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Annie Downey Murder

From the autobiographical notes of Captain Charles Albertson regarding his career in the New York City Police Department and his travels and adventures during retirement beginning in January 1905.

Annie Downey Murder

About 1879 or 1880 there was a house of prostitution at 111 Prince Street opposite the station house. One of the inmates of that house was a beautiful girl known as Annie Downey. She frequently visited her mother on the east side of the city late at night after closing time. On a certain morning, I saw her at Broadway and Prince Street on her way back from her mother. She complained that the negro bootblack in our station was infatuated with her and continually annoyed her and that it was so serious that something must be done to help her. I told her that I believed I could help her. She also stated that the Madame of the house [Blanche Schmidt] where she lived was insanely jealous of her and it was so unpleasant that she intended to leave.

When I came to turn out on post at six that evening there was a crowd in front of 111 Prince Street. Annie Downey had been found dead in bed, stabbed in more than a dozen places. I notified the Captain of my conversation with the deceased but nothing came of it. One more murder mystery added to the long list.

Soon after the murder the negro bootblack disappeared and I did not see him for several years. One cold snowy night I saw him in front of Daly’s Theatre, Broadway between 29 and 30th Streets as the audience came out. I waited until the carriages were gone. He was hunting or calling coaches as the numbers were called. He was ragged, down and out. Then I called him to me and requested to know where he had been for the several years past and he named many cities where he had been.

I then repeated to him my conversation with the unfortunate Annie Downey and said, “I believe you killed her and was paid for so doing by the Madame of the house where she was murdered.” He trembled all over. I had always believed he killed poor Annie, then I knew I was right in my surmise but evidence was lacking. It was too late.

POSTSCRIPT: Newspaper accounts from January 1890 show that Edward Tim was arrested for her murder despite claiming he did not kill Annie.  Headline from article in the New York Times, Jan. 29, 1890:

Two more men were arrested yesterday by the Police in connection with the mysterious murder of the girl Annie Downey in the house at No. 111 Prince-street. One of the prisoners was a brother-in-law of Edward Tim, Charles Schortau by name, who confessed to several burglaries in Greene and Mercer streets.

To read more, visit the Orlando Public Library for microfilm of the New York Times.

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