The Ahern Family - Police Officer Maurice Ahearn

Officer Maurice Ahearn
New Rochelle Police Department

Officer Maurice Ahearn
Officer Maurice Ahearn
New Rochelle Police Department

newspaper article
Undated clipping from unidentified newspaper

Supposed Thief Slays Patrolman at New-Rochelle.

Maurice Ahearn
The policeman who was murdered In New-Rochelle.
   Patrolman Maurice Ahearn, of the New-Rochelle force, was murdered early yesterday morning by a man, believed to be a burglar, whom he encountered coming out of Rochelle Park, a fine residence section of that city, carrying a bag on his back. The murder was one of the most vicious ever committed in New-Rochelle. The slayer literally riddled Ahearn's body with bullets. The policeman died on the lawn of Joseph T. Brown, vice-president of the Knickerbocker Trust Company. Colonel E. Lyman Bill, of the New-Rochelle Police Board, announced that the city would give a reward of $500 for the detection of the murderer, and said that the Rochelle Park Association probably would add $500 more.
   The New-Rochelle Knights of Columbus, of which the murdered man was a member have made arrangements with Dr. Longest, of Boston, for a pack of bloodhounds wherewith to trace the murderer. The hounds are expected to arrive from Boston at 7 o'clock this morning, and will at once be put on the murderer's trail. The murder occurred at about 1:15 o'clock directly in front of the home of Mr. Brown, and across the street from the house of Mrs. J. H. Hawkins, a widow, who lives in No. 75 Manhattan-ave. Dr. W. F. Johnson, a young dentist, of New-York, who was at his bedroom window, on the second floor of the Hawkins home, where he was boarding, was the only witness of the encounter.
   Dr. Johnson says that he was aroused by hearing some one talking loudly across the street. He went to the window, and saw that the policeman had stopped a stranger and was questioning him. The stranger was short and thickset and carried a bag over his shoulder. "You'll have to show me what you've got in that bag or I'll lock you up." Dr. Johnson heard Ahearn say. "It's none of your business what's in the bag." replied the man gruffly. "The stuff that's in it belongs to me, and that's all you need to know." Dr. Johnson noticed that the man spoke with an Italian accent. "I believe you're a burglar," said Ahearn, as he took the stranger by the arm. "You'll have to go over with me to the station house and give an account of yourself." Then the man suddenly grabbed the policeman by the throat. Ahearn was a powerfully built man, with broad shoulders. When he saw that the stranger meant to fight he at first wrestled with him on the lawn, and then, finding himself evenly matched, drew his night stick and began to beat the man over the head. At each blow the man would curse or give a shriek of pain.
   Dr. Johnson says that the men fought over the lawn for fully five minutes, when suddenly he heard Ahearn shout: "Help, help! I'm shot!" As Ahearn staggered backward and fell the dentist noticed that he had his hand in his hip pocket, as if he had been trying to draw his revolver.
   As the policeman lay on the ground the murderer, who had started to run away, turned back and, standing over him, fired three more shots. As he fired he exclaimed, "I'll show you what's in this bag!" He then walked coolly away toward the main entrance of the park. Dr. Johnson rushed down-stairs and telephoned to the police. Then he went out on the lawn and found several other neighbors who had been aroused by the shooting.
   Sergeant Kelly sent out a general alarm to the police of New-York and the Westchester and Connecticut towns, and, although within fifteen minutes after the crime was committed he had half a dozen policemen scouring the park and surrounding country for the murderer, no trace of the man was found.
   Coroner Ulrich Wiesendanger, who lives in Yonkers, made a record drive across country to New-Rochelle and arrived thirty-five minutes after he was called by telephone. He ordered the body of the police man removed to the morgue, and joined in the search for the murderer.
   The only clew left by the murderer is some sheathing, a coarse kind of straw used by florists in packing flowers. The police believe that he carried this in the bag to prevent silverware from rattling. At noon yesterday Chief Timmons had not been informed that any house in the park had been robbed. He said that if a burglary had been committed the thief evidently had entered some furnished house which is unoccupied, and that the owners might not report it for several days. He had his men looking up all of the unoccupied houses.
   Angelo Bonevento, an Italian, was arrested at 8 a. m. by the Port Chester police, on suspicion. He was taken to New-Rochelle in the afternoon. He is twenty-six years old and lives in Greenwich. He carried a .32 caliber revolver, the same size as was used by the murderer, and had fragments of burlap on his coat, which looked like the fragments of the sheathing found in the roadway where the policeman struggled with his assailant. Sergeant Cody, who examined the revolver, is of the opinion that it has not been fired off in several months. The Italian said he got the straw and burlap on his coat from sleeping in a baker's wagon in Port Chester. The most suspicious indications about the Italian are bloodspots on his clothing and a deep scratch on his face. He is unable to explain how he received them.
   The murdered policeman was known as one of the best men on the force. About a year ago he encountered a burglar going through the park carrying a bag of stolen silverware, and locked him up. The man proved to be a professional crook, and is now serving a term in Sing Sing Prison. Ahearn probably would have captured his man yesterday morning if he could have drawn his revolver in time to have fired the first shot, but when he reached to get it he must have found it entangled in a tobacco pouch. His act in thrusting his tobacco pouch in his pocket with his revolver probably cost him his life.
   Ahearn was single, about thirty-three years old. He had been a watchman and policeman for seven years. He lived with his cousin, James Gahan, a builder, of New-Rochelle and his only other relative in this country is a brother, Patrick Ahearn, of No. 204 East One hundred and seventh st., Manhattan, an employe of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company.
New-York Tribune 21 June 1903

Assailant of New Rochelle Watchman Made Murder Sure.
Supposed Burglar Killed Employe of Wealthy Residents
Italian Suspect Held at Port Chester

NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., June 20.—Maurice Ahearn, a private watchman in Rochelle Park, was murdered this morning by a supposed burglar. While on duty about 1:15 o'clock this morning the watchman saw a man with a bag over his shoulder, and stopping him asked what he carried. The stranger replied that it was none of Ahearn's business. The men came to blows, and a few seconds later several shots were fired. Residents of the park who were aroused by the firing hastened from their houses and found Ahearn lying in Manhattan Avenue. A bullet had entered his body over the heart, and he died soon afterward.
The shooting was in front of the residence of Joseph P. Brown, Vice President of the Knickerbocker Trust. Dr. Johnson, who had been sitting up with a sick friend, heard all that passed between the murderer and his victim. He says that the men grappled and rolled on the ground. After a short struggle the watchman regained his feet, and kept a grip on his opponent's collar. The stranger drew a revolver and, placing it against Ahearn's breast, fired, the bullet entering the watchman's body over the heart.
Dr. Johnson says that the man after having fired the shot put his revolver back into his pocket and walked away slowly. After going a short distance he returned to where Ahearn was lying, and, placing the revolver to the watchman's neck, fired a second shot. Then he fired a third shot into Ahearn's right side. After firing the third shot the murderer fled.
Dr. Johnson rushed from the house, and on reaching Ahearn found that the man was dying. He hastened back to the house and telephoned to the police. Sergt. Kelly sent several policemen to the scene of the murder and others to the railroad stations. He also telephoned to the police stations of nearby places to keep a lookout for the fugitive.
Ahearn was thirty-two years old and unmarried. He had been employed by the residents of Rochelle Park, which is a fashionable section of the town, for several years.
Col. Edward Lyman Bill, President of the Police Board, has offered a reward of $1,000 for the capture of the murderer. Of this sum, $500 is offered on behalf of the city and $500 on behalf of the Rochelle Park Association.
The Knights of Columbus, of which Ahearn was a member, have sent to Boston for a bloodhound, which will be put on the trail of the murderer.
The Italian arrested in Port Chester has been brought here, and the police, after investigating his story, said that they believed that he had accounted for his whereabouts at the time of the shooting, though he is still held. The real murderer may be hiding in New Rochelle.
New York Times 21 June 1903

Police of New Rochelle Unable to Find the Slayer of Policeman Ahearn
   NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., June 21—Although every possible clue has been followed by police of this city since yesterday morning, they have not found the man who murdered Special Policeman Maurice Ahearn in New Rochelle Park yesterday morning. The blood lost by the murderer—which marks the ground about where he and the officer had the struggle before the shooting is being carefully guarded so that a bloodhound which is to be brought here from Boston by the Knights of Columbus may be allowed to smell of it and perhaps trace the criminal.
   Chief Timmins and his men have ransacked every Italian settlement looking for the man who they believe was badly battered before he killed Ahearn. The officer used his club and fists. His right hand is swollen, and the knuckles show bruises where they were brought into contact with the face of the man, possibly breaking his nose. No injured man was found among the Italians.
   Ahearn's death was referred to in the Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament, of which he was a member, and in the Methodist church to-day. That he fell in performing his duty was pointed out. It was said, too, that he was killed as a partial result of his own forbearance because he tried to arrest the man without violence.
   Ahearn's body was this morning removed to a vacant house in West New Rochelle, which has been engaged by the Knights of Columbus. Tuesday morning the funeral will be held in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament.
   The Italian, Angelo Donavento, who was arrested yesterday at Port Chester on suspicion of being concerned in the crime, has been released. His story of his movements on Thursday and Friday nights was verified.
   Ahearn's body was examined officially to-day. The bullet which is supposed to have been first fired was found not to have been fatal. It may have served to knock down the officer for it landed just above the heart and struck on a rib. Another bullet his a buckle on his suspenders and glanced off. The other two bullets inflicted wounds either of which would have been fatal. One was fired into the neck and punctured the jugular vein. The other went into the back and caused internal hemorrhages.
   Chief of Police Timmins said to-night that the only hope he saw of catching the murderer was in his being so badly injured he would have to seek medical attention.
New York Times 22 June 1903

Guardian of Millionaire Colony Shot While on Duty.
Special Policeman Intercepts Man With Booty and Is Murdered In a Scuffle — Bloodhound to Trace Criminal.
   New Rochelle, N. Y., June 22.—Roused by the fatal shooting of Special Policeman Maurice Ahearn in New Rochelle park by a man whom the Westchester police believe to have been an Italian burglar, several millionaire residents of New Rochelle have started a large reward fund for information leading to the capture and conviction of the murderer.
   While on duty in the early morning the policeman saw a man with a bag over his shoulder and, stopping him, asked what he carried. The stranger replied that it was none of Ahearn's business. The men came to blows and a few seconds later several shots were fired. A bullet entered Ahearn's body over the heart, and he died soon afterwards.
Bloodhound to Hunt Murderer.
   The Knights of Columbus, of which Ahearn was a member, have sent to Boston for a bloodhound, which will be put on the trail of the murderer.
   Dr. Johnson, who had been sitting up with a sick friend, saw all that passed between the murderer and his victim. He says that the men grappled and rolled on the ground. After a short struggle the policeman regained his feet and kept a grip on his opponent's collar. The stranger drew a revolver and, placing it against Ahearn's breast, fired, the bullet entering the policeman's body over the heart.
   Dr. Johnson says that the man after having fired the shot put his revolver back into his pocket and walked away slowly. After going a short distance he returned to where Ahearn was laying and, placing the revolver to the policeman's neck, fired a second shot. Then he fired a third shot into Ahearn's right side. After firing the third shot the murderer fled.
Lock Haven Express 22 June 1903

