Thursday, June 26, 2014

#TBT - Death Comes To An Uptown Con Man

"Gertrude 'Billie' Murphy, 22, is brought in for questioning in the murder case of Michael Stopec,
who was shot and killed in an apartment hotel, circa July 1927. Murphy had been friends of the
married Stopec and his suspected killer Henry Guardino, 31. It is said that Stopec and Guardino
were 'bitter rivals for the favor of Billie and that Murphy had tired of Guardino and was going to stay
with Stopec. Murphy was also married to a man in the Joliet penitentiary." (Chicago Tribune historical photo)
Harvey Foxton led a complicated life.  He used the pseudonym Michael Stopec, but rented his apartment under the name James Britt.  He was married, but was dating at least five women. At age 28, he already had a rap sheet for larceny and burglary, and was suspected of being a bootlegger.

His messy life came to a messy end in July 1927.  His body was found in his apartment in an Uptown residential hotel, kneeling in front of a divan and shot in the heart.  His neighbors said they heard the shot and saw a woman leaving the scene.  The breakfast table was still set for three people, but only two meals had been touched.

Police interviewed five women and four men, all of whom had good reasons for wanting Foxton dead. His wife was one of them.  So was his fiancĂ©e.  Yes, Foxton was scheduled to be married the week following the date of his murder, despite the fact he was already married.  There were also accusations that he was a broker of shady marriages, arranging for pals to marry recent widows who had received large life insurance policies.

Despite all the suspects, no one was ever charged with his murder.  The main suspect, one Robert Stanzley, was arrested in August 1927, but the grand jury and coroner couldn't find enough evidence to bring him to trial and he was released.

Whoever killed Foxton got away with it.  He lived, and died, in Room 330 of the apartment hotel known as the Morcelia Apartments, located at 4047 North Kenmore.  But don't worry about his spirit haunting anyone's corridors.  Like Foxton, the Morcelia Apartments are long gone and forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. Great photo of Gertrude Murphy. What great-looking clothes she's wearing!

    Low-life types had a lot more style in 1927, than they do now, for a fact.