On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1917
Thomas B. Smith, the 82nd Mayor of the City of Philadelphia was arrested this morning on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of policeman George Eppley. Also arrested today on that charge were Common Councilman Isaac Deutsch, the Vare-Smith faction leader of the 5th Ward and Police Lieutenant David Bennett, commander of the 3rd & DeLancy Street station and a known Vare-Smith man.
The Mayor appeared in City Hall courtroom 650 at 11:05am. He was instructed to do so last night by a letter from Judge Brown. Once there he was told the formal charges against him. He asked to read the affidavit outlining the charges (shown below) and then posted a bail bond. The Mayor, Councilman Deutsch and Lieutenant Bennett where each released on $10,000.00 bail.
When questioned after leaving the courtroom the Mayor exclaimed he “didn’t care the snap of a finger” about the charge. However, according to those who know him well the Mayor’s outward nonchalance about the arrest is just for public appearance. Privately, those people say, he is deeply upset about the situation. A formal arraignment on the charges for the Mayor will be held next Tuesday. This is the first time in Philadelphia’s history that a sitting mayor has been arrested on criminal charges.
The murderers of Police officer George Eppley have now been positively identified using Bertillon measurements sent to New York City. The names they originally gave were false. The men are Samuel Scueliga and Henry De Inrao. Both are from New York City and are known to the police there. Today New York police conferred with Police Captain Tate at City Hall by long distance telephone and told him that the two have long records as “stick-up men”, “white slavers” and gunmen. During interrogation Scueliga supposedly told police that the gang was promised $1,000.00 to kill James Carey, the McNichol-Penrose candidate in yesterday’s primary election. Mr. Carey was badly beaten in the attack on him and almost certainly would have been killed if not for the bravery and sacrifice of officer Eppley.
The honest policemen of this city are incensed over the murder of officer Eppley. Their anger is intensified by the thought that political leaders and other members of the police force may have been involved in some grand scheme which resulted in the death of one of their own.
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