He was a criminal, a pickpocket, a Tammany Corridor politician, and eventually a assassin. Nonetheless, William J. Sharkey was greatest recognized for his daring escape from loss of life row, at New York Metropolis’s Tombs Jail.
Sharkey was born in New York Metropolis in 1845 to a rich household who lived in Manhattan’s Ninth Ward. Regardless of his household’s wealth, Sharkey leaned towards the darkish aspect. He started associating with pickpockets, gamblers and crooks, and shortly grew to become a really succesful pickpocket and a gambler of some fame himself. One unhappy day, Sharkey was arrested for pickpocketing, and allowed himself to be photographed by the municipal photographer, touchdown him completely within the New York Metropolis Police Division’s Prison Data Division.
Sharkey rapidly rose up the prison ladder, buying and selling stolen bonds. With the cash from his efforts, Sharkey fashioned his personal gang referred to as “Sharkey’s Guards”, who had their headquarters on the nook of Wooster and Houston Streets. It was there that Sharkey insinuated himself into the native political scene, and shortly discovered himself the darling of the outlaws who ran Tammany Corridor. Sharkey dressed within the best garments, with glowing diamonds on his fingers and round his neck. Quickly Tammany Corridor put Sharkey up for election as assistant alderman. Although Tammany had Corridor’s clout and muscle working of their favor on the polls, Sharkey one way or the other misplaced the election. Disenchanted by his political failure, Sharkey determined to return to his first loves: stealing and playing.
With the cash he constructed from numerous unlawful endeavors, Sharkey traveled to Buffalo, New York, and began a sport of faro. Nonetheless, Sharkey was so unfortunate that he misplaced $4000 in simply 5 days. Overrun, Sharkey returned to New York Metropolis and joined up together with his outdated buddy Robert Dunn, actual identify Bob Isaacs. Dunn was an worker of the Metropolis’s Comptroller’s Workplace, however he was additionally a faro seller in a playing home on Fulton Road. Considering Dunn was a greater faro professional than him, Sharkey gave Dunn $600 and instructed him to go to Buffalo and take a look at his hand at faro. Dunn agreed that if he was profitable in Buffalo, he promised to refund Sharkey the $600, plus half of his winnings. As luck would have it, Dunn was as unfortunate in Buffalo as Sharkey was, and he misplaced his total wager. Dunn returned to New York Metropolis and instructed Sharkey the dangerous information.
On September 1, 1872, Dunn and Sharkey attended the funeral of James Riley, a distinguished member of the Michael Norton Affiliation, a political arm of Tammany Corridor. After the funeral, Sharkey and Dunn traveled individually to a saloon owned by Charles Harvey referred to as “The Place”, positioned at 288 Hudson Road. By the point Sharkey arrived, Dunn had already had a couple of rye whiskeys on the bar. Sharkey himself ordered a rye, and after knocking it down in a single gulp, Sharkey demanded his $600 again from Dunn. Dunn instructed Sharkey that he himself had been wiretapped and was unable to repay the cash. Sharkey instantly drew a single-shot Derringer pistol and aimed it at Dunn’s chest.
Dunn yelled, “Do not shoot, Billy! I will pay you as quickly as potential!’
Sharkey would have none of that. He bellowed again, “You higher pay me now!”
Earlier than Dunn may reply, Sharkey fired the Derringer point-blank at Dunn. The bullet pierced Dunn’s coronary heart, killing him immediately. Sharkey fled the crime scene, however was captured a couple of hours later at a boarding home on Washington Road, close to Perry Road.
Sharkey was tried, convicted, and sentenced to hold at Tombs Jail, on August 15, 1873. Nonetheless, Sharkey’s connections at Tammany Corridor pushed his execution date again to early December.
Whereas incarcerated, Sharkey was visited every day by the prettiest Maggie Jourdan, herself a extremely profitable pickpocket. Miss Jourdan arrived early each morning and at all times stood till visiting hours have been over. Miss Jourdan was a great buddy of Mrs Wesley Allen, the spouse of a burglar, whose brother John Allen owned a bawdy dance corridor in Water Road. John Allen was often called ‘The Wickedest Man in New York Metropolis’.