Man With Wounds on His Head Arrested as Slayer of Policeman Ahearn.
Prisoner Denies Having Been in the Town and Says a Fall Caused His Hurts.
   The efforts of the police and Pinkerton men to capture the murderer of Policeman Maurice Ahearn, of New Rochelle, resulted late last night in an important arrest. Frank Peff, thirty years old, was captured at a house on the California road, a lonely place on the dividing line between New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Eastchester. With Peff the police arrested his brother and five others, including a woman, who are held as witnesses.
   Peff's hand is badly cut and two of his fingers are bruised. The police believe that the wounds, which are fresh, were inflicted by the murdered policeman in his death struggle.
   The prisoner declared that he had not been in New Rochelle since June 14. Chief Timmons says he can prove that he has been in New Rochelle nearly every night for two weeks, and that he was near Rochelle Park on the morning of the murder.
   The police learned of the presence of a wounded man at the boarding-house, and Sergt. Cody and Patrolmen De Veagh, Fanelli and McSweeny were sent there. They surrounded the house and after an hour saw Peff coming down the road from the Tuckahoe marble quarries, where he is employed. When Peff saw the policemen he started to run away. Sergt. Cody drawing his revolver halted him and put handcuffs on him.
Priest Called to Identify Him.
   As soon as the arrests were made known the police station was surrounded by a mob. Chief Timmons and Coroner Wiesendanger were obliged to lock the doors. Father Manzello, the Italian priest of New Rochelle, went to the station house and was admitted, remained half an hour and hurried away. The police declined to tell what his mission was, but it was reported that he had been called to identify Peff.
   Chief Timmons said several facts connected Peff with the crime. His clothing is said to be spotted with blood, and he had a paper to tobacco in his pocket of the same brand as that which was dropped on the lawn where Ahearn and his assailant fought. The police and coroner had an all-night session, examining the prisoner and the inmates of the house.
   Dr. W. F. Johnson, who saw the murder from his bedroom window, was taken to Peff's cell, and after looking at him, said he was about the size of the murderer.
   Peff's foot almost fits the impression made by the murderer. His clothing and effects will be examined under a microscope to-day.
Says He Fell Over a Stone Fence.
   Peff explains the cut and bruises on his head by saying that he fell over a stone fence while returning home from New Rochelle, June 14. Physicians are positive that the cuts are not more than three days old.
   The bloodhound lent by Dr. Longest, of Boston, to trail the murderer, failed to arrive yesterday, but will be here to-day.
   The funeral of Policeman Ahearn will be held at 10.30 A.M. to-day. Mass will be celebrated in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament by the Rev. Thomas P. McLaughlin. Six members of the New Rochelle force, all Knights of Columbus, will be pall-bearers. The body will be in the church until 3 P.M.
Man Begging In South Norwalk, Conn., Held on Suspicion.
   SOUTH NORWALK, Conn., June 22.—The police have in custody to-night a man who they believe is wanted in New Rochelle, N. Y., for the murder of Policeman Ahearn. He [was] found in East Norwalk to-day, begging for food. He had a bicycle for which he could not account and refused to say where he has been for the past three days. The prisoner, who says his name is Edward Lenler, speaks French. His forehead is scratched, his nose bruised and there is a lump on his head. He says he is a French Canadian and that he last worked in Warren, R. I.
The World 23 June 1903

NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., June 22.—It is believed by the police that the murderer of Special Officer Ahearn is now in the Police Headquarters and is dying.
An Italian was found at Tuckahoe this evening who, it is said, answers the description of the murderer, slight as it was. He is badly battered up. His face shows signs of a severe beating, such a one as Ahearn administered to the man he had the struggle with.
He was brought to the Police Headquarters here and is in such a bad condition that a priest was summoned to administer to him the last rites of the Church.
The man says he is Francisco Casse, and is in such a state as to be practically unable to talk. If he is the murderer he has been in hiding in the wooded land to the north of the city, and how in his beaten and bruised condition he ever reached Tuckahoe is uncertain. From his condition now it seems almost impossible that he should have been able to travel a mile. Of course he has probably been more or less without food, and this further weakened him.
The bloodhound which the Knights of Columbus secured from Boston arrived tonight, and at a late hour was taken to the scene of the murder of Ahearn. An effort is being made to have him take up the scent.
New York Times 23 June 1903

Police Arrest Italian with Suspicious Wounds.
   The efforts of the police and Pinkerton men to capture the murderer of Policeman Maurice Ahearn, of New-Rochelle, were rewarded last night by an important arrest. The prisoner is Frank Peff [sic], an Italian, thirty years old, who was captured at a house in the California Road, a lonely place on the dividing line between New-Rochelle, Mount Vernon and the town of East Chester. With Peff the police arrested his brother and brought in five other Italians, including one woman. who are held as witnesses. The Italian who is under arrest has his head badly cut and two fingers bruised, and the police believe that the wounds, which are fresh. were inflicted by the murdered officer in the death struggle he bad with the assassin. The prisoner declares that he has not been in New-Rochelle since June 14, while Chief Timmons says that he has witnesses to prove that he has been In New-Rochelle nearly every night for two weeks, and that he was near Rochelle Park on the morning that the policeman was shot to death.
   The arrest of Peff was made about 9 p. m. The police learned of the presence of the injured man at the boarding, house and Chief Timmons sent sergeant Cody and Patrolmen Devaugh, Fanelli and McSweeney to capture him. The officers surrounded the home, and after waiting an hour saw Peff coming down the road from the Tuckahoe marble quarries, where he is employed. When the Italian saw the officers, he turned and started to run away. Sergeant Cody followed him, and, drawing his revolver, brought him to a halt and handcuffed him. The police took the suspected man to the New-Rochelle line in a carriage, and then boarded a trolley car. The woman and other inmates of the house were also taken.
   At 10 o'clock Father Manzello, the Italian Priest, of New-Rochelle, went to the station and was admitted. His arrival gave rise to the rumor that the prisoner was about to make a confession. The police declined to disclose the mission of the priest. He remained a half hour and then hurried away. It is reported that Father Manzello's visit was for the purpose of looking at the prisoner to see if he could identify him.
   Chief Timmons stated last night that there were several reasons for connecting the Italian with the crime. His clothing is said to bear blood spots, and he had a paper of tobacco in his pocket of the same brand which was dropped on the lawn where Policeman Ahearn and his assailant fought their death duel. The police the coroner held an all night session, examining the prisoner and inmates of the house.
   Dr. W. F. Johnson, the young dentist who witnessed the murder from his bedroom window in the park, was taken to the prisoner's cell, and, after looking at him, said that the man was about the size of the person who slew the policeman. His voice, he said, was about the same as any other Italian.
   Another circumstance which leads the police to suspect Peff is that his foot almost fits the impression made by the murderer. The police have confiscated all of the clothing and personal effects of the prisoner, and will examine them under a microscope to-day. The Italian explains the cut and bruises on his head by saying that he received them in falling over a fence while returning home from New-Rochelle on June 14. He says that the night was so dark that he lost the path and fell over a stone fence. Physicians who examined him last night are positive that the cuts are not more than three days old. The arrest last night is regarded as the most important which has been made. They attach no significance to the arrest of the colored man in Washington, D. C. who was caught riding on a freight train.
   A bloodhound of Dr. Longest, of Boston, arrived at New-Rochelle about midnight, in charge of a servant of the doctor.
   The police took Ahearn's clothes and night stick and let the bloodhound scent them. The animal was then taken to the place of the shooting. The dog started to run about the park. He seemed to trace Ahearn's movements rather than the murderer's, and to go over the ground where the policeman had been patrolling before the shooting. After the dog has exhausted that scent, it is proposed to take him to Police Headquarters and let him smell of the prisoner, and then set him loose again.
   About fifty persons, including Colonel K. Lyman Bill, and members of the Knights of Columbus, watched the bloodhound's movements.
New-York Tribune 23 June 1903

Bloodhound Search Abandoned—Suspect in Terror.

