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The Death of Isidor Fink

by Doug MacGowan

NYC Police Commissioner Mulrooney called the murder an “insoluble mystery.”

Isidor Fink came over the Atlantic from Poland and eventually set up a laundry in New York City in the early part of the 20th century.

On the night of March 9, 1929, he would become famous in a tragic way.

On that night he made several laundry deliveries and returned to his living quarters (which were attached to the laundry) at 10:15pm. At 10:30 his neighbor heard screams (but no shots) and went out to summon the police. A police officer happened to be nearby and rushed to the scene. Very little time had elapsed from the time the screams were heard and when that first policeman arrived at the apartment.

After interviewing the neighbor, the officer tried the front door but found it locked from the inside. He tried the back door but found it also had been locked from the inside. Testing the windows, he found them all nailed shut on the inside. There was no way a person could have left the premises without locking a door or window on the inside while standing outside. Because the windows were too small for an adult to squeeze through, the officer broke a window and then asked a small boy to climb through it and unlock the front door.

The officer was then able to get into the apartment and survey the scene. Isidor Fink lay on the floor with three gunshot wounds: two to the chest and one to the wrist. Because of the impossibility of a second person to have been in the room, the police immediately suspected suicide.

But there was no gun anywhere on the premises.

No money or valuables were stolen, so it didn’t appear that robbery had been the motive.

Fingerprints were taken but the only ones found were Isidor Fink’s.

The crime was now clearly a homicide but how did the murderer get into the apartment? And, more puzzling, how did he get out? And what was the motive?

Desperate by now, the police searched the premises for a hidden opening in the walls of the apartment. No secret doors were found.

Somehow a person had gained entrance into the locked apartment, murdered Fisk, and left through an exit that was not a door or a window.

The case would never be solved. It remains an unsolved murder in the annals of New York City police’s history.

The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes by Robin Odell
100 Weird Years“, The Independent, 12/26/99

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