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.
May 18
1926—Aimee Semple McPherson Disappears
In the U.S., Canadian born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from Venice Beach, California in the middle of the afternoon. She is initially thought to have drowned, but on June 23, McPherson stumbles out of the desert in Agua Prieta, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people named Steve and Mexicali Rose. However, it soon becomes clear that McPherson's tale is fabricated, though to this day the reasons behind it remain unknown.
1964—Mods and Rockers Jailed After Riots
In Britain, scores of youths are jailed following a weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers in Brighton and other south coast resorts. Mods listened to ska music and The Who, wore suits and rode Italian scooters, while Rockers listened to Elvis and Gene Vincent, and rode motorcycles. These differences triggered the violence.
May 17
1974—Police Raid SLA Headquarters
In the U.S., Los Angeles police raid the headquarters of the revolutionary group the Symbionese Liberation Army, resulting in the deaths of six members. The SLA had gained international notoriety by kidnapping nineteen-year old media heiress Patty Hearst from her Berkeley, California apartment, an act which precipitated her participation in an armed bank robbery.
1978—Charlie Chaplin's Missing Body Is Found
Eleven weeks after it was disinterred and stolen from a grave in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland, Charlie Chaplin's corpse is found by police. Two men—Roman Wardas, a 24-year-old Pole, and Gantscho Ganev, a 38-year-old Bulgarian—are convicted in December of stealing the coffin and trying to extort £400,000 from the Chaplin family.
May 16
1918—U.S. Congress Passes the Sedition Act
In the U.S., Congress passes a set of amendments to the Espionage Act called the Sedition Act, which makes "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces, as well as language that causes foreigners to view the American government or its institutions with contempt, an imprisonable offense. The Act specifically applies only during times of war, but later is pushed by politicians as a possible peacetime law, specifically to prevent political uprisings in African-American communities. But the Act is never extended and is repealed entirely in 1920.
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