“You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy”
The indestructible Michael Malloy, the Irish man they could not kill.
Michael Malloy also known as Mike the Durable and Iron Mike, was an Irishman from County Donegal who lived in New York City during the 1920s and 30s. A former firefighter down on his luck, homeless took to drinking on the tough streets of New York City. He is most famous for surviving a number of attempts on his life by five associates, who were attempting to commit life insurance fraud.
The events that led to Malloy’s death began in January 1933. The five men who planned the terrible deed were Tony Marino, Joseph “Red” Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg collectively known as “the Murder Trust”. The Plot involved taking out three life insurance policies on Malloy and then getting him to drink himself to death. They stood to gain over $3,500 (more than $61,000 by today’s standards) if Malloy died an accidental death. Now considering this was an Irishman, I can immediately see that there might be a flaw in this plan, but alas on they went with the plot.
Marino owned a bar and gave Malloy unlimited credit, which was his first mistake, thinking Malloy would abuse it and drink himself to death. This didn’t have any effect on him at all. Next up it was decided to mix antifreeze with his liquor, but still Malloy would drink until he passed out, wake up, and come back for more. Then turpentine, followed by horse liniment, and finally a mix of rat poison.
A nice combination of toxins but still Malloy lived.
The group then tried raw oysters soaked in wood alcohol. Getting really desperate now, they used a sandwich of spoiled sardines mixed with poison and carpet tacks. Finally it dawned on them that Malloy could not be killed by poisoning so they decided to freeze him to death. On a very cold NY night -14 °F (-26 °C), Malloy drank until he passed out, was carried to a park, thrown onto the snow, and had five gallons of water poured on his bare chest. All the same, Malloy resurfaced the ensuing day for his drink.
Green, a taxi driver, came up with the plan to knock him down with his car, moving at 45 miles per hour.
Finally something looked like it might work as Malloy was hospitalized, but unfortunately it was for only three weeks with a few broken bones, nothing life-threatening. The gang thinking he was dead once he was carted off to the hospital were ready to collect on the insurance policy. But he again appeared at the bar, Malloy returns!
On February 22, after he passed out for the night as usual, they took him to Murphy’s room, put a hosepipe in his mouth that was connected to some gas, and turned it on. This finally killed Malloy, death occurring within minutes.
Pronounced dead of lobar pneumonia, he was quickly buried. However, the members of the Murder Trust let it all go to their heads, fighting amongst themselves over the money and with rumours of the Durable Mike Malloy circulating in all of the speakeasies of the city it wasn’t long before the gang were caught.
The five men were put on trial. Green sent to prison, the other four members getting the electric chair. How’s that for justice, and one hell of an amazing story.