George Metesky

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George P. Metesky
Born (1903-11-02)November 2, 1903
Died May 23, 1994(1994-05-23) (aged 90)
Waterbury, Connecticut
Other names Mad Bomber
Criminal charge
47 charges: attempted murder, damaging a building by explosion, maliciously endangering life, and carrying concealed weapons in violation of New York State's Sullivan Law.
Criminal penalty
Committed to Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane
Criminal status
Transferred to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in 1973, released the same year
Motive Anger and resentment about a workplace injury
Conviction(s) Not tried: declared legally insane and incompetent to stand trial

George P. Metesky (November 2, 1903 – May 23, 1994), better known as the Mad Bomber, terrorized New York City for 16 years in the 1940s and 1950s with explosives that he planted in theaters, terminals, libraries, and offices. Bombs were left in phone booths, storage lockers, and restrooms in public buildings, including Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the RCA Building, as well as in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside.[1]

Angry and resentful about events surrounding a workplace injury suffered years earlier, Metesky planted at least 33 bombs, of which 22 exploded, injuring 15 people.[2] He was apprehended based on an early use of offender profiling and clues given in letters he wrote to a newspaper. He was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital.[3][4]

Industrial injury[edit]

Following World War I, Metesky joined the U.S. Marines, serving as a specialist electrician at the United States Consulate in Shanghai. Returning home, he went to work as a mechanic for a subsidiary of the Consolidated Edison utility company and lived in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his two unmarried sisters. In 1931, Metesky was working as a generator wiper at the company's Hell Gate generating plant when a boiler backfire produced a blast of hot gases. The blast knocked Metesky down and the fumes filled his lungs, choking him. The accident left him disabled and, after collecting 26 weeks of sick pay, he lost his job. According to claims disputed by Consolidated Edison, the accident led to pneumonia that in turn developed into tuberculosis. A claim for workers' compensation was denied because he waited too long to file it. Three appeals of the denial were also rejected, the last in 1936. He developed a hatred for the company's attorneys and for the three co-workers whose testimony in his compensation case he believed was perjured in favor of the company.[5][6][7][8]

He planted his first bomb on November 16, 1940, leaving it on a window sill at the Consolidated Edison power plant at 170 West 64th Street in Manhattan.[1]

Bombs[edit]

His first two bombs drew little attention, but the string of random bombings that began in 1951 frayed the city's nerves and taxed the resources of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Metesky often placed warning calls to the buildings where he had planted bombs, but would not specify the bomb's exact location; he wrote to newspapers warning that he planned to plant more. Some bombs came with notes, but the note never revealed a motive, or a reason for choosing that particular location.[8][9]

Metesky's bombs were gunpowder-filled pipe bombs, ranging in size from four to ten inches long and from one-half inch to two inches in diameter. Most used timers constructed from flashlight batteries and cheap pocket watches. Investigators at bomb sites learned to look for a wool sock – Metesky used these to transport the bombs and sometimes to hang them from a rail or projection.[3]

Between 1940 and 1956, Metesky planted at least 33 bombs, of which 22 exploded, injuring 15 people.[2]

1940–1941[edit]

Metesky's first bomb was crude, a short length of brass pipe filled with gunpowder,[10] with an ignition mechanism made of sugar and flashlight batteries. Enclosed in a wooden toolbox and left on a Consolidated Edison power plant window sill, it was found before it could go off. It was wrapped in a note written in distinctive block letters and signed "F.P.", stating

CON EDISON CROOKS – THIS IS FOR YOU.

Some investigators wondered if the bomb was an intentional dud, since if it had exploded the note would have been obliterated.

In September 1941, a bomb with a similar ignition mechanism was found lying in the street about five blocks away from the Consolidated Edison headquarters building at 4 Irving Place. This one had no note, and was also a dud. Police theorized that the bomber might have spotted a police officer and dropped the bomb without setting its fuse.[3][10]

Shortly after the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the police received a letter in block capital letters:[10]

I WILL MAKE NO MORE BOMB UNITS FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR – MY PATRIOTIC FEELINGS HAVE MADE ME DECIDE THIS – LATER I WILL BRING THE CON EDISON TO JUSTICE – THEY WILL PAY FOR THEIR DASTARDLY DEEDS... F.P.

1951–1956[edit]

True to his word, Metesky planted no bombs between 1941 and 1951, choosing instead to send crank letters and postcards to police stations, newspapers, private citizens and Con Edison. Investigators studying the penciled, block-lettered messages noted that the letters G and Y had an odd shape, possibly indicating a European education.[3] The long hiatus since the last bomb and the improved construction techniques of the first new bomb led investigators to believe that the bomber had served in the military.

For his new wave of bombings, Metesky mainly chose public buildings as targets, bombing several of them multiple times. Bombs were left in phone booths, storage lockers and restrooms in public buildings including Grand Central Terminal (five times), Pennsylvania Station (five times), Radio City Music Hall (three times), the New York Public Library (twice), the Port Authority Bus Terminal (twice) and the RCA Building, as well as in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside.[1]

1951[edit]

On March 29, the first Metesky bomb of the new wave, and also the first Metesky bomb to explode, startled commuters in Grand Central Terminal but injured no one. It had been dropped into a sand urn near the Oyster Bar on the terminal's lower level.[11] In April, Metesky's next bomb exploded without injury in a telephone booth in the New York Public Library; in August a phone-booth bomb exploded without injury at Grand Central.[12]

Metesky next planted a bomb that exploded without injury in a phone booth at the Consolidated Edison headquarters building at 4 Irving Place. He also mailed one bomb, which did not explode, to Consolidated Edison from White Plains, New York.[2][13]

On October 22, the New York Herald Tribune received a letter in penciled block letters, stating

BOMBS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE CONSOLIDATED EDISON COMPANY IS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE FOR THEIR DASTARDLY ACTS AGAINST ME. I HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL OTHER MEANS. I INTEND WITH BOMBS TO CAUSE OTHERS TO CRY OUT FOR JUSTICE FOR ME.