   The police and Pinkerton detectives who are trying to run down the assassin of Maurice Ahearn, the policeman who was killed In New-Rochelle on Saturday, held an exciting midnight hunt yesterday with a bloodhound. A brief account of this appeared in yesterday's Tribune.
   The hunt was a novel one. The bloodhound, after covering a ten-mile course in the darkness without running the murderer to cover, was taken to police headquarters, where at 3 a. m. yesterday he was turned loose in the cell of Frank Peffo [sic], the Italian suspected of the crime. The ordeal was a terrible one for the suspected man. All persons except those in charge of the hound were excluded from the police station, and the doors were barred. Sergeant Kelly then unlocked the cell door and the dog, which was in the keeping of Frank McGran, a prominent member of the Knights of Columbus, was let in. The Italian, who was sitting on a cot, was greatly frightened at the sight of the big animal. His eyes fairly bulged from his head with terror, and he started to rise, and fell back from weakness. Sergeant Kelly removed the man's hat and allowed the dog to smell it, and the wounds on his head, which are supposed to have been made by the murdered policeman's club. The dog after a few minutes gave up the scent and returned to the corridor, which leads the police to believe that if Peffo killed Ahearn he has since washed all of the blood from his clothing.
   The dog was put on the trail by being allowed to smell the blood which was supposed to have been shed by the murderer when the policeman struck him with his night stick in the death struggle. The club used by Ahearn and the blood stained uniform he wore were also placed under his nose. The animal set out at once through the park, trailing its head near the ground and sniffing and barking. Mr. McGran held to the chain and could hardly keep up with the animal, it went so rapidly. Dr. Foote accompanied him and the remainder of the crowd followed at a safe distance behind. It soon became evident to those in charge of the dog that he was following the beat patrolled by Ahearn the night he was murdered, instead of the route by which his slayer fled. The dog circled round and round the park, with its huge head close to the ground, and picked up every footstep that the policeman is supposed to have made on the night he was murdered. After thoroughly exploring the park and leading his followers a ten mile chase the bloodhound returned to the spot where the tragedy occurred and took up a fresh scent, which it is believed may have been the path taken by the murderer.
   The bloodhound spent the night in a cell at police headquarters and started out fresh yesterday morning to renew the search. He made several rounds of the park in the pelting rain, but the trail was so cold that he could not pick it up again, and at noon the hunt was abandoned.
   Several incriminating facts concerning the Italian were learned yesterday by Coroner Wiesendanger, who is in charge of the case. One was that Peffo was paying attention to a woman in Oak-st., New-Rochelle, and that he had been in the habit of passing through the park when he went to call on her. It was also learned that the raffia which was found on the lawn near where the struggle took place was stolen from the large greenhouses of Henry A. Siebrecht, a florist, of this city, who has nurseries near the park. Peffo formerly worked for Siebrecht, but was discharged seven months ago. Coroner Wiesendanger says that the Italian has told conflicting stories regarding the injuries on his head. He said that he was hurt going over a wire fence, and the police found that the fence he mentioned does not exist. Drs. Emberson and Brennan, who examined the wounds on the prisoner's head, are of the opinion that they were made with a club.
   The funeral of the murdered policeman was held yesterday in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, and was largely attended by the people of New-Rochelle. The body was escorted to the church by the Knights of Columbus, Foresters, and Women's Catholic Benevolent Legion. The coffin was covered with flowers, several of the designs being the gifts of wealthy people in Rochelle Park whose homes Ahearn had guarded for the last five years. Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Thomas P. Mclaughlin. The burial was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
New-York Tribune 24 June 1903

Looking For a Criminal
New York, June 23.—The police authorities of New Rochell [sic] have ransacked every house in the Italian quarter in an endeavor to locate the murderer of Special Policeman [Maurice] Ahern, who was killed early Saturday morning by a man believed to have been a burglar. Their efforts were unsuccessful.
Muskogee Daily Phoenix 24 June 1903

Of Policeman Ahearn With Blood Hounds at New Rochelle—
An Italian Suspect.
New Rochelle, N. Y., June 24.—Detectives who are trying to run down the assassins of Policeman Ahearn, who was killed Saturday morning in a battle with a man supposed to have been a burglar, have taken part in a midnight hunt for the murderer with a blood hound. The chase, which was novel to the residents of New Rochelle, was witnessed by a score of wealthy men and public officials who followed the blood hound and police at a safe distance.

After covering a 20 mile course in the darkness without running the murderer to cover, the hound was taken to police headquarters, where he was turned loose in the cell of Frank Peffo, an Italian suspected of the crime. The man grew pale as death and trembled with fear as the animal was smelling of his clothing. After spending a few minutes in the cell the hound gave up the scent and returned to the corridor, which leads the police to believe that if Peffo killed Ahearn he has since washed all traces from his clothing.

