Sunday, May 13, 2018

"Say Goodbye Daddy": Belle Millman's Revenge - New York, 1926

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): A young mother in the Bronx, estranged from her husband, lifted her 3-year-old son to the telephone yesterday and had him speak to his father.

‘Hello daddy,’ the father heard the child say.

‘Don’t say “Hello, daddy,”’ came the mother’s voice. ‘Say “Good-bye, daddy.’”

The child said it and a moment later the husband heard his wife’s voice, distinct and vindictive:

‘It seems that the only way I can get ahead of you is to kill the child.’

The receiver was hung up with a bang. The husband hurried out desperately to find the wife and child.

Three hours later a group of children playing near the 258th Field Artillery Armory at 195th Street, between Jerome and Reservoir Avenues, the Bronx, parted a clump of bushes and saw the body of a well-dressed woman lying there, a pistol by her side. A little way off, crumpled over a sand pail, with a toy shovel in his hand, lay a boy, dead. Each had been shot through the right temple.

~ Husband Makes Identification. ~

The children ran screaming to the street and passersby communicated with the police. A check in the woman’s purse gave a clue to her identity and before evening the identification was made certain by the husband, Joseph Millman, a manufacturing milliner of 64 West Thirty-seventh Street.

The double killing yesterday brought to a close nearly two years of difficulties between the husband and wife, and months of litigation over the custody of the child.

Millman and his wife, Belle, 27 years old, were married in 1922. Two years later she left home and started an action for separation, demanding custody of the boy and $25 a week alimony. Her petition was denied by Justice Robert F. Wagner. Less than a year later Millman and six other men raided his wife’s apartment and obtained evidence on which Millman sued for divorce. Mrs. Millman threatened to kill herself then if the divorce was granted. The evidence against her was insufficient, however, and the divorce was not granted.

~ He Wins Custody of Son. ~

But last November Millman went before Justice Richard P. Lydon and obtained custody of the boy. This was so crushing a blow to the mother, however, that a little later Millman and his attorney, Bernard H. Sandler, of 130 Broadway, made a supplementary agreement which was less harsh. Millman agreed to give his wife $350 to furnish a room in the apartment of her sister, Mrs. Ida Paly, at 2,552 University Avenue, the Bronx, give her the custody of the son for five days each week, pay all the boy’s expenses and allow her $30 a week for herself. Last month, however, Mrs. Millman began suit for counsel fees and heavier alimony through Attorney Charles Fredericks of 342 Madison Avenue. The case came up Friday before Justice Louis D. Gibbs in the Bronx Supreme Court.

The boy, Martin, it was brought out, had been operated upon six months before for mastoiditis and the father had been keeping him in the country home of his grandfather, Samuel Millman, near Hudson.

Millman wished to let his son say in the country to be sure his health was completely regained, and offered to pay his wife’s expenses to his father’s home to allow her to visit the child.

The court felt that the child should have his mother’s care, and Mrs. Millman pleaded earnestly that she also had a country place to which she would take him. Justice Gibbs ordered the child given into the custody of his mother, to take effect Monday, on condition that he be taken to the country.

As all were leaving the courtroom Millman whispered a piece of news to Sandler that had been disquieting him. His wife, he said, had broken into his apartment at 3,336 Rochambeau Avenue, the Bronx, and cut his pistol from the holster and stolen it, and she had also taken his gold watch.

Sandler immediately informed the Court of this.

“I’m afraid she may kill somebody in this case,” he said.

Justice Gibbs called Mrs. Millman back and questioned her minutely. She denied that she had ever had a pistol or that she even had seen her husband’s pistol.

She admitted taking the watch, however, and returned it. But she took an oath she had no pistol, and the Court believed her.

Outside the court house she ran up to her husband and said laughingly, but with a tinge of bitterness:

“I don’t suppose you’ll see me many times in court.”

~ Gives Child to Mother. ~

The difficulties were ended apparently, and on Monday Millman bought the child an entire of new clothing and delivered him into his mother’s custody.

Yesterday morning Mrs. Millman telephoned her husband at his office. She could not comply with the Justice’s condition that she take the child immediately to the country, she said. She had arranged, instead, to take a two-room apartment where she would keep the child with her and had given the landlord Millman’s name as reference.

