A 62-year-old shopkeeper was beaten early today,
Long Island City police reported, and died minutes later in the living room of his Sunnyside home.
The dead man was identified as Joseph Finger,
who lived at 39-71 44th street with his wife Sophie, and his two sons,
Robert, 13, and Justin, 24.
Jack Kerrane, a husky red-headed youth of 39-81 45th street, who was found by police on the front porch of the Finger home was taken into custody. Questioned at length by police, Kerrane repeatedly denied punching Finger and insisted that he had blundered into the Finger home in the darkness before dawn by mistake, thinking it was his own home.
The tragedy of death started, police said, when the elder Finger, and his wife and son Robert, were awakened about 5 a.m. by sounds on the first floor.
Father and son went downstairs to investigate and surprised a man wandering around the house. Police said the man attacked Finger with his fists, knocking him unconscious. Young Robert, meanwhile, had fled to the street shouting for help. His frantic screams attracted a neighbor, Joseph Davis, 45, of 41-42 44th street, who was driving by the Finger house at the time.
"Somebody is beating my father," the youth told him breathlessly.
Davis took the boy in his car raced several blocks to a phone call police.
The noise of the scuffle and Robert's shouts for help frightened Mrs. Finger and she ran into a bathroom, locked the door, broke open the window with a bottle and screamed for help.
Charles Mazzola of 43-17 Skillman avenue who was just getting up heard her screams. He quickly finished dressing and sprinted to the Finger home. He met Kerrane inside the front porch.
"What are you doing here?" he said he asked the youth.
"None of your --- business," Kerrane allegedly replied.
At this point, Patrolman Edward Dutcher and William Gromm sped up in a radio car, jumped out, pushed past Mazzola and grabbed Kerrane. Then they went upstairs, got Mrs. Finger out of the bathroom, and sent her to St. John's Hospital, Long Island City, for treatment of a cut on her right hand received when she broke the window. It wasn't until she returned home from the hospital that Mrs. Finger was told her husband was dead. At the news, she screamed and collapsed. She was taken to a neighbor's house where her son, Robert, was taken shortly after the tradegy.
Finger was pronounced dead by Dr. Jacob Werne of Manaica, assistant medical examiner, who said an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Long Island Star-Journal January 20, 1951
Jack Kerrane leaves County Court in Long Island after pleading not guilty at his arraignment on a second-degree manslaughter indictment. With him are his father, John and mother, Bridgett, of 39-81 45th street, Sunnyside.
Long Island Star-Jouranl February 15, 1951
He beat her husband to death and left
her with sole care of two sons.
But she wants him to have another chance.
So Mrs. Sophie Finger, 50, went to the office of Queens Assistant District
Attorney James P. McGrattan yesterday to plead for leniency for Jack Kerrane, 20.
Kerrane, a recent immigrant from Ireland, was convicted last month of second degree manslaughter
in the killing of Mrs. Finger's husband, Joseph, 62, a United Nations interpreter, on Jan. 20,
The youth, now awaiting sentencing, said he was drunk and entered the Finger house by mistake, thinking it was his own a block away. Kerrane faces up to 15 years in prison.
"If I have to live on the principle of an eye for an eye, I couldn't sleep or be a proper mother to my boys," Mrs. Finger tearfully told newsmen after seeing the prosecutor. She said she decided to ask clemency after consulting with her two sons, Justin, 23, a law school senior, and Robert, 14.
"Both our families have suffered enough," the widow said. "I'm not condoning what the boy did, but if he has any good in him I don't want to be responsible for turning him into an enemy of society by throwing him into prison with hardened criminals."
Her one condition was that the youth submit to a psychiatric examination. McGrattan said he would pass her request on to the court.
- The Kingston Daily Freeman March 15, 1952
A widowed mother has won leniency for her husband's slayer and the tearful gratitude of the
killer's mother. "She is a saint," said Mrs. Bridget Kerrane
yesterday of Mrs. Sophie Finger. Earlier Judge John Scileppi sentenced Mrs.
Kerrane's son, Jack, to an indefinite term, with a maximum of three years, "I could have
sent you to prison for 15 years," the Judge Said.
Mrs. Kerrane's 19-year-old son wandered by mistake into the Finger home in January, 1951, after an evening of drinking. He accosted Joseph Finger, 62, a shopkeeper and former interpreter of Russian for the United Nations. The youth thought Finger an intruder in the Kerrane home, which was on the next street. In the struggle, Finger was choked to death, Mrs. Finger consulted with her two sons, then made a plea for leniency for the youth.
- Binghamton Press April 16, 1952