Update on 1925 murder

This is from time ago — see posts here and here — but I just wanted to give an update of my peek into the as-yet-unsolved 1925 murder in Harlem of young resident Benjamin Adair, a South Carolina native who was gunned down with no motive immediately apparent, but star Negro Leaguers and New York Lincoln Giants players Oliver Marcell, Frank Wickware and Dave Brown were allegedly at the scene of the crime. However, details have never been completely nailed down beyond spotty and often speculative contemporary media reports, like these:

KIC Image

KIC Image

So several months ago I emailed a Freedom of Information Request inquiry to the NYPD for any files relating to the case that might be public record. I never heard anything back.

So yesterday and today I made a few calls to the police department. Yesterday I spoke with a woman at the departments office of public information, who took note of my fairly severe stuttering and, somewhat insultingly told me to e-mail a follow up because of “your condition,” which she said would make e-mail more productive. She then gave me an e-mail address, I wrote to it, and promptly had my message bounce back as undeliverable.

Soooooo, I called back today and talked to a marginally friendlier public information officer, who transferred me to the PD’s FOIL request processing often, where I spoke with an extremely courteous, friendly and helpful woman to actually thanked me for my call. She looked into my request and found no record of it, for which she was very apologetic. She then suggested I send another formal request, this time on hard copy through the postal mail, which I will try to do next week. She also noted that once the department received the request, it would immediately send back an acknowledgement of receipt letter within a week, which was encouraging.

I asked her what the chances are that a file from a cold cold case that happened nearly 90 years would still exist and be reachable, not to mention releaseable as “public record.” She was very frank but friendly.

“Each case is different,” she said. “If for some reason we can’t locate it, we’ll let you know. But there are so many factors.”

So, once I send the request, fingers crossed. I do have Ben Adair’s death certificate, but unfortunately, I don’t have have scan or JPG of it so I can’t post it. But here’s Adair’s WWI draft registration card:


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