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On March 29, 1951, a homemade device explodes at Grand Central Station in New York City, startling commuters but injuring no one. In the next few months, five more bombs were found at landmark sites around New York, including the public library. Authorities realized that this new wave of terrorist acts was the work of the Mad Bomber.
New York’s first experience with the so-called Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, “Con Edison crooks, this is for you.” More bombs were recovered in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, “I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war.” He went on to say that Con Edison, New York’s electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time.
The patriotic Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off at Radio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, the Mad Bomber hit Grand Central Station, Macy’s, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry.
The police had no luck finding the Mad Bomber, but an investigative team working for Con Ed finally tracked him down. Looking through their employment records, they found that George Peter Metesky had been a disgruntled ex-employee since an accident in 1931. Metesky was enraged that Con Ed refused to pay disability benefits and resorted to terrorism as his revenge.
Metesky, a rather mild-mannered man, was found living with his sisters in Connecticut. He was sent to a mental institution in April 1957 where he stayed until his release in 1973. He died in 1994.
The Mad Bomber: George Metesky's Bombs Terrorized New York City
As millions of people file for unemployment and still more lack health insurance, it's easy to understand, here in 2020, why someone might get salty with an employer for leaving them in the lurch. In the 1940s, George Metesky got so upset that he began threatening the company, and he wasn't satisfied with angry letters. He chose instead to hide a series of signed pipe bombs around New York City over the course of 16 years. While no one was killed and only a few were injured, the scale of the bombings was so broad that George Metesky was christened "The Mad Bomber."
This Week in Crime History
On this day in 1951, a homemade device explodes at Grand Central Station in New York City, startling commuters but injuring no one. In the next few months, five more bombs were found at landmark sites around New York, including the public library. Authorities realized that this new wave of terrorist acts was the work of the Mad Bomber.
New York's first experience with the so-called Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, "Con Edison crooks, this is for you." More bombs were recovered in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, "I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war." He went on to say that Con Edison, New York's electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time.
The patriotic Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off at Radio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, the Mad Bomber hit Grand Central Station, Macy's, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry.
Seymour Berkson: An Open Letter to the Mad Bomber
Seymour Berkson’s open letter to the Mad Bomber led to his eventual arrest.
Any New Yorker who read newspapers knew that the police were scouring the city for a serial bomber who identified himself only as “F.P.” He had planted thirty-two homemade explosives in the city’s most crowded public spaces, injuring fifteen. F.P. had yet to kill, but it was only a matter of time. He was doling out more powerful bombs and shrewdly depositing them where dense crowds congregated—theaters, terminals, subway stations—a strategy that present grave dangers during the holiday season ahead. “Seldom in the history of New York,” wrote the Associated Press, “has a case proved such a torment to police.”
For more than a century the vaunted NYPD had relied muscle and shoe leather. But the reliable strong-arm methods proved useless in the face of a schizophrenic serial bomber. With the manhunt reaching critical urgency, the police took the unprecedented step of asking a psychiatrist, Dr. James Brussel, what the forensic evidence revealed about the bomber’s troubled inner life. What strange sort of person was he, and what wounding life experience led to his murderous avocation? In other words, they asked the psychiatrist to invent a new criminal science by peering into the mind of the bomber. The term profiling would not be coined for another two decades.
The New York Times broke the news of Dr. Brussel’s character analysis on Christmas morning. The psychiatrist had predicted that F.P. was Slavic, middle-aged and of medium build. He most likely resided with an older female relative in Connecticut, and he had a history of workplace disputes. The Times lay across the kitchen table of Seymour Berkson’s Fifth Avenue apartment like an unwanted holiday gift.
A publisher fighting for his newsroom’s survival could ask for no greater gift than a serial bomber such as F.P. The coverage sold newspapers, and it kept going and going. The Journal-American had followed the bomber story with glee and gusto. But now the Journal-American was in danger of falling behind. The bomber had twice written letters to the Herald Tribune. Now, on Christmas morning, Seymour Berkson woke to find The New York Times story about the psychiatrist, Dr. Brussel, and the portrait of the bomber’s inner life that he had drafted for the police. The Journal-American had catching up to do.
