Monday, November 5, 2007

Doppelgangers On Amory Street

Here's a curious case. An assault on a young girl, and two nearly identical suspects.

Boston Daily Globe October 2, 1906

Identifies Two As Assailant

Strange Complication in Assault Case.

Little Girl Accuses One Old Man, Then Another.

Wonderful Similarity in Their Appearance.

A peculiar case confronts the police of Jamaica Plain in the case of little Alice Rebane, the 7-year-old daughter of Rev Hans Rebane, pastor of the Parker Hill av Lutheran church, who was criminally assaulted on Monday evening, Sept 24, near the Apollo garden, Roxbury. Two men of nearly the same advanced age, with general similarities, have been identified by the little girl as the one who committed the assault.

The two men have so many characteristics in common physically that at first glance one would be readily taken for the other.

When little Alice Rebane was found on Amory st, near the Roxbury line, close to Apollo garden a week ago last evening, the police of division 13 made an investigation which resulted in the arrest of Harry Mellen, 65 years of age, living on Brookside av, Jamaica Plain. He was taken to the City hospital, where the little girl lay suffering. She immediately identified him as the man who had done her injury. Mellen was brought into the West Roxbury court, pleaded noot guilty and had his case continued for a hearing to next Saturday morning under bail of $2000. The bail was so large that the police knew he would be unable to obtain sureties.

Police Thought Poole Was Mellen.

Consequently it was with great surprise yesterday when two officers of division 13, while on Washington st, Jamaica Plain, saw what they supposed was the familiar figure of Mellen, commonly known as "Bush," shambling along the street. They called out "Hullo, Bush, when did you get out?" The answer came, "O, a little while ago." He passed on and met patrolman George Riley a little farther along, who at first thought the man was "Bush" Mellen, who was supposed to be in custody. Riley crossed the street, and on getting nearer the man he saw his mistake. The striking resemblance led him to ask the man where he was going. He answered that he was going to Jamaica Plain.

Riley then asked him if he knew the locality and he said he did - that he had been there before.

"When?" asked the officer.
"Monday night," was the answer.
"At Boylston station."
"What were you doing there?"
"O, I came out to see the political parade and hear the speeches."

The appearance of the man - so much like that of Mellen and the admission that he was in the locality at the time of the assault, set Riley to thinking, with the result that the man was taken to the police station on Seaverns av, where he was questioned by Capt McBryan.

The admissions made by him and statements of others in regard to him brought out one of the most peculiar situations in the history of the department.

The man said his name was George Washington Poole, and that he lived at the Modern, a cheap lodging house on Washington st near Dover, in the South End. His admissions included the route taken by the man who assaulted the little girl, and also included the statement that he had gone to Apollo garden, followed by a little girl, although he strenuously denied that he had assaulted her.

Little Girl with Poole.

He said he had gone out to Boylston station to see the parade. While there he was followed by a number of boys and girls who yelled something at him sounding like "Bush." The boys threw stones at him. They followed him through an alleywas to Amory st to Apollo garden. Here, with the exception of one little girl, who kept close to him, they left, going back toward Boylston station. The little girl walked into the garden with him, but he did not assault her, he said. Afterward he went to his lodging in the city.

Three boys, living in the vicinity of Boylston station, who were in the crowd that followed the man, on being brought to the station house identified him as being the one they had seen.

They said that between 7 and 8 o'clock on the night of the assault they saw a man they thought was "Bush" Mellen. They called him "Bush" and chased him through the alley to Amory st. There were some little girls with them, of whom one was Alice Rebane.

Alice was close to the man. He did not appear to be coaxing her; she was apparently going along with him of her own accord. Finally the boys went back to Boylston station to see the parade. They saw the man with Alice at Apollo garden. They did not know of any assault until the next day.

The man was taken to the City hospital where Alice identified him as her assailant.

At his lodging house the man is known by the name Lane, which he later admitted was the right one, although he is sometimes known as Poole.

The two men have the same shambling gait and are about the same height; each has a beard and long hair. Mellen gives his age as 65 and Poole says he is 64.

When the little girl first regained consciousness she said the man who assaulted her had on a black hat. Poole wore a black derby, but Mellen when arrested had a straw hat.

This morning Poole will be brought into the West Roxbury district court and an effort will be made to unravel the peculiar tangle.


And so the story seems to end. I could find no further articles on the crime, nor any news of what happened to Mr Poole. Did I miss something, or did the case fall apart? The story ends with no satisfactory finality, but in the interest of Jamaica Plain history, it did lead me on another path. What is that Apollo garden mentioned in the article? I've never heard of that before, so I did some investigating. The next posting will show what I found.

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