Friday, December 09, 2005
The Tale of Catherine Farina
Friday hath arrived yet again...

This week flew by...(and thank god for that) I have less than an hour left before I can go leave work. It is snowing like mad this should be an interesting drive home. We are supposed to get up to 10 inches, and since I have plans tonight...this doesn't please me so much.

My great grandmother Catherine Farina
being escorted into court July 5th, 1921


I talked a few days ago about uncovering some really incredible stuff on my mother's grandmother, Catherine Scalise Farina. I was hoping to get my scanner working to upload some newspaper clippings, but alas It hasn't survived the move. In any case here is what happened basically. When I was in High School I became interested in Genealogy, drilling my grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and writing everything down in a log. My mother would also drive me to our local (yet amazing) genealogy library located in Springfield, MA. I was making such great progress on every ancestor except two, the parents of my grandfather Michael. Since I was always at my grandparents home back then...I got out my log book and proceded to interrogate him. He wasn't so happy that I was prying but went along. He told me that he was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts and that his father had died in a "Rail Accident" when he was just 5. His mother then took the family all the way down to Springfield a signifigant distance back then, more than 100 miles. So I tried to ask him more and he clammed up. He said he didnt know any more and asked me why I was wasting my time looking all of this up, I was too young to be interested. I was 15 then, and so I closed the log on his least for the moment.


Forward 3 years, I was a freshman at The University of Lowell (Now UMASS Lowell). I lived on campus and had a car. Lowell is less than 30 minutes south of Haverhill, the town of my grandfather's birth. As soon as I learned this I planned a trip up to Haverhill, to complete my grandfather's family record. The day arrived and I found the City Hall where they kept the records of birth, marriage and death. I asked for my grandfather's birth record, and the clerk found it right off Michael Thomas Farina, son of Frank Farina & Catherine Scalise. Wow..Frank was his father's name, I was really exited since my grandfather never would tell me this. Then I thought I would try and get more on this Frank. My grandfather said his father died when he was 5. 1916+5= 1921. So I asked to find a death record for Frank Farina, who was killed in a rail accident in 1921 or 1922 . She found it!! Then she turns to me (Large volume in her hands) and says "oh he wasn't killed in a Rail Accident".
Cause of Death: Multiple fractures of the skull, assaulted by wife.
I couldn't believe what she was telling me. Then she said I might find out more at the Library across the street. I couldn't get over there fast enough, my interest peaked beyond belief. The Librarian set me up on a Microfilm machine with newspaper rolls from early July 1921. It didn't take long before I found it.....

