A Fatal Stabbing Affray; An Italian Killed by his Companion. 1879

Antonio Cellandana, an Italian, was stabbed four times by another Italian, named Frank Bello, during a fracas in his apartments at No. 423 East One Hundred and Eleventh Street, last evening, and died almost instantly from his wounds in the presence of his wife and two small children. The fatal affray resulted from a quarrel over a game of cards. Cellandana was 32 years of age, a native of Polo, Naples, and had been for several months employed as a laborer in the Harlem Gas works, at the foot of East One Hundred and Tenth street. His murderer, also a Neapolitan, is about 35 years of age, and is married, but his wife is in Italy. He is also a laborer, but has no permanent employment. Cellandana, with his family, occupied rooms on the second floor of the house No. 423 East One Hundred and Eleventh street, one of a row of miserable tenements between First avenue and the East River, known as "Italian Row," the inhabitants of which are all Italian laborers, rag-pickers, boot-blacks, and peanut vendors. Bello and an old man named Frank Accetta lived in a room on the third floor of No. 423. Yesterday afternoon Bello was playing cards for beer in the apartments of Cellandana, with Giuseppi Cudgi and Vincent Carbogi, both of whom live at No. 421. They were playing a game resembling in some respects the American game of "casino." The players had been attended with varying fortune until about 5 o'clock, when Bello lost a game, and his companions insisted he should go for the beer. He refused, and a quarrel ensued. Bello accused his companions of cheating, and the row was assuming a serious aspect, when Cellandana interfered to prevent a fight. He ordered Bello from the room, and when he refused to leave, ejected him and shut the door in his face. Bello went to his room on the floor above, muttering threats of vengeance. He was heard walking about his room, almost beside himself with rage, and threatening to kill Cellandana before he slept. Cudgi and Carbogi, becoming alarmed at these threats, hastened away, leaving Cellandana alone in the room with his wife and two children. To prevent the intrusion of Bello, Cellandana locked his door.

In about 10 minutes Bello came to the door, and, finding it locked, began to kick at the door, demanding admittance. While he was at the door an Italian who lives at No. 421, and who, singularly enough, bears the name of Michael Murphy, hearing the noise, came up stairs to ascertain its cause. He saw Bello pounding at the door. He asked him what was the matter. Bello thereupon drew from his breast a large dirk-knife, and, advancing upon Murphy, told him that, if he valued his life, he had better leave, as he (Bello) was bound to kill somebody, but had a special preference for Cellandana. Murphy deemed discretion the better part of valor, and ran down stairs into the street, and started off in search of a policeman. Meanwhile, Bello succeeded in forcing open the door of Cellandana's room, and sprang into the apartment with the knife in his hand, Cellendana met him on the threshold. The men clinched, and a most desperate struggle followed. Mrs. Cellandana thrust her head out of the window and cried for help, but the Italians who had gathered in front of the house, attracted by the fracas going on inside were too much frightened to interfere. The struggle between Cellandana and Bello lasted but a few minutes, and the former staggered away from his antagonist, and fell bleeding to the floor. His wife ran to him, and endeavored to raise him, but found that he was dead.

While she was filling the house with her lamentations over the corpse of her husband, Murphy returned with Patrolman Farrell, of the Twenty-third Precinct, but Bello had disappeared. Two officers of the Twelfth Precinct arrived soon after, and, aided by Frank Donichi, an Italian living at No. 2123 First avenue, the policemen began a search for the murderer. In his room they found his aged companion, Frank Accetta, but he professed to be ignorant of what had become of Bello. On reaching the top floor of the house, Donichi noticed that the scuttle was open, and thinking that the fugitive had made his escape by that means, he crawled through the scuttle, and on gaining the roof saw Bello on the roof of No. 431 East One Hundred and Eleventh street, endeavoring to open the scuttle so as to escape through that house. Donichi and a young man who had come to his assistance crossed the roofs after the fugitive, who, finding that he was in danger of capture, abandoned the scuttle and attempted to slide down the fire-escape.

His pursuers were, however, too quick for him, and captured him. He was turned over to Officer Farrell, who took him to the Eighty-eighth Street Police Station. At the request of Acting Capt. Mullen, of the Twelfth Precinct, in whose precinct the murder occurred, Bello was turned over to him, and he was locked up in the Harlem Police Station. His room-mate, Accetta, was also locked up there as a witness. Bello did not deny having stabbed Cellandana, but claimed to have acted in self-defense. He showed a small cut on his right arm, which he said had been inflicted by Cellandana, but Donichi says he cut himself on the arm by thrusting it through a glass sky-light in his endeavor to open the scuttle of No. 431 East One Hundred and Eleventh-street. Acting Capt. Mullen made an examination of the body of Cellandana and found four ugly stab wounds. One is under the right shoulder blade, two are in the lower part of the back, one on each side of the spinal column, and the fourth is a deep gash over the right eye. The knife with which the wounds were inflicted could not be found, although diligent search was made for it by the Police. it is believed that Bello threw it away in his flight. The search will be resumed today. Deputy Coroner Mac Whinnie was informed of the murder last night, and assumed charge of the case. He will make an autopsy of the body today.


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Article Name: A Fatal Stabbing Affray; An Italian Killed by his Companion. 1879
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Times December 5, 1879
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