Witch of Delray Rose Veres
Detroit's Notorious Police Cases No. 6 'Wivch of Defray' Murdered for Money AN ELEVEN-YEAR. ELEVEN-YEAR. ELEVEN-YEAR. OLD Hungarian girl, playing in the sand at the aide of a dingy rooming house on Medina street in Delray section, paused to watch an old man climb a ladder. Thoughtfully, she watched Steve Mak, fifty-year-old fifty-year-old fifty-year-old fifty-year-old fifty-year-old lodger In the home of Rose Veres as he slowly climbed up the extension ladder towards an attic window. When Mak reached the window window and disappeared into the attic, the girl let the sand slowly sift through her fingers, but her bright dark eyes never left the window. They still were fastened on it when Mak's body hurtled down a few minutes later. Terrified but silent, the little girl looked from the crumpled form in the dirt, back to the window. Then she quickly rose to her feet and ran home. The phrase "tye witness to murder" would have meant nothing to the little Hungarian girl. It would not have caused EDITOR'S NOTE: This Is the sixth of a series of stories recalling, and bringing up to date Detroit's most notorious crime tories. Another article will appear on this page next Sunday. BV RALPH NELSON were always closely drawn. And with each death a pall of silence descended upon the Hungarian colony. When Mak died, two days later, the police moved in. Detectives Detectives Whitman and Rose subjected subjected the rooming house to a thorough search. and make her "the richest girl in Delray." ' When the girl asked the source of money, Mrs. Veres said "Mak is going to die pretty soon, and he's ' insured pretty gs.fe-3 gs.fe-3 gs.fe-3 i '4V ;.TJ-' ;.TJ-' ;.TJ-' .a"..-. .a"..-. .a"..-. 'A ft 'm ! t V, f V m v ; 0, MRS. ROSE VERES Killed men for insurance her to flee. Her flight was inspired inspired by fear; not of Mak's death, but because it had occurred occurred at the sinister home of Rose Veres, the "Witch of Delray." That afternoon, Aug. 23, 1931, is still vivid in her mind. HOMICIDE detectives asked Mak the routine questions when he was admitted to Receiving Receiving Hospital. They jotted down Mak's dazed explanation, "fell from a ladder" on the records. records. That was all until Detective Detective John Whitman, who now heads the Homicide Squad, noticed noticed the address. "Now we've got a lead," he told Detective George Ross. "Maybe we've got the 'Witch' at last." Unknown to the public, the Homicide Squad .had kept a careful eye on Rose Veres' rooming house for years. