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Carrie Brown/Ameer Ben Ali Discussion Thread Including The Trial & Aftermath

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  • If I post a photo of a Yale-key, would you on that basis alone be able to say with confidence whether or not it was the key to your house?
    -Kattrup-

    I sure would and so would anyone else if the key in Damon's possession had a tag matching the key that was sketched in the newspaper.
    As I mentioned, how many keys were missing from hotel rooms...hotel keys with a tag that matched what was sketched in the newspaper ?

    Brennan's affidavit IS missing, Kattrup.


    Doesn’t it make more sense as a lunch-time lark? Taking the key along might not have been necessary… that’s for sure!

    Mark.....it's a damn shame he didn't drop the key while down there and that someone didn't see him with it.
    Who would spend their time in that dump unless it was for picking up a prostitute ?
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    • Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
      If I post a photo of a Yale-key, would you on that basis alone be able to say with confidence whether or not it was the key to your house?
      -Kattrup-

      I sure would and so would anyone else if the key in Damon's possession had a tag matching the key that was sketched in the newspaper.
      As I mentioned, how many keys were missing from hotel rooms...hotel keys with a tag that matched what was sketched in the newspaper ?
      Well, I don't think Damon necessarily saw a sketch in a paper, his maid originally mentioned that the key had the same number as the missing key from the murder and he decided to bring the key with him to NY to check. He just remarks that the key was an ordinary kind with a tag. Obviously, with the number being the same and the addition of a bloody shirt, he thought it worthwhile to check. So I personally do not find it odd or anything that he decided to do so. He says he was certain it was the key to the room once he knew the key corresponded with the other keys in the hotel. That is, just seeing the key with the number 31 had not convinced him completely. So I think it is clear he just wanted to ascertain for himself whether it was the right key or not before deciding what to do.

      Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
      Brennan's affidavit IS missing, Kattrup.
      Ah, I see. I missed that, sorry

      Comment


      • Kattrup, Mark....here again is Damon's 1901 Affidavit

        First, here's the letter sent by Governor Foster Voorhees to Gov. Odell after Damon went to see him and asking for advice on what to do.

        Seems Damon, 63 years old in 1901, was frequently in need of advice from others.

        Text taken from actual letter in Albany archives by Luke Kummer


        State of New Jersey Executive Department

        May 15 1901

        Hon Benjamin Odell

        Governor

        Dear Sir:

        Mr. George Damon of Cranford in this state is a resident of my home county and has been personally
        and professionally known to me for a number of years. He bears an excellent reputation in the community
        which he has lived for a long time and for him I have a high personal regard. I feel safe in assuring
        you that you can safely rely upon representations made by him—I have the honor to be.

        Yours Respectfully,
        Foster M Voorhees


        ........and once again, that affidavit ( A few of the affidavits are missing, unfortunately Charles Brennan's is among the missing) :


        Kattrup:

        I sincerely appreciate the position you take on this aspect of the Damon story. We've gone back and forth on it before. I also acknowledge that I come across as overly emphatic on my criticism of Damon. It isn't just because I disrespect him for what he says he did...it's for what he didn't do and the possibility that Ali was innocent and he kept the key to his freedom on his wife's bureau. Getting researchers to discuss this has been difficult. Your contributions and those of Mark's add to the mix in a big way for me and anyone else seriously involved in revisiting this Case.

        The Affidavit:




        I have heard of the murder of one “Shakespeare” attributed to one
        “Frenchy,” Amer Ben Ali, which happened on April 24, 1891.
        I had a quantity of grading to do in front of my place in the spring of
        1891, and I went down to Castle Garden and hired several men to do the
        work. After getting through this work I kept one of the men to assist my
        man, who had broken his arm. He took care of the horses. As near as I
        can recollect, his name was Frank. I do not recollect his other name. I
        had this man working for me about a month before April 24, 1891.
        The morning of the murder of “Shakespeare” I went out to my stable
        and found only my regular man with the broken arm. This was about
        6 o’clock in the morning. I asked him where the other man was, and he
        said that Frank had been out all night and had gone to bed, and that I
        had better not disturb him, as he was pretty ugly. I did not see him, but
        at the regular time came to New York. Frank left me between five and
        ten days later, without any notice.
        One of my servants, named Mary, went up to the barn to clean up
        the room said Frank had occupied and found a key in the room. I think
        in the table drawer. She made the remark that the key had the same
        number on it as the room mentioned by the papers as the one in which
        “Shakespeare” was killed.