The letter directed police to the Paramount Theater in Times Square, where a bomb was discovered and disabled, and to a telephone booth at Pennsylvania Station where nothing was found.[14]

On November 28, a coin-operated locker at the IRT 14th Street subway station was bombed, without injury. Near the end of the year, the Herald Tribune received another letter, warning:[10]

HAVE YOU NOTICED THE BOMBS IN YOUR CITY – IF YOU ARE WORRIED, I AM SORRY – AND ALSO IF ANYONE IS INJURED. BUT IT CANNOT BE HELPED – FOR JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED. I AM NOT WELL, AND FOR THIS I WILL MAKE THE CON EDISON SORRY – YES, THEY WILL REGRET THEIR DASTARDLY DEEDS – I WILL BRING THEM BEFORE THE BAR OF JUSTICE – PUBLIC OPINION WILL CONDEMN THEM – FOR BEWARE, I WILL PLACE MORE UNITS UNDER THEATER SEATS IN THE NEAR FUTURE. F.P.

1952[edit]

On March 19, a bomb exploded in a phone booth at the Port Authority Bus Terminal without causing injury. In June and again in December bombs exploded in seats at the Lexington Avenue Loew's theater. The December bombing injured one person, and was the first Metesky bomb to cause injury. Police had asked the newspapers not to print any of the bomber's letters and to play down earlier bombings, but by now the public was becoming aware that a "Mad Bomber" was on the loose.

1953[edit]

Bombs exploded in seats at Radio City Music Hall and at the Capitol Theater, with no injuries. A bomb again exploded near the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, this time in a coin-operated rental locker, again with no injuries. Police described this bomb as the homemade product of a "publicity-seeking jerk".[15] An unexploded bomb was found in a rental locker at Pennsylvania Station.

1954[edit]

A bomb wedged behind a sink in a Grand Central Terminal men's room exploded in March, slightly injuring three men.[16]

A bomb planted in a phone booth at the Port Authority Bus Terminal exploded with no injuries. Another bomb was discovered in a phone booth that was removed from Pennsylvania Station for repair.

As a capacity Radio City Music Hall audience of 6,200 watched Bing Crosby's White Christmas on November 7, a bomb stuffed into the bottom cushion of a seat in the 15th row exploded, injuring four patrons. The explosion was muffled by the heavy upholstery, and only those nearby heard it. While the film continued, the injured were escorted to the facility's first-aid room and about 50 people in the immediate area were moved to the back of the theater. After the film and the following stage show concluded an hour-and-a-half later, the police roped off 150 seats in the area of the explosion and began the search for evidence.[17]

1955[edit]

A bomb exploded without injuries on the platform at the IRT Sutter Avenue subway station in Brooklyn. A bomb hung beneath a phone booth shelf exploded on the main floor of Macy's department store, with no injuries.[18] Two bombs exploded without injuries at Pennsylvania Station, one in a rental locker and one in a phone booth. A bomb was found at Radio City Music Hall after a warning phone call.

At the Roxy Theater, a bomb dropped out of a slashed seat onto an upholsterer's workbench without exploding.[19] A seat bomb exploded at the Paramount Theater; one patron was struck on the shoe by bomb fragments but disclaimed injury. Investigators discovered a small penknife pushed inside the seat, one of several found at theater seat bombings. They theorized that the bomber left his knives behind in case he was stopped and questioned.[20] In December, a bomb exploded without injuries in a Grand Central men's-room stall.[21]

1956[edit]

A 74-year-old men's-room attendant at Pennsylvania Station was seriously injured when a bomb in a toilet bowl exploded. A young man had reported an obstruction and the attendant tried to clear it using a plunger. Among the porcelain fragments, investigators found a watch frame and a wool sock.[22]

A guard at the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center discovered a piece of pipe about five inches long in a telephone booth. A second guard thought it might be useful in a plumbing project and took it home on the bus to New Jersey, where it exploded on his kitchen table early the next morning. No one was injured.[23]

A December 2 bombing at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn left six of the theater's 1,500 occupants injured, one seriously, and drew tremendous news coverage and editorial attention. The next day, Police Commissioner Stephen P. Kennedy ordered what he called the "greatest manhunt in the history of the Police Department."[1][24]

On December 24, a New York Public Library clerk using a phone booth dropped a coin. Looking up after he retrieved it, he saw a maroon-colored sock held to the underside of the shelf by a magnet. The sock contained an iron pipe with a threaded cap on each end. After consulting with other employees, he threw the device out a window into Bryant Park, bringing the bomb squad and more than 60 NYPD police officers and detectives to the scene.[25] In a letter to the New York Journal American the next month, Metesky said that the Public Library bomb, as well as one discovered later the same week inside a seat at the Times Square Paramount, had been planted months before.[26]

1957 discovery[edit]

Eight months after Metesky's January 1957 arrest, a bomb not found in several police searches was discovered at the Lexington Avenue Loew's Theater by an upholsterer repairing a recently vandalized seat. It was the last of the three bombs Metesky said he had planted there. The first two had exploded, one in June 1952 and one in December 1952, with the December explosion resulting in one injury. As of the Loew's discovery, only two of the dozens of bombs that Metesky claimed to have planted remained unaccounted for: one at a Con Edison site on the East River, the other at the Embassy Theater at 7th Avenue and 47th Street.