In newsroom parlance, the bomber story had legs. Gazing out over the winter-dead branches of Central Park, an idea came to Seymour Berkson: maybe the Journal-American could contact F.P. by publishing an open letter, possibly cajole him into revealing the exact nature of his grievance. Better yet, maybe the paper could play the role of negotiator, luring the bomber out of the shadows with the promise of legal and medical help.
Seymour Berkson was warned that that his plan could backfire. If F.P. interpreted the open letter as a trap, he might ratchet up his campaign, in which case the police—or worse, the readers—would blame the Journal-American. Still, the potential upside outweighed the risks. A letter to the mystery bomber, with the electrifying possibility of a correspondence, would set the Journal-American apart, but they faced a tricky piece of writing. The letter had to sound a sympathetic note, but not so consoling as to arouse F.P.’s suspicion. The letter, accompanied by an account of the “All-Out Search for Mad Bomber,” ran big and bold across all eight front-page columns:
AN OPEN LETTER
TO THE MAD BOMBER
(Prepared in Co-operation with the Police Dept.)
For your own welfare and for that of the community, the time has come for you to reveal your identity.
The N.Y. Journal-American guarantees that you will be protected from any illegal action and that you will get a fair trial.
This newspaper is also willing to help you in two other ways.
It will publish all the essential parts of your story as you may choose to make it public.
It will give you the full chance to air whatever grievances you may have as the motive of your acts.
We urge you to accept this offer now not only for your own sake but for the sake of the community.
‘Incendiary’: The Mad Bomber Terrorizes 1950s New YorkJudd Mehlman/New York Daily News via Getty Images
George Metesky was just your average working joe with a unique and understandableÂ beef against his former employer Con Edison.Â He was injured on the job, eventually fired and denied workers compensation for what appear to be purely bureaucratic reasons.
But anyÂ sympathies one might find for Metesky, however, are quickly abandoned.
In retaliation, he began a meticulously sustained crimeÂ spree in New York City withinÂ its most famous and most bustling landmarks.
For sixteen years (from 1940 until his arrest in January 1957), this disturbed man placed explosive devices throughout the city, a chilling swath of discord meant to send a message while endangering the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. Grand Central, Penn Station, the New York Public Library and a variety of theaters (including Radio City Music Hall) were all targeted by the man who the press would eventually label ‘the Mad Bomber’.
INCENDIARY The Psychiatrist, The Mad Â Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling ByÂ Michael Cannell Minotaur Books/Macmillan Publishers
In Incendiary, the brisk newÂ page-turnerÂ by Michael Cannell , these disturbing events and the race to capture Metesky are given a bold, true-crime retelling, an immersive non-fiction thriller with cinematic pacing.
Metesky operated a bit like a comic-book villain, sending letters to the New York Journal-American, taunting the police, all the while setting devices in places where they wouldÂ receive the most attention. But, strangely enough, the ‘Mad Bomber’ never meant to seriously take lives indeed, of the dozens of explosive devices set offÂ over the city, nobody was actually killed. (But there were a number of serious injuries.)
Given the nature of Metesky’sÂ crime spree, investigators were able to use ground-breaking criminal profiling methods. A disturbed individual like Metesky almost demanded such an investigation, his psyche on full display in his newspaper letters.
Key to his eventual capture was psychiatrist James Brussel who worked closely with the police in constructing a profile of Metesky that was extraordinarily detailed — and mostly accurate.
Even down to outfit he wore when he eventually confronted the police on a cold evening in January of 1957.
“I know why you fellows are here. You think I’m the Mad Bomber.”
Metesky conducted his frightening crimes with an alarming theatricalityÂ — indeed, Brussel’s criminal profiling methods would inspire millions of hours of evening television — which is why Cannell’s gripping proceduralÂ feels immediate and particularly terrifying. Â This is the stuff of modern nightmares.