Grand Forks Daily Herald 25 June 1903

Italian Suspect Tells of Shooting Rochelle Park Watchman.
Says Victim Fired First, but His Revolver Was Found Undisturbed in His Pocket
NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., June 25.—Francesco Raffo, the Italian arrested several days ago on suspicion of having killed Maurice Ahearn, the special policeman, in Rochelle Park, on Saturday morning, to-night went on the stand at the Coroner's inquest and admitted his guilt. He asserted that the shooting was done in self-defense and alleged that Ahearn had first abused him and then fired at him. This was contradicted by the fact that Ahearn's pistol apparently never had been drawn and was found in his hip pocket, fully loaded.
Before Raffo confessed several witnesses had added to the evidence against him which had been furnished by Bernardina Seraffo, the girl he was to have married last Sunday, and who washed his stained clothing, and by others who lived in the house with her. His brother, Raffaelo, had tried in vain to clear him by swearing he had not been out of the house, but the evidence was so at variance that the accused man declared that his brother was weak-minded in order to save him from being thought a perjurer.
Raffo is intelligent and apparently well educated. He spoke English fairly well except when laboring under excitement, and then he lapsed into his mother tongue and his words had to be interpreted by Detective Sergeant Petrasine of New York. The accused was cool and even smiling when telling his story. Coroner Weisendanger warned him strongly as to his rights and of the fact that he might be convicted upon his own statement.
Raffo told of his being employed in the marble quarries at Tuckahoe, and continued: “I went to see the girl on Friday night around 6 or 7 o'clock, and stayed there until about 12. My intended wife went to bed about 11 o'clock, leaving me with John, with whom I had several drinks. I crossed to the park, and was at the circle when a man came from behind the bushes. In one hand he had a big pistol and in the other what I thought was a tin pistol. He said: 'Where are you going?' I replied I was going to Tuckahoe. He said that road did lead to Tuckahoe. I said I knew where I was going, having gone over that road many times before. He then in a threatening way said I had better turn back.
“When I turned to go back he struck me on the head three times with the small pistol, which stunned me some. Then he got hold of me. I asked him why he struck me. He replied, `I want to kill you.' He threw me to the ground, and as he did he fell with me. Both of us fought hard, rolling on the ground. We got up, and the man pulled out his pistol. I pulled, too. We both fired together. He fired first. Then I shot five times. I did not think I hit him while I fired the five shots. He was always walking. When he fired he was three feet away. Then he got nearer, about one foot away, and then I fired five shots. He ran away in one direction and I in another. I thought he was a loafer and he had some other loafers behind him.
“My clothes I brought to the house and left the hat in Oak Street. I stopped and picked up the hat after the fight. I was all full of blood. The blood came from the cut on the head. I had two handkerchiefs which I used to wipe off the blood off my face and left them in the Oak Street house. The revolver was in my coat pocket. The man did not come out like an officer but more like a loafer. In changing the clothes I took the coat of Frank Crotche and the hat of Angelo Banzo. They lived at that house.
“Saturday night I came to New Rochelle and stayed for about an hour and a half. I told the folks I was going to Brooklyn, but when I got outside I found it was raining, and changed my mind, going to Tuckahoe instead. Sunday night I was in New Rochelle, and stayed about two hours. I had several dances with my sweetheart at houses of friends of hers.”
The Coroner asked if the residents in the Oak Street house had spoken to him about the stained coat and hat, and the prisoner replied he had nothing to say as to that.
In reply to another question he said that his intended wife had not refused to marry him because of she thought he had shot the watchman. She did not ask him about it on Sunday night. He said, however, that his intended brother-in-law had refused to sanction the marriage after he learned about the fight. That was Sunday.
Giuseppe Raffo, a brother of the accused man, who was arrested to-day by Sergt. Frank Cody and Policeman Sweeney at his home in Brooklyn, testified that when he came to New Rochelle to get the bundle of clothes he did not know there had been a murder. He had lost the bundle, he said, while drunk, but had given the revolver, undisturbed, to his boarding mistress. The police have the weapon. Raffo was held by the Coroner.
A dispute is in prospect over the payment of the reward which was offered for the arrest of the watchman's slayer, as there are several claimants.
New York Times 26 June 1903

Declares New-Rochelle Policeman Shot at Him.
   The mysterious murder of Policeman Maurice Ahearn in Rochelle Park, at New-Rochelle, on last Saturday, was cleared up late last night when Francisco Raffo, the Italian under arrest for the crime, made a full confession to Coroner Wiesendanger. It was brought about by a clever police ruse. The murderer had confided his crime to Fedalo Seraffo, his sweetheart's brother. Fedalo was brought to the station by Sergeant Cody. Chief Timmons and Policeman Fanelli, the Italian officer, then told him that the murderer had confessed. The Italian, taken off his guard, then told all that he knew about the crime.
   When Raffo was told that his sweetheart and her brother had forsaken him he broke down and made a clean breast of everything. Chief Timmons, Sergeant Cody, Detective Petrosini, of this city, and the Pinkerton detective Bailey heard the confession.
   Raffo declares he did not know Ahearn was a policeman when he shot him. He says he thought Ahearn was a loafer who wanted to molest him. He declares that he shot in self-defence. He was led before the Coroner attired only in undershirt and trousers. He was told of his rights, but declared he wanted to tell the whole story. The following is his confession:
I am a quarryman, and have lived at Tuckahoe for fifteen months. Bernadina Serraffo is my sweetheart and she lives in New-Rochelle. On last Friday night I came to New-Rochelle at 7:30 o'clock to see my girl, who lives in Oak-st. I stayed there five or six hours. My girl went to bed and I stayed till alter 12 o'clock drinking cider with John Peepo, who runs a boarding house where my intended bride lives. I got a little drunk. Then I started to go to Tuckahoe by crossing the New-Haven tracks back of Rochelle Park. I had been that way many times before. I had not gone far when I saw a man come out from behind some bushes. He had a pistol in one hand and a club in the other. When he came toward me he said. "Where are you going?" I replied. "I am going to Tuckahoe. He said the road did not go straight and that I had better go back. I said "No." and he struck me three times on the head and stunned me. Then he got hold of me and I said to him. "Why did you hit me?" and he said. "I will show you." The stranger threw me down and we clinched and rolled all over the ground. I put my leg over his to try to turn him over, and he lifted me in the air. Then it was that he exclaimed. "I must shoot you." I pulled out my gun and said "You shoot me" or "I will shoot you." He fired one shot at me, but I dodged it. I fired five shots at the man, and didn't think I had him as he wheeled away and didn't fall down. The shooting happened near a lamp post in the park, and I didn't know whether I had killed him or not. I had a bag containing my clothes, and I picked it up and ran away. I thought he had some other loafers behind him. My face and head were bleeding from the blows that I had received and the blood flowed down my face. I didn't know the man was a policeman, I thought he was a loafer. My coat, which was covered with blood, my hat and revolver I left in a room I had hired for my intended bride in the Peepo house in Oak-st. I got in this room through a broken window and took another coat and hat belonging to a boarder. I was in New-Rochelle on Saturday and Sunday, and on Sunday night I danced with my girl. That night the people in the house asked me about my coat. They said to me "How about the blood on the coat and hat?" I didn't say anything, but to Fidela Sarraffo I said when I went away last night I met one who wanted to hurt me, and I shot him.
   Raffo declares Ahearn wore no uniform and that he did not display his badge. Chief Timmons said that Dr. W. F. Johnson, the young dentist who witnessed the encounter from a window, heard Ahearn say distinctly: "I am an officer. If you don't show me what's in that bundle I'll take you to the station." The revolver found in Ahearn's pocket after his death was fully loaded.
New-York Tribune 26 June 1903