With the finding of the third Loew's bomb, police closed their "Mad Bomber" case, saying that their searches of the two remaining locations had been so thorough that they were satisfied that the bombs were no longer there, if indeed they ever were.[27]

Search[edit]

Throughout the investigation, the prevailing theory was that the bomber was a former Con Edison employee with a grudge against the company. Con Edison employment records were reviewed, but there were hundreds of other leads, tips and crank letters to be followed up on. Detectives ranged far and wide, checking lawsuit records, mental hospital admissions, vocational schools where bomb parts might be made. Citizens turned in neighbors who behaved oddly, and co-workers who seemed to know too much about bombs. Everything had to be checked. A new group, the Bomb Investigation Unit, was formed to work on nothing but bomber leads.[3]

In April 1956, the department issued a multi-state alert for a person described as a skilled mechanic, with access to a drill press or lathe (for its ability to thread pipe), who posted mail from White Plains, was over 40, and had a "deep-seated hatred of the Consolidated Edison Company".[28] A warning circular picturing a homemade pipe bomb similar to the bomber's was distributed.[29] Police distributed samples of the bomber's distinctive printing and asked anyone who might recognize it to notify them.[30] A review of drivers' license applications in White Plains, the city favored by the bomber for posting his mail, found similarities in 500 of them to the bomber's printing; the names were forwarded to the NYPD for investigation.[26]

The December 2, 1956 bombing of the Brooklyn Paramount drew tremendous news coverage and editorial attention. The following day, Police Commissioner Stephen P. Kennedy met with commanders of every NYPD division and ordered what he called the "greatest manhunt in the history of the Police Department." Calling the bomber's activities "an outrage that cannot be tolerated", he promised "an immediate good promotion" to whoever arrested the bomber, and directed commanders to alert every member of the force to the absolute necessity of a capture.[24]

On December 27, 1956, the New York City Board of Estimate and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association posted $26,000 in rewards for the bomber's apprehension.[31]

Distractions[edit]

Throughout the search, simulated bombs and false bomb reports wasted police resources and frightened an already nervous public.

About 1951 Frederick Eberhardt, 56 years old and like Metesky a former Con Edison employee with a grudge, sent a simulated pipe bomb filled with sugar to the company's personnel director at 4 Irving Place. Eberhardt was charged with sending threatening material through the mails. At his arraignment in November, an assistant district attorney told the judge, "This defendant is a particular source of annoyance to the New York City police. We are firmly convinced that he is not of sound mind. He has been sending simulated bombs around the city the past few months. Hundreds of police have been called out at all hours of the day and night to investigate because of his actions." Eberhardt was sent to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric examination. Several months later the case was dismissed after Eberhardt's lawyer argued successfully that the package contained no "written threats", as the law required.[32][33]

In October 1951, the main waiting room at Grand Central Terminal was emptied and 3,000 lockers were searched after a telephoned bomb warning. The search involved more than 35 NYPD personnel, and took three hours because 1,500 of the lockers were in use and only one master key was available. As each locker was opened, the head of the bomb squad palpated its contents, keeping a portable fluoroscope at the ready.[34]

On December 29, 1956, at the height of false bomb reports from theaters, department stores, schools and offices, a note left in a phone booth at Grand Central Terminal reported that a bomb had been placed at the Empire State Building, requiring a search of all 102 floors of the landmark. A 63-year-old railroad worker picked up at Grand Central as a suspect died of a heart attack while being questioned at the East 35th Street station house. Later investigation eliminated him as a suspect.[35]

Profile[edit]

Fingerprint experts, handwriting experts, the bomb investigation unit and other NYPD groups worked with dedication but made little progress. With traditional police methods seemingly useless against Metesky's erratic bombing campaign, police captain John Cronin approached his friend Dr. James Brussel, a criminologist, psychiatrist, and assistant commissioner of the New York State Commission for Mental Hygiene. Captain Cronin asked Brussel to meet with Inspector Howard E. Finney, head of the NYPD's Crime Laboratory.

In his office with Finney and two detectives, Brussel examined the crime-scene photos and letters and discussed the bomber's metal-working and electrical skills. As he talked with the police, Brussel developed what he called a kind of "portrait" of the bomber, what would now be called an offender profile. The bomber's belief that he had been wronged by Consolidated Edison and by others acting in concert with Consolidated Edison seemed to dominate his thoughts, leading Brussel to conclude that the bomber was suffering from paranoia, a condition he describes as "a chronic disorder of insidious development, characterized by persistent, unalterable, systematized, logically constructed delusions." Based on the evidence and his own experience dealing with psychotic criminals, Brussel put forth a number of theories beyond the obvious grudge against Consolidated Edison:[10]

Male, as historically most bombers were male. Well proportioned and of average build, based on studies of hospitalized mental patients. Forty to fifty years old, as paranoia develops slowly. Precise, neat and tidy, based on his letters and the workmanship of his bombs. An exemplary employee, on time and well-behaved. A Slav, because bombs were favored in Middle Europe. A Catholic, because most Slavs were Catholic. Courteous but not friendly.

Has a good education but probably not college. Foreign-born or living in a community of the foreign-born – the formal tone and old-fashioned phrasing of the letters sounded to Brussel as if they had been written or thought out in a foreign language and then translated into English. Based on the rounded letter "w's" of the handwriting, believed to represent breasts, and the slashing and stuffing of theater seats, Brussel thought something about sex was troubling the bomber, possible an oedipus complex – loving his mother and hating his father and other authority figures.

A loner, no friends, little interest in women, possibly a virgin. Unmarried, perhaps living with an older female relative. Probably lives in Connecticut, as Connecticut has high concentrations of Slavs, and many of the bomber's letters were posted in Westchester County, midway between Connecticut and New York City.

Brussel additionally predicted to his visitors that when the bomber was caught, he would be wearing a double-breasted suit, buttoned.

Although the police policy had been to keep the bomber investigation low-key, Brussel convinced them to heavily publicize the profile, predicting that any wrong assumption made in it would prod the bomber to respond. Under the headline "16-Year Search for a Madman", the New York Times version of the profile summarized the major predictions:[3]

Single man, between 40 and 50 years old, introvert. Unsocial but not anti-social. Skilled mechanic. Cunning. Neat with tools. Egotistical of mechanical skill. Contemptuous of other people. Resentful of criticism of his work but probably conceals resentment. Moral. Honest. Not interested in women. High school graduate. Expert in civil or military ordnance. Religious. Might flare up violently at work when criticized. Possible motive: discharge or reprimand. Feels superior to critics. Resentment keeps growing. Present or former Consolidated Edison worker. Probably case of progressive paranoia.

Newspapers published the profile on December 25, 1956, alongside the story of the so-called "Christmas Eve" bomb discovered in the Public Library. By the end of the month, bomb hoaxes and false confessions had risen to epidemic proportions. At the peak of the hysteria on December 28, police received over 50 false bomb alarms, over 20 the next day.[31][35]

Journal-American letters[edit]

The day after the profile was published, the New York Journal American published an open letter, prepared in cooperation with the police, urging the bomber to give himself up. The newspaper promised a "fair trial" and offered to publish his grievances. Metesky wrote back the next day, signing his letter "F.P.". He said that he would not be giving himself up, and revealed a wish to "bring the Con. Edison to justice". He listed all the locations where he had placed bombs that year, and seemed concerned that perhaps not all had been discovered. Later in the letter he said

My days on earth are numbered – most of my adult life has been spent in bed – my one consolation is – that I can strike back – even from my grave – for the dastardly acts against me.

After some editing by the police, the newspaper published Metesky's letter on January 10, along with another open letter asking him for more information about his grievances.[26]

Metesky's second letter provided some details about the materials used in the bombs (he favored pistol powder, as "shotgun powder has very little power"), promised a bombing "truce" until at least March 1, and wrote "I was injured on job at Consolidated Edison plant – as a result I am adjudged – totally and permanently disabled", going on to say that he had had to pay his own medical bills and that Consolidated Edison had blocked his workers' compensation case. He also said

When a motorist injures a dog – he must report it – not so with an injured workman – he rates less than a dog – I tried to get my story to the press – I tried hundreds of others – I typed tens of thousands of words (about 800,000) – nobody cared – [...] – I determined to make these dastardly acts known – I have had plenty of time to think – I decided on bombs.

After police editing, the newspaper published his letter on January 15 and asked the bomber for "further details and dates" about his compensation case so that a new and fair hearing could be held.

Metesky's third letter was received by the newspaper on Saturday, January 19. The letter complained of lying unnoticed for hours on "cold concrete" after his injury without any first aid being rendered, then developing pneumonia and later tuberculosis. The letter added details about his lost compensation case and the "perjury" of his co-workers, and gave the date of his injury, September 5, 1931. The letter suggested that if he did not have a family that would be "branded" by his giving himself up, he might consider doing so to get his compensation case reopened. He thanked the Journal American for publicizing his case and said "the bombings will never be resumed." This letter was published Tuesday, the day after Metesky was arrested.[5][8]

Identification[edit]

Con Edison clerk Alice Kelly had read the Christmas Day profile and for days had been scouring company workers' compensation files for employees with a serious health problem. On Friday, January 18, 1957, while searching the final batch of "troublesome" worker's compensation case files – those where threats were made or implied – she found a file marked in red with the words "injustice" and "permanent disability", words that had been printed in the Journal American. The file indicated that one George Metesky, an employee from 1929 to 1931, had been injured in a plant accident on September 5, 1931. Several letters from Metesky in the file used wording similar to the letters in the Journal American, including the phrase "dastardly deeds". The police were notified shortly before 5:00 that evening. They initially treated the notification as just "one of a number" of leads they were working on, but asked Waterbury police to do a "discreet check" on George Metesky and the house at 17 Fourth Street.[5][7][36]

