On the evening of October 2nd, 1908, policemen Arthur Collinge of the NYPD was strolling his beat along Ninth Avenue. As he did every night, he made his way slowly towards 59th Street, trying each storefront door to ensure it was locked and secure. Approaching from behind, Collinge heard the rapid footsteps of a man coming towards him, quite literally screaming bloody murder. The unknown citizen’s face was white, his eyes bulging. “Murder,” he gasped, out of breath. The ever alert Collinge was on the case.
“In a doorway,” panted the man, “10th Avenue –58th Street – two men – killed a woman – seen them dragging – body – down steps – stripping body – jewels of her – hurry – catch them in act.” Collinge hurried his way to an all night drug store, and called his precinct, and requested the desk sergeant send all available men to 10th Avenue and 58th. Then Collinge drew his gun and hurried westward towards the 58th.
If they taught walking quietly at the Police Academy all the way back in 1908, Collinge must have missed that day of training, for as he approached the site of the ostensible murder, the criminals heard him coming and legged it up 10th Avenue as fast as they could run with their arms full of loot. Collinge took a quick look inside the doorway, and a glance told him that the story had been right; a woman with disheveled blonde hair lay naked in the doorway. Collinge raised his gun, and in timeless police parlance, yelled “Stop or I’ll shoot.” True to his word, when the men didn’t stop, Collinge let off two shots, aiming deliberately over their heads.
The men just ran faster. So fast that they outstripped the out of shape Collinge. Indeed, ahad one of them not tripped on the streetcar tracks that ran down the center of 10th Avenue, they both would have gotten away. Before the man could rise, Collinge was on him. The muzzle of his gun still warm from the warning shots, Collinge pressed it to the man’s neck. Watching the man carefully, Collinge ordered his prisoner to rise, and handcuffed him. The loot lined the ground, and Collinge picked up a handsome skirt, white women’s undergarments, and a large feathered hat.
Reinforcements in the form of police officers Evans and Donlin now arrived, and the three men escorted their captive back to the doorway. “A bad case fellows,” Collinge informed them, “woman killed and robbed. One of them got away, but I nailed this chap.” Their captive identified himself as Eugene Hefferman, of 256 8th Avenue, and the stern men in blue escorted him back to the doorway, where the body lay. “It was,” in the words of the The Evening World, “one of the handsomest tailor’s wax dummies that have ever been seen on the middle west side.”
A thoroughly embarrassed Collinge had Hefferman arraigned the next morning. The prisoner admitted that he’d helped smash the store window of tailor Israel Blum at 312 W. 58th Street. The two men had lifted out the dummy and carried her to a handy doorway where they stripped her naked, despite the climate. Hefferman was bound over for trial on $1,000 bail.