A Down-Homey Hon-style Holiday Homicide
[Editor's note: Unpacking my pulp book and magazine collection in the aftermath of a recent (and life-changing) move, I came across this detective magazine that featured a front page story about a bizarre 1958 murder case in Dundalk that was initially thought to be a suicide. – Tom Warner, BoL]
“There was more to this suicide than a man who didn't want to live any longer…there was the missing envelope from a top-security safe, and the flash fire, and his widow mysteriously shot.”
The Suicide That Shook baltimore
by Rhyn Serlin (“Inside Detective” magazine)
BALTIMORE, MD, JANUARY 12, 1959 – She was moving slowly, as if she had to think of each step before the muscles of her legs could carry the thought through, and she was walking straight toward the car that Patrolman Adam S. Brandt was driving along the 7200 block of Dunmanway in the Baltimore, Md., suburb of Dundalk on his way home after his night's tour of duty.
No, she wasn't at the tale end of an all-night drunk, the officer decided in the few seconds it took to break his car to a stop. It wasn't that kind of walk.
Then, as he got out of his car and started toward her, he knew what kind of walk it was.
“Help me,” she begged. “I've been shot.”
He reached her just in time to keep her from falling…She looked familiar, he thought as he picked up the slight, dark-haired woman and carried her to his car. Where had he seen her before, he tried to remember…And then the elusive memory of her was pinned down. No wonder he'd recognized her! Margaret D'Ambrosio!
Every paper in Baltimore had carried her picture, and the picture of the fire-gutted car in which her husband's body had been found with the single bullet in his chest…
“Who shot you, Mrs. D'Ambrosio,” he asked. With a bullet in her, he figured it might be the last chance to ask her.
“Don't know – stranger – a man – started shooting at me.”
Then her eye fogged again. But she was still breathing.
“Poor kid,” he finished talking to the officer at headquarters, “a month ago – Thanksgiving Day, so it was just exactly one month ago – her husband's suicide, and now somebody shoots her up…”
Continue reading this story from the scanned article that follows. Click on each image to enlarge the page.
“He was only 32, had been married 12 years and had two children…when suddenly life was over for him, despite all he had to live for.”
“It was about 7 p.m., November 27, Thanksgiving evening, when an anonymous call was received at headquarters reporting a car on fire on a lonely lovers lane overlooking Harbor Field in Dundalk.”
“A fellow can keep a lot of things in his safe that haven't got anything to do with naval intelligence…I know a fellow who rents a bank vault just to keep 16 photos of Brigitte Bardot locked up.”
“After a more thorough investigation it was established that D'Ambrosio had apparently been quite serious about one of the girls in the company where he worked. The girl was questioned, too, and it took only the briefest session for the experienced officers to realize that her life, too, had gone up in smoke along with Mike D'Ambrosio's.”
“On December 9th, Horn and Kaminski told Lieutenant Story that they were convinced they would be justified in requesting a lie detector test be set up for Margaret D'Ambrosio.”
“Horn and Kaminski felt a bomb go off in themselves. They'd been right! They didn't know if she realized how it had sounded, what she'd said…how much of an admission she actually had made, deliberately or accidentally…They sped back to headquarters to report to Lieutenant Story. It was ten minutes since they'd left her home. ‘You know, Kaminski commented, “I bet she's going to commit suicide.”
“She had been frightened, and convinced that no one would believe her story. So she had driven the car to the lonely lovers lane near her mother's home and then thought of setting fire to the car…hoping the fire would destroy any evidence of a crime.”
“Then, when events closed in on her and time elements didn't jell, and she faced a lie detector test, she had decided to kill herself. ‘I didn't want any more hurt to come to any one else,' she said.”
“Margaret D'Ambrosio was charged with murder on Wednesday, December 31, and ordered held for the Grand Jury. On Monday, January 12, she was indicted for murder by the Grand Jury of Baltimore County, in the State of Maryland.”