After Metesky's arrest, early police statements credited the finding of his file to an NYPD detective. Later, a report developed in a reward investigation conceded that Alice Kelly had found the file, and explained the misplaced credit as due to a misunderstanding of the file being "picked up" by the detective (at the Con Edison offices on Monday morning) as meaning that the file was "picked out" (of many). Although the NYPD did officially credit Kelly with turning up the clue that led to Metesky's arrest, she declined to claim the $26,000 in rewards, saying she had merely been doing her job. Consolidated Edison's board of directors also declined to file for the reward, prompting a group of shareholders to file as representatives of Kelly and the company.[37][38]

Police investigators who later reviewed the path that led them to Metesky said that Con Edison had impeded the investigation for almost two years by repeatedly telling them that the records of employees whose services were terminated prior to 1940, the group Metesky was in, had been destroyed. The investigators said that they had learned of the records' existence only on January 14, through a confidential tip, and that even in the face of police demands and formal requests Con Edison stalled, declaring that the papers were legal documents and that the company's legal department would have to be consulted before granting access. A statement by the president of Consolidated Edison said this was due to a "misunderstanding".[9][37]

Arrest[edit]

When the injury date given in the bomber's third letter matched George Metesky's accident date, police knew they had their man. Accompanied by Waterbury police, four NYPD detectives arrived at Metesky's home with a search warrant shortly before midnight on Monday, January 21, 1957. They asked him for a handwriting sample, and to make a letter G. He made the G, looked up and said, "I know why you fellows are here. You think I'm the Mad Bomber." The detectives asked what "F.P." stood for, and he responded, "F.P. stands for Fair Play."[citation needed]

He led them to the garage workshop, where they found his lathe. Back in the house they found pipes and connectors suitable for bombs hidden in the pantry, as well as three cheap pocket watches, flashlight batteries, brass terminal knobs, and unmatched wool socks of the type used to transport the bombs.[5][39] Metesky had answered the door in pajamas; after he was ordered to get dressed for the trip to Waterbury Police Headquarters, he reappeared wearing a double-breasted suit, buttoned.[citation needed]

Interrogation[edit]

Metesky told the arresting officers that he had been "gassed" in the Con Edison accident, had contracted tuberculosis as a result, and started planting bombs because he "got a bum deal". Going over a police list of 32 bomb locations, but never using the word "bomb", he remembered the exact date where each "unit" had been placed, and its size. He then added to the police list the size, date and location of 15 early bombs the police had not known about – all left at Con Edison locations, and apparently never reported. When his Con Edison bombs were not mentioned in the newspapers, he started planting bombs in public places to gain publicity for what he termed the "injustices" done him.[6] He also confirmed the reason no bombs were planted during the United States' involvement in World War II – the former Marine had abstained "for patriotic reasons".[40]

In their search, police found parts for a bomb that would have been larger than any of the others. Metesky explained that it was intended for the New York Coliseum.[6]

Indictment[edit]

Metesky admitted to placing 32 bombs. After a grand jury heard testimony from 35 witnesses including police experts and those injured, he was indicted on 47 charges – of attempted murder, damaging a building by explosion, maliciously endangering life, and violation of New York State's Sullivan Law by carrying concealed weapons, the bombs. Seven counts of attempted murder were charged, based on the seven persons injured in the preceding five years, the statute of limitations in the case. Metesky was brought to the courtroom to hear the charges from Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, where he had been undergoing psychiatric examination.[41]

Commitment to Matteawan[edit]

After hearing from psychiatric experts, Judge Samuel S. Liebowitz declared the tubercular Metesky a paranoid schizophrenic, "hopeless and incurable both mentally and physically", and found him legally insane and incompetent to stand trial. On April 18, 1957, Judge Liebowitz committed Metesky to the Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane at Beacon, New York.[4]

Expected to live only a few weeks due to his advanced tuberculosis, Metesky had to be carried into the hospital. After a year and a half of treatment, his health had improved, and a newspaper article written fourteen years later described the 68-year-old Metesky as "vigorous and healthy looking".

While he was at Matteawan, the Journal American hired a leading workers' compensation attorney to appeal his disallowed claim for the 1931 injury, on the grounds that Metesky was mentally incompetent at the time and did not know his rights. The appeal was denied.[42]

Metesky was unresponsive to psychiatric therapy, but was a model inmate and caused no trouble. He was visited regularly by his sisters and occasionally by Dr. Brussel, to whom he would point out that he had deliberately built his bombs not to kill anyone.[10]

Release[edit]

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a mentally ill defendant cannot be committed to a hospital operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services unless a jury finds him dangerous. Since Metesky had been committed to Matteawan without a jury trial, he was transferred to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, a state hospital outside the correctional system.[43]

Doctors determined that he was harmless, and because he had already served two-thirds of the 25-year maximum sentence he would have received at trial, Metesky was released on December 13, 1973. The single condition was that he make regular visits to a Connecticut Department of Mental Hygiene clinic near his home.

Interviewed by a reporter upon his release, he said that he had forsworn violence, but reaffirmed his anger and resentment toward Consolidated Edison. He also stated that before he began planting his bombs,

I wrote 900 letters to the Mayor, to the Police Commissioner, to the newspapers, and I never even got a penny postcard back. Then I went to the newspapers to try to buy advertising space, but all of them turned me down. I was compelled to bring my story to the public.