I was in shock...the clippings I took photos above are with my cell phone, excuse the quality. A couple of years ago I typed the whole text out. It is a very long, yet fascinating read.
Haverhill Evening GazetteTuesday July 5, 1921One of the most gruesome murders in the history of the city was perpetrated shortly after midnight Saturday when Mrs. Katherine Farina, age 34, 4 ½ Atlanta Street, mother of six children, killed her husband, Frank Farina age 39, by hacking his head into a pulp with a hatchet. The deed occurred, according to the confession the police say she made. After he had come home in an intoxicated condition, dragged her through the house by the hair of the husband chased her 14 year old daughter from the house claiming that he would kill her.Mrs. Farina pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree murder when arraigned before Judge John J. Winn in central district court this morning. With her 11 month old baby in her arms, Mrs. Farina, who has maintained a stoical calm ever since her arrest, entered her plea through an interpreter. She pleaded not-guilty on the advice of her counsel, Attorney William J. McDonald.The case will be given a hearing Saturday morning being continued until that date by the court after the police and defense counsel has agreed upon the continuance.Judge Winn ordered the prisoner held without bail until Saturday and also ordered that Mrs. Farina be permitted to take her 11 month old son Anthony to jail with her.The law permits such an order and the jailers will be notified that the child is to be admitted with the mother.The court refused to admit Mrs. Farina to bail. Although Attorney McDonald made a plea that she be admitted to bail.The court room was filled long before by curious persons desiringTo get a view of the prisoner. At 9 the court room doors were closed, there being no more room. Mrs. Farina was led to the court room by Policewoman Mrs. Mary Hawkins. On the way over Mrs. Hawkins frustrated attempts of a newspaper photographer to take a picture of the woman. Three times she jumped in front of the photographer and shielded Mrs. Farina. On the return trip to police headquarters she jumped in front of the woman when two newspaper photographers took a picture.Mrs. Farina exhibited no emotion in the court room. She was calm and seemed to take an interest in the court proceedings. She did not betray the slightest sign of nervousness. She was plainly dressed in a Khaki colored shirt waist, a blue serge skirt and a cheap black straw hat. Her 14 year old daughter, Virgintine, sat beside her and several times answered questions asked by her mother about the proceedings.When her name was called Policewoman Mrs. Hawkins told her to stand up. As she was unable to understand English, an interpreter was sworn. Mrs. Farina, who was holding her baby, handed it to her daughter when she was arraigned, but took it back when the child commenced crying.At this point Attorney McDonald that a continuance was requested until Saturday.The court desired to know what it was about the case that it should be discontinued. The police said that Captain Irving G. Hussey was out of the city and that he wanted the case called Saturday.The complaint charged Mrs. Farina with assault and battery upon her husband with intent to kill, and that by hitting him with a hatchet on the head she murdered him.Mrs. Farina, when asked if she was guilty or not guilty first replied "I don't know" but was advised by her attorney to plead not guilty. She then entered this plea.The court asked Mrs. Farina if she desired to take her child to jail with her until Saturday and she answered that she would. The judge then ordered the case continued until that time and ordered that she be allowed to take her son with her.Commenting the appeal of Attorney McDonald that the woman be admitted to bail, Judge Winn said that he wanted to give the government every opportunity to guard itself and said that he would notify District Attorney S. Howard Donnell, so that the interests of The Commonwealth would be cared for. He said he knew of only one instance in Massachusetts of where a person arrested for murder was admitted to bail. He said that it was in his power to do so, but that he would notify the district attorney first.Once during the proceedings Mrs. Farina was forced to nurse her child, who started crying.The funeral of her husband was held Sunday morning at 9 from the undertaking rooms of Costello and Shannahan. It was buried in a pauper's grave in the city lot at the Hilldale Cemetery. No services were held and only a few friends of the man were present.Mrs. Farina did not betray the slightest interest when informed yesterday afternoon that her husband had been buried.Mrs. Hawkins, who shielded the woman from newspaper photographers that the daughter of the woman did not want her mother's picture taken and that the mother was not in favor of it. Mrs. Farina was taken to the Lawrence jail this afternoon in the police automobile where she will remain until Saturday.Police officials and medical examiner Dr. John