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Captain George Musalas Colvocoresses: An Impossible Suicide? (Crime Meter)

In 1872 Captain George Musalas Colvocoresses was found shot to death on a well -frequented street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A pistol and a satchel lay beside the body, and the police at first assumed they had a clear case of murder. When they examined the body more closely, however, they discovered that no bullet hole was to be found in the dead man’s jacket or vest, while the hole and powder burn in his shirt indicated that the pistol had been inserted beneath the outer garments before being fired. Police and journalists were at a loss to explain why a murderer should go to this trouble.

The next conclusion was that Captain George Musalas Colvocoresses had taken his own life, a thought reinforced by the discovery that not many months earlier he had insured his life for $193,000. But when his will revealed bequests of only a few thousand dollars, this thesis seemed doubtful. Even more doubt was cast by the captain's character; he was, according to The New York Times, '' a man of high character and stainless life,'' unlikely, in the highest degree, to take his own life.

And then there were technical difficulties of the suicide theory. Why did Colvocoresses carefully place the gun inside his vest before pulling the trigger? Not, presumably, because he was afraid of spoiling his jacket and vest. But if he did do that, perhaps precisely to shroud his death in mystery, how could he be sure that, having shot himself in the heart, he would have time to extricate his hand from his vest before he died? And if he could not be sure of this, and yet wished his suicide to appear as murder, why choose this method? And finally, if he wished to kill himself without the appearance of suicide, why would he decide to do it in the early evening hours on a well-frequented street?

Source: The New York Times, July 1, 1872


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