Catherine Slevin, only 12 years old, and very much frightened, was arrested yesterday afternoon at her home, 305 Spring Street, by Lieutenant Stapleton and Detective Dolan after small playmates had accused her of releasing the brakes of a big automobile truck which had stood outside her home yesterday, and which started to roll after the brakes had let go their hold, had run over and killed five-year-old Elizabeth Johnson, also of 305 Spring Street. Despite the pleas of her parents, the little girl was locked up by the Children's Society. The detectives said they had telephoned Coroner Feinberg for permission to parole the child in the custody of her parents, but permission had been refused.
The Coroner was indignant last night when he was told of this. He said he had known nothing about the case. The detectives had telephoned to him at 7 o'clock in the evening, saying they had arrested the child and asking him what to do with her. Under the circumstances he, of course, had directed them to follow the usual course and send her to the Children's Society.
"I'm not doing business with the police over the telephone," declared the Coroner. "I did not order this child's arrest, and did not know any of the facts of the case. I could not take it on myself to parole her in such a situation. If the detectives were so solicitous for her comfort and wanted to avoid frightening her, why didn't they bring her up to my home? I would have passed on the case then, and if the circumstances proved as reported, certainly would have paroled her. I agree it is too bad she should have been taken away from her parents, but there was nothing I could do about it. The child is not my prisoner. I did not order her arrest. Officially I shall know nothing about it until she has been arraigned before me tomorrow."
Mrs. Johnson, mother of the dead child, hurried to Mrs. Slevin to extend her sympathy. She was indignant over Catherine's arrest, demanding: "What good can come of locking that poor child up? She didn't mean to do it, and she didn't know what she had done."
New York (New York) Times, August 26, 1915.