        When I returned home that night they called my attention to it. ( 1) The
        girl also found a shirt with bloodstains on it in the room. I put the key
        in my pocket and brought it to New York. It was an ordinary bronze key
        of the cheap kind and had a tag on it numbered 31.
        The next day I told one of my employees, who was familiar with the
        circumstances, and asked him to walk to the scene of the murder with
        me, as I did not care to go to that locality alone. We went into a saloon
        on Catharine Street, the same hotel where the murder had been committed,
        and asked for a cigar. We sat down at a table and compared the
        key I had and the tag with the keys on the board. It was exactly the same
        style of key and same style of small brass tag with the corners clipped.
        While sitting there a man came down, laid a key on the bar and went
        out.
        We got up and called for a glass of beer and laid the key which I had
        beside the other key and they were exactly alike, the figures were the
        same size and shape, and the shape of the tag and key were the same.
        As a practical printer, and being familiar with figures, I am positive that
        the stamped figures on the key and those on the keyboard were made
        from the same dies.
        The man whom I refer to in the beginning of my statement, known to
        me as Frank, was, I think, a foreigner. I knew that he had been a sailor
        because he had done some splicing of ropes for me. He was a man about 5
        feet 10 inches tall, rather strong, but not very fleshy, and about thirty-five
        years old. He had a very sullen disposition. He spoke in broken English,
        and, in my opinion, was a Dane.

        He left me in the night and I have never seen him since. When this
        man came to work for me he had only a bundle of clothes, he left nothing but the shirt
        and key in his room. It would be impossible for me to
        locate the maid servant and the man servant. The only thing I remember is that
        the man servant’s name was Henry.
        My reason for not coming forward with these facts at that time was the
        belief that “Frenchy” would be quite as well off where he is as at liberty.
        Furthermore, I did not care to have my name mentioned in connection
        with the case. But I now feel that it is my duty to make this affidavit. I believe that
        the man in my employ was the real murderer of that woman.


        There is no reasonable ground to doubt that the key found by me,
        abandoned by the man Frank, was the key of the room in which old
        “Shakespeare” was murdered. This act was perfectly clear to me when I
        learned that the murder had been committed in Room No. 31, and that
        the key found in Frank’s clothing corresponded exactly with every other
        key used in the hotel.
        Why did I keep quiet? Well, because the murder was creating worldwide interest,
        and I dreaded the publicity that my evidence would be certain to give me. I dreaded
        it as a business man and in a social way for my
        family. Then, again, I felt certain that although ‘Frenchy’ was not guilty
        of the murder he was a dangerous character better under restraint than
        at liberty. So I kept silent.

        Observations:

        A. His wife was not questioned about the key and the story behind it. Neither were his three sons, his servants ( conveniently none had last names)
        Henry and Mary, and neither was John R. Lee... All knew of the key and all should have been questioned considering the obvious fact that the entire
        affair of submitting affidavits was an effort to potentially release a murderer....one who was convicted as a murderer. Even if the two servants could not
        be found according to Damon, his kids might have remembered something that Damon didn't. His wife certainly could....but was not called upon to
        corroborate her husband.

        B. Damon says he dreaded the publicity his evidence was certain to give him. Then why on Earth did he give interviews which were published in
        New York papers as well as all over the United States, some of which contained remarks not submitted during the affidavit process ? Such as he
        was following the advice of his friend, John R. Lee. Naming Lee in the interviews seems to have been Damon's way of outing Lee for having outed him
        to one of the prosecutors at that party. Lee was among the most prominent contractors in the State of New Jersey, not some local father and son
        outfit who did brickwork in their spare time.

        C. He states the maid, this 'Mary' who not unsurprisingly does not appear in the list of house servants Nina Brown compiled, was the person who
        told him about the key and how it matched the number of the one the Farmhand had left behind.

        I recognize that the affidavit does NOT say that she showed him the newspaper with a sketch.

        However, it is just short of impossible that she read that without seeing the sketch since the first mentions of the missing key HAD a sketch to accompany the text.
        It is also unlikely that she threw Damon's home delivered newspaper out and that he, like 'Mary', wouldn't have read it and in doing so, seen the
        sketch which accompanied the text. It was at that point Damon's trip to the hotel...a place he wouldn't have entered in a million years otherwise
        ...became unnecessary. IMHO.

        IF articles had appeared without the sketch but only the remark that it was missing....then there might be a good case for accepting that Damon
        was unaware of what it looked like, a definite inspiration for him going to the hotel for verification. However, we know the sketch came with the text
        in those papers which mentioned the missing key.