Metesky returned to his home in Waterbury, where he died 20 years later at the age of 90.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "6 HURT IN BOMBING AT THEATRE HERE; 1,500 in Brooklyn Paramount as Crude Device Explodes". The New York Times. 1956-12-03. Retrieved 2007-09-14. "A crude, homemade bomb exploded in the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre last night, injuring six persons. Fifteen hundred persons were in the theatre." 
  2. ^ a b c "15 WERE INJURED BY BOMB BLASTS; 33 Devices, of Which 22 Went Off, Were Planted Here Over 16-Year Period – List of Bomb Sites". The New York Times. 1957-01-23. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "Between Nov. 18, 1940, and Dec. 24, 1956 – a month more than sixteen years – the "Mad bomber" placed at least thirty-three homemade explosive devices." 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "16-Year Search for Madman; Edison Worker Sought HUNT FOR BOMBER COVERS 16 YEARS Grand Central Bombed – Writing Clues Explored – Trail Grows Hot – Crank Letters Traced – Psychiatrist Conceives Image". The New York Times. 1956-12-25. Retrieved 2007-09-21. "For more than sixteen years, the police have searched for the cunning eccentric who has planted thirty-two homemade explosive engines – like the one that led to the clearing of Bryant Park yesterday – around midtown Manhattan. The 'bomber' has left no positive clue." 
  4. ^ a b "'BOMBER' ORDERED TO STATE HOSPITAL; Leibowitz Commits Metesky to Matteawan as 'Hopeless and Incurable Man' – Mental Factor Decisive". The New York Times. 1957-04-19. Retrieved 2007-09-14. "George Metesky, the so-called "Mad Bomber," was committed to Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane yesterday by Judge Samuel S. Leibowitz in Kings County Court." 
  5. ^ a b c d "The Bomber's Grievances Came to Light in a Series of Letters; PAPER RECEIVED DETAILED NOTES – Text of His Correspondence to Journal-American Tells of Bitterness Over Injury – Suspect's First Letter Sent From Westchester". The New York Times. 1957-01-23. Retrieved 2007-09-13. "The clues in George Metesky's three recent letters to The New York Journal-American, which led the police to him after a search of sixteen years, were disclosed yesterday." 
  6. ^ a b c Berger, Meyer (1957-01-25). "Twisted Course of 'Mad Bomber' Vengeance Traced in a Deeply Complex Personality – Was Pampered by Sisters – Silent on Vengeance Plans – Owned a .38 Revolver – Had Bomb for Coliseum – Almost Caught One Day – Avoided the Confessional". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-16. "GEORGE P. METESKY, the machinist and electrician who planted forty-seven bombs in public places in the city between 1940 and the end of 1956, is a complex fellow." 
  7. ^ a b Feinberg, Alexander (1957-01-23). "Edison Clerk Finds Case in File; Bomber's Words Alerted Her; Alice Kelly Tells of Uncovering Record in Documents – Company Says It Notified Detective Squad Last Friday Night". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-17. "It was about 5 P.M. last Friday, almost quitting time, when Miss Alice G. Kelly, a senior office assistant at the Consolidated Edison Company, spotted a compensation case in the "dead" files. On top of this particular file, in red italics for emphasis, she noted the words "injustice" and "permanent disability"." 
  8. ^ a b c Delafuente, Charles (2004-09-10). "Terror in the Age of Eisenhower". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-18. "There was a bomber on the loose in New York City. On the evening of Dec. 2, 1956, 1,500 people were at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater watching 'War and Peace' when a pipe bomb beneath a seat exploded at 7:50 p.m. Six people were injured, including Abraham Blumenthal, who was lifted out of his seat by the blast. The next day, Police Commissioner Stephen P. Kennedy ordered what he called the 'greatest manhunt in the history of the Police Department.'" 
  9. ^ a b "Bomb-Hunt Delay Laid to Con Edison By Police Sources; POLICE SAY EDISON IMPEDED SEARCH". The New York Times. 1957-01-25. Retrieved 2007-09-17. "Police investigators charged yesterday that the Consolidated Edison Company had impeded their search for the "Mad Bomber."" 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Brussel, James A (1968). Casebook of a Crime Psychiatrist. Bernard Geis Associates. pp. 7–73. "The paranoiac is the world's champion grudge-holder." 
  11. ^ "BOMB BLAST IN TERMINAL; Homemade Device Explodes in Grand Central – No One Is Hurt". The New York Times. 1951-03-30. Retrieved 2007-09-24. "An explosion from a small homemade bomb startled many commuters during the rush hour at 5:22 P. M. yesterday in Grand Central Terminal, but no one was injured and there was no panic." 
  12. ^ "BOMB GOES OFF IN LIBRARY; Crude, Homemade Device Hurts No One, Does Little Damage". The New York Times. 1951-04-25. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "A small, homemade bomb exploded in an empty telephone booth in the basement of the New York Public Library at 6:10 P. M. yesterday, injuring no one and causing slight damage." 
  13. ^ "BOMB LAID TO PRANKSTER; Police Tie Consolidated Edison Blast to Previous Cases". The New York Times. 1951-09-13. Retrieved 2007-09-23. "A small, metal-cased bomb, about the size of a flashlight battery, exploded in a telephone booth at 6:15 A. M. yesterday in the Consolidated Edison Company building at 4 Irving Place." 