F. Croston, declare that the body of Farina was the worst sight they ever witnessed. The head of the murdered man was hacked to pieces. Not a feature was recognizable and not even the closest scrutiny by persons who knew him would reveal his identity.An Autopsy was performed on the body by medical examiner Croston, assisted by Dr. George Connor, Dr. F.W. Anthony was also present. Immediate consent was granted for the autopsy by District Attorney S. Howard Donnell.Death was caused by multiple abrasions, contusions, and lacerations of the head, face and neck caused by wounds inflicted by a hatchet in the hands of Mrs. Farina according to the report of medical examiner Croston. Medical examiner Croston said he would be unable to say how many blows had been struck, adding that he could only guess at the number. The police believe that the victim was struck about a dozen times.Casually and without the slightest show of emotion Mrs. Farina confessed to the brutal murder to Captain Irving G. Hussey and Captain Marcus A. Sullivan in the presence of Medical examiner Croston. Unable to speak English she told her story through an interpreter.Hatchet Buried in faceThe victim was found on Bennington Street a short distance from the Farina house by a police officer. The hatchet was buried in his face.Silent through seven years of abuse, during which time she was beaten up innumerable times by an intoxicated husband, Mrs. Farina murdered him to protect her 14 year old daughter Virgentine who ran from the house after a drunken argument and was chased by her father according to her own story. Grabbing a hatchet, Mrs. Farina followed her husband and met him in a field on Bennington Street and buried the hatchet in the side of his head.The body of Farina was found lying on Bennington Street near the home of Vincenzo Palumbo, 21 Bennington Street about 1:40 by police officers, who were called to the house after Mrs. Farina had requested Nicholas Palumbo to notify them.The account of the crime as received by the police from Mrs. Farina's confession is as follows.Farina, intoxicated, and ugly of temper, came home shortly after midnight. After dragging his wife by the hair of the head, from her bed, he dragged her around the house and beat her unmercifully inflicting several wounds on her body.Virgintine Farina, 14 year old daughter, and Mrs. Mary Angelo, who resides in the same house upstairs, dragged Farina away from his wife. Farina, swearing and creating a great disturbance, threatened to kill his wife and daughter, and after knocking his wife to the floor and beating her, he chased his daughter from the house, thinking that he had killed his wife and informing his daughter that he was going to kill her.Mrs. Farina followed her husband and daughter from the house and on the way out grabbed a hatchet from the woodshed. On Bennington Street, a very short distance from her home, she met her husband. He told her that he was going to kill her daughter and she plunged an axe into his head. Judging from the condition of the victim's head, she struck him about a dozen times. She said she did not know how many times she hit him.About 1:30 the police were notified and shortly before 2 Sergeant Herman O. McKenna placed Mrs. Farina under arrest on a charge of murder.The Farina and Vincenzo yards are connected. A small pathway leads from Atlanta Street to Bennington Street through the Palumbo and Farina yards. Farina left by the rear door of his house, took the path and reached Bennington Street, a short distance away from the Palumbo house. Mrs. Farina took the same route, but the daughter took some other direction.First Blow Ended LifeFarina's body was found on Bennington Street in the roadway about four paces from a rough path used as a sidewalk. Mrs. Farina's first blow undoubtedly ended his life as there were but few footprints about and the blood stains were all in one spot.Captain Irving G. Hussey to whom Mrs. Farina made a confession, in the presence of Captain Marcus A. Sullivan and Medical Examiner Croston said that the police are ready for trial immediately. Statements by the daughter, Mrs. Angelo and Palumbo were also made to Captain Hussey and Captain Sullivan in the presence of Dr. Croston.The body was taken to the undertaking rooms of Costello & Shanahan about 5:30 Sunday morning. At 1:30 Sunday an autopsy was performed by the medical examiner.Farina had been in this country about 15 years. His wife had been here only seven years. Farina left his home early that evening to purchase food for the Sunday dinner. Shortly before 1 he arrived home in a drunken condition. He went to his wife's bedroom, and pulled Mrs. Farina, sleeping with her baby out of bed by the hair of her head. While pulling her around he pulled a large part of her hair out, leaving bare a spot the size of an egg. He dragged her around the house and into the kitchen. He beat a tattoo with his fists on her body. On her left arm he inflicted a bad cut. Her body was bruised, Mrs. Farina screamed to her daughter, who was sleeping in another room. She answered the call and a minute