At top: A portion of one of Metesky’s letter. Below: the Mad Bomber in jail
Judd Mehlman/New York Daily News via Getty Images
When The Mad Bomber Terrorized New York CityGeorge Metesky, who confessed to being the "Mad Bomber," looks through the bars of his cell at the Waterbury, Conn., Police Station.
The seats at Radio City Music Hall, rigged with explosive devices planted inside the upholstery. Bombs found at the Empire State Building, others detonating at movie theaters and in phone booths, at the New York Public Library and in subway stations. An explosion inside Macy’s.
Chaos, panic, anonymous letters to the police, copycat bombers. Some of the most sustained levels of domestic terrorism to hit an American city in the 20th century.
It may sound like the plot of a dastardly comic book film. But it actually happened in New York City.
The man in the center, the one who looks like a kind grocer? That’s George Metesky, the insane “Mad Bomber” who terrorized New York for years with crudely made bombs placed in public places. (Photo by Peter Stackpole)
Through two decades, from 1940 to the mid 1950s, the city was under siege by a violent, greatly disturbed ex-Marine dubbed the Mad Bomber by the press.
George Metesky planted dozens of pipe bombs in New York City before he was finally apprehended in January 1957 at his home in Waterbury, Conn. He sheepishly met his captors at the door with the phrase, “I know why you fellows are here. You think I’m the Mad Bomber.”
Metesky’s beef wasn’t with the city per se, but with his former employer Consolidated Edison. (Or more exactly, the United Electric Light and Power Company, which was later absorbed by Con Ed .) For a time, his rage was specifically focused at the corporation he believed treated him with extraordinary indifference.
George had been employed by the utility company until 1931, when a boiler explosion at uptown Manhattan plant left him permanently disabled and in the care of his two sisters in Connecticut.
He claimed the company refused to compensate him for his work-related hardship, fighting in vain with the corporation for five years. “My medical bills and care have cost thousands — I did not get a single penny for a lifetime of misery and suffering,” he would claim in one of his many letters to the press , after the bombings began.
For Con Ed’s part, they claimed Metesky had taken too long to file for disability benefits. Eventually, the truth didn’t matter. Metesky, later to be diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, decided to get comeuppance in a more sinister manner.
New York Daily News, November 19, 1940
The first explosive, ultimately a dud (as many were), was placed at Con Ed’s 64th Street office on November 18th, 1940, accompanied by a carefully constructed note, “CON EDISON CROOKS, THIS IS FOR YOU.”
One year later, another device, wrapped in a woolen sock, was hastily dropped in front of Con Ed’s 19th Street offices, without a missive this time. In both cases, investigators were befuddled: were the bombs even meant to go off or was it a scare tactic?
Metesky was feeling ignored yet again by Con Ed. Whether out of frustration or some kind of twisted, legitimate patriotic duty, however, he decided to call off future bombings due to World War II and sent a ‘kidnapper-style’ note (left, one such example), made from cut newspaper letters, to the press informing them so.
Feeling some acceptable amount of time had passed, Metesky decided on a different tactic on March 29th, 1950, planting a bomb at crowded Grand Central Terminal. Another note from George warned of an explosion there, and police were able to locate and defuse the device in time.
Thus began a bizarre game of cat-and-mouse as Metesky laid dozens of bombs throughout the city, unbelievably without detection. (The “ see something, say something ” mantra was clearly not in effect in the 1950s.)
A fourth device, in front of the New York Public Library, was the first to actually detonate, but it injured no one, the fortunate outcome of many of Metesky’s oddly made devices.
Despite dropping off pipe bombs in such places as Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, despite targeting movie houses by scooping out the seats and implanting bombs there — despite some of these weapons actually exploding, nobody had been hurt. He had even thrown a pipe bomb into the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal, with no serious harm.
