Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day
 RealAudio clip


 
 

Murder
One evening in Haddonfield in the middle of 1930 in the 200 block of Mountwell Avenue, Curt Dobbins sat reading in the living room of his parents’ home.  He was alone in the house.  Curt was a bachelor, a graduate of Drexel Institute where has had been an All-American center on the basketball team.  In his senior year he had been an All-American Center.  When the front doorbell rang Curt answered it, and when he opened the door he was confronted hy a man holding a revolver.   Curt ducked back and threw himself down but not before he was struck in the body by a bullet.  The man ran from the porch and disappeared.  Crawling to the phone, Curt called the Police Department.  (I found out since I wrote this that Harry Githens was the cop.)  Curt was taken to the West Jersey Hospital with a serious stomach wound.  Dr. Stan Davis was called, a long time personal friend of Curt’s.  Carl Tule, another friend from boyhood was also called, along with several others in case transfusions were necessary.  Dr. Everett Hemphill later said the operation performed on Curt that night by Dr. Davis was the talk of the hospital.  Many perforations in the intestines had been made by the bullet which had to be closed, which took hours.  When Davis came out of the operation room crying he told Carl Tule that he had done everything he could but that Curt was going to die.  The end came soon afterward, and Haddonfield was grieved.  Curt’s father, Mr. Dobbins, was a New Jersey State Parole Officer.  The first suspect was a parolee who had bee employed by Mr. Dobbins to work on the lawn.  The man’s mother found a gun in the oven of her gas range over in Philadelphia.  She knew this was wrong and reported her find to the authorities.  Further questioning of the suspect revealed that he and a girl friend had been around Jersey the night of the murder.  The girl wouldn’t talk.  He was imprisoned in the Haddonfield jail as positive proof of guilt had not been revealed by questioning, until one evening Sam Orlando, Camden County prosecutor and Haddonfield resident, talked to the girl friend.  He fabricated; he told her how the man had told them all about what happened when he was parked at a gravel pit out on the Berlin Road near Gibbsboro.  She was furious and told the story.  She said they had been drinking and when they were in Haddonfield - she didn’t know exactly where - he parked the car, went around the corner on foot, returned a short time later and took off in a hurry.  The man was tried and convicted for murder in Camden County Court and electrocuted in Trenton.  Mr. Dobbins went up to witness the execution.  Thus the only known Haddonfield murder was solved.  Sam Orlando’s story that he told the girl was a fabrication, but it worked perfectly and justice was done..

There was just one other murder in Haddonfield back in the era of 1905, but no town residents were involved.  Mr. Herb Gleeson was just a kid at the time, but he remembers that when his father’s house was being worked on, at West Cottage Avenue and Warwick  Road, two Italian workers got into an argument.  One hit the other over the head with a pick axe.  No other particulars were known.


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