Old Vendetta in Sicily Behind Catania Killing 1902

The funeral of Guiseppe Catania, the grocer, of 167 Columbia street, whose body, with the head severed from the trunk, was found in a bag near Fort Hamilton on Wednesday, took place at 2 o'clock this afternoon, from his residence on Columbia street. The first intention had been to have a requiem mass in the morning, but it was finally decided that the ceremonies should take place in the afternoon, this in deference to the wishes of many of the dead man's friends, working people who have the advantage of the Saturday half-holiday. there was a large attendance at the funeral. There were no services: the pomp and ceremony of an Italian funeral being considered sufficient. The body was interred later in the afternoon at Holy Cross Cemetery.

A number of policemen were in the neighborhood when the funeral took place, but nothing was learned by any of the detectives who were there concerning the sudden and mysterious taking off of the deceased. The police are puzzled over the case and Detective Sergeants Vachris and Rodden, who have been working on the mystery, have advanced very little further in their quest for the murderer or murderers. The suspicion that attached for a time to some of the men who lived in the immediate neighborhood has been removed. All of them convinced the police that their connection with the tragedy could not have been possible. Then even the members of Catania's own family have little faith in the theory that Trica, the man in jail on suspicion, had anything to do with the case.

The general family sentiment on that point was voiced this morning by the son-in-law Dominigo Tutrone. Tutrone lost his wife, the eldest daughter of the dead man, four months ago and he is much prostrated by his father-in-law's death, following as it does so closely on the death of his own wife. The son-in-law is a very intelligent young man, speaks English as fluently as he does his mother tongue and is the president of one of the most influential of the many Italian mutual benefit societies. He was a great admirer of his father-in-law. "He was a good man," said Tutrone this morning. "When my wife died he was very kind to me and as if he did not have children enough of his own took my two little ones home, too."

"What is your opinion of this murder?" asked the reporter.

"I do not know what to think," was the reply. "It seems too horrible to contemplate. I cannot think that this man Trica had anything to do with it. It seems impossible to believe that for such a trivial thing as a debt of $14 such a murder would be committed.

"No, I do not think thatTrica is in any way responsible. He did not run away. He was found at home and the police have nothing to show that he was concerned in it. This is a terrible murder Italians do not kill their friends for so slight a cause. There is something else behind this. Vengeance, I believe."

"What gives you that impression?" asked the reporter. "The way in which the murder was done," was Tutrone's reply. "It is just the kind of a crime that would have been committed by a vendetta, and you know the Sicilians. They do not forget an injury."

"Did your father-in-law ever injure any one?" asked the reporter.

"Not that I know," replied Tutrone. "I have never known any one to speak harshly of him, never. He had been here over twenty years, and he had many, many friends in this country. But he may have done something in Palermo before he came here. I do not know."

"Do you know of your father having injured any one in Sicily? Charlie?" the reporter asked one of the sons who stood near by.

Charlie said that he had not heard of any such thing, and Tutrone declared that, any way, Charlie was too young when his father brought him to America to be able to tell much about his doings on the other side.

"I have spoken to mother about this since the murder, but she says that she knew of nothing that every happened over there that would warrant such a fearful death. But she may not know," suggested Tutrone. "A man does many a thing that his wife or his sweetheart hears nothing about, you know, and these people cherish a wrong a long, long time, years and years. Of course there is talk, lots of it, but I do not know of anything that he ever did in Sicily that would result in this murder. He was not killed for his money. That is certain, for he had no money. He was not killed by any enemy he had made in this country. I am sure of that. Then the only thing left for us to believe is that this thing was done to settle up some old score. And it is strange to me that the police have not been able to tell where the murder was committed. If he was killed near here some of the people who knew him, you would think, would be able to tell something about it. But no one seems to have seen him. He just dropped out of sight as if he had fallen into some big hole in the ground.

"I saw Detective Vachris last night and he told me that he had not been over to the Custom House in Manhattan to see the broker who did his business. You know he started for there on Tuesday morning. The fact that he never got there would seem to indicate in some way that he was waylaid on his way over. Now if the murder was committed in this neighborhood it seems strange that the police have found no clew to the murderers, for they have been all over this district. Yet they have seen no one who saw him on Tuesday morning. I would advise them to make some inquiries in the neighborhood of Main street. He had friends and acquaintances there, and there might be some information around the Catharine street ferry. I am trying to aid the police all I can, and after the funeral I will help them in making a search for the murderers. But I believe it was the result of a vendetta."

This theory of the case, which was suggested in the Eagle the day after the body was found, and which seems to be generally accepted by the weeping relatives of the dead man, is gaining ground with the police. This morning Inspector Campbell said that unless his men were able to find more evidence to warrant the further detention of Trica he would be turned loose. Trica was again arraigned in the Coney island court this morning, and as the police were not ready with any case against him he was remanded until Tuesday next. If there is nothing more against him on Tuesday he will be set free.

The vendetta idea of the case has been nurtured within the last twenty-four hours by persistent gossip in the neighborhood of the dead man's home tot he effect that he had killed a man in Sicily. Some of the stories told are that Catania killed two men and that the families of the victims, before he came to this country, had vowed vengeance.

There was nothing blood thirsty about Catania, so far as his life in the United States is concerned, and those who knew him best say that even in warm-blooded youth he was one of the mildest and best natured fellows in the world.

Inspector Campbell admitted to an Eagle reporter this morning that he had heard of these stories about Catania and while his detectives had been following up this particular feature of the case, facts, actual, tangible facts, concerning the alleged murders in Sicily were missing. It was nothing at all but gossip and the gossip could not be substantiated as far as the detectives had proceeded in their injury.

The police investigations have been fruitless so far. The search for the wagon in which the bulky body of the murdered man was taken to the lonely place where it was found has been so far without result. Every stable in the neighborhood of the dead man's home, in the vicinity of the bridge arches and in the lower and Italian portions of Manhattan has been searched. For a wonder the Eastern District of Brooklyn is not sharing in this mystery for Tutrone says that his father-in-law was not known in that section of the borough and the police have not directed their inquiries to that section of the city.

Captain Devanney and the detectives of the Fort Hamilton police station are working with Captain Reynolds' detectives on the case and the inquiry is so far under the general direction of Inspector Campbell. But Inspector McLaughlin and Deputy Commissioner Ebstein are anxious that the mystery should be cleared up, particularly in view of the fact that the Latimer case is still dragging along without any result. It seems strange to them, as it does to everybody else who knows anything of the case, that such a ghastly and cold-blooded murder could have been committed in the city and remain a mystery.

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Article Name: Old Vendetta in Sicily Behind Catania Killing 1902
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle July 26, 1902
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