Alice Crimmins Essay, Research Paper
THE ALICE CRIMMINS CASE
Eddie? Have you got the kids?
Eddie don t play games with me!
I don t have them, He replied.
Eddie! Don t fool around! Do you have them?
She had begun the conversation in anger but now her voice had risen to fear.
Don t do this to me Eddie!
Their not here Alice, He said.
Eddie please don t do this to me! She was pleading
There not here Alice!
Eddie their missing! (Gross, 8).
It was Peyton Place come to the big town. The tale was murder the star was a curvy, aburn-tressed cocktail waitress charged with killing her four year old daughter. To millions of New Yorkers Alice Crimmins was a tramp responsible for an unspeakable crime. What Alice Crimmins really was a victim of what one of her lawyers called trial by innuendo, a woman persecuted for her defiant anger at a justice system more concerned with her social behavior than solving the murder of her children.
It was Wensday July 14, 1965 Lyndon Johnson had just announced that the United States was taking a decisive step into Vietnam, but another shadow had captured the headlines: Adlai Stevenson had fallen dead of a heart attack on a London street corner, and his picture taken moments before he was stricken gave a final weak smile to the public(Gross, 7).
On the morning of July 14, 1965, Edmund Crimmins reported that his two children were missing from a queens apartment where they lived with his estranged wife Alice. Police searched the neighborhood, hoping to find 5-year-old Eddie Crimmins, Jr., and 4-year-old Alice Marie Missy Crimmins alive (Gross, 12). In early afternoon, Missy s dead body was found in a vacant lot (Gross, 29).
The ground-floor window of the children s room was open, but police were more interested in Alice Crimmins reputation as a swinger. Faced with a dearth of physical evidence, detectives felt that her sexual affairs and her failure to break into tears upon immediately viewing her daughter s body made her a suspect.
Both parents indured intense police questioning about their broken marriage. A court hearing over custody of the children was to have started on July 19. Instead, the badly decomposed body of Eddie Jr. was found that day in scrub near the busy Van Wyck expressway(Gross, 94).
Mutual resentment grew between Alice Crimmins and the police who suspected her. She angrily accused them of not working to find the real killers, and stopped cooperating. Detectives and district attorneys viewed her hostility as evidence of guilt. Wiretaps, electronic surveillance, and hundreds of interviews with neighbors failed to produce any evidence. The district attorneys office tried twice to convince a grand jury to indict her (Gross, 243). This letter from Sophie Earominski made a third try successful.
Dear Mr. Hentel:
Have been reading about your bringing the Crimmins case to the grand jury and am glad to hear it.
May I please tell you of an incident that I witnessed. It may be connected and may not. But I will feel better telling it to you. This was on the night before the children were missing.
But as the press reported a handy man saw them at the window that morning so it might not be related at all.
The night was very hot and I could not sleep. I went into the living room and was looking out the window getting some air. This was at 2 a.m. A short while later, a man and a woman were walking down the street toward 72 Road. The woman was about in five feet in back of the man. She was holding what appeared to be a bundle of blankets that were white under her left arm and was holding a little child with her right hand. He hollered at her to hurry up. She told him to be quiet or someone will see us. At that moment I closed my window which squeaks and they looked up but did not see me.
The man took the white bundle and heaved it into the back seat of the car. She picked up the little baby and sat with him in the back seat of the car. This woman was then with dark hair, the man was tall, not heavy, with dark hair and a large nose. This took place under a street light so I was able to see it quite plainly. The car turned from the corner of 153 St. onto 72 Road and out to Kissena boulevard.
Please forgive me for not signing my name, but I am afraid to.
Wishing you the best of luck.
P.S.- About one hour later I thought I saw just the man getting into a late model white car (Gross, 121-122).
Alice Crimmins was accused of murdering Missy-there was not enough evidence left of Eddie Jr. s body to support a murder charge.
Her trial began in May 1968, nearly three years after the Crimmins children dissapered. Prosecutors called Dr. Milton Helpren to the stand. The renowned forensic pathologist testified that Missy Crimmins was strangled. He held that food in the child s stomach could not have been ingested more than two hours before her death. Helpren s testimony was irreconcilable with Alice Crimmins insistence that she fed both children at 7:30 p.m., two hours before she put them to bed, and over four hours before she midnight when she last saw them alive (Asbury, 94).
One of Alice Crimmins lovers a contractor named Joe Rorech remembered her telling him a month before the custody battle that she would rather see the children dead than allow her husband to take them. The night of the disappearance Rorech claimed to have called her apartment twice, receiving no answer at 2:00 a.m.
More damaging was Rorech s tearful admission in a Long Island restaurant 14 months after the children were found. She said there was no reason for them to be killed, it was senseless, Rorech uneasily told the prosecutor, I said Missy and Eddie are dead, and she said, Joseph, please forgive me, I killed her (Ausbury, 19).
