Welcome back to another True Crime Sunday! Today we’re going to look at the case of someone who had a simple scheme planned in order to collect on life insurance money. The only problem was that an intended victim just wouldn’t die.
In 1932, speakeasy owner Tony Marino and some buddies came up with the idea to take out life insurance policies on some of the establishment’s struggling regulars and wait for them to drink themselves to death thanks to an open-ended tab. Marino had already cashed in on at least one insurance policy this way.
Enter Irish immigrant Michael Malloy.
Malloy had become another one of Marino’s regulars at the speakeasy. One of the Murder Trust, as they would later be called by the press, suggested taking out an insurance policy on the man. Marino and his associates had befriended an insurance agent who wasn’t all that bothered by setting up fraudulent life insurance policies. The men stood to gain $3,500 (roughly $73,000 in today’s dollars) if Malloy were to die accidentally.
While he’d recently told Malloy there would be no more tabs, Tony Marino told Malloy that competition from other establishments made him change his mind. Malloy was given an open tab. Though he drank as Marino and his friends predicted, he didn’t die. He wiped his mouth, got himself together, and told Marino he’d see him later.
Undeterred, Marino later added antifreeze to Malloy’s drink, but this didn’t work. Neither did the turpentine, rat poison, horse liniment, or the sandwich with metal shavings. Marino and his friends became concerned that their target would not die before the insurance policy expired, so they came up with another idea. They’d freeze hm to death.
They waited until he’d passed out after drinking and hauled him outside on a frigid night and poured five gallons of water over him. He didn’t die then either. He was found by police and taken to a shelter.
One of the trust members had a taxi, and the group decided to just try running Malloy over. He ended up in the hospital with broken bones, but survived after being hit by a car going 45 mph.
In February 1933, Marino and his associates went to Malloy’s room and shoved the end of a fuel hose in his mouth. They pumped gas into his body until he died, which he did within an hour.
The insurance agent wasn’t the only corrupt professional who was part of the group. A doctor declared that Malloy died of pneumonia and had him quickly buried.
Though it looked like things were all wrapped up, rumors had been flying about “Durable Mike,” one of Malloy’s many nicknames. Police ordered his body exhumed and examined. I couldn’t find much about how the investigation led law enforcement to Marino and his buddies. What I did find suggested they all started talking and turned on each other after the police started looking into Malloy’s strange death.
Marino and three of his associates were sentenced to the electric chair and another spent the rest of his days in prison.
This case caught my attention for a number of reasons. The articles I found make it sound like not only did Michal Malloy not die after most of those attempts, but he enjoyed all of the free food and drink. I also read an article that suggested Malloy had no recollection of being hit by the taxi. I also have to wonder if Marino and his buddies became as focused on killing the unkillable man as they did the payoff they were expecting. There’s a lot to unpack in this strange story.
Join me next week as we take a look at another peculiar true crime story!