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QueensLine: 1965 murder of Kew Gardens Hills children remains unsolved

Alice and Edmund Crimmins of 150-22 72nd Drive in Kew Gardens Hills became front page fodder in July 1965 when their children were found murdered. For the next eight years, the twists and turns of their story received national attention. It spawned a veritable industry of true-crime novels, popular best sellers, TV movies and theatrical productions.

Embroiled in the middle of a custody suit with her estranged husband, and preparing for a court agency inspection July 14, 1965, Alice Crimmins found her two children missing when she went to wake them that morning. The window to their room, in the Regal Garden Apartments, was open. Alice Crimmins called her husband, and after a brief search, they called police.

Described as a “gorgeous, red-headed, bar-hopping mom,” Alice Crimmins attracted attention from the police when she seemed not only calm, but always dressed, as if she were about to go on a date. She was described as being “sharply dressed, hair teased and heavily made-up.”

When her 4-year-old daughter was found later that day strangled, she burst into tears only when the press swarmed around her at home. The suspicions of the police that she was the culprit who had a cold personality was confirmed over the next few days as, when they came to question her, she would keep them waiting as she was putting on make-up.

Alice Crimmins resumed her partying ways even after the decomposing body of her son, Eddie Jr., was found July 19 at 68th Drive on a grassy strip at the entrance to the northbound Van Wyck Expressway.

Police tapped her phone and notified employers of her past. Over time, various witnesses came forth who condemned or supported her story. Finally, she was brought to trial. Stories of her promiscuity turned public sentiment against her. She was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. An appellate court threw the conviction out. She was later paroled from prison in a hail of controversy.

Alice Crimmins faced a second trial. Again, a jury comprised of “conservative, old-fashioned men” convicted her. Three years later, in 1977, the case was again thrown out. Although she wanted a third trial to clear her name, the courts ruled she could appeal no further.

Alice Crimmins was released from prison, married her boyfriend and dropped out of sight. She is rumored to live on Long Island and is in her mid-70s. Both Alice Crimmins and the people who testified against her had flaws in their stories. How her children were killed has never been solved.

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In July 1882, the major news story was the Long Island Star’s ongoing coverage of pool-sellers, who today would be called “bookies,” in Hunters Point. The pool-selling operations allowed gamblers to bet on horse races. At the end of every race, a whistle was sounded and the winning horse announced. The losers were usually back the next day. “Gamblers, bankers, merchants, farmers, clerks, salesmen and men in all branches of mercantile business and trade” played the pools.

A reporter visited some of the poolrooms and reported that clerks were busy figuring and entering odds or the names of horses on slates. Cashiers were selling tickets and there was an immense rush of purchasers. Each succeeding ferryboat from Manhattan brought over large numbers to swell the crowd of eager and excited gamblers.

In early July, the police chief, Capt. Woods, was ordered by the police commissioners to arrest the pool-sellers. He did not carry out their order. At a Police Commission meeting July 20, Woods was ordered to “fully carry out” the previous order. Four were arrested, but one discharged and the other three remanded for another week. Woods had allowed a patrolman named Welsh to conduct the prosecutions. The judge was unable to discover any evidence on which to hold the accused, since the officer could not produce pool-selling tickets.

The Long Island Star commented editorially: “Captain Woods has had months in which to secure evidence or perfect arrangements for the arrest of the Hunters Point pool-sellers, and yet in all that time he has done nothing but demonstrate his incapacity and entire unfittedness for the position he holds.”

On July 28, the paper reported the next meeting of the Police Board would again order Woods to arrest pool-sellers. The Aug. 4 Star reported the results. Police Commissioners Williams and Armstrong resigned. Woods and the mayor did nothing about the situation, and pool-selling in Hunters Point continued.

For more information, call 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.

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Alvin Steffey Fashionista says:
Blessing to her
Nov. 18, 2013, 4:06 pm

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