Photo by James Burke, Google Life images
His devices in 1954, however, began to hurt people — minor injuries in a detonation at a Grand Central men’s room, then during a November screening of White Christmas at Radio City Music hall, where five people were hurt. (You can find pictures of the aftermath of one such bombing at Radio City in this Life Magazine article .) Amazingly, Metesky set off three bombs in total at Radio City. Once, a bomb went off with the bomber still in the theater an usher stopped him as he was escaping but merely “apologized for the disturbance” and let him go.
He also sent a series of letters to the New York Herald Tribune, all in that same exact block-letter styling. Stating in these letters that he was seriously disturbed, George apologized for any potential injuries he might cause but proclaimed, “IT CANNOT BE HELPEDâ€”FOR JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED.” Metesky would sign his letters F.P., which investigators would later learn meant ‘Fair Play.’
Two explosions in 1956 ramped up the intensity and urgency of stopping Metesky. One device planted in a Penn Station bathroom seriously injured an elderly attendant. And Metesky left a Christmastime bomb in the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn that detonated and injured six people, three seriously. (The film playing? War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn .)
The police were frantically piecing together a profile of Metesky, and dozens of people were apprehended and questioned, including one man who frequently drove into the city with a suspicious trunk in his backseat . It was not Metesky the trunk contained a pair of sexy fetish boots that the man paid prostitutes to wear.
Detectives on the case, 1957 (Google Life)
During this time, dozens of bomb scares were called in throughout the city and there were even other copycat bombers like Frederick Eberhardt who sent a ‘ sugar bomb ‘ in the mail to Con Edison. He too was a former employee….and mentally disturbed.
It’s a bit difficult to get a grasp on the true on-the-street reaction to these bombings, which were numerous but rarely deadly. Slight panic may have passed through the thoughts of commuters passing through Grand Central or riding the subway, but over time, most people seem to have dismissed the danger. These events are sometimes brought up in comparison to the Son of Sam killings of the 1970s, which held the city in a far greater hysteria.
But, as they’re well equipped to do, the newspapers kept reminding New Yorkers of the danger. According to a 1957 Time Magazine article : “Hearst’s Journal-American thoughtfully provided a do-it-yourself spread on how to make a pipe-bomb…..The papers, thirsty and cunning in a news-dry holiday period, were still going strong.”
The Mad Bomber case is a textbook example of early profiling techniques of the day, and the first with a forensics psychologist ( Dr. James Brussel ) at its forefront.
The home of George Metesky and the garage housing many of his supplies Photography Peter Stackpole
In January 1957, a Con Edison secretary discovered similarities between letters from ‘F.P.’ published in newspapers and wording in Metesky’s old personnel files. Police were at Metesky’s doorstep in Waterbury a couple days later, where he almost readily spilled the beans about his identity.
Even after his arrest, devices he had previously planted were still being discovered, such as one at the Lexington Avenue movie theater (at 51st Street) that had been buried in a seat cushion years before.
The creepy George Metesky peers from his jail cell:
Metesky was declared insane and sent to upstate’s Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Believe it or not, he was freed on December 13, 1973, and lived for twenty more years back at his home in Waterbury. He claimed to the end that he designed his bombs not to hurt people. And yet, of course, many did.
January 22, 1957: George Metesky the Mad Bomber Arrested!
On January 22, 1957, long before the terrorist bombings of recent years, the “Mad Bomber” terrorizing New York City was finally arrested!
Digging deeper, we find a city menaced by George Metesky (born 1903) from 1940 until his arrest in 1957.
Placing at least 30 bombs around the city during his terror spree, Metesky was an angry and frustrated man who felt cheated by his former employer and the rest of society.
He had been injured in 1931 while working for Consolidated Edison (Con-Ed) and had been disabled from lung injuries.
Metesky thought he was never properly compensated for his lost health and lost a series of efforts to get workman’s compensation. He also later claimed to have tried to attract media publicity for his case but was ignored, just as he claimed his pleas to various government agencies were ignored.
Not surprisingly, the “Mad Bomber’s” first target was Con-Ed, where he left a pipe bomb on a window sill. That bomb did not kill anyone, nor did any of the dozens that followed in the next 16 years, but the bombs were potentially lethal and several injuries were inflicted.
