Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

THE CROTON LAKE MURDER

Manhunt

Salvatore DeMarco, 1911 (Courtesy Westchester County District Attorney's Office)
Salvatore DeMarco, 1911
(Courtesy Westchester
County District Attorney's
Office)

There was still one more suspect on the loose: the man Zanza identified as Salvatore "Penolo." Westchester police had very little experience at that time in New York City and even less with the Italian community, which was perceived as a foreign culture with strange customs. It was decided that Westchester County Detective Joe Genova and Sgt. Bernabie of the Aqueduct Police, accompanied by a private detective should go to Brooklyn to find and arrest Penolo. The D.A.'s Office hired a detective from the Humphrey Detective Agency in Manhattan who also spoke Italian. The plan was for the investigators to hang around the bars and social clubs of East Brooklyn to listen for any information on the whereabouts of the mysterious "Penolo." The detectives kept a daily log of their movements.

"Known in Black Hand circles as a "big one," wrote Det. Genova. "Feared by his countrymen. Several would be mighty glad to give him away. Bad reputation all around," he said on November 20th. The two men soon met with friends from Italy who had assisted the agency before. "We came from the same part of Italy, which helped me in more than one case. Put the matter up to them. If they fail in locating Penolo, no human agency can succeed," Genova said in the diary. For days they scoured the Flatbush and East New York section of Brooklyn looking for the mysterious Penolo. "Around Brooklyn and New York Italian Headquarters. Mingling with prisoners' friends and Black Handers. Are planning a strong fight in behalf of the prisoners. Met stool pigeons on M Street New York. Could not locate Penolo," he wrote on November 24, 1911.

An Aqueduct Police Officer 1915 (Courtesy New York Department Environmental Protection Police)
An Aqueduct Police Officer
1915
(Courtesy New York
Department Environmental
Protection Police)

His frustration shows as time goes on. On November 26th, Genova said: "The thing is over. Penolo is wiser than what we thought. He is no amateur and knows every angle of the game he is playing." But 'Penolo,' who was really Salvatore DeMarco, was found on December 7 coming out of his apartment at 51 Cook Street in East Flatbush. He was arrested and brought back to White Plains for trial.

Although DeMarco gave a full confession, he said that he had no idea that a woman was murdered. He said that he was on the first floor during the robbery and told Anna Griffin that he was not going to hurt anyone. "No be afraid lady, I no kill you, me want money. I want three thousand dollars. Don't be afraid, nobody hurt you!" he said he told the woman.

During questioning DeMarco took police back to the Griffin farm and showed them where he buried a gun and $45 in cash that he stole from the house. But he insisted that the gang did not go to the farm to hurt anyone.

In one day, December 19, 1911, Salvatore Demarco was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Mary Hall.

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