Michael Malloy

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Michael Malloy
Improper death certificate by Dr. Frank Manzella for Michael Malloy
DiedFebruary 22, 1933 (aged 59–60)
Cause of deathCarbon monoxide poisoning
Resting placeFerncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum
Other names
  • Mike the Durable
  • Iron Mike
  • Iron Mike Malloy
  • Irish Rasputin
  • The Juggernaut
OccupationStationary engineer[1]

Michael Malloy (1873 – February 22, 1933), later known as either Mike the Durable or Iron Mike, was a homeless Irishman from County Donegal who lived in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s.[2][3] A former firefighter, he survived multiple murder attempts by five acquaintances, who attempted to commit homicide as a life insurance fraud.[2][4]

Failed murder attempts[edit]

Marino's speakeasy on Third Avenue, New York City

Beginning in January 1933, while Malloy was unemployed, alcoholic and homeless, five of his acquaintances – Tony Marino, Joseph "Red" Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg (later dubbed "the Murder Trust" by the headlines)[1] – plotted to kill Malloy by getting him to drink himself to death to collect life insurance. Presumably achieved with the aid of a corrupt insurance agent, they collected insurance policies on Malloy's life under the name Nicholas Mellory[5] and stood to gain over US$3,500 (equivalent to $79,000 in 2022) if Malloy died an accidental death.[2][3]

Marino owned a speakeasy and gave Malloy an unlimited tab, thinking the alcoholic Malloy would abuse it and drink himself to death. Although Malloy drank for a majority of his waking day, it did not kill him. Marino then replaced Malloy's liquor with antifreeze, but Malloy would continue to drink with no problems.[2][3] A possible explanation for the antifreeze not killing him is the fact that ethanol blocks absorption of ethylene glycol in the liver; and is used as an antidote for antifreeze poisoning.[6] Antifreeze was replaced with turpentine, followed by horse liniment, and finally rat poison was mixed in. After these mixtures failed to kill Malloy, Marino mixed shots of wood alcohol (pure methanol) in with his normal shots of liquor. This did not kill Malloy, presumably because the normal liquor helped negate the methanol poisoning.[2][7]

The group then gave Malloy raw oysters soaked in wood alcohol[2][3] - the idea apparently coming from Pasqua, who claimed he saw a man die after eating oysters with whiskey.[2] A sandwich of spoiled sardines mixed with poison and carpet tacks was then tried.[2][3][8]

Concluding that it was unlikely that anything Malloy ingested was going to kill him quickly enough before the insurance policies ran out, the group decided to freeze him to death. On an extremely cold night, after Malloy drank until passing out, he was carried to a park, dumped in the snow, and had 5 US gallons (19 L; 4.2 imp gal) of water poured on his bare chest. However, shortly thereafter, Malloy was rescued by police who took him to a homeless charity where he was re-clothed.[2][3]

The group then attempted to kill Malloy by running him down with Green's taxi, moving at 45 miles per hour (72 km/h).[2][3] This put Malloy in the hospital for three weeks with broken bones.[3] The group presumed he was dead, but they were unable to collect the policy on him.[2]

Malloy's murder[edit]

On February 22, 1933, after he had passed out for the night, the murderers took Malloy to Murphy's room, put a hose in his mouth that was connected to the coal gas jet, and turned it on. This finally killed Malloy, with his death occurring within an hour.[2][3] He was pronounced dead of lobar pneumonia and quickly buried,[7] with Dr. Frank Manzella signing the death certificate.[9] Police heard rumors of "Mike the Durable" in speakeasies all over town, and upon learning that a Michael Malloy had died that night, they had the body exhumed and forensically examined.[2][3]

The five men were put on trial and subsequently convicted. Dr. Manzella was held as an accessory after the fact with a US$10,000 bail[9](equivalent to $226,067 in 2022), but was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor in "failing to report a suspicious death to the police and Medical Examiner."[10] Green went to prison, while the other four members were sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing in Ossining, New York: Kriesberg, Marino, and Pasqua on June 7, 1934, and Murphy on July 5, 1934.[2][11][12]

In popular culture[edit]

  • A 1986 episode of Amazing Stories, called "One for the Road", is a fictionalized version of this incident, in which a group of friends conspire to kill a drunk named Mike Malloy for insurance money.[13]
  • Alternative rock band Primus included the Matt Winegar-penned instrumental (which Winegar also performed) "You Can't Kill Michael Malloy" for their 1990 album, Frizzle Fry.[14]
  • A 2015 episode of True Nightmares, produced by Wilma TV/Discovery Channel Season 2, Episode 3 "Friends Like These", is a telling of the story of Michael Malloy and his murder.[15]

See also[edit]

  • List of unusual deaths
  • Grigori Rasputin (1869–1916) – a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man, assassinated by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his influence in late imperial Russia
  • Angelina Rodriguez (born 1968) – an American woman, sentenced to death for the murder of her fourth husband after taking out a US$250,000 life insurance policy on him


  1. ^ a b Keating, Isabelle (May 12, 1933). "Doctor and Undertaker Held in 'Murder Trust'". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. p. 1 – via newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Read, Simon (2005). On the House: The Bizarre Killing of Michael Molloy. Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0-425-20678-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Blum, Deborah (February 18, 2010). "Carbon Monoxide". The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-243-8.
  4. ^ Wallace, Irving; Wallechinsky, David. "New York Gangs Murder Trust and Michael Malloy Part 1". www.trivia-library.com. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Episode 151: The Many Lives of Michael Malloy (11.6.2020)". This Is Criminal. November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Brent, Jeffrey (2001). "Current Management of Ethylene Glycol Poisoning". Drugs. 61 (7): 979–988. doi:10.2165/00003495-200161070-00006. ISSN 0012-6667. PMID 11434452. S2CID 22954381.
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, Michael (October 7, 2007). "The Durable Mike Malloy". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "4 Men Go On Trial in Old Insurance Plot". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. October 18, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "4 Murder Attempts Cited in Weird Insurance Plot". Altoona Tribune. Altoona, Pennsylvania. May 13, 1933. p. 4 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "PHYSICIAN IS GUILTY IN MALLOY SLAYING; Bronx Jury Finds That Dr. Manzella Gave a False Certificate of Death". The New York Times. No. 12-15-1934, Financial Section, page 30. December 15, 1934. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  11. ^ Trestrail, John Harris; Trestrail, John Harris III (2007). Criminal Poisoning: Investigational Guide for Law Enforcement, Toxicologists, Forensic Scientists, And Attorneys. Humana Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-58829-821-8.
  12. ^ Blanco, Juan Ignacio. "Executions in New York - 1926-1940". DeathPenaltyUSA, the database of executions in the United States.
  13. ^ Beggs, Scott (March 16, 2020). "10 Amazing Facts About Amazing Stories". Mental Floss. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  14. ^ Prato, Greg (September 16, 2014). "Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool". Akashic. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  15. ^ "True Nightmares" Friends Like These (TV Episode 2016) - IMDb, retrieved May 8, 2023