Francesco Raffo

Found in His Affianced's Home, It Led to the Capture of Raffo.
   The story of how the murderer of Policeman Maurice Ahearn, of New Rochelle, was traced and captured was given out at New Rochelle yesterday after Francesco Raffo had signed his confession. The capture resulted from the finding of a pocket handkerchief.
   The handkerchief was found at the home of Raffo's sweetheart, No. 99 Oak street, on Sunday while Sergt. Cody with three policemen was making a search of all of the houses in the city occupied by Italians. Sergt. Cody toticed [sic] the handkerchief lying in a sink, and found that it was covered with blood. He asked the De Peepo family, with whom Raffo's affianced resided, who owned it, and they said Raffo. They then showed him three other handkerchiefs which were marked with blood. The police arrested Raffo and took the De Peepo family and the girl, Bernardina, whom Raffo was to marry, to the New Rochelle Police Station.
   Bernardina finally broke down and confessed to having washed a bloody coat. Her brother also told how Raffo had admitted to him that he had had trouble on Saturday night with a man in Rochelle Park and had shot him. The bloody coat and revolver for which the police have searched for several days in order to complete the evidence were found yesterday.
The World 27 June 1903

The Brave Officer In Attempting To Arrest A Suspicious Character,
Who Proved To Be An Italian, Shot Three Times And Dies Immediately.
Maurice Ahearn, a night watchman in Rochelle Park, was murdered in cold blood by an unknown man, believed to be an Italian, at 1.15 o'clock Saturday morning. He was shot three times; any one shot would have been fatal. Ahearn was patrolling the Park when he saw a stranger carrying a bag over his shoulder. Making a detour to accost the man from behind, so he would not be seen, Ahearn was soon behind the stranger. He commanded the man to stop, and asked him what was in the bag. The man refused to tell. Ahearn said: "You tell me what's in the bag, or I'll arrest you." The man refused. Ahearn then grabbed him on the shoulder. A tussle followed and Ahearn was evidently being worsted when he struck his prisoner with a night-stick. Both men then clinched, fell to the ground and rolled over and over each other, Ahearn trying to use his club. Ahearn got to his feet with his captive holding him around the neck. A pistol shot rang out and Ahearn giving one yell, fell backward, shot over the heart. He died instantly.
New Rochelle Pioneer 27 June 1903
Back to Index

It Was Where He Admitted He Dropped It
Evidence Now Complete.
   The last link in the chain of circumstantial evidence which the New-Rochelle detectives have been forging around Francesco Raffo, the self-confessed murderer of Policeman Maurice Ahearn, in Rochelle Park, was formed yesterday, when the burlap bag which Raffo, the murderer, carried when he shot Policeman Ahearn, was found beside a stone wall on the Sickels estate, just north of Rochelle Park, and about five thousand yards from the scene of the crime, where Raffo confessed he had hidden it.
   Detective McSweeney, who got the bag, found that it contained three Jardinieres and one hundred and fifty carnations, which Raffo admits he stole from Henry Siebrecht's greenhouse to decorate the room of his bride, whom be intended to marry on the afternoon of the day he shot Ahearn. In the bag there were also three chickens, which had been taken from the hennery of the country place of R. C. Archer, by Raffo, for his bridal supper.
   I wore three of the carnations in my buttonhole." said Raffo, in supplementing his confession last night. "when I shot the man, I say now that I knew Ahearn by sight, and knew he was a watchman, but he bad no right to hold me up.
New-York Tribune 28 June 1903

Tells Story of Shooting of the Policeman—How Raffo Was Caught.
   New Rochelle, N. Y., June 29.—Francisco Raffo has made a second confession to Coroner Weisendanger, in which he admits that besides being a murderer he was a robber also. The confession does away with Raffo's plea that he killed Policeman Ahearn in self defense and will probably send him to the electric chair.
   He said that after leaving the house of his sweetheart in New Rochelle he went to the barn of former Alderman Archer in upper New Rochelle, where he stole a bag and put three chickens in it. He then went to the Rose Hill nurseries, and stole about ten dozen carnations, a bunch of raffia and a pail.
   He then started back to the home of his sweetheart in Oak street and was passing through the park when he met Policeman Ahearn. In the struggle Ahearn was shot to death, and the Italian dropped the bag, and some of the raffia fell out. The police are searching for it.
   Raffo says that after the shooting he went through the park and into the woods toward Larchmont, dropping the bag in the woods, just where he does not know. He wandered about in the woods and became lost.
   Feeling in New Rochelle runs high against Raffo since his second confession, and the police have decided to take him to White Plains and put him in the county jail for safe keeping.
   The finding of the pocket handkerchief by Sergeant Cody at the home of the murderer's sweetheart at 99 Oak street on Sunday resulted in his capture.
   Cody noticed the handkerchief lying in a sink. This made him suspicious, and he asked the Depeepo family, with whom the murderer's affianced bride resided, who owned it. They said Raffo did. They then showed him three other handkerchiefs which were stained. The police then went to Tuckahoe and arrested Raffo.
   The coat and the revolver for which the police have searched for several days in order to complete the evidence have been found. The police found the coat in a boarding house n Tuckahoe and the revolver in the home of Raffo's brother, Joseph, in Brooklyn.
Lock Haven Express 29 June 1903