Shortly before noon she telephoned again.

“I need $250 to help furnish that apartment,” Millman said his wife told him. “And I want you to sign the lease.”

“You’d better come and see me, then,” Millman replied. “I can’t discuss that over the telephone.”

His wife became furious at that, Millman said, and then put Martin up to the telephone to tell his father good-bye.

Millman hurried to his wife’s home, but she and the child were gone. The mother and the little boy must have wandered some time together. Peggy Lasanti, who runs a candy and notions store at 2,706 Jerome Avenue, near the Armory, remembered seeing them in her store at 3 o’clock. There the mother bought a tin pail and a shovel for Martin. From there, apparently, they went to the open space beside the armory where Mrs. Millman watched him play in the dirt. She must have shot him from a little distance as he played, the police said. There were no powder burns on his head.

District Attorney John E. McGeehan of the Bronx made a preliminary investigation yesterday afternoon.

“This is one of the saddest tragedies in my entire experience as Magistrate, Judge and District Attorney,” he said.

[“Mother Kills Son and Died by Own Gun – First Has Son Say ‘Good-Bye Daddy’ Over Phone To Her Estranged Husband. – Boy Slain While at Play – Bodies Found In Bushes – Wife Got Custody of Lad on Monday After Two Years of Litigation,” The New York Times (N. Y.), Aug 4, 1926, p. 21] (Millman case)


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Still dazed by the double tragedy, Joseph Millman of 64 W. 37th st., went to Fordham morgue yesterday and claimed the bodies of his wife, Belle Millman, and his 3-year-old son, Martin, whom she slew a bullet through her own brain. In the afternoon funeral rites were conducted at Albert brothers’ chapel, 216 Lenox ave.

[“Husband Buries Wife’s Body And Son She Killed,” Daily News (New York, N. Y.), Extra, Ed., Aug. 5, 1926, p. 12]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): New York, Aug. 14. – The scorching flames of an unreasonable love have taken a bitter toll and penned a tragic chapter in the lives of three persons, a 4-year-old boy, a mother and a father. Two of them – the mother and the child – are dead, and the third, the father, must live on trying to understand the consuming passion that snapped a sane mind in the twinkling of an eye and supplanted it with the mentality of a killer.

The story of the tragic suicide of pretty 27-year-old Belle Millman, who on August 3 last shot her son and then killed herself in a vacant lot in the Bronx here, must be taken up at the start and opening chapter of this tragedy is like the opening chapter of so many others, with love and companionship between a man and his wife supplying the major plot.


Joseph Millman, a wholesale milliner, with a prosperous business her married Belle in 1922. The marriage culminated a courtship of love. A son was born. Two years passed and the first shadow of the tragedy that was to snuff out two lives fell across the scene when Mrs. Millman left her husband and started an action for separation, demanding custody of the boy and $25 a week alimony. Her petition was denied by Justice Robert F. Wagner.

Another year passed with two people estranged. The second blow was struck at a possible reconciliation when Millman and six other men raided his wife’s apartment and obtained evidence upon which an action for divorce was instituted.

“It’s all a frameup,” was the answer made by the young wife when attorneys for the husband lodged charges of infidelity couched in legal terms. However, the divorce was not granted and the wife, who said she would destroy herself if the law took cognizance of her husband’s allegations, again went upon her way.


All the while four-year-old Martin Millman had been living with his mother. The bitterness that must have welled up in two hearts welled up higher in the heart of the mother when, last November, Millman went before Justice Richard P. Lydon here and asked for the custody of his son. The pain that pretty Belle Millman was capable of feeling pierced her heart when her arms were robbed of her child.

The husband, for the sake of his sorrowing wife, made a supplementary agreement then, whereby Mrs. Millman was to be allowed the companionship of her child five days each week. More than this Millman also agreed to pay $30 a week for herself.

