No announcement yet.

The Damon Key

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Damon Key

    A couple of days ago I was going through the Carrie Brown media section and for some reason focused on Taker's Mad, a 9 hour audiobook about the Brown murder created by Luke Jerod Kummer and available on Audible I obtained it today. Its a 'faction' work...partly fiction wrapped around the facts of the East River Hotel murder.

    I then looked Luke up on Facebook and arriving at his page nearly broke my keyboard with my chin.

    Luke, an author and researcher, had gone to the State Archives in Albany ( NY ), the state capital, and came across the key submitted by George Damon in 1901 to New York authorities. The key, as we know, was instrumental ( along with the influence of the French Consulate) in getting Ali out of jail, not pardoned, and subsequently deported to France.

    Wisely and thankfully, he took these two photos of the key and put them on his FB page.

    I found his non-FB email and requested permission to post them here ( and on FB and in the East River Echo Number 95). He was very cordial and gave me permission.

    The past 18 month period of Brownian research has seen, in my opinion, the greatest advances in the study of this Case in its 130 year history.

    Luke Kummer has advanced it one more step.
    ************************************************** *************************

    Ovide Robillard was an attorney who devoted time and effort towards getting Ali pardoned.

    'Return To Executive Chambers'

    John Jansen ( ? )- connection to the key unknown at this date

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

  • #2
    Photo One


    • #3
      Photo Two


      • #4
        Blimey - that’s an interesting artefact.

        Thanks for posting it, How.


        • #5
          Nice, How. Good work getting pictures. I concur with Gary, an interesting artefact indeed! This is another great example of what is still yet to be uncovered.


          • #6
            I agree with Gary and Jerry of course. This is a great find How. I wonder who Jansen was though?


            " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how probably a little bit boring "


            • #7
              Thanks Jerry....

              Mike...not sure, buddy. Nina hasn't had time due to the holidays, but I'll see if I can persuade her to look into it.


              • #8
                Probably some minor official, keeper of records-type guy?

                So many questions we can ask of course. Like, if Kniclo and Glenmore Man were one and the same (and the ID appears to have been strong) and he was also Damon’s Dane, then why did he try to get a room at The Glenmore (without having any money) when he had a room of his own at Damon’s?


                " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how probably a little bit boring "


                • #9

                  We could spend a lot of time discussing this element of the post-murder, that's for sure.

                  One possible explanation is that he needed to remove all of the blood on his person ( no mirror in Room 31 and no place to wash up without the possibility of discovery at the Hotel). If C. Kniclo and your aptly titled, 'Glenmore Man' are one and the same ( I for one firmly believe it to be the case), then his pit stop at the Glenmore might have been for that purpose. That's just one suggestion.

                  On the other hand, if C. Kniclo / Glenmore Man was not the Danish Farmhand, why not go to his own local digs unless he didn't have a local place to clean up and was a transient ?

                  When C. Kniclo arrived at the East River Hotel with Brown, he had a small purse of some sort with money. Obviously, as he had to pay for the ale and room.

                  If it were the Farmhand, he had to have planned in advance to have enough money to get back to New Jersey at a time when he wasn't in his cups and had more control of his faculties. Glenmore Man said he was skint. This is contradictory but may be explained as Glenmore Man simply telling a lie because he needed what he had to get back to NJ.....if he and the Farmhand were one and the same.

                  This is a real Rubik's Cube of a problem in regard to identifying the killer, if not by name, but pseudonym.

                  It is possible that C. Kniclo was Glenmore Man was The Danish Farmhand- ergo, the key presented by Damon was the key left by the Farmhand.

                  Alternatively, if C. Kniclo was Glenmore Man but not the Farmhand, the key Damon presented was either made by Damon and which was presented to authorities in 1901, but nevertheless resulting in Ali's release.

                  This might sound somewhat dismissive of the key Luke shared, but it is most certainly not.
                  The key that Luke saw, photographed, and shared IS the key Damon presented and IS the material evidence which convinced Governor Odell to commute Ali's sentence, leading to his deportation. There is NO question about that.

                  However, all the curious remarks within Damon's story does make you wonder.. Damon had the facilities to create a key. Problem with this theory, IMHO, is why ?

                  Damon's irresponsibility nearly led to a man's death ( Ali nearly killing a teenaged inmate in Matteawan in 1898), Ali being caught up in the 1896 Matteawan fire, Ali being classified as insane, and above all, his near electrocution. I, for one, have no doubt that Damon would NOT have come forward to prevent that possibility nor do I think he would ever have come forward had it not
                  been for John H. Lee divulging the fact Damon had the key to one of the prosecution team or a facsimile of the key in Cranford necessitating Damon to explain himself before the authorities.