  14. ^ "EX-EDISON WORKER HELD IN BOMB CASE; Faces Questioning on Placing of Explosives at Paramount and in Utility Building". The New York Times. 1951-11-07. Retrieved 2007-09-21. "Frederick Eberhardt, 56 years old, of 4117 De Reimer Avenue, the Bronx, a veteran cable splicer who formerly was employed by the Consolidated Edison Company, was booked early today at the East Twenty-second Street station in connection with the recent placing of small "pipe" bombs at the company's office and also in the Paramount Theatre." 
  15. ^ "A HOMEMADE BOMB RIPS STATION LOCKER". The New York Times. 1953-05-07. Retrieved 2007-09-23. "A delayed action bomb, described by the police as the homemade product of a "publicity-seeking jerk," exploded in a parcel and luggage locker at Grand Central Terminal shortly before 5 P. M. yesterday. No one was injured." 
  16. ^ "BOMB INJURES 3 IN GRAND CENTRAL; Washroom Slightly Damaged by Blast at Rush Hour of Home-Made Mechanism". The New York Times. 1954-03-17. Retrieved 2007-09-24. "A home-made time bomb exploded yesterday in a washroom on the lower level of Grand Central Terminal. Three men were injured slightly, and little property damage was done." 
  17. ^ "Bomb in Music Hall Injures 4 in Crowd". The New York Times. 1954-11-08. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "A crude, home-made time bomb exploded last night in the orchestra level of the Radio City Music Hall. It injured two women and two boys and startled a large section of the capacity audience in the world's second largest theatre." 
  18. ^ "BOMB BLAST IN MACY'S; Homemade Device Exploded in Main-Floor Phone Booth". The New York Times. 1956-07-25. Retrieved 2007-10-14. "The mysterious "bomb terrorist" was blamed yesterday for another blast in Manhattan, this time in Macy's department store." 
  19. ^ O'Kane, Lawrence (1955-08-12). "Bomb Left in Roxy; Linked to 22 Others". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-14. "A homemade time bomb was found inside a Roxy Theatre seat yesterday afternoon. It was discovered by an upholsterer who had taken the seat to his workroom to repair a slash in the red cloth covering." 
  20. ^ "Bomb Explodes in Paramount, 24th of Its Kind Placed in City". The New York Times. 1955-10-10. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "A crude bomb exploded at 6:48 o'clock last night in the Paramount Theatre. Fragments struck the shoe of one moviegoer, but he was not injured." 
  21. ^ "CRUDE BOMB SET OFF; 24th of Kind Since 1940 Hurts No One in Grand Central". The New York Times. 1955-12-02. Retrieved 2007-10-14. "A home-made bomb, similar to twenty-four others found in public places here since 1940, exploded in Grand Central Terminal at 5:05 o'clock last evening. No one was injured." 
  22. ^ "BOMB FELLS MAN AT PENN STATION; Attendant, 74, Severely Hurt in Lavatory Blast – Police Seek 2 for Questioning". The New York Times. 1956-02-22. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "A 74-year-old attendant was seriously injured yesterday when a homemade bomb exploded in the men's lavatory at Pennsylvania Station." 
  23. ^ Schumach, Murray (1956-08-05). "Pipe Bomb From R.C.A. Building Blasts Guard's Home in Jersey". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "WEST NEW YORK, N.J., Aug. 4 – An explosion in a kitchen here this morning proved to a special policeman that the "piece of pipe" he and two other guards had been carrying around Rockefeller. Center yesterday was a home-made time bomb." 
  24. ^ a b Perlmutter, Emanuel (1956-12-04). "Kennedy Orders Wide Manhunt For Movie Bombing Perpetrator". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "Police Commissioned Stephen P. Kennedy yesterday ordered what he called the 'greatest manhunt in the history of the Police Department' for the perpetrator of Sunday night's bombing at the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre." 
  25. ^ Perlmutter, Emanuel (1956-12-25). "Device Found in Phone Booth; Bomb Tossed Into Park To Be Examined Today – Pipe-Bomb Is Found in Library; Psychotic Again Is Chief Suspect". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "A fallen coin forestalled possible tragedy yesterday in the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street." 
  26. ^ a b c "'BOMBER' PRESSES THREAT ON UTILITY; Paper Makes Public a Letter Sent From Mt. Vernon – Writer Won't Give Up". The New York Times. 1957-01-11. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "A letter purporting to have come from the so-called Mad Bomber has been received by The New York Journal-American. That newspaper made it public yesterday, saying its authenticity had been attested by competent authorities. Police officials refused comment." 
  27. ^ "'MAD BOMBER' CASE CLOSED BY POLICE; Old Explosive Found in East Side Movie – Believed to Be Metesky's Last One". The New York Times. 1957-09-10. Retrieved 2007-09-23. "An old unexploded bomb was found in a seat in Loew's Lexington Theatre yesterday and the police finally closed the George Metesky "Mad Bomber" case." 
  28. ^ "POLICE ISSUE ALERT FOR BOMB PLANTER". The New York Times. 1956-04-05. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "The Police Department has assembled the most comprehensive portrait yet of the eccentric bomb-planter who has eluded them for more than fifteen years." 
  29. ^ "Police Print Pipe-Bomb Circular". The New York Times. 1956-08-21. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "The Police Department disclosed yesterday that it would distribute nationally a circular illustrating the type of homemade bomb that had been exploded in public places in midtown." 
