Between November 16, 1940 and January 21, 1957, a man named George Metesky terrorized New York. For 16 years he placed bombs in libraries, theaters, and office buildings. Some of his targeted buildings include Radio City Music Hall (3 times), the New York Public Library (twice), and the Grand Central Terminal (5 times).
Metesky was born on November 2, 1903. He joined the Marines to become an electrician after World War I. After serving at the United States Consulate in Shanghai he came home to become a mechanic for the Consolidated Edison utility company. During 1931 he worked as a generator wiper. One day while working a boiler produced a blast of hot gas. He was knocked down and breathed in gas fumes which left him disabled and unable to work.
He was fired from his job after he collected 26 weeks of sick pay. Metesky claimed that the accident caused the development of pneumonia which lead to tuberculosis. His worker’s compensation claim was denied because he waited too long to file the paperwork. He attempted to appeal the decision 3 times but every appeal was rejected.
By 1936 Metesky had started to hate the company, the company’s lawyers, and even a few coworkers. Metesky thought they were lying during their testimonies on behalf of the company.
George Metesky Becomes The Mad Bomber
He left his first explosive at the Consolidated Edison power plant on November 16, 1940. Normally he called and warned places about the explosives but wouldn’t tell them where it was. He sometimes wrote to newspapers saying he planned on placing more bombs. But he never once revealed his motive. He also stopped for the duration of the second World War. In 1941 he sent a letter to police that stated:
“I WILL MAKE NO MORE BOMB UNITS FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR – MY PATRIOTIC FEELINGS HAVE MADE ME DECIDE THIS – LATER I WILL BRING THE CON EDISON TO JUSTICE – THEY WILL PAY FOR THEIR DASTARDLY DEEDS… F.P.”
His first bomb actually didn’t go off but it had a letter with it that said “CON EDISON CROOKS – THIS IS FOR YOU”. The police had a good idea that they were probably looking for a former employee of the company. But they had to follow up on many leads that seemed to be getting them nowhere.
In April of 1956, the police released an alert for a person that was a mechanic and had access to a drill press or lathe. They also stated this person posted mail from White Plains and was likely over the age of 40 and that he would have a terrible hatred of the Consolidated Edison Company.
Profiling The Mad Bomber
The police asked for help from Dr. James Brussel. Brussel was a criminologist and psychiatrist. Dr. Brussel developed what some people consider to be one of the first criminal profiles. This profile was printed in newspapers. The New York Journal actually printed a letter asking him to turn himself in.
The Mad Bomber actually responded in a letter saying he wouldn’t turn himself in because he still needed to bring the company to justice. The paper went decided to publish his letter but they asked him to explain more about his issues with the company. He explained more and wrote a third letter which went into detail about what had happened to him. In fact, he gave so much detail that police were able to use the information to find him.
The Mad Bomber’s Arrest
He was arrested January 21, 1957. By the time it was all over he had put 33 bombs through the city of New York for 16 years. Out of these bombs, 22 actually exploded and injured 15 people. Fortunately, no one was killed. After being examined by physicians he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. They believed he was insane and not competent enough to stand trial.
On April 1957 George Metesky was committed to the Matteawan Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Therapy didn’t seem to help him but he was a good inmate and didn’t cause any trouble. By 1973 he was transferred to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. Doctor’s eventually determined he was no longer a threat. Since he had already served two-thirds of his 25-year long sentence (that he would have received if he had gone to trial), he was released December 1973. His release had one condition. He had to regularly visit the Department of Mental Health near his home.
The Mad Bomber of New York, George Metesky, died in his home on May 23, 1994. He was 90 years old.
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