Metesky left bombs in diverse places, from bathrooms to lockers, train stations and movie theaters. He made his pipe bombs using pipe he machined himself and gunpowder, something anyone can buy in sporting goods stores, as the explosive. A favorite method of his was to slice an upholstered seat in a movie theater and place the bomb inside the cushion where it was hidden.
Oddly enough, Metesky communicated with the police via notes and promised to not place any bombs for the duration of World War II, a promise he lived up to. Meanwhile, copy cats were sending mock ups of pipe bombs and notes purporting to be from the “Mad Bomber” which muddled the police investigation.
Ultimately, Metesky would leave enough clues in his communication with the police and the media for the detectives involved in the massive effort to find and arrest him to finally be able to identify their culprit. Searches of his property found the machine tools used to make the bombs as well as other bomb-making components.
Found to be insane by the New York court system, Metesky was sent off to an insane asylum. Although he was soon transferred to a second, non-criminal asylum, he behaved well and was held until 1973 when he was released. Doctors had deemed him to not be a threat to society, and it was believed he would die soon. Additionally, since his sentence would have been only 25 years if he had been convicted criminally, the 16 years he was hospitalized equaled about how long he would have been jailed if convicted.
The “Mad Bomber” lived another 20 years and died at age 90 in 1994. In spite of the publicity his case received and legal assistance in trying to reopen his workman’s compensation case, he was denied those benefits until the end.
Question for students (and subscribers): How would you have sentenced Metesky? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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29/03/1951: “Mad Bomber” tấn công New York
Vào ngày này năm 1951, một thiết bị tự chế đã phát nổ tại nhà ga Grand Central ở Thành phố New York, khiến những người đi làm giật mình nhưng may mắn không ai bị thương. Trong vài tháng sau đó, năm quả bom nữa đã được tìm thấy tại các địa điểm nổi tiếng rải rác khắp New York, bao gồm cả thư viện công cộng. Nhà chức trách nhận ra rằng hành vi khủng bố mới này là tác phẩm của “Mad Bomber.”
Trải nghiệm đầu tiên của cư dân New York với “Mad Bomber” là vào ngày 16/11/1940, khi một quả bom ống được để lại trong tòa nhà Edison với một ghi chú rằng, “Bọn lừa đảo Con Edison, cái này là dành cho các ngươi.” Nhiều quả bom khác đã được phát hiện vào năm 1941, quả sau luôn mạnh hơn quả trước, cho đến khi Mad Bomber gửi đi một ghi chú vào tháng 12 rằng “tôi sẽ không tạo thêm bom trong thời gian diễn ra Thế chiến nữa.” Hắn cũng tiếp rằng công lý sẽ được thực thi với Con Edison, công ty điện lực New York, trong thời gian tới.
Gã Mad Bomber ‘yêu nước’ đã thực hiện đúng lời hứa của mình, dù vẫn thường xuyên gửi các bức thư đe dọa cho báo chí. Sau khi hoạt động tích cực vào năm 1951, Mad Bomber im lặng cho đến khi một quả bom phát nổ tại Hội trường Âm nhạc Radio City vào năm 1954. Năm 1955, Mad Bomber tiếp tục tấn công nhà ga Grand Central, cửa hiệu Macy, tòa nhà RCA và phà đảo Staten.
Cảnh sát đã không gặp may trong việc truy tìm Mad Bomber, nhưng một nhóm điều tra tư nhân làm việc cho Con Ed cuối cùng cũng tìm được dấu vết của hắn. Khi xem xét hồ sơ nhân viên của công ty điện lực, họ tìm ra cái tên George Peter Metesky – một cựu nhân viên bất mãn kể từ một vụ tai nạn năm 1931. Metesky tức giận vì Con Ed từ chối trả trợ cấp thương tật cho ông ta và đã dùng đến khủng bố để trả thù.