Raffo, Murderer of Policeman Ahearn, Sentimental and Cool.
   NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., June 28—The citizens of this place have started a fund to build a memorial to murdered Policeman Maurice Ahearn. Col. F. Lyman Bill, president of the New Rochelle police board, has designated the local newspapers as custodians of the money. The Knights of Columbus and the Foresters, of which Ahearn was a member, will hold a memorial benefit for the fund on Wednesday, July 15, in the New Rochelle Theatre.
   Francesco Raffo, the murderer now in the White Plains jail, the police say, is the coolest prisoner they ever have seen. Just before he was taken away Chief Timmons showed him the bag of stolen carnations which he was carrying when Ahearn stopped him in Rochelle Park. The murderer identified the flowers and then begged for a few of them. "I want to wear them on my coat," he said. "They are dear to me, because I was taking them to my sweet-heart." The prisoner's brother, Joseph Raffo, who helped him to hide his bloody coat, was taken to White Plains to-day. He was held by the Coroner as an accessory.
The Sun 29 June 1903

Raffo Confesses That He Slew Ahearn.
   NEW ROCHELLE June 30.—"First I went to Mr. Archers where I stole a burlap bag and these chickens. Then from there I went to the home of Henry Seibrecht, who is a florist. He has greenhouses in North Street about a mile north of Rochelle Park. There I got a lot of flowers and put them In the bag with the chickens. Next I started to go to the home of Bernardina Serrafo, my sweetheart, on Oak Street. "I walked through Rochelle Park, when I met a man whom I thought was a loafer. I shot him five times. I did not know he was a policeman. "I was going to get married the next day. The flowers I wanted to decorate the house after the girl and I had married. The chickens I was going to have for a wedding supper. The bag I hid in a stone wall after I shot the man. It must be there yet."
   This second confession made by Francesco Raffo, the self-confessed slayer of Policeman Maurice Ahearn of New-Rochelle, completes the chain of evidence which Coroner Weisendanger has forged around the prisoner, and there is said to be no chance of his escaping conviction.
   Raffo seems happy that be has told all about the robbery and the homicide which have kept the residents of New-Rochelle in a great state of excitement for a week and he declares he is happier for having made it. "You can do as you please with me," he continued. "I shot the man in self-defense. He fired at me first. I thought he was a loafer. He didn't have on any uniform or badge."
   It has developed that when Ahearn was found dead he was attired in citizen's clothing and this corroborates the statement of Raffo and may save him from the electric chair but District Attorney Young says the evidence and confessions are so strong as to insure a conviction of murder in the first degree. The Westminster county grand jury has adjourned and the prisoner cannot be indicted until September.
The Washington Times 30 June 1903

Array of Excellent Talent for the Show Next Wednesday,
A large aggregation of professional people have volunteered their services for the Ahearn Benefit which will be given in the New Rochelle theatre on the evening of Wednesday, July 15. J. J. Armstrong, the manager of the theatre, has offered his house staff for the occasion. Col. E. Lyman Bill, president of the Board of Police Commissioners, has been requested to make the opening address, and Rev. Thomas P. McLaughlin will also probably make an address.

The artists expected to appear are Charles Collins of Klaw and Erlanger's production "Ben Hur"; Prof. Charles F. Werning, violinist; Joseph Sheehan, operatic tenor; Miss Ada Deaves, a talented actress who resides on Webster avenue; Prof. Yarricxk, magician. Other entertainers who will appear are Wm. O'Meara and W. J. Flood, of Yonkers; Miss Isabell Kuss of Yonkers; Miss Helena J. Albro, pianist; Magee and Magee, banjo artists; Six and Gedney, banjoists; Orville Howland, tenor, and Harold Forbes.

The committee in charge of the benefit are Peter A. Murphy, chairman; John F. Condon, Robert L. Forbes, John J. Carroll and J. J. Armstrong ex-officio. The price of tickets will be 25 cents, reserved seats 50 and 75 cents.

New Rochelle Pioneer 11 July 1903

Investigation Into Ahearn Murder Postponed Indefinitely.
The Grand Jury now in session at White Plains had its fifth murder case added to its work this week. The investigation into the murder of Policeman Maurice Ahearn, of New Rochelle, by Francesco Raffo, was postponed on Thursday owing to the illness of Dr. W. F. Johnson, one of the principal witnesses. One of the important witnesses that testified before the jury and against Raffo, was his sweetheart, a pretty Italian girl, who told how he gave her handkerchiefs to wash and also saw him take away a bloody coat the night after the murder. Her testimony together with that of relatives of the girl will convict him, says District Attorney Young. Raffo will not be arraigned for trial until December, if indicted, as his counsel, Mr. Emmet, will not return from Europe in time to prepare the defence for the October term. A new panel of jurors for the October term of the Supreme Court at White Plains will be drawn next week. It is possible that an extra panel will be called, if it is decided to try several of the murder cases at that term.
New Rochelle Pioneer 12 September 1903

Policeman's Murderer Convicted
WHITE PLAINS, N. Y., Feb. 18.—Francesco Raffo, who, when detected stealing chickens and flowers, shot and killed Special Policeman Maurice Ahearn, was convicted of murder in the first degree before Justice Wilmot Smith at this place to-day. The jury was out from 5:01 to 7:34. Justice Smith on Tuesday next will sentence Raffo to die in the electric chair.
New York Times 19 February 1904

Policeman's Slayer Found Guilty.
WHITE PLAINS, Feb. 18—A jury in the Supreme Court here today found a verdict of murder in the first degree against Francesco Raffo, who shot to death Police Policeman Maurice Ahearn in Rochelle Park, New Rochelle on June 20 last. Raffo testified that he thought the policeman was a loafer who intended to rob him. His sweetheart, who at first turned against him, said that if he was acquitted she would marry him.
The Sun 19 February 1904