Joseph that isn t true! Crimmins cried from the defense table (Asbury, 8). When Judge Peter Farrell restored order, Rorech said his conscience had later moved him to testify. He admitted to drinking heavily the day he called and could have dialed the wrong number. Rorech was a married man with seven children. The defense attacked him as a spiteful rejected lover, a perjurer whose marital and business problems were being exploited by the district attorney s office.
The second surprise witness was housewife Sophie Earominski, whom police had discovered to be the author of an anonymous letter offering information . From her third floor window, she claimed to have seen a woman outside at 2:00 a.m. about the time Rorech supposedly called. The woman carried a bundle of blankets and was walking with a man and a little boy. The man tried to hurry the woman who had a dog on a leash. The woman replied that the dog is pregnant and protested when the man threw the bundle in the back of the car. Does she know the difference now? the man said (Gross, 279).
Don t say that, said the woman, whom Earominski identified as Alice Crimmins. There was agony in her voice. She was nervous, she sounded freighted. Earominski said the man snapped, Now your sorry! (Gross, 280).
Alice Crimmins screamed in the courtroom, You liar! (Gross, 291)
The defense portrayed Earominski as a pathetic individual with an overactive imagination who enjoyed the celebrity of being a witness, adding that no one knew that the Crimmins dog was pregnant until after the killings.
Alice Crimmins cold attitude broke when she was questioned about her children. She sobbed uncontrollably on the stand. The next day she returned to face prosecutor Anthoney Lombardino. As Lombardino sarcastically questioned her about the whereabouts of the children during her many affairs, Crimmins anger flared. The histonics of the lawyers were so loud that a juror told Judge Farrell that the proceedings were inaudible because of the shouting. When the Judge finally instructed the jury he warned them, We are not trying here a case involving sex morals. We are trying a homicide case. (Gross, 293)
On May 27, an all male jury found Alice Crimmins guilty. As Farrell prepared to sentence her , Crimmins turned her wrath on the district attorneys. You want to close your books! You don t give a damn who killed my children! (Gross, 299)
An unauthorized visit to Earminski s building by three jurors during the trial and the judge s disallowance of evidence that might have cast a doubt on Rorech s and Earminski s testimony led an appeals court to overturn Crimmins conviction in December 1969(Lissner, 60).
Six months later, she was indicted again. Under the double-jeopardy rule preventing defendants from being tried more than once for the same crime, she could not be charged with murdering Missy. She was charged instead with manslaughter and indicted for murdering Eddie, largely under Rorech s new claim that she agreed to her son s death( Lissner, 55).
The second trial reveled how sloppily detectives had handled the investigation. Potential evidence from the Crimmins apartment was not kept. Psychiatric doubts about Sophie Earominski s mental fitness were introduced(Fosbourgh, 26). Joe Rorech expanded his testimony, saying that Crimmins told him that a convicted bank robber named Vinnie Colabella had killed Eddie Jr. for her. Prosecutors took Colabella out of prison and put him on the stand. He denied ever seeing Crimmins before (Fosburgh, 27).
The defense attacked the only motive prosecutors gave for Crimmins having her children killed, the custody battle with her husband. Her divorce lawyer had advised her that she would never lose her children under New York law, regardless of allegations about her moral reputation (Gross, 264).
A new prosecution witness, Tina DeVita, remembered glimpsing a woman, a man with a bundle, a boy, and a dog on the night the Crimmins children disappeared, echoing Earominskis scenario without idenifing anyone. After DeVita s testimony, Alice Crimmins appealed to the public for help. A man named Marvin Weinstein came forward and testified that he had been walking in the neighborhood with his dog, young son, wife, who was carrying their daughter in a blanket. Mrs. Weinstein came to court. She resembled Alice Crimmins (Gross 273).
The states case seemed so shaky that shock and weeping filled the courtroom when Alice Crimmins was again found guilty. In May 1971, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, for murder, with a concurrent five to 20 years for manslaughter (Fosburgh 1).
The murder charge was overturned two years later by an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court, which ruled that Eddie s death had not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have resulted from a criminal act. The court ruled that allowing errors like Joe Rorech s testimony that he had taken truth serum and a prosecutors declaration that Crimmins did not have the courage to stand up and tell the whole world that she killed her daughter were grossly prejudicial . The court ordered her to be tried again but only on the manslaughter charge (Permotter 1).
In February 1975, however, the New York State Court of Appeals reinstated the manslaughter verdict. Noting that two juries had found Alice Crimmins criminally responsibly for the death of her daughter (Goldstein, 34). The court ruled that the conviction was fair because there was no significant probability, rather than only a rational possibility that the jury would have acquitted the defendant had it not been for the error or errors which occurred (Goldsein, 96).
In September 1977 Alice Crimmins was granted parole after serving five years of a five to 29 year sentence(Sheppard, 1).
Alice Crimmins was a woman victimized by the fears and morality of a newly arrived middle class. I believe that Alice Crimmins is not guilty of the horrible crime, of murdering her two children. I feel that society was to opposed with the fact that she was a swinger that they did not care about the real killer. I do not feel that just because she slept around means that she did not love her kids and was a great mother. It will be a great day in our society when we can see the human being behind the job and realize that they are capable of love.