Metesky, một người đàn ông khá ôn hòa, được phát hiện sống cùng các chị em của mình ở Connecticut. Ông ta được gửi đến một viện tâm thần vào tháng 04/1957, và ở lại đó cho đến khi được thả ra vào năm 1973.
The 'Mad Bomber' strikes in New York - HISTORY
Al Ravenna/Library of Congress George Metesky, the “Mad Bomber,” stands behind bars in Waterbury, Conn. following his arrest. Jan. 1957.
In the spring of 1973, a man was released from New York’s Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane, ready to slip back into society after a nearly two-decade exile. That man was George Metesky, better known as the “Mad Bomber,” who had once terrorized the city of New York for more than 15 years in his perverted quest for justice.
Starting in Nov. 1940, George Metesky planted dozens of bombs, injuring as many people. All the while, the Mad Bomber kept police, particularly Inspector Howard Finney of the bomb squad, scurrying throughout the city to investigate his explosives, from random phone booths to the New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, and Radio City Music Hall.
But the Mad Bomber seemed to have a special fixation on energy company Consolidated Edison. Indeed, his first bomb came with a note: “CON EDISON CROOKS — THIS IS FOR YOU.”
George Metesky did, in fact, have a torch burning for Con Ed. In many ways, his motivations were those of the classic disgruntled worker: Having suffered an industrial accident working for the company in the early 1930s, they let him go.
His rage further festered when he was denied workman’s comp. While any New Yorker would admit to wanting mild revenge on Con Ed after waiting hours past the given window for the repair guy to show up, George Metesky took a much darker turn. He decided he would bring attention to Con Ed’s practices literally with a bang.
Metesky the Mad Bomber’s mix of entitlement and warped sense of justice fueled his crusade against Con Ed. He soon held New York City itself hostage — few could visit a phone booth, go to the theatre, or see a movie without wondering if the time was ticking against them.
True, the Mad Bomber hadn’t killed anyone, but hadn’t doesn’t mean wouldn’t. The risk to innocent lives didn’t seem to matter much to Metesky, who had sworn to “bring the Con Edison to justice — they will pay for their dastardly deeds.”
Increasingly frustrated, the police partnered with the press to draw out the Mad Bomber. While the New York papers that cooperated were often accused of crass collaboration in order to raise circulation, their combined forces did establish a dialogue with the Mad Bomber.
The investigation was still proceeding glacially, however, and by the late 1950s, Finney and his team turned to psychiatrist James Brussel for insight. A Freudian, Brussel used the Bomber’s diction (the old-fashioned phrasing of “dastardly deeds” suggested a non-native Anglophone), methods of implanting the explosives (the penetration of the movie theatre seats with a knife spelled an Oedipal misalignment), and very handwriting (the sag of his “w’s” mimicked the curve of breasts) to create a mockup of what the fugitive may look like — an early version of the criminal profile.
Brussel concluded that the Bomber must be an Eastern European man, living with female relatives, with a compulsive and paranoiac nature. Furthermore, in his memoir, Brussel remembers that he predicted: “When you catch him, and I have no doubt you will, he’ll be wearing a double-breasted suit.”
Phil Stanziola/World Telegram & Sun/Library of Congress Detectives escort George Metesky, the “Mad Bomber,” through police headquarters in Waterbury, Conn. to be booked following his arrest. Jan. 1957.
While authorities did use this profile, sources attribute the finding of the Mad Bomber to Con Ed clerk Alice Kelly, who, in 1957, found a company personnel file on a disgruntled employee named George Metesky whose background and syntax matched that of the suspect.
The police then came to arrest Metesky, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, and he answered the door to the house he shared with his sisters. The police asked him to change out of his pajamas, at which point he put on a double-breasted suit.
‘Mad Bomber,’ Now 70, Goes Free Today
George Metesky, the one‐time “Mad Bomber,” who for 16 years in the nineteen‐forties and fifties terrorized the city with the explosives he set off in theaters, terminals, libraries and offices, is going home to Waterbury today.
