A DANGEROUS PYROMANIAC IS SENT TO SING SING FOR FORTY YEARS
Arsonist, Twice Convicted, Three Times Escaped from Prison, Finally Confined in Prison for Long Term, Probably the Balance of His Life
DESCRIBED by Chief Fire Marshal Thomas B. Brophy of New York as “the most dangerous pyromaniac I have ever met,” Anthony Alloy, demon torch under the influence of liquor, twice convicted, three times escaped from prison, is finally behind prison bars, this time for forty years in Sing Sing as a second offender, which means that he will be eighty-eight years of age if he finishes his term.
At this writing he is still a prisoner; an observation made by the writer in the hope that Fire Marshals, arson detectives and others interested in protecting human life, will clip his picture, file it and familiarize themselves with his career, as he has a penchant for finding his way out of penal servitude, and it is not beyond the possibility that he might yet repeat past performances.
Very recently, Alloy, a patient in Mattewan, N. Y., State Hospital for the criminal insane, was pronounced cured and returned to the Kings County Court in Brooklyn for sentence, having been convicted June 21, 1927, by a jury for arson in the first degree as a second offender, temporarily saved from going to Sing Sing by the findings of a Commission in Lunacy. He landed in Mattewan in the summer of 1927 escaped in March, 1930, had freedom for several months, captured again only to escape in December, 1930; recaptured in March, 1932, and in the Fall of last year was marked “cured” and sent to Sing Sing for perhaps the balance of his life.
Old Time “Acquaintance” of Chief Brophy
Alloy and Fire Marshal Brophy are old “friends.” They have known each other for 20 years. They met through a rather innocent and insignificant agency—a newspaper clipping—part of the filing system of “clips” which Chief Brophy has kept since his earlier newspaper reporting days on the old New York Herald. A series of suspicious fires in 1912 in the Morris Park and Woodhaven sections of that part of New York City known as the Borough of Queens caused the Fire Marshal to browse through his newspaper clippings, among which were a couple of paragraphs about a man arrested December 21, 1911, for a fire in River Street, Hoboken, N. J., but fined $50 for disorderly conduct. The address of the prisoner was in the Morris Park section of the Borough of Queens—the same general location then being troubled with suspicious fires.
From the Hoboken newspaper clipping, Chief Brophy got a good idea. He read Alloy’s name and watched the address in Morris Park which Alloy gave to the Hoboken police. His vigilance was rewarded in a few weeks when Alloy was seen entering a cellar in Rockaway Road. Alloy was continually observed and on January 15, 1913, Brophy grabbed him for two fires in the cellar of a house in Rockaway Road. Alloy was discharged in Jamaica police court for lack of evidence. As Alloy was leaving the court room. Chief Brophy arrested him again for a fire which occurred December 16, 1912, in a house in Jamaica Avenue. He was admitted to $2,500 bail and while awaiting trial was arrested again for a fire in Rockaway Road. May 5, 1913, for which he was convicted and sentenced to an indeterminate period of from ten to twenty years in Sing Sing.
Escapes from Sing Sing Prison
On July 12. 1916. he escaped, was gone a month when recaptured, and nothing more heard about him until Decoration Day, 1922. That night two fires were discovered in the cellar of a house in Atlantic Avenue. Richmond Hill, Borough of Queens. Four occupants perished. The fires had all the earmarks of the Alloy brand, but Brophy thought Alloy was still in Sing Sing. The Fire Marshal was shocked to learn that Alloy had been released on parole without notice.
Brophy and his aides went to Alloy’s house. There he was, in the flesh, and he protested vehemently that he was being hounded. He said he served only nine years because some welfare workers had interested themselves in his parole. He said he had been at home all the evening of the fatal fire and referred to a neighbor who had been a visitor to his wife the evening of the fire.
When Brophy and his men left, Alloy sent for the neighbor and cautioned her to be sure to say that he had not gone from the house at all that night. But other witnesses saw him out at a nearby cigar and candy store. Brophy arrested him. He was charged with arson and homicide; indicted and held in jail without bail for three months, when the indictment was dismissed following the death of an important witness. Alloy then moved to Brooklyn.
Sent to Mattewan Asylum in 1926
Nothing more of an official character is recorded about him until the Fall of 1926, when fire broke out at 11.42 p. m. in the cellar of 208 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn. Two blocks away similar cellar fires occurred at about the same time, followed by a third and a fourth fire in the same locality. A taxicab driver saw Alloy (whom he did not know) coming out of the cellar where the fourth fire was raging. The chauffeur told the first policeman he met, pointing out the man. Alloy was taken into custody.
At the Wilson Avenue Police Station the prisoner gave a fictitious name as policemen, reporters and others gathered about. Suddenly he glanced half way around and spied in the crowd his old friend Brophy.
“Hello Tony!” the Fire Marshal exclaimed.
“Guess I’ll give my right name,” responded Alloy as he continued, “Hello Chief, how are you—glad to meet you again.” He apparently had been drinking and was relieved at heart.
Frenzy for Setting Fires When Intoxicated
The “friendly enemies” had a long and confidential chat, Brophy shattering every alibi. Alloy’s only explanation was that when he drank liquor the frenzy seized him to set fires and he could not resist the impulse.
The evidence of two separate fires, in the night time, in a place where persons lived, made it first degree arson. The jury after three days trial found him guilty. The Lunacy Commission recommended Mattewan Asylum, but now while sober he is no longer a lunatic in the eyes of the law of the State of New York. Chief Brophy, however, still thinks of him in terms of “alcoholic pyromania,” after twenty years of unrelenting surveillance, which had its start in the newspaper reporters clipping system about a man from Morris Park arrested in Hoboken, and so it goes in the daily grind of an arson sleuth in the metropolis of the world—the criminal can’t win!