“Heiress slain early Sunday…”

Weegee in PM, October 26, 1943, p. 11

The body of Mrs. Patricia Burton Lonergan, heiress slain early Sunday, is removed from her Beekman Hill apartment. Photo by Weegee, PM

PM, October 26, 1943, p. 11

PM, October 26, 1943, p. 12

PM, October 26, 1943, p. 13, photos by Arthur Leipzig and Weegee.

At around 9 AM, Sunday morning, on October 24, 1943, Mrs. Patricia Burton Lonergan, 22 years old, was violently murdered by her estranged husband, Wayne Thomas Lonergan, 26 years old. The vicious murder took place in her triplex apartment at 313 East Fifty-first Street. The murder weapon was an antique candelabra and she was strangled. Patricia Lonergan was described in newspaper accounts as beautiful, an heiress to a four million dollar beer fortune, and her father was a wealthy portrait painter. Wayne Lonergan was a Royal Canadian Air Force member and in New York on a weekend pass. Mrs. Lonergan had recently cut Mr. Lonergan out of her will. They had a son who was 18 months old and sleeping nearby when the murder took place. The Lonergan murder and subsequent trial were two of the most sensational events of the early 1940s. For weeks it was literally front page news, next to news of World War II. Two front page stories from October 27, 1943: “Allies Gain 2 to 6 Miles in Italy, As For Falls Back On New Line; Russian Pincers Begin To Close” and “Lonergan On Way Here In Wife’s Murder; RCAF Member, Continuing to Deny Part in Crime, Agrees to Return From Toronto” (New York Times, October 27, 1943.) (Weegee’s photo of Mrs. Lonergan’s being carried out of her home is phenomenal, appropriately disturbing, and perhaps published here for the first time in 75 years.) Wayne Lonergan was in Sing-Sing prison for more than twenty years. He was “sentenced to 35 years to life after his conviction on second degree murder charges, [he] was released in 1967 and deported to Canada. He lived quietly in Toronto, where he died of cancer.” (The New York Times, January 3, 1986)

Weegee, Sign on 13th floor where trial will be held, New York, 1944 (14022.1993)

Unidentified photographer, [Part 7, Held Here, People V. Lonergan, and Weegee], 1944 (1908.1993)

This entry was posted in Fans in a Flashbulb and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s