The Naked City Oct 1 2014
DIFEDE TO BLACK
Be careful what you wish for—you may have to kill for it.


These two issues of Crime Detective, which appeared today in 1962 and 1964 respectively, both feature the same cover photo—each a reverse of the other—of Jean DiFede and Armando Cossentino. DiFede and Cossentino, who were thirty-six and nineteen, were May-December lovers convicted of murdering DiFede’s husband Dr. Joseph DiFede in order to collect a $72.000 life insurance policy (about $560,000 in today’s money). Dr. DiFede was attacked in his bedroom with a hammer and carving knife, and the disarray of the scene showed that he had battled fiercely for his life before succumbing to multiple blows and seven stab wounds. A third person on the scene later turned eyewitness against the lovers, claiming Dr. DiFede gasped to his wife with his last words, “I forgive you everything… Don’t kill me.” Meanwhile Cossentino stood over him and shouted, “Die! Die! Die!”

The eyewitness account (he said the extent of his participation had been helping to clean the crime scene because he feared for his life) was damning enough on its own. Police also discovered that Jean DiFede had bought Cossentino a new convertible, rented an apartment for him, and went on public dates with him. And just for good measure the all-male jury was repeatedly reminded that Cossentino was only two years older than Jean DiFede’s oldest son, who had been instructed to refer to her by her name rather than “mom.” When the guilty verdicts came down, Cossentino was sentenced to die in the electric chair and DiFede got twenty years. Upon hearing her sentence she screamed, “If I have to spend twenty years in jail I’d rather be dead!” As it turned out, neither of them died in prison. Cossentino’s sentence was commuted to life, and both eventually earned parole.

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The Naked City Aug 18 2009
SERGE DETECTOR
Crime Detective had a lot of questions about Serge Rubinstein’s murder, but no answers.
The detective magazine business used to be booming. We’ve already discussed or shown you covers for True Detective, Official Detective, Inside Detective, Front Page Detective, Master Detective and Confidential Detective. Today we have yet another entry in the genre—Crime Detective. This issue is from August 1962, and it has a story on the treacherous Serge Rubinstein—financier, crook, blackmailer, two-timer, and victim of murder back in 1955. Why did he make the cover seven years after his death? Because the crime was never solved, and it remains one of the most famous unsolved killings in New York history.
 
Rubinstein was Napoleonic in size and ambition. He sought wealth and believed rules applied to everyone except him. He was a swindler nonpareil, and though many people suspected this, he had the requisite veneer of manners and the requisite pocketful of cash to blend with the upper crust. He was a draft dodger, like so many of the ultra-wealthy. But when it came to fighting women, he was a real tough guy—he beat his first wife unconscious and ripped off her clothes. But he kept the ugliness and violent tendencies hidden, and used his money to attract socialites who ordinarily would have assumed he was the coat check boy. He always dated several models at once, yet insisted on fidelity from all of them. He bugged their apartments to be sure they complied. In summation, Serge Rubinstein—who you see at left dressed as Napoleon—was a bad guy.
 
No surprise, then, that he was eventually found strangled on the floor of his palatial Manhattan flat. Police first believed he’d been tortured for the purpose of revenge or for extracting business secrets. Then they started thinking it was a kidnapping gone wrong. The last person to see Rubinstein alive was one of his girlfriends, Estelle Gardner, but she had left his apartment around 1:30 a.m. Around 2:30 a.m. Rubinstein had called another girlfriend named Patricia Wray, but she had declined his invitation to come over. The apartment was protected by heavy doors and iron bars, which meant a key had been used to gain entry. Rubinstein gave keys to staff and girlfriends. All were questioned and all were cleared. That left about a thousand more suspects, consisting of the cheated, the betrayed, the ruined, and the embarrassed. Serge Rubinstein’s bad habits had caught up with him. Not only had they cost him all the things he ever had, including his life—the person who took them away would never be found.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
August 19
1953—Mohammed Mossadegh Overthrown in Iran
At the instigation of the CIA, Prime Minster of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh is overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is installed as leader of the country.
August 18
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
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