        Damon doesn't stipulate what paper he read nor whether he read the paper Mary did and in doing so gives the impression he may have seen the paper elsewhere and that this was how he connected the two. This is unlikely since Mary read the newspaper and without a doubt at the Damon home.

        BUT !!!!!!

        Above and beyond the above...Damon might have hung himself when he states that the Farmhand left '5 or 10' days later.
        How ? Well, because by that time, public knowledge of the missing key was well established from newspaper accounts, word of mouth, and
        that the number of the key accompanied the early April 25-April 29 ( giving Damon a five day window here) accounts. He, IMHO, would have
        known the significance of the key, the number on the tag, and may even have had the smarts to consider his no-show for work on the morning
        following the murder might have had something to do with it I personally believe he saw the sketch prior to being told the tale Mary had to give
        following the departure of the Farmhand. He didn't work in Podunk, Iowa....he worked in the biggest city in the USA where discussion of the crime
        with hints of Jack The Ripper only augmented the volume of discussion.




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        • The actual key which got Ali released and a sketch from the NY Evening World, April 25th, 1891. Front Page.
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          • New York Sun
            April 25, 1891
            Page 2
            ****************



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            • Who would spend their time in that dump unless…?

              That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It pretty much explains everything. The excursion wouldn’t have been out of the way and there was no aversion to “slumming”.

              And the trucker’s affidavit was conveniently lost… Did Damon mention the excursion, which hurts more than helps, just to show he wasn’t a man of complete inaction?

              Comment


              • Mark:

                Yes, he mentions the trip to the hotel in the affidavit I just posted on this thread. This excerpt covers that trip to the hotel :

                [The next day I told one of my employees, who was familiar with the
                circumstances, and asked him to walk to the scene of the murder with
                me, as I did not care to go to that locality alone. We went into a saloon
                on Catharine Street, the same hotel where the murder had been committed,
                and asked for a cigar. We sat down at a table and compared the
                key I had and the tag with the keys on the board. It was exactly the same
                style of key and same style of small brass tag with the corners clipped.
                While sitting there a man came down, laid a key on the bar and went
                out. We got up and called for a glass of beer and laid the key which I had
                beside the other key and they were exactly alike, the figures were the
                same size and shape, and the shape of the tag and key were the same.
                As a practical printer, and being familiar with figures, I am positive that
                the stamped figures on the key and those on the keyboard were made
                from the same dies.]


                When I wrote 'excursion', I meant the trip he and Brennan took when Damon went to the hotel to compare the key he had with keys at the hotel. It had
                nothing to do with a desire to go slumming or look for low class trim from the skanks who riddled the hallways of the hotel. Reverend Alex Irvine
                wrote about the hotel at roughly the same period of time and counted 40 women in rooms on just one floor of the hotel. Hardly the type of place Damon
                would take in for shits and giggles. He's the wrong type.

                No, I don't think Damon would go to the hotel for any other purpose than to do what he claimed to have gone there for. Just my opinion.

                There's nothing in the known history of the man to suggest he was interested in anything the hotel had to offer.

                The 'truck-man' Brennan's affidavit is missing from the available affidavits in Albany. No one has any idea where his or the other missing
                affidavits are or how they got lost....but there's no reason to suspect there was a sinister reason for their absence. They simply may have been
                misplaced.

                It should be stated that an affidavit coming from Damon, you, or me is not proof of something occurring, only that that's what we say happened...
                ...unless it's challenged or put to the test. Brennan could have easily complied to a request from Damon to acknowledge they took a trip to the
                hotel.

                I have difficulty believing he would go into the same bar which Rev. Irvine described in the PDF I have attached.....and smoking the vile sorts of cigars
                sold in the hotel and undoubtedly of the cheapest type considering the economic level of the men who regularly stayed there. Take a look at what Irvine says
                in the PDF and look for the part where he mentions the liquor in the bar.

                Let me know what you think.
                Attached Files
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                • Again he’s presenting himself in a certain light. Very upstanding but it wasn’t when you consider everything.

                  The question you’re asking is- why ascertain it’s the key to the murder scene and the key to solving the crime and then not turn in the evidence?

                  It’s I hired Berkowitz and I found his 44 which matches the ballistics of the Son of Sam! What now? Turn it in? No, I better cover it up or they’ll think ill of me! Darnit I was just hoping it didn’t match to clear my conscience!