After 17 years of incarceration as an insane criminal, the now 70‐year‐old polite and meticulous toolmaker, appeared in State Supreme Court yesterday to hear the scores of indictments against him dismissed. His custody was turned over to the State Department of Mental Hygiene, whose doctors have determined that he is harmless and can go home.
In an exclusive interview at Creedmoor State hospital on the eve of his freedom, Mr. Metesky insisted he had forsworn violence but reaffirmed his old grudge against Consolidated Edison, a long‐festering resentment that led him to his bombings, which in turned led to the longest and costliest manhunt in the history of the city's Police Department.
“I have no bitterness but wanted to show up what was done to me,” said Mr. Metesky, referring to the accident that occurred in May, 1931, while he was a $37.50‐a‐week lowtension mechanic at the utility's Hellgate plant. He has always insisted that as a result of the accident, he was gassed, became tubercular, lost the job he loved and was denied workman's compensation.
“I had to tell my side of the story, I was compelled to do something,” said the precisemannered man whose speech and appearance resemble that of a keynote speaker at a Rotarian luncheon.
What he did, he easily and candidly acknowledges, was to fashion systematically bombs in the garage workshop of the family's gingerbread house, drive his prized Daimler automobile to a subway station, then take the subway to plant the explosives, first at Con Edison installations, and later, as the years went by, in public places throughout New York City.
37 Blasts Set
No one was killed in what the police say were 37 explosions traced to Mr. Metesky, although there were a few serious injuries, many minor ones, and great panic.
“Actually,” Mr. Metesky said at Creedmoor, “there were more than 37, but not all of them went off.”
He said he “ceased all operations during the war years because of patriotism.”
But except for that truce, he was preoccupied with his systematic vengeance. He would rise early in the morning, dress neatly in a business suit, and as his two older sisters, Anna and Mae, went to their jobs at button and pipe factories, he would drive the Daimler, which he had bought for $4,300, some 80 feet, parking it near the garage of the family home that his Lithuamian‐born father had built.
Once in the garage workshop, he would change to coveralls and build what he still calls his “units.” He assembled their charges with gun powder taken from rifle bullets. When Waterbury's plants whistled at noon, he would stop, open his lunch pail and eat. In the evening, he would reverse the trip.
But for years before he began “the rough stuff,” he said he tried unsuccessfully to plead his, case before the public.
“I wrote 900 letters to the Mayor, to the Police Commissioner, to the newspapers, and I never even got a penny postcard back,” he said. “Then I went to the newspapers to try to buy advertising space, but all of them turned me down.
“I was compelled to bring my story to the public. I was sick and didn't expect to live. If I caused “enough trouble, theyɽ have to be careful about the way they treat other peopie.”
After his arrest Mr. Metesky Metesizli was found by psychiatrists to be an incurable paranoid schizophrenic with a strong impulse to martyrdom.
The first device was planted on Nov. 18, 1940 at a power house on West 64th Street. It did not go off, but a note was found with it, and, like the hundred's of notes the Bomber was to leave in the next 16 years, it was signed “F.P.”
Baffled investigators did not learn what these initials represented until the night of Jan. 22, 1957, when a large force of New York policemen surrounded the house on Fourth Street in Waterbury, Conn.
Initials ‘F.P.’ Explained
As Mr. Metesky's sister cried in bewilderment, the life‐long bachelor descended in a nightshift and smilingly said to the officers, “I assume you are here because of the mad bomber.” The police then asked him about the F.P. — what did it mean? “Fair Play,” he answered, “that stands for Fair Play.”
Following the first dud, and the other bombs at Con Edison sites, there came the break for reasons of “patriotism.” By 1951, however, his campaign was broadened and his small bombs, detonated by watchworks and contained in socks, exploded at Penn Station, Grand Central. Terminal and Radio City Music Hall.
In the years that followed, the devices went off or were found in department stores, ferryboats, libraries. Almost always there was advance warning, either by a letter from F.P. or a phone call.