later, Mrs. Angelo upstairs, who heard the screaming, came in. They found Farina, beating his wife, who was on the floor. When the daughter entered the room, Farina started after her and then changed his mind, and then grabbed his wife by the hair and threw her to the bedroom floor. Mrs. Angelo and the girl struggled with the fighting man and succeeded in freeing Mrs. Farina. Mrs. Farina was bleeding freely from cuts and the dresses of both women were blood-soaked from the struggle.Threatens to Kill BothFreed from his clutches, Mrs. Farina ran toward the door, with her daughter. As they were going out threw a dish of food at them, shouting to his wife "I will kill you and your daughter. I want you to get out of here, if you don't get out I will kill you."The daughter ran from the house, Farina after her. Mrs. Farina, thinking that her husband was going to carry out his threat, also started from the house. Before leaving, she entered the woodshed, and grabbed a hatchet. Husband and daughter went in opposite directions, but Mrs. Farina picked the trail taken by her husband and when she reached Bennington Street, she met him. Mrs. Farina left by the rear of the house because she believed her daughter had gone that way, but the daughter went in a different direction.She met her husband standing in the street." I am going to kill your daughter" he shouted at her.Mrs. Farina flew at him and buried the hatchet into the side of his face. He fell to the ground. Then she hacked his head to pieces. His eyes and ears were gouged out, gaping holes were left in his head, and face, not a feature was left that could be recognized. Every blow of the axe sunk inches deep into the man's skull. She struck the final blow and left the hatchet buried in his face. It was still in his face when the police found him.Mrs. Farina then returned to the house. "I have killed him" she informed her daughter. The daughter was crying and the mother said to her. "Don't cry, I killed him myself, get a cop"The daughter's story differs somewhat from the story told by the mother, she said that when she arrived in the kitchen, her father was sitting in a chair. Farina told her to get out of the house and take her mother with her. Later he told her to get back into bed. She said that he threw Mrs. Farina onto the floor and pulled her hair. Farina called her vile names and told her that he would kill her."If you kill me, I'll kill you" she replied.Vincenzo Palumbo was among the first to reach the house after the tragedy. Mrs. Farina related her story to him and told him to call the police. Charles H. Adams, Atlanta Street, who heard the screams, sent first call to police headquarters. Nicholas Palumbo also informed the police.House is Blood SpottedSergeant McKenna, Motorcycle Officers Joseph Descoteau and John L. Sullivan went to the scene in an automobile at the direction of Captain Sullivan. They found a blood spattered house. They saw the blood covered dresses of the daughter and Mrs. Angelo. Mrs. Farina, with her year old baby, was in the house. The four police officers found the body of Farina in the street. Mrs. Farina was placed under arrest on a charge of murder by Sergeant McKenna. This was about 1:50; the first telephone call was received by the police at 1:20.It was sometime after the officers started their search for Farina that they found him in the field. When they found him they flashed searchlights on a countenance that was almost unbelievable. The hatchet was wedged in the man's face and his head was in a pool of blood.Police headquarters was notified after the man was found and medical examiner Croston arrived a short while later. Captain Hussey secured a photographer and flashlight pictures of the man's body were taken. After pictures had been taken Dr. Croston ordered the body removed to the undertaking rooms of Costello and Shanahan.The hatchet used by Mrs. Farina was taken to police headquarters, along with the dresses worn by Mrs. Angelo and Farina's daughter. The hatchet, only recently sharpened was covered with blood and strands of hair.Pictures of the interior of the house were taken for the police.Mrs. Farina was taken to the police station. She took her year old baby with her. Policewoman Mrs. Mary Hawkins was notified and she remained with the from the time of the arrest until Tuesday morning.Mrs. Farina did not appear greatly disturbed over the murder, although she did not go to sleep until around 7. She received several callers.Confessed CrimeAbout 4 yesterday morning, Mrs. Farina was taken into the inspector's office where she confessed to the crime and related to Captain Hussey, Captain Sullivan and Dr. Croston a story of brutal beatings and drunkenness for the last seven years. Her life, she said, was one black eye after another. Her husband drank to excess and beat her frequently.Statements of other persons were secured by the police at the Farina home earlier in the morning.Captain Hussey said that although he had seen a great many persons badly mutilated, never, in his entire career had he seen a person as horribly cut up as was Farina.Dr. Croston said that it was the worst sight that he had witnessed in his entire career.Both Mrs. Farina and her 14 year old daughter informed the police that Farina had been a habitual drunkard and that he had often beat them up. Following are statements made by them to the police.The Wife's statement