Despite these concessions, Mrs. Millman took recorse to the law again, less than a month before her death and began suit for $500 counsel fees and heavier alimony. The case was heard a few days before the tragedy and it developed that the boy had undergone an operation just before that and was living in the country with his grandfather. On the father’s plea that that the boy be allowed to remain in the country and recuperate, the presiding judge ordered that the child be placed in the care of the mother, provided she, too, would take a place in the country and nurse him.


A ray of light seemed to shine through the gathering gloom of unhappiness between Millman and his wife when she agreed to this arrangement. But once again the bony finger of tragedy was knocking on the door, impatient that the last bitter act be played. As all were leaving the court Millman confided in his attorney that his wife had broken into his apartment and had stolen his pistol. The attorney immediately informed the court and the woman was called back and submitted to a close questioning. Under oath she swore she had taken no pistol and cold justice, which beckons out with the passions of men and women, if those passions are cloaked in legal raiment, believed her.

Outside the court house she ran up to her husband and said laughingly:

“I don’t suppose you’ll see me many times more in court.”

There was a ring of bitterness in her voice.

But men make the best of things and Millman was no different than the average man. Legally, everything had been settled and so the following Monday he bought an entire new outfit of clothing for his son and restored him to the arms of his mother.

In the night that ensued death stalked the stage to link arms with the sinister figure of tragedy until now the prompter in this queer drama of searing emotions. The following morning Mrs. Millman telephoned her husband at his office. She told him that she could not immediately comply with the court’s agreement and take their son to the country. Instead, she said, she had arranged to take a small apartment  here and would keep the child with her.


“I need $250 to help furnish the apartment,” she told her husband, “and I want you to sign the lease.”

“You’d better come and see me then,” Millman replied. “I can’t discuss that over the telephone.”

Did the mind of pretty Belle Millman suddenly snap at this point? Did she suddenly change from a woman to an unreasoning destoyer or were the tragic events that followed the crashing climax of a plan she had been hatching through the night? The answer cannot be given.

“We can’t live together any more and the only way I can spite you is to kill the child.” This was the message that burned into the ear of Millman after he asked his wife to come to his office and talk over the signing of a lease for the apartment she wanted.

Next came the voice of the child – happy, joyous:

“Hello, daddy!”

The words were like a tender melody, mounting for the moment from above the grumbling drums of tragedy.

“Don’t say ‘hello daddy,’” broke in the voice of the mother. “Say ‘goodby.’”

‘Goodby daddy,” and the receiver banged down.

Millman, in the grip of a strange fear he could not understand, rattled the receiver hook. But the wire buzzed emptily.


About 2 o’clock in the afternoon three small children were going to the movies. They cut across the big, vacant lot at One Hundred and Ninety-fifth street, between Jerome and Reservoir avenues, in the Bronx. The youngest peered into the bushes and screamed. The two others looked with him, and then all three ran crying to the corner.

They blubbered to Joe Diskin, an attendant the Field Artillery Armory near by, who called a policeman. They found the young wife, dead, with a .22-caliber bullet hole in her right temple. Beside her lay a small boy, dead, with a similar hole in his right temple. His body was folded over a sand pail and shovel he had been playing with. The woman’s hand clutched a revolver, in which were two empty cartridges.

There is no epilogue. Death had held its carnival and left behind its husks. The scorching flame of an unreasonable love had taken its bitter toll. The authorities have not tried to explain the motives that led pretty Belle Millman into her mad act. It is something that cannot be explained upon a police report. Somewhere something was warped. Was it the heart or the mind?

[“Hatred and Murder Follow Love – Overwhelming Passion Takes Heavy Toll in Three Lives – Blind Unreason Forces ‘Phone Message of Coming Dooms. – Fears Law Will Take Her Son,” The Pittsburgh Sunday  Post (Pa.),  Aug. 15, 1926, Sec. 1, P. 8]


Cases such as this one from 1926 are left out of studies on domestic violence done by experts – who, almost always, are adherents of Marxism-based social theories  –  resulting in distorted conclusions which support the policy preferences of those professors and researchers who had joined the academic field in order to shape public policy.








SEE:  Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive

[627-5/13/18; 790-5/28/18; 942-8/21/18]

1 comment:

  1. You should make an Index for female killers who have killed 1 or more only in 1 event (Aka, not Serial killers)