Battle Echo of Murder at Club

Camden Evening Courier – January 18, 1928

Mrs. Rosalie and Her Rival for ‘Chick’ Hunt Describe Event in Court

Pretty, piquant Katherine Rosalie – for love of whom men are declared to have fought to the death in the rooms of the Sixth Ward Republican Club, today waged her own fight against her self-avowed rival for the attentions of Charles “Chick” Hunt.

In Camden Police Court this morning, Mrs. Rosalie appeared as complainant against Miss Elsie Berendt, 1901 Broadway who, by her own assertion, was “Chick’s girl” until Katherine came along .

The court battle, moreover, was merely an aftermath to a hand-to-hand encounter which both declared to have taken place yesterday at the corner of Fourth and Arch Streets. Today’s chapter of the comedy-drama was ended when Judge Bernard Bertman sent both young women home, after chiding Miss Berendt for being ”too nervy” and “talking too much”. Miss Berendt was kept in custody by Judge Bertman for about five minutes and then dismissed. Meanwhile Mrs. Rosalie had departed in triumphant possession of Mr. Hunt’s company.

Mrs. Rosalie, 22 year-old brunette, entered the official investigation of the slaying of Joseph Cimini, at the Sixth Ward Republican Club, after

County detectives advanced the theory that the fight which resulted in the final shooting had been caused by an argument over “Chick’s girl.” Hunt, a former South Camden pugilist, was in the club at the time of the shooting. According to detectives, the fight had started between Joseph “Mose” Flannery and Hunt; Cimini had entered the argument on behalf of Flannery, and Joseph “Polack Joe” Deven had shot Cimini when the latter struck him with the butt of a revolver.

Both Waiting For Hunt

Mrs. Rosalie, after recounting her story of her friendship with Hunt to Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Varbalow, denied she was “Chicks girl,” or “anybody’s girl.” But, apparently, Elsie didn’t look at it that way.

According to the testimony of the two young women and of Hunt, in Police Court today, the encounter between the girls took place late yesterday afternoon. Katherine said she was waiting for Hunt at Fourth and Arch Street. Elsie said she was waiting for Hunt at Fourth and Federal Street, a short block distant.

“Chick” arrived, it was testified and Elsie met him first. She asked the whereabouts of Katherine. Then she saw Katherine and went there. She accused Katherine of having called her a “bum” and of using other un­complimentary terminology. Katherine promptly denied it.

What happened then depends on whether Katherine’s story or Elsie’s is correct. Katherine said Elsie hit her. Elsie says Katherine hit her. Hunt apparently acted a peacemaker for the nonce and the match wound up in Police Court today.

Girl’s Story Is Denied

There. Elsie earned the disapproval of Judge Bertman by declaring, in great detail and in determined tones, that she had lived with Hunt for seven years as his wife; that she had gone to work as a waitress, and supported him and that he had deserted her several weeks ago when Katherine appeared on the scene.

“Chick” denied all this, declaring he lived at 1213 Broadway and not with Miss Berendt. It was then Elsie received the Court’s opprobrium for “talking too much” and evidencing “too much nerve”. And that was about all there was to it.

Meanwhile, It became increasingly evident that it was a tangled case which Prosecutor Ethan P. Wescott is to present to the Camden County grand Jury in connection with the slaying of Cimini, otherwise “Joe Gannon” last Saturday morning.

“Polack Joe” Deven, held on a charge of murder, has admitted firing the shot that killed Cimini before the eyes of two Camden district detectives and nearly a score of other men.

Motive A Mystery

But just how it happened or why, or what led to the argument that seems to have preceded the shooting remained today as much of a mystery as though Cimini had been slain in some lonely DeRussey’s lane instead of in a crowded clubroom.

The investigation so far has focused definitely around the figures of Hunt and Flannery, the latter a storm-center of Eighth Ward politics and police records.

From the tangled web of evidence which county detectives have gathered, it appears only that the argument which resulted in the shooting of Cimini by Deven was caused by ill-feeling between Flannery and Hunt. Whether that ill-feeling had to do with the fading love motive that county detectives so confidently built up until yesterday, whether it was over the crap game supposed to have been in progress at the club, or whether It had a political tinge, is part of the mystery.

Clings to Love Motive

County detectives still cling to a somewhat obscure “love motive,” though it is admitted that they’re not getting very far with it.

The latest development along this line is the arrival in the prosecutor’s office, late yesterday, of John Rosalie, estranged husband of the attractive young woman, who denied that he knew either Flannery or Cimini and stated that he knew nothing whatever concerning the latter’s death.

Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Varbalow, after bearing Mrs. Rosalie’s statement the day before, had announced yesterday that the authorities were “looking for Rosalie.” Mrs. Rosalie had told of the apparent jealousy of her husband—a jealousy which she insists in unfounded—concerning Hunt. She had told how Rosalie and his brother-in-law, Howard Churchill, had set upon Hunt one day at her apartment and bad beaten him. She said that she believed her husband might have been acquainted with Cimini.

The theory formed by detectives after that, was that Cimini had gone to the Sixth Ward Republican Club early last Saturday for the purpose of “getting” Hunt because of his, Cimini’s friendship for Rosalie.

Theories Break Down

This was the theory that seemingly broke down when Rosalie appeared and declared he didn’t know either Cimini or Flannery. It apparently broke down just as had a former theory, to the effect that Cimini and Hunt had been rivals for the affections of Mrs. Rosalie, for the latter also declares she knew neither Cimini nor Flannery.

It broke down just as had the city detectives’ theory that It all happened because of an attempted hold-up by Flannery and Cimini, for none of the witnesses mention a hold-up affair in their statements to Wescott. Flannery has made no statement, though apparently he holds the key to the story. His reply to all inquiries is “See my lawyer.” And no one knows who his lawyer may be.


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