The Man Who Wouldn’t Die

In 1933, Michael Malloy (inset) was a homeless Irishman who lived in New York City. A former firefighter, he is most famous for surviving a number of attempts on his life by five acquaintances who were attempting to commit life insurance fraud. The plot was conceived over a round of drinks, as Tony Marino, Joseph "Red" Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg plotted to take out three life insurance policies on Malloy and then get him to drink himself to death. Gathering in a speakeasy, the five men invited Malloy to drink with them, buying him round after round. Little did they know how tough Malloy was. When he didn’t die, the men decided to substitute antifreeze for liquor. Still, Malloy drank until he passed out, but survived. Next they decided to substitute turpentine for the antifreeze, but that failed too, as did horse liniment and rat poison. The group then tried raw oysters soaked in wood alcohol, followed by a sandwich of spoiled sardines mixed with poison and carpet tacks. When that failed, they decided anything Malloy ingested wasn’t going to kill him, so they opted to freeze him to death. On a night when the temperature reached -14º, Malloy drank until he passed out. He was then carried to a park, dumped in the snow, and had five gallons of water poured on his bare chest. The next day, Malloy showed up looking for a drink.

Still pressing forward, the men hired taxi driver Harry Green and paid him $150 to run Malloy over with his cab. The murder syndicate got Malloy drunk and propped him up as Green raced toward him at 50 mph. Two thuds and the body hit the hood, dropping to the ground. For good measure, Green backed up over Malloy, and then fled the scene. Five days later, with no reports or death notices for Malloy, the five went to the speakeasy. There, they found Malloy, limping, battered and bandaged, but looking only slightly worse for the wear.

The gang had had enough. When Malloy passed out for the night, they put a hose in his mouth that was connected to a gas jet, and turned it on. That finally killed Malloy, death occurring within an hour. He was pronounced dead of pneumonia by a bribed doctor and quickly buried. However, the five murderers fought over the division of the loot, and it wasn't long before police got wind of it. They had Malloy's body exhumed and examined. The five men were put on trial and found guilty of murder for hire. Green went to prison and the other four men were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing. Unlike Mike, none survived.