Whereas a lot of the inmates within the Tombs lived in perpetual distress, Sharkey lived very nicely on the second flooring of the jail, in an space referred to as “Assassin’s Row”. With the cash Jourdan made stealing, in addition to hooking her jewelry, together with her gold watch, Sharkey was capable of furnish his jail cell quantity 40 (which was by no means locked) with the best furnishings. Jordan purchased Sharkey a walnut desk, a Kidderminster rug, a caged canary, and a ebook and journal rack hung from the ceiling by silk cords. Jourdan additionally offered Sharkey with a delicate mattress for his mattress, a snug chair for lounging in, curtains for his cell door, a sublime gown of velvet and cherry-colored silk, and velvet slippers.
Jourdan usually instructed Sharkey throughout her visits that if he died, she not wished to stay. “Willie, I may by no means make you endure,” she tearfully instructed him.
On November 19, 1873, at precisely 10:00 AM, Jourdan arrived on the entrance to the Tombs on Franklin Road. The guard on responsibility gave her the same old go given to all guests. The decrease a part of her physique was noticeably cumbersome, however the jail guards thought she had simply placed on further petticoats to guard herself from the chilly November air. Jourdan instantly went to Sharkey’s cell and she or he talked to him for a number of hours. The jail guards have been so used to her presence that they paid little consideration to what she did or what she stated to Sharkey.
Mrs. Wesley Allen arrived on the jail at 12:30 pm. She stopped at Sharkey’s cell on the second flooring and spoke to each Jourdan and Sharkey. Then Mrs. Allen went upstairs to the third flooring to go to an inmate named Flood. Jourdan left the jail at 1 pm, which was fairly uncommon, as she at all times remained standing till the tip of the day.
Half an hour later, a strange-looking girl, with notably broad shoulders, walked down the second-floor hall, via two decrease gates, and out of the jail. When this doubtful girl left the jail, she handed her go to the guard who watched the exit. This girl wore a heavy black woolen gown, a black coat, an alpine hat and a thick inexperienced veil that coated her total face. Patrol Dolan was strolling down Franklin Road when he noticed this girl deftly leaping onto a passing tram, despite the fact that she was carrying excessive heels.
At 2:05 p.m., Mrs. Wesley Allen tried to go away the jail. As she handed the guard standing on the exit, the guard requested her for her customer’s go. Mrs. Allen felt nervously within the pockets of her gown for a number of seconds earlier than saying, “I put it in my pocket, however I will need to have misplaced it.”
The guard, realizing one thing was up, instantly referred to as Director Johnson. Ms. Allen was detained whereas Warden Johnson ordered a direct search of all cells within the jail. Throughout this search, they have been dismayed to find that Sharkey’s cell was empty. His elegant garments have been scattered round his cell, and simply above his sink have been the stays of his wavy mustache, clearly simply shaved off.
Ms. Allen was instantly arrested, however since there was no concrete proof to cost her, the police reluctantly launched her. Jourdan was arrested that night time at her mom’s residence at 167 ninth Ave. When the detectives instructed her she was below arrest, Jourdan replied, “I am the happiest little girl on this planet.”
Tried in Common Classes Court docket, Jourdan was defended by infamous lawyer Huge Invoice Howe. Howe was so environment friendly in Jourdan’s protection that the jury acquitted her of all fees.
It was later decided that, regardless of police looking out all piers within the metropolis for Sharkey, Sharkey had escaped on the schooner Frank Atwood and was on his strategy to Haiti. Not very keen on that nation, Sharkey boarded one other boat and traveled to Cuba, the place he settled.
Two years after Sharkey escaped from Tombs Jail, Maggie Jourdan joined Sharkey in Cuba. However for some unknown purpose (most likely as a result of Sharkey was an incorrigible creature), Sharkey badly mistreated Jourdan, the girl accountable for Sharkey avoiding the gallows in New York Metropolis. Sharkey abused Jourdan so badly, the captain of the ship that took Jourdan to Cuba pushed her again aboard and introduced her again to New York Metropolis.
Quickly after, Jourdan discovered her real love, whom she married. They most likely lived fortunately ever after.
So far as might be decided, William J. Sharkey by no means returned to New York Metropolis.