                  • #10

                    Yeah I see no reason to believe that Damon would have come forward after 10 years of silence just to ‘put right’ a miscarriage of justice without Lee’s intervention. Your right to say that he could have had a key made though but your question ‘why’ is the one? He had no connection to Ali and as far as I’m aware he had no history of being any kind of fighter for justice or champion of the underdog. I can’t recall How, was the EHR still around at the time of Ali’s release? If not, how could he have copied a key that he’d never seen and which that, for all that he’d known, might have been checked with some former employee or the owner to see if it matched. Then of course he’d had to admit that he’d kept quiet about it for 10 years which wouldn’t make anyone look good. Might there not have been the possibility of some kind of ‘withholding evidence’ charge too? Too me at least it appears that he did have this key in his possession (or at least in his wife’s) and that he had no intention of mentioning the Dane until Lee opened his trap (probably after a long chat with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels)

                    As you also said, Kniclo had at least some money but Glenmore Man said that he hadn’t. From his strange behaviour he was perhaps in some kind of ‘shock’ if that’s the word. At least an after-effect of what he’d just done. Perhaps he’d gone inside hoping to sneak into the rest room for a clean up but the desk man Kelly appeared from somewhere and asked him what he wanted so he just blurted out that he wanted a room? Then he just tells him that he has no cash hoping that he’ll let him use the wash room? Speculation of course How.

                    Even a discovery leaves us with questions. Damon’s story is a strange one but again, as you’ve said, why would he lie about this?


                    " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how probably a little bit boring "


                    • #11

                      I can’t recall How, was the EHR still around at the time of Ali’s release?

                      Yes, it was Mike.

                      There was no way to check to see if the key Damon turned in would fit the room (31) at the time it was turned in. James Jennings told D.A. Philbin in 1901
                      that he wasn't sure if the key Damon turned in was the same as the one tenants would be given in 1891. Something about a renovation at the Hotel ( Jennings
                      was not the owner)....which probably meant they turned the bedsheets over once every six months.

                      Perhaps he’d gone inside hoping to sneak into the rest room for a clean up but the desk man Kelly appeared from somewhere and asked him what he wanted so he just blurted out that he wanted a room?

                      Good point and one seldom if ever mentioned ( I don't recall it being mentioned before until you just did).
                      Had he been still affected by what he had just done down the street, I can see him blurting out that he need a room, when in reality, all he wanted was what he asked for after being denied a free room...I think it's safe to say he was rattled and
                      I, for one, see your scenario being very viable.

                      As to the key, as much as Damon repels some of us and some of his shady story may extend to the key itself, it's hard to get past the fact the key Luke photographed and the sketch in the NY Evening World ( East River Echo 95) match up...the fluting of the key being a dead ringer.

                      Question is...were 'blanks' ( unmade keys) for hotels essentially the same shape ? In other words, would keys used at the Glenmore or Michael Banks Econo-Lodge on Water Street be the same generic type ?

                      House keys ( over here) are basically the same in 'blank' form.


                      • #12
                        I’d guess that your definition of ‘renovation’ wouldn’t be far of the mark in that dump How (I’d still loved to have seen inside it though). Maybe a few of the locks didn’t work and the owner finally decided to get some replaced (on the cheap, no doubt) so perhaps the keys weren’t all exactly the same, leading to Jennings doubt?

                        I certainly tend to think that this is Damon’s key. Was it from the EHR? I’m tending to think yes. I think it makes more sense to me than a key ‘created’ to exonerate Ali.

                        I don’t have the Dekle book with me at the moment as I’m not at home but I was trying to remember Damon’s description of the Dane and if it was close to Kniclo/Denmore?


                        " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how probably a little bit boring "


                        • #13

                          I also lean towards it being the key from the Hotel. My hesitation wasn't based on a desire of Damon's to see Ali exonerated ( if that were a concern, why wait so long ?...he stated that he felt Ali deserved to be in jail at the time in 1891 in his 1901 interviews)...but that his sob story is peculiar in a few ways. Once someone crosses Bullshit Bridge, everything they say is best held up to scrutiny.

                          Damon didn't actually describe the farmhand physically, Mike.

                          Good idea on the keys possibly being different at the Hotel. Didn't think of that.


                          • #14

                            Thanks for that, I couldn’t remember if there was a description or not. Now I’m wondering why not? More questions of course. Might his description not have matched the one from the Kelly/Miniter and so they left it out? Kniclo was the only other suspect after all. And if they really wanted Ali released would Damon have been too honest a chap to simply repeat the Kelly/Miniter description? The lack of a description seems a little strange to me.

                            I think that I know a few that actually live on Bullshit Bridge How.


                            " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how probably a little bit boring "


                            • #15

                              I'd have to go back through the 1901 articles ( NY Sun from June 2nd comes to mind), but I'm pretty sure that he didn't describe the farmhand's features at any time...only that he ( Damon ) had fear of the man. Damon said just enough to the press to paint himself as a victim ( fear of the farmhand, fear of his reputation being stained, taking someone else's advice not to come forward).

                              Damon kept him on at the farm after completing his original tasks. Damon was satisfied with 'Frank's' work grading the land, so he hired him on for further work.
                              Damon stated, as one of his four 'reasons' for not coming forward, that he feared the farmhand for what might happen had Damon rolled over on him to the police.

                              That's understandable. I think all of us have at one time or another been in a situation that if we had crossed someone in our social circle or from outside of it, we would naturally
                              be wary of said person.

                              But it doesn't explain why or how Damon didn't know the farmhand's surname. I don't buy it

                              If, and I've mentioned this before, you were someone who worked 20 some miles away and had women ( wife and female servants) on your estate, you'd naturally want & need to know the man's
                              surname.....considering you had valuable merch in your home, as well. I certainly would in case the worst case scenario popped up.