The Man Who Wouldn’t Die

This is an amazing story of “The Murder Trust” (notably Francis Pasqua, Daniel Kriesberg, and Tony Marino) and their devious efforts (in 1932) to make Michael Malloy drink himself to death in order to subsequently collect insurance money:

Pasqua offered to do the legwork, paying an unnamed acquaintance to accompany him to meetings with insurance agents. This acquaintance called himself Nicholas Mellory and gave his occupation as florist, a detail that one of Pasqua’s colleagues in the funeral business was willing to verify. It took Pasqua five months (and a connection with an unscrupulous agent) to secure three policies—all offering double indemnity—on Nicholas Mellory’s life: two with Prudential Life Insurance Company and one with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Pasqua recruited Joseph Murphy, a bartender at Marino’s, to identify the deceased as Michael Malloy and claim to be his next of kin and beneficiary. If all went as planned, Pasqua and his cohorts would split $3,576 (about $54,000 in today’s dollars) after Michael Malloy died as uneventfully and anonymously as he had lived.

But when free drinks at the bar, for three consecutive days, didn’t cause any visible changes in Malloy, the group sought to expand on their deviousness by exchanging Malloy’s whiskey and gin with shots of wood alcohol. Drinks containing just four percent wood alcohol could cause blindness, and by 1929 more than 50,000 people nationwide had died from the effects of impure alcohol. They would serve Malloy not shots tainted with wood alcohol, but wood alcohol straight up.

He weathered through it. So what next?

At this point killing Michael Malloy was just as much about pride as about a payoff—a payoff, they all griped, that would be split among too many conspirators. Murphy tried next. He let a tin of sardines rot for several days, mixed in some shrapnel, slathered the concoction between pieces of bread and served Malloy the sandwich. Any minute, they thought, the metal would start slashing through his organs. Instead, Malloy finished his tin sandwich and asked for another.

So how did the story end? Find out here.

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