Martin Ebelt Who Strangled His Wife and Francesco Raffo
Who Killed a Policeman Will Be Electrocuted in April.
   WHITE PLAINS, N. Y., Feb. 25.—Two murderers were sentenced to death here today, they being Martin Ebelt of Mount Vernon who strangled his wife and Francesco Raffo, who killed Policeman Maurice Ahearn in New Rochelle. Action in the case of Ebelt was quick, he being sentenced immediately after the jury had declared him guilty. Both men will be electrocuted in Sing Sing the week beginning April 11. The Jury which convicted Ebelt had been out nineteen hours and thirty minutes, having been given the case yesterday. For twelve hours they stood eleven for murder in the first degree and one for murder in the second degree. The Jurymen were forced to sleep on benches in the jury room all night. More than one hundred ballots were taken. Ebelt showed stolid indifference to his sentence of death.
   Raffo, who was convicted some days ago was brought into court handcuffed to Deputy Sheriff Sarles. His counsel, Ex-District Attorney Andrews and Capt. Dr. Grenville T. Emmett made a motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the law and evidence. Judge Smith denied the motion and immediately pronounced sentence. After Raffo had been taken back to the jail and was told by an interpreter that his sentence meant death he almost collapsed and then wept. Ex-District-Attorney Andrew says he will carry an appeal from the convictions of Ebelt and Raffo to the Court of Appeals.
The Evening World 25 February 1904

Justice Smith Appoints Time for Execution of Ebelt and Raffo.
   WHITE PLAINS, N. Y., Feb. 25.—Supreme Court Justice Smith to-day sentenced two murderers to the electric chair. Both sentences are to be executed in the course of the week beginning April 12. Martin Ebelt, who murdered his wife, was pronounced guilty this morning after the jury had been out all night, and was sentenced as soon as the verdict was presented.
   After disposing of the Ebelt case Justice Smith sentenced Francesco Raffo to death for the murder of Special Policeman Maurice Ahearn. Raffo was tried and convicted last week.
New York Times 26 February 1904

Two Men Sentenced to Die.
New York, Feb., 26.—Martin Ebolt was found guilty of murder in the first degree at White Plains, his crime being the slaying of his wife, and was sentenced to be electrocuted at Sing Sing during the week of April 11. Francisco Raffo, convicted last week of first degree murder for having killed Special Policeman Maurice Ahearn, was also sentenced to be electrocuted at Sing Sing the same week as Ebolt. Ahearn was slain while attempting to arrest Raffo. He was not in uniform, and Raffo, who had been stealing chickens and flowers, claimed in defense that he thought Ahearn was a highwayman.
Lock Haven Express 26 February 1904

Decision of Court on Bergstrom Appeal Affects Raffo and Ebelt.
   Three murderers from Westchester County who are in the deathhouse at Sing Sing will have to die because of the decision of the Court of Appeals, just handed down. In the appeal of Oscar Bergstrom, of Mount Kisco, affirming his conviction. His lawyer, David H. Hunt, made the appeal on the ground that the Westchester jury law was unconstitutional, because it did not give the prisoner a right to challenge each individual grand Juryman.
   The Court of Appeals does not touch on that question, but holds that the constitution of the United States provides that each prisoner is entitled to a trial by a Jury of twelve men. Mr. Hunt raised many novel points in his appeal, but the decision is against him and means that Martin Ebelt, who strangled his bride at Mount Vernon and threw her body in a sewer, and Francesco Raffo, who shot Policeman Maurice Ahearn, will have to go to the electric chair. Each appeal of the murderers was based on the constitutionality of the jury law. Such a grave question was raised that the Westchester Bar Association had a special jury act passed by the last legislature.
New-York Tribune 28 April 1904

ALBANY, Feb. 21.—The Court of Appeals to-day reversed the judgment convicting Francesco Raffo of the murder of Michael Ahern [sic] and granted a new trial. Raffo was charged with lying in wait for Ahern on the night of June 20, 1903, in New Rochelle, and killing him after a fierce struggle. His defense was that, not understanding English, he thought Ahern was a highwayman.
The Syracuse Post-Standard 22 February 1905

Convict In for Manslaughter Fatally Stabs Another Convicted of Murder.
   PLATTSBURG, N. Y., Feb. 20.—Francesco Raffo a convict in Clinton Prison at Dannemora, died there last evening as a result of being stabbed in the neck by Michael Yoscow, another convict. Raffo, who was convicted on February 18, 1904 in Westchester county and sentenced to death, secured a new trial and was finally convicted of manslaughter in the first degree and sentenced to Sing Sing for twenty years.
   Yoscow was convicted in New York in May, 1904 of murder in the second degree and sentenced to Sing Sing for life. Later they were both transferred to Dannemora, where they have since been under treatment in the prison hospital for tuberculosis. Day before yesterday they both went into the toilet room of the ward, when Yoscow suddenly drew a knife he had concealed either in his clothing or in his bed and assaulted Raffo. So far as known up to the time of the assault there had been no bad blood between the two men. Yoscow refused to talk except to say, referring to Raffo: "He knows why I killed him."
   Warden Frank D. Cole of the prison said in giving out the facts to the newspaper men that it was simply a case of two "bad men," each one of whom had already killed his man, getting into a scrap with fatal results.
The Sun 21 February 1907

Dedication of New Rochelle Police Memorial
Dedication of New Rochelle Police Memorial, 16 May 2011

New Rochelle garden honors city's fallen police officers
by Ned P. Rauch
NEW ROCHELLE—As communities across the area mark Police Memorial Week, the city has dedicated a pair of memorials to its fallen officers: a garden in the lawn in front of the Police Department and Court complex and a plaque bolted to the northwest corner of the building's exterior. Eight New Rochelle police officers have been killed in the line of duty. The first was Patrolman Maurice Ahearn, who died while interrupting a burglary in 1903. The most recent was Officer Gary Pagano, killed in 1982.

The plaque, which bears the names of the fallen officers, was rededicated after being moved from the city's former police headquarters on Beaufort Place; it had been in storage since 1998. The new garden is the work of Paul Carbone, a senior at New Rochelle High School, who designed and created it for his Eagle Scout project. "This is my gift to the city for all it's done for me," Carbone said Monday at a ceremony with city officials. "I will do whatever it takes to make sure this project stays in such pristine condition." Carbone will attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall and plans to study international affairs.

Mayor Noam Bramson called Carbone's project a "contribution to the spirit of the city." "He's a great kid," Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said. "We all wish we had a kid like that."

The Journal News 17 May 2011

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