Bronx for the murder of Virginia Brannen. Prosecutors were already building a case against him while Helen Walsh was being held as a material witness in a secret location. Rumors surfaced that the Brannen girl was killed as a favor for an unknown party who paid Crowley and Duringer $300 for the job.

"Nonsense!" said Inspector Harold King, chief of Nassau County Detectives to a reporter from The New York Times, "That murder was a sordid sex murder and the payment of money had no connection with it." Duringer had already made a confession to detectives and explained why he killed her. "She told me she was going to marry someone else," he said. "I loved her and so I shot her!"

In the meantime, the landlord of a building, damaged during the siege of 90th Street, submitted a bill to the city for damages. It claimed $2,824 for "loss of good will, tenants and trespass, invasion and willful destruction" caused by more than a thousand rounds fired by police during their capture of "Two Gun" Crowley.

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