In an uncaring city, Malloy felt he had lucked upon a home in Mermaid's. Unfortunately for him, the owner didn't just run a speakeasy—he was also a killerby Giles Brody / April 24, 2020 / Leave a comment
Like many Irishmen, Mike Malloy set sail for America from Donegal at the beginning of the 20th century seeking a better life. After traversing the Atlantic, he initially found work as a New York City firefighter, before the Wall Street crash of 1929 plunged the nation into chaos leaving millions unemployed and homeless.
Malloy performed a variety of jobs to keep himself afloat, and adequately hydrated, during these dark days. His favourite drinking spot was Mermaid Speakeasy in the Bronx. Mermaids’ proprietor Tony Marino even extended a bar tab—which endeared him to Malloy to no end. In an uncaring city, Malloy felt he had lucked upon a home in Mermaid’s and its kindly owner. Unfortunately for Malloy, Marino didn’t just run a speakeasy—he was also a killer.
One year earlier, Marino had taken out a life insurance policy on Mabelle Carson, a homeless woman. Shortly after signing it, Carson was force-fed alcohol and left naked and unconscious beside an open window. Her body was said to have succumbed to the cold of a deadly New York winter’s night and her death was ruled an accident. Marino was named the beneficiary of Carson’s $2,000 policy. He is said to have baulked at the $5 fee to have her body embalmed.
The success of this crime emboldened Marino to try again in January 1932, this time with Malloy as his unwitting partner. Malloy accompanied Mermaids’ barman Red Murphy—posing as Malloy’s brother—on a tour of insurance agencies where three policies were taken out. Malloy drunkenly signed anything put in front of him for the promise of more free booze. Marino, Murphy and three other co-conspirators paid the first, and what they thought to be the only, instalment of Malloy’s policies. All going to plan, the Murder Trust of Mike Malloy would net $3,500—$70,000 in today’s money.
In January 1932, Marino told Malloy he could drink in the Mermaid for free, forever, knowing he’d likely be dead from alcohol poisoning within a week. True to form, Malloy drank from sunrise to closing time for weeks—but it didn’t kill him.
Marino is then said to have swapped Malloy’s liquor with antifreeze, but it also had no effect. Marino poured shots of rat poison and turpentine. Murphy knocked them back and asked for more. Murphy poisoned Malloy’s food. Nothing worked.
With the next policy payment looming and Malloy remaining stubborn to murder, The Trust took on more conspirators. Five became 12 and before long ballooned to 70 with every…