I think I just killed Dad.
Lawrence Patrick Mullan was born on July 5, 1953. According to the Social Security Administration he died on December 1, 1976. His body was found by police in his apartment on the 3rd. The medical examiner must have determined that he had been dead for two days. In New York City a death certificate can only be obtained by a spouse, sibling, parent, child, grandparent or grandchild.
Kudos to Bill G. for schooling Your Humble Webmaster on railroad and radio matters so that you, Dearly Beloved Reader, may think he actually knows whereof he writes.
This he told his brother in a telephone call just before the police arrived. He wasn't aware that he had slain his mother too.
We want to thank Mike McCabe, Trial Support Bureau Chief of the Bronx Supreme Court Criminal Term for providing us with the case's indictment number, a required starting point for this kind of research. We too would like to express our appreciation to Mark Nusenbaum, Senior Court Analyst of the Bronx County Clerk's Office, for his generous assistance in the transfer of Larry's court papers from microfiche to PDF files. We are also grateful to Ken Cobb of the NYC Municipal Archives for his guidance and contributions to this project.
An estate search conducted by the Bronx Surrogate's Court produced no probate records, indicating either Larry had no money left or it was in a joint account so the co-holder had no need to go through probate. If Larry died indigent and was interred in Potter's Field, then according to Melinda Hunt of the Hart Island Project all burial records for City Cemetery from 1961 to July 1977 were lost in the fire on the island of that month and year. The avenues for further investigation seem at this juncture to be closed.
One day, while exploring his building’s basement for a potential mischievous adventure, Larry came upon the telephone junction box. This container held the connections for all the tenants’ phones. Each phone was represented by two adjacent plugs. When a service repairman was required to visit the premises to fix a line problem, he would first place a signal detector on the troublesome phone in an apartment then go to the junction box and using a handset’s black and red wires, test each pair of plugs until he heard the signal, having now successfully located the errant line. Larry learned from Bill G. that this was also the way to tap into someone’s line to place a call. Checking each pair of plugs in the same manner, once a dial tone was detected Larry would connect the black ‘ground’ wire to one plug and then use the red ‘hot’ wire to tap out a phone number on the other. For example, if he wanted to call WE3-8094 (9338094), we would tap nine times for ‘W’, pause, tap three times for ‘E’, pause, tap three times ‘3’, etc. (note: ‘0’ was represented by ten taps). The tapping simulated the dialing process (this was before touch tone service), the called phone would then ring and if answered, the connection maintained by holding the red wire to the plug and broken by removing it. Larry was democratic in the pool of other people’s phone lines he used to place his calls.
Larry and Bill G. often took the Bainbridge Avenue bus to Fordham Road. Once on board, Larry would scout out a suitable mark and sit behind him next to the window while Bill sat beside Larry to block the view. Larry would fire up his Zippo under the victim’s seat (it being made of heavy duty plastic would take a while to cook up). By the Fordham stop the poor fool would be squirming quite uncomfortably if he hadn’t already moved. Laughing hysterically, the dynamic duo would treat themselves to Gorman's hot dogs and celebrate a dastardly deed well done. Another bit of mischief these two periodically engaged in was “Special Delivery”. The merrymakers would enter an apartment building and head to the letter boxes. Back then most had slots in the front so that you could see if you had any mail. While Bill G. served as lookout Larry would survey the names. If he found one that particularly offended his sensibilities and the box was not empty he would produce a tin of Ronsonol lighter fluid, give a few liberal squirts through the opening then light and feed in a Diamond matchstick. The subsequent sight of smoke indicated the operation was successfully performed. The jokesters would then depart the premises and move on. The Grand Concourse was a preferred venue for such sport.