And while the police mobilized hundreds of officers, followed every rumor and commissioned psychiatric profiles, Mr. Metesky kept to his quiet rigorous routine in Waterbury. He lived on the money his father, a night watchman, had left him and an allowance from his doting sisters. At the time of his arrest he had $21,608.68, which, in the interview, he charged had been “stolen” from him by lawyers.
He worked on inventions, devising a magnetic switch and an electric snowplow. He had long admired Steinmetz, the electrical engineer, and although he had dropped out of high school in his second year to join the marines, he had taken correspondence courses in electricity.
In the interview he wistfully lamented that he had been unable to continue in his career at Con Edison. “By now Iɽ be a chief operator making $20,000 a year,” he said.
Would he like that, he was asked.
“Certainly,” he replied, his eyes twinkling. “It's quite a thrill to hit the controls on one million horsepower.”
His arrest came after The New York Journal‐American encouraged him to write and tell his story. In a series of messages, which the newspaper ran, he revealed enough about himself to spur another check on Con. Edison employment files.
When his name came up, he was 54 years old. He smiled politely at his arraignments in Brooklyn and Manhattan. And he was bemused as he was sent to Bellevue, where the psychiatrists ruled him insane. Subsequently, ill with tuberculosis, he was sent without trial to the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane.
He feels now this was a mistake. “I should have been permitted to stand trial,” he said. They told me I was a borderline case. I don't think I was insane. Sometimes in Waterbury I wondered if there was something wrong with me, because of the extreme effort I was making.”
He credits the medical attention he received at Matteawan with restoring his health, but that is the only good thing he will say for the place. should have gone to prison, then Iɽ be dead and all my troubles would, have been over,” he said with a smile.
He has sold the rights to his life story, for both a book and a film, to Tom Reichman, a filmmaker, and he said that in the book on which he will work with a writer, “I'm going to show that the crimes committed against me outweigh the crimes I committed.”
Of Matteawan, which is in Beacon, N. Y., he said: “They tried to drive me insane. But the more I realized what they were doing, the more determined I was to fight my way out.”
He read law books and wrote briefs and kept up to date through newspapers. He was distressed to learn that he had become something of a cult figure for the radical bombing left. “That was very injurious to me,” he declared.
In his legal efforts he became disenchanted with the legal system. “For a while I had a terrific respect for the courts until I found the hypocrisy that prevailed therein,” he said as he sat, guarded, in an office of the Queens hospital.
“I want to show in the book that people who have pointed a finger at me have pretty dirty hands,” he said. “They, the judges and district attorneys and lawyers at Matteawan, did far more to hurt peopie than I ever did.”
Three years ago he obtained Irving Engel as his lawyer. Mr. Engel moved for his client's release on the basis of a 1971 law that established maximum penalties for the criminally insane.
That law says that a man may not be kept in a correction institution for a period in excess of two‐thirds the maximum sentence he would have received in trial on the most serious charge against him. In Mr. Metesky's case the gravest charge, attempted murder, carried a 25‐year term. Two‐thirds of this, 16 years and eight months, has lapsed since his arrest.
Under the law such a defendant may either be freed or he may be remanded as a civil mental patient to a state hospital, like Creedmoor. After the court hearing yesterday, in which the indictments were vacated by Justice Joseph A. Martinis, a Creedmoor physician, Dr. Paul Drgon, said that Mr. Metesky would be released today to his only surviving sister, a 75‐year‐old invalid. He will remain under supervision by the Connecticut Department of Mental Hygiene an will make regular visits to a clinic near his home, the doctor aid.
Mr. Metesky said he was very much looking forward to going home, to care for his sister and help with the book. What would he say to those who wonder whether he is still a menace?
I Very quickly and precisely, as if he had rehearsed the response, he answered: “I have no intention whatever of resorting to any form of violence. I've, found out that at this particular time the pen is mightier than the sword. I'll be quite busy. I don't enjoy controversy.”
A spokesman for Consolidated Edison, apprised of Mr. Metesky's feelings, said yesterday, “We have nothing to say.”