NYC Officials Ponder 400-Year-Old Cold Murder Case
Exactly 400 years ago, as of this coming Sunday, the first murder in recorded New York City legal history was committed.
Because of the lack of a formal criminal justice system in the municipality-to-be, not to mention modern forensic and investigative methods, little attention was paid to the slaying of John Colman, a skilled English seaman, then. But, although there is no hope of solving it now, the cold murder case has captured the attention of some of the city’s skilled criminologists, reports the New York Times.
Pondering the possibilities, Detective William McNeely says modern-day homicide investigators wouldn’t simply take the word of crewmen on the victim’s ship that Colman had died of an arrow wound when the group was attacked by a party of Native Americans, as those aboard the Half Moon did when the crewmen returned in a 16-foot shallop with his body after a reconnaissance mission.
“He was English, the crew was Dutch,” the detective tells the Times. “You couldn’t rule anybody out. We’d detain everybody, including the injured sailors. You couldn’t just take the word of somebody else. They could say he was attacked by Indians. It would be easy to make that up. I don’t know if that’s racial profiling, but it’s definitely scapegoating.”