Michael Malloy - The Man Who Drank Poison For Breakfast

Michael Malloy – The Man Who Drank Poison For Breakfast

Stereotypically, the Irish love a good drink. At least in Australia, someone who can knock back a few is a “piss-tank.” Our boy Michael Malloy was not only a piss-tank but an all-around tank, too. Despite everyone’s best efforts, it seemed nigh impossible to kill the man. This is what happened.

The early life of Michael Malloy

We don’t know all that much about Michael Malloy. We know that he was born in 1873 in Ireland and moved to New York City at least as early as the 1920s. He worked as a firefighter for a time, but by 1933, he was homeless and spending what money he had on the drink. In fact, he was almost always wasted. According to the Daily Mirror and an article in Smithsonian Magazine, “He was just a part of the ‘flotsam and jetsam in the swift current of underworld speakeasy life, those no-longer-responsible derelicts who stumble through the last days of their lives in a continual haze of ‘Bowery Smoke.””

Naturally, Malloy’s buddies decided they would try to capitalise on his besotted state.

Betraying Michael Malloy

Malloy’s acquaintances Tony Marino, Joseph Murphy, Francis Pasqua, and Hershey Green worked with three different insurance agents to open up three different life insurance policies under his name, recruiting a fake “next of kin” to claim the money upon Malloy’s death. Together, these men made up what the papers would later deem “the Murder Trust.” If Malloy died by accident, the Murder Trust would collect 3,576 USD, equal to about 70,000 USD today.

Tony Marino's speakeasy in New York City
Tony Marino’s speakeasy in New York City

Poisoning Michael Malloy with drink

Between 1920 and 1933, the US was under the Prohibition. Producing and selling alcohol was illegal. People always find a way to get sauced, though, and one of the Murder Trust members, Marino, owned an illicit watering hole. People called these fine establishments “speakeasies.” The Murder Trust saw an opportunity in this. Marino gave Malloy an unlimited bar tab at his speakeasy, hoping Malloy would drink himself to death. Malloy was stoked with this.

According to an unnamed witness, “Malloy had been a hard drinker all his life, and he drank on and on.” If the Murder Trust expected him to crack his egg open or choke on his yack, they had another thing coming. Day after day, Malloy came back for more. Marino’s watering hole was starting to run dry. The Murder Trust had to step it up a notch if they wanted their big payday.

Poisoning Michael Malloy with actual poison

The game plan now was to spike Malloy’s drinks with antifreeze. Malloy knocked the drinks back with practised ease and asked for more. It’s possible he had so much piss in him that it counteracted the antifreeze. That’s how you know you’re a piss-tank. The Murder Trust plied Malloy with turpentine, horse liniment, and rat poison next. But these substances appeared to not affect the man. Diluted wood alcohol and then straight wood alcohol couldn’t put him down either. His liver loved a cheeky bit of poison. Maybe feeding him poison would work, though. Nope. Malloy woofed the Murder Trust’s poisoned oysters and sardines like they were going out of fashion.

How do we kill Michael Malloy?!

On the opposite end of the scale to antifreeze, the Murder Trust came up with an entirely new plan. Now they would freeze Malloy to death. After Malloy had gotten himself well and truly pickled one night, they carried him outside and dumped him in the snow. They then undressed him, doused him with water, and left him for dead. The insurance money was as good as theirs. Although, it wasn’t.

The cops found the passed-out Malloy and brought him to a homeless shelter.

The Murder Trust got a little more desperate after that. They paid a taxi driver named Harry Green $150 to flatten Malloy with his car. In the middle of the night, the Murder Trust propped an unconscious Malloy on his feet on the road. As the car was about to strike him, Malloy woke up and dodged out of the way. Green proceeded to try and run him over again, but Malloy dodged his demise a second time. On Green’s third attempt, he struck true, then reversed over Malloy for good measure. This time, he must’ve been dead. The Murder Trust left Molloy’s body on the street.

Five days later, Malloy entered the speakeasy with a few broken bones and asked for a drink.

Michael Malloy's body at the time of his autopsy
Michael Malloy’s body at the time of his autopsy

Finally, it’s done!

After enduring far more punishment than most men could, the Murder Trust finally slew Malloy on the 21st of February 1933. How? They jammed a rubber tube down his throat and filled his lungs with gas. The Murder Trust claimed two of the three payouts with success, but the third insurance providers were suss. An investigation followed, and the Murder Trust were exposed for the a-holes they were. They rode the electric chair.

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