  30. ^ "Police Ask Aid in Hunt for Bomber". The New York Times. 1956-12-11. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "The Police Department distributed photographs yesterday of parts of letters received from the person who has been placing bombs in theatres and railroad terminals for the last sixteen years." 
  31. ^ a b "SUSPECT IS HELD AS 'MAD BOMBER'; HE ADMITS ROLE; Files of Edison Co. Lead to Ex-Employe in Waterbury – Extradition Is Planned". The New York Times. 1957-01-22. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "The police here announced early today that a 54-year-old man had admitted that he is the so-called Mad Bomber. The police said the man had confessed at Waterbury, Conn., where he is being questioned. They added that 'all things indicate he is the man.'" 
  32. ^ "SUGAR BOMB SUSPECT IS SENT TO BELLEVUE". The New York Times. 1951-11-08. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "Frederick Eberhardt, 56-year-old former employee of the Consolidated Edison Company, was sent to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric observation yesterday" 
  33. ^ "'BOMB' CASE DISMISSED; Sugary Missile Bore No Threat in Writing, Court Is Told". The New York Times. 1952-05-16. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "A charge of sending threatening material through the mails ... was dismissed in Felony Court yesterday ... for lack of evidence." 
  34. ^ "BOMB SCARE A 'DUD' AT GRAND CENTRAL; 3,000 Lockers Are Searched in Vain After Anonymous Phone Call Is Received". The New York Times. 1951-10-15. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "An anonymous telephone call warning that a bomb had been planted in a locker in Grand Central Terminal precipitated a tedious three-hour search yesterday of 3,000 lockers in the terminal. When the search was finally called off at 1:40 P.M. no explosive had been found." 
  35. ^ a b Feinberg, Alexander (1956-12-30). "FALSE BOMB CALLS STILL PLAGUE CITY; Note Prompts Fruitless Hunt in Empire State Building". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "The urge of eccentrics to report that a bomb had been planted and would go off continued yesterday to harass a weary Police Department." 
  36. ^ "Nova: Bombing of America". PBS. 1997-03-25. Retrieved 2007-09-22. "Looking at the story of the "Mad Bomber" is almost a template for UNABOM. There are a lot of similarities between the two, in the way they've done their crimes, and I'm confident that we'll find there's a lot of similarities between the two in their psychiatric or psychological makeup." 
  37. ^ a b "'BOMBER' REWARD MIGHT GO BEGGING; Woman Who Picked Out Key File Won't Claim $26,000 – Police Give Report". The New York Times. 1957-02-16. Retrieved 2007-09-18. "It became increasingly evident yesterday that the $26,000 in rewards posted for the apprehension of the so-called Mad Bomber might never be paid." 
  38. ^ "WOMEN'S UNIT SEEKS 'BOMBER' REWARDS". The New York Times. 1957-02-13. Retrieved 2007-09-19. "The first claim for the $26,000 rewards offered for information leading to the capture of George P. Metesky, the so-called "Mad Bomber", was filed yesterday." 
  39. ^ "George Did It". Time Magazine. 1957-02-04. Retrieved 2007-09-15. "It was nearly 11 o'clock, one mild, foggy night last week, when a squad of cops deployed cautiously around an old, grey, lace-curtained house at 17 Fourth Street in the factory district of Waterbury, Conn. After the guards were set, plainclothesmen walked up the steps and pounded loudly on the front door. The downstairs lights winked on, and stocky, smiling, pajama-clad George Metesky, a 54-year-old bachelor, answered the knock. His two elderly spinster sisters watched warily in the background. George never lost his polite grin. 'I think.' he said after a few preliminary questions and answers. 'I know why you fellows are here. You think I'm the Mad Bomber.'" 
  40. ^ "Court Here Rules 'The Mad Bomber' Is Still Incompetent". The New York Times. 1972-06-20. Retrieved 2007-09-18. "George P. Metesky, the eccentric mechanic once known as "The Mad Bomber," lost a legal effort yesterday to have himself declared mentally competent." 
  41. ^ "METESKY INDICTED ON BOMB CHARGES; Attempted Murder Among 47 Counts After Grand Jury Hears 35 Witnesses". The New York Times. 1957-01-31. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "George P. Metesky was indicted yesterday as the so-called "Mad Bomber." Metesky has admitted that for sixteen years he planted explosives in New York." 
  42. ^ "BOMBER'S CLAIM DENIED; State Refuses to Reconsider Metesky's Injury Case". The New York Times. 1957-05-30. Retrieved 2007-09-14. "In rejecting the appeal, a panel of three board members ruled that Mr. O'Rourke had not offered conclusive proof that Metesky was mentally incompetent at the time of the accident." 
  43. ^ "' Mad Bomber' Due For Court Hearing; It Could Free Him". The New York Times. 1973-09-26. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "George Metesky, the "Mad Bomber" who has been in state mental hospitals since he was judged incompetent to stand trial in 1957, will receive a court hearing that could lead to his freedom." 
  44. ^ Kaufman, Michael T (1973-12-13). "'Mad Bomber,' Now 70, Goes Free Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-14. "George Metesky, the onetime "Mad Bomber," who for 16 years in the nineteen-forties and fifties terrorized the city with the explosives he set off in theaters, terminals, libraries and offices, is going home to Waterbury today." 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Mad Bomber of New York, The Extraordinary True Story of the Manhunt that Paralyzed a City. Greenburg, Michael M., Union Square Press, 2011. ISBN 1-4027-7434-6