Larry had a citizens band radio. To augment its power he bought a linear amplifier, reset from 10 meters for short wave and prohibited by the FCC for use on the 11 meter CB band, which boosted the legal 4 watt output to 100. This would cause major interference on the VHF channels (2 to 13) when he keyed up his mike, basically ending television viewing for other tenants in the building. He would step (stomp more likely) on any conversations that bored him on whatever channel he was tuned to (including those for emergency and hailing use only) by reading aloud from his Conan the Barbarian novels, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, naturally) or Mao's Little Red Book and playing his Dennis Day's Shillelaghs & Shamrocks album when the mood struck. For a fellow broadcaster who really annoyed him, Larry would ride around on his bike with a signal strength meter and directional antenna trying to locate the foe’s rooftop CB antenna and if found drive a pin into its coax cable. This would cause a short circuit, reducing all radio input and output to static, and with any luck (from Larry’s perspective) burn out a few tubes or transistors in the offending set. His handle was, appropriate given his behavior, Viking. Berserker must have been already taken.
Please note the legal papers are not displayed in chronological order.
I am well off yet destitute.
These are not in proper sequence either.
He could have instead tripped a third rail, which introduces power to a car’s set of wheels (called a truck) through contact with the shoe. This rail is divided into sections, each controlled by a circuit breaker. An electric train is powered by the truck, which has a motor and is operated from the engineer’s compartment. To trip the third rail you can take a metal garbage can lid and tie a rope to its handle, pass the rope under the rail with the lid on the far side, then holding the other end, step away from the track and pull the rope. After the explosion, where rail and lid touched is now fused into a smoking charred mass killing the current in that section. Only a diesel train could proceed past the outage point. A maintenance crew would have to cut away and replace the damaged portion before electric service could be restored. You could substitute a metal chain for the rope, but then you'd end up very dead very fast.
Larry's new neighborhood was only a 30 minutes’ walk from the old, close enough for his history to follow. He reached out to a couple of friends from before but they wouldn’t have anything to do with him now. He was estranged from his remaining family. What his final year was like, and how the end came is anyone’s guess. His niece wrote: "I'm afraid I can't be of much help. I don't know where he passed, and how he died was never confirmed. It is possible that it was drug related, but from what I remember my father saying, the cause was not determined." Was the cross of parricide too great a weight to bear?
A County Clerk's Minute Book, or Docket, is a chronological listing of all papers that have been entered in a civil supreme case file - the records of proceedings of Committees. also known as Lunacy Papers.
His family had moved up from 1065 Anderson Ave. near Yankee Stadium in 1964, part of the great white flight from the southern borough communities occurring at the time. Nicknamed Moon after the comic strip character Moon Mullins, Larry was a quiet boy and good student when young, but his behavior became increasingly bizarre after grammar school. He dropped out of Manhattan Prep during 10th grade because he couldn’t concentrate to study and failed most classes. When an elderly woman living downstairs knocked on the ceiling because his music was too loud, Larry responded by lowering his stereo speakers, via rope baskets fashioned from clothes lines he cut off the roof (articles hung upon which were left strewn about tar beach), to her window and serenaded her with now off the decibel scale rock. He kept his collection of handsets cut from police call boxes in a duffel bag in back of the closet. He never pulled a false fire alarm however, thinking that to be a malicious prank. He taped his
Larry had an interest in railroads. One day he decided to use car battery jumper cables to manually set all track signals red at the Botanical Garden station on the Harlem line during rush hour. Before electronic pulse signaling, track rails were broken into relays of two blocks separated by an insulator. To simulate a train passing over a relay the cables were placed to bridge the blocks on one rail per track, the same way a railroad car wheel would. The circuitry interpreted the cable to be a train and changed the signal from green to red. Under normal operating conditions when a train moves forward its wheels contact another relay turning that signal red and the previous one yellow. The one before the yellow now becomes green, as the relays are daisy chained. The attached cables kept all signals unchanged (and all trains stopped where they were) until spotted and removed by a train crew doing a track walk, dispatched once the situation was detected on the Grand Central Terminal signal board. Larry viewed the scene from the nearby overpass at Webster Avenue and Mosholu Parkway, amused about the inconvenience to commuters his stunt caused.
On 2/26/75 Larry, determined to be competent to manage himself and his own affairs, was released from institutional custody at the Bronx Psychiatric Center. He moved into an apartment building at 212 West Kingsbridge Road. For several months he was in therapy with Dr. John Kliever, a Manhattan psychiatrist. On 8/15/75 he received $30,000 as a beneficiary from his parents’ estate, one half of its value.