Katherine Farina, wife of the Victim, made the following statement:"I live at 4 ½ Atlanta Street. I was born in Italy in the town of Angoli, Province of Catanzaro. I am 34 years old and the mother of six children. I have been married 15 years to Frank Farina, who is employed in Winchell's Shoe Factory. My husband came home drunk about 12:00 and brought home some meat. He told me to get out. I called my daughter to take her out and he grabbed hold of me and he fell on the stove. The lady that lives upstairs, Mary Angelo, came down. He took hold of my hair and threw me down on the floor. He started after my daughter. And threw me on the floor in the bedroom and Mary Angelo and my daughter took him off. My daughter and I were going out the door and he threw a dish of food at us. He said "If you don't get out I'll kill you" He then ran after my daughter and I took the axe from the woodshed. I went down the back of the house because I thought that the girl had gone that way. When I got on Bennington Street, I saw him standing there and he said "I am going to kill your daughter" then I struck him with the axe. I don't know how many times I struck him. After I struck him I went back to the house.He had been drinking hard lately and had assaulted and abused me very often. He has been arrested for getting drunk and many nights he did not come home at all.Virgentine Farina, the 14 year old daughter made the following statement:" My father came home at 12 and he had been drinking. He came into the house and began to swear. I was in bed and my mother called me. I got up. My father was sitting in a chair and he told my mother and I to get out of the house. Then he told me to go back to bed. He was in the habit of assaulting my mother and I.He had been drinking hard lately. He attempted to strike me and my mother pushed him back. He took a dish from the stove and threw it at us as we were going out the door. He threw my mother down and pulled her hair. Mrs. Angelo and I got him away from her and I ran out the door and he chased me. He called me bad names and said "I will kill you". I said "If you kill me, I will kill you." My mother came back to the house and said " I have killed him". I was crying and she said "I killed him myself, get a cop."Mary Angelo, 4 Atlanta Street, who lives in the house upstairs made the following statement:"I heard a noise and went downstairs. When I got into the kitchen the man had his wife down and had her by the hair of her head. We tried to pull him away and then he chased his daughter. She ran out of the house and he ran after her. He called her a bad name and the wife ran after them.Vincenzo Palumbo, 21 Bennington Street said:"I heard Mary Angelo shouting and I was in bed. I got up and dressed and went to Farina's house and Mrs. Farina told me the story. I have known Farina for 9 years and seen him drunk several times.The Farina family lives in an Italian colony which is situated on the extreme end of Hilldale Avenue. Farina was a shoe worker employed at J. H. Winchell & Co.Friends of the women under arrest have come to her aid. Her six children were taken to the city farm yesterday by Mrs. Merrill, agent of the children's aid society. Later in the week, probably Wednesday, they will be taken to Boston and will become state charges.Mrs. Farina calmly sits in her cell at Police Headquarters and appears undisturbed. If she realizes the seriousness of the crime she committed she exhibits little concern over it.She calmly submitted to arrest at her home and readily told her story and answered questions.Mrs. Farina had dozens of callers over the week-end. They brought her food, fruit, ice-cream and other dishes.Mrs. Farina's three children, Tony age one, Michael, age three, and Joseph age two were baptized Sunday by Reverend Thomas O'Toole. Friends of the woman who were at the station went to the city farm and brought Michael and Joseph to the police station in a taxi cab. Tony, the youngest child, was with his mother in the cell. All three, accompanied by a man, and two women, went to the St. James parochial residence and were baptized.
Needless to say I couldn't get back to school fast enough to call my mother. Then the drama began. But maybe that is for tomorow's post. I need rest, and for those of you who braved that article, I'm sure your eyes do as well. CRANK CALL FRIDAY is cancelled due to excessive snow, falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour. Dont ya love New England??

Laters :)

Posted by Persian Guy :: 6:10 AM :: 15 Comments (reposted)

Blogger Jimmi said...
WOW, that is an amazing story. You are quite the slooth! :) As creapy as it is, it is interesting that your family has a little history don't you think?

Great Read

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