With his head split open by an axe and a belt strap wound tightly around his throat, Arthur J. Slevin, 26 years old, who until he fell upon evil ways was a salesman for a large packing company, was found murdered shortly after 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon in the basement of the saloon of Costello & Boles at Sixth Avenue, where he had been making his home for three weeks.
Slevin, the police said, was slain while he was asleep. The assassin, creeping to his side, removed Slevin's belt. This he wound twice around the throat of the sleeping man, drawing it tightly, so that the strap pressed against the jugular vein and prevented him, if awakened, from making an outcry. The assassin then struck Slevin over the head with a short-handled axe, inflicting a deep wound on the right side of the head.
In the pockets of the slain man the police found several postcards. Two of these were from women, but the police refused to reveal their contents. At night they were trying to find the women in the hope that they could throw light on the crime. One of them lives in Boston and the other is a nursemaid upstate, to whom Slevin had been attentive.
A middle-aged German, known as Tony, who was a porter in the saloon, was the first to see the body of Slevin. He reported afterward to John Boles, one of the proprietors, that Slevin was still asleep. The basement was dark.
A general alarm was sent out by the police for Tony. They believed he could not have entered the basement without making the discovery that Slevin had been slain. It was the porter's duty to remain in the place Sunday until late in the afternoon. The police were eager to question him and find out why he left the place without the consent of his employer after reporting that Slevin was asleep.
The police admitted they were puzzled over the murder. They advanced the theory that Slevin had been slain because of a grudge or a quarrel. The murderer, they asserted, was well acquainted with Slevin and knew the building and the basement.
Slevin was a son of James J. Slevin, who operates a chain of barber shops in Boston. He was well educated, speaking French and other foreign languages. He told friends he had attended St. Francis's College in Montreal. After leaving college he obtained a position as salesman with a large meat packing company in Chicago. He did well, and the firm transferred him to its Boston office. He lost his position there, and told friends that after a quarrel with his father he came here last July and was employed by the Edison Electric Company. He was interested in athletics, and refereed baseball and basket ball games. Slevin boarded for thirteen weeks with Mrs. Elizabeth Devery at 640 Sixth Avenue, almost directly across the street from the saloon. He paid $2 a week for the room, and when he was eight weeks in arrears for rent Mrs. Devery turned him out. She said that at one time he shared his room with another young man. One cold night the two men had a bitter quarrel, and Slevin, she said, turned his companion out into the cold. She reproved him for it the following day, and Slevin informed her that his companion was very angry with him.
Two months ago Slevin got work as assistant kitchenman and helper at the saloon. He had been a frequent visitor to the place, and was well acquainted with many of the customers who sat in the back room at night He assisted Tony, the porter, and did chores. He told the saloon proprietors two weeks ago that he had no place to sleep, and they allowed him to use a rear room of the basement, where he made his bed on a wagon cushion opposite the furnace.
Slevin was last reported seen alive at 11 o'clock Saturday night by John O'Flynn, bartender at the saloon, who had a drink with him in the back room. Slevin remarked that he guessed he would turn in, and started down the basement stairs.
The saloon stands near the corner of Thirty-seventh Street. The saloon keepers occupy the ground floor and basement, on the first floor there is a Greek club, and the two other floors of the four-story building are rented for furnished rooms. The main door of the building is open both day and night. The door of the stairway leading to the basement is also left unlocked.
The lock of the door of the rear basement room occupied by Slevin was broken some time ago, and, as the room contained nothing of value except empty beer kegs, the lock was not repaired. So there was nothing to prevent any one from going into the building, passing down the stairs to the basement, and entering the room occupied by Slevin.
The porter visited the saloon yesterday to do some work. He went down stairs to the basement, and shortly returned, when he reported to Boles that Slevin was still asleep. He said he had not turned on the electric light lamp which swung from a wire extension in the room, but that he had noticed Slevin asleep on the floor.
Boles replied that he would go down in the basement and awaken Slevin, who, he supposed, had overslept, and set him to work. When Boles threw on the light he discovered his employee had been murdered, Dr. Kentil of the New York Hospital said Slevin had been dead several hours.
Capt. William H. Ward of the West Thirtieth Street station and a dozen detectives took possession of the premises. Although several cards belonging to the slain man were found, the detectives asserted they did not believe the murderer had gone through Slevin's pockets. The axe lay a few feet from the body. Slevin was lying on his left side, with his back to the furnace. His legs were crossed. There were no signs of a struggle. The body was removed to the Morgue.
New York (New York) Times, March 30, 1914.