Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1936

A single horsehair helps solve murder of Nancy Titterton

After a week of tracking down every conceivable lead, police finally find the evidence they need in order to break the case of Nancy Titterton’s rape-murder in New York City. Titterton, a novelist and the wife of NBC executive Lewis Titterton, was raped and strangled in her upscale home on Beekman Place on the morning of April 10, 1936. The only clues left behind were a foot-long piece of cord that had been used to tie Titterton’s hands and a single horsehair found on her bedspread.

These small traces of evidence proved to be enough to find the killer. The detective in charge of the investigation had ordered his team to trace the source of the cord. After a full week of combing every rope and twine manufacturer in the Northeast, the cord was finally found to have come from Hanover Cordage Company in York, Pennsylvania. Company records showed that some of the distinctive cord had been sold to Theodore Kruger’s upholstery shop in New York City.

Since the investigation of the horsehair had already led police to suspect John Fiorenza, an assistant at Kruger’s shop, this new evidence only solidified their suspicion. Fiorenza and Kruger were the first to discover Titterton’s body, when they arrived to return a repaired couch (which had been stuffed with horsehair that matched the one found at the crime scene) on the afternoon of April 10. However, they both denied entering the bedroom that day.

When investigators learned that Fiorenza had been at the Titterton house on April 9 and had been late for work the morning of the murder, they looked deeper into his background. Fiorenza had four prior arrests for theft and had been diagnosed as delusional by a prison psychiatrist. Detectives first gained Fiorenza’s trust by pretending to need his help in solving the crime and then sprang the cord evidence on him.

Caught by surprise, Fiorenza confessed to the brutal crime but claimed that he was temporarily insane. This defense didn’t hold up too well at trial, and Fiorenza was executed on January 22, 1937.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Benjamin Franklin dies

On April 17, 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84. Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin became at 12 years old an apprentice to his half brother James, a printer and publisher. He learned the printing trade and in ...read more

Yugoslavia surrenders to the Nazis

During World War II, representatives of Yugoslavia’s various regions sign an armistice with Nazi Germany at Belgrade, ending 11 days of futile resistance against the invading German Wehrmacht. More than 300,000 Yugoslav officers and soldiers were taken prisoner. Only 200 Germans ...read more

Apollo 13 Astronauts

Apollo 13 returns to Earth

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth. On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James ...read more

Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge troops capture Phnom Penh and government forces surrender. The war between government troops and the communist insurgents had been raging since March 1970, when Lt. Gen. Lon Nol had ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a bloodless coup and proclaimed the establishment of ...read more

Mike Schmidt hits four consecutive homers

On this day in 1976, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies hits four consecutive home runs in a game against the Chicago Cubs. Schmidt was only the fourth player in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish this feat. After attending Ohio University, Schmidt was ...read more

The Bay of Pigs invasion begins

The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure. Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in ...read more

Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina, begins

Confederate forces attack Plymouth, North Carolina, in an attempt to recapture ports lost to the Union two years before. The four-day battle ended with the fall of Plymouth, but the Yankees kept the city bottled up with a flotilla on nearby Albemarle Sound. In 1862, the Union ...read more