What happened in 2K that night? Ralph M., who was with him in the afternoon (and accidentally slashed during their mock dagger duel) said Larry drank two quarts of ale while they were together and was told the next day that Larry later went out and scored a hallucinogen called double barrel sunshine from Eddie S. an hour before the murders. Cliff B. visited Larry upstate the following February. Larry told him he was in his room watching Star Trek on channel 11 when his father came in. They began arguing and he punched Larry in the mouth (recall the cut lip; when Paul K. once remarked about his black eye he said his father often came home after work drunk and beat him - usually with fists but sometimes with whatever was handy - if disapproving of something about his son that day, although a court document reads instead that it was Larry who became verbally and physically abusive to both parents during his frequent episodes of explosive rage). Larry didn’t speak of what followed next, just that it was like seeing a movie.
The Scene of the Crime
The Mullans had the middle apartment two flights up in the west wing (right side when facing the front) of the building.
The documents of Larry’s civil case:
to be played back regularly for his own entertainment. He adorned his bedroom walls with medieval weaponry and posters of Hell's Angels Mother Miles and Roller Derby's Bald Eagle. In there he usually stayed, growing ever more reclusive as time went on.
Larry was sent to the Bellevue Prison Ward for psychiatric evaluation (he claimed to Drs. A. Pontius and Jay Harris he could hear his own thoughts, but recognized them as such and not other voices) and indicted for murder on 12/3/70. Deemed incapable to stand trial he was committed to Matteawan State Hospital in Beacon NY (an Order of Commitment was signed by Justice Peter Quinn) for treatment of schizophrenia on 12/23/70. There Dr. Marcel Friedman, in a report to the court pursuant to an Appointment of Committee action, wrote Larry evidenced a schizoid personality as well. A patient’s psychiatric records, like the medical, are protected by HIPAA privacy rules unless made part of a court case and therefore become public. A committee (of person and property) is an attorney appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs of a person declared incompetent to do so. First Sidney Eisen and then Fred Samuel served in this role. Larry corresponded with Mr. Eisen (who had to post a $25,000 security bond at the time of his appointment) and Mariam Robinson, his guardian ad litem (for the suit – an advocate for a client's best interests during the course of a judicial proceeding), about the status of his application for and receipt of Social Security benefits. On 3/16/73 Larry, now found capable of understanding the charges against him and able to assist in his own defense, was transferred to the Bronx House of Detention and found not guilty by reason of insanity on 10/10/73 in the Bronx Supreme Court. He was represented by attorney Edward Morand, appearing before Justice Francis Blaustein in a non-jury trial. He was remanded to the Department of Mental Hygiene for further care (in an examination report submitted to the
court Dr. Emasue Snow wrote the patient was experiencing periodic bouts of severe depression occurring at irregular intervals) and returned to Matteawan.
At 8:15 p.m. on Friday November 6, 1970 when NYPD patrolmen James Oxley and Thomas Hansen from the 52nd Precinct, responding to a ‘family fight’ radio call, forcibly entered apt. 2K of the four story walkup at 246 E. 199th St. in the Bedford Park section of Bronx they found Larry, bare-chested and blood splattered, standing over and dazedly staring at the badly mutilated body of his mother in the foyer muttering “it’s horrible, how horrible” over and over again. Following the hallway’s crimson trail to the bedroom the officers found his father’s body on the floor and the murder weapon (described in newspaper accounts as either a 12 inch kitchen knife or stiletto) on the bed. Hoppy, the family dog, was seen cowering in a corner of the living room. Arrested at the scene, the disoriented young man was taken to Fordham Hospital for treatment of a cut lip and a gash on his left forearm (possibly self-inflicted) requiring 13 stitches. His parents’ mutilated bodies were also delivered there for autopsy (performed by Deputy CME of NYC Dr. John F. Devlin), it being the location of the county morgue. He was then brought to the Webster Ave. police station for questioning but was completely unresponsive, having withdrawn into a catatonic state.