                  Maybe it has more to do with his associations and introductions to the killer. He personally hired a prostitute killer familiar with the area as you admitted.

                  How is he not the type? What happens in the slums stays in the slums! Sometimes!

                  He’s a very good affidavit writer. So I wouldn’t say he’s as unintelligent as his actions and his story make him out to be. Kennedy I don’t believe just walked past a house with the porchlight on and a fire station knowing someone was drowning even if he was in a daze. He just didn’t factor it.

                  Comment


                  • The question you’re asking is- why ascertain it’s the key to the murder scene and the key to solving the crime and then not turn in the evidence?
                    It’s I hired Berkowitz and I found his 44 which matches the ballistics of the Son of Sam! What now? Turn it in? No, I better cover it up or they’ll think ill of me! Darnit I was just hoping it didn’t match to clear my conscience!

                    Well...then why didn't he just toss the key away after learning it was related to the murder and that it came from someone who had worked for him and left ?
                    He doesn't do that. He shows it off to John R. Lee..just like any rank and file asshole who shoots an animal and places its head on the wall would. having the
                    key titillated him. IMHO, as I've mentioned before, a souvenir.
                    We don't know why C.Kniclo/Glenmore Man/Farmhand didn't toss the key away. Leaving it at the Damon estate after taking it from the room is a mystery.
                    Damon hanging on to it but being sure to show it off to Lee...and who knows who else...suggests he got a kick out of having this tangible, honest to God, piece
                    of crime evidence.
                    The longer he held on to the key, the chances it could backfire on him grew.



                    Maybe it has more to do with his associations and introductions to the killer. He personally hired a prostitute killer familiar with the area as you admitted.
                    How is he not the type? What happens in the slums stays in the slums! Sometimes!


                    Not sure if what I had said confirmed that the Farmhand had definitely been in the vicinity before, but he apparently had little difficulty getting back to Cranford
                    and in time to be at the estate before anyone woke up for work.
                    Damon could, if he so desired, gone to quite a few bordellos of vastly higher quality for some action rather than stoop to going to a place like that. Slumming
                    is one thing, that joint was on a whole other level...and not higher.

                    He’s a very good affidavit writer. So I wouldn’t say he’s as unintelligent as his actions and his story make him out to be.

                    We'd both would be considered good affidavit writers if we had a decade to put together a story.
                    His intelligence is and was never questioned. Intelligent people do things which seem stupid or contrived just like anyone. Damon held patents and
                    regardless of his involvement in the Brown Murder, was highly regarded in the printing business. That is without question, Mark.

                    One thing that the intelligent and not no clever don't usually have in a situation like this is a Governor to affirm everything said in the affidavit and have another Governor to accept it without question.
                    Damon did.
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                    • Mark:

                      You might like to know that Nina agrees with you about Damon being the type that might take the plunge into the netherworld of wharf rat poon.

                      Something you said earlier...about Damon being a good affidavit writer rang a bell in me. I have so many notes on this case that I forget points such as the following.

                      Lets look at Damon's affidavit :

                      Why did I keep quiet? Well, because the murder was creating worldwide interest,
                      and I dreaded the publicity that my evidence would be certain to give me. I dreaded
                      it as a business man and in a social way for my
                      family. Then, again, I felt certain that although ‘Frenchy’ was not guilty
                      of the murder he was a dangerous character better under restraint than
                      at liberty.
                      So I kept silent.

                      So sayeth,

                      Damon The Jurist.

                      ************************************************** ************************************************** ************

                      IF Damon had come forward after the trial ( concluding July 3rd, 1891)...say on July 7th.... and tried to pawn off that comment....it would have been impossible for him
                      to escape some sort of penalty.
                      Why ? Because there is no way Wellman, Nicoll, Lindsay, and Simms from the D.A.'s office would let this mealy mouth excuse & affidavit go untested.

                      Looking at the five excuses ( originally, there were four known ones until I located the most preposterous one which I've included below).

                      1. Fear of the Dane
                      2. Fear for damage to his business and reputation
                      3. Took advice from John R. Lee
                      4. Felt Ali belonged behind bars
                      5. Was concerned for Ali's welfare and felt it best he be behind bars where someone could take care of him

                      The first two, if true, probably were his first reactions...personal and visceral. Understandable. Probably felt that shortly after he put two and two together.
                      The third is a cop-out and an admission of weakness. We don't know when Lee was shown the key but lets assume it came after the first two excuses.
                      The fifth is a real testament to his character. HE knew what was best for Ali. As if he cared one bit.

                      The fourth one is the most important.
                      The real question is WHEN he felt this way. He could not have felt this prior to July 3rd, 1891....because he had no way of knowing if the jury would come
                      up with the second degree sentence that he received. It could have only been fabricated AFTER Ali's conviction, not before.

                      As I said, there's no way in hell he could come up with an affidavit.....and he had time because he put two and two together well before the Coroner's Inquest
                      on May 13-14....and two months before the verdict on July 3rd......shortly after the verdict because he would have been roasted by Wellman & Co.

                      It is also apparent that for all the positive qualities of Governors Voorhees and Odell that they failed to really scrutinize his affidavit. Damon is saying, without
                      a doubt, that he felt he was doing the State a favor by keeping the key ( Ali deserved to be in jail) and then :

                      My reason for not coming forward with these facts at that time was the
                      belief that “Frenchy” would be quite as well off where he is as at liberty.
                      Furthermore, I did not care to have my name mentioned in connection
                      with the case. But I now feel that it is my duty to make this affidavit. I believe that
                      the man in my employ was the real murderer of that woman
                      .

                      So sayeth,

                      Damon The Judge.... Thanks, Georgie.....but they already have people to do that job.

                      Bottom line...it's a porous affidavit and the Governors did not allow it to be challenged. None of the four prosecutors were in the positions they held a decade earlier...and no one challenged it after it was bumped up to Damon by then-DA, Philbin in 1901.

                      Its the Old Boy Network, personified. How could the two Governors not know the details of Ali's conviction !!??... I'll skip the foreplay...it was the gunk under his nails and that it wasn't a 'bad' conviction. Shame for Ali that he couldn't come out and confess to having burgled the room back in 1891. Them's the breaks.

                      Nina doesn't believe my 'Souvenir' theory is as solid as I think. She's of the opinion that Damon may have been covering up for someone other than this farmhand. I feel Glenmore Man was the Farmhand if the story is believable....so I lean towards the key
                      merely being a souvenir for Damon.

                      I hope you and Kattrup offer your opinions on this.
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                      • Mark:

                        Nina is well versed in Damon's cheapness....a suit brought up in 1901 against some local Cranfordian for 10 dollars...and a big brouhaha in 1897 because his old lady short changed some old biddy on a prize ( a vase for $1.98). He was in the NY Herald yapping like a bitch over this really insignificant incident.

                        It's because of this cheapness that she can see Damon down on Catherine Slip and saving a buck.
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                        • I never thought about the financial savings benefit. Anonymity was what I was thinking about along with the possibility that money can buy you untouchability like a tourist in a tourist-dependent economy. But anyone who can rip people off for a dollar can certainly nickel and dime and penny people.

                          Comment


                          • Mark:
                            I disagree with the notion he'd go down to that part of town for some sex with one of the women. In fact, I believe it close to impossible he'd soil himself amongst the soiled doves of the south end. All it would take is one fuck-up : getting mugged ; being seen by someone who knew him ( like a colleague in the printing business passing by in a carriage), or getting mugged and getting his ass kicked. The windfall from a theoretical trip to dip his wick in the foul waters of Water Street are too much to comprehend. Factor in his age : He was 53 at the time of the murder. He may not have had any lead left in his pencil.

                            Do you believe he would have gotten away with submitting that affidavit in 1891 with Wellman ( the greatest cross-examiner in America, it was said) and the other members of the prosecution questioning him ? I'll bet my last shekel that Wellman & Co. would have dragged his wife in to question her as well as the others in his
                            household.

                            I don't see the two Governors paying too much attention to the content of the affidavit in 1901....rather one guy from the neighborhood ( Voorhees) helping out another fella from the 'hood ( Damon) who has his tit in the wringer.....and Odell complying with another fellow Governor's request.

                            Your thoughts.......

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                            • Nina’s idea would work, I have to admit. He went there for thrift and was embarrassed by the association with the neighbourhood even though that’s all he did.

                              It doesn’t take much to get some of the elites to circle the wagons around their impeachable reputations. Ted K didn’t end up doing too much in the parked car
                              before the police officer showed up and asked them if they needed help! But it must have been enough for a politician.

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                              • But my Dalliances Theory isn’t any more extreme than the idea of a Cover Up for an accessory other than Frank. It might make some sense though and I’d entertain that idea.

                                Wasn’t there voiced the possibility that Byrne was set up after he claimed NY could wrap up the Ripper case in hours? There almost has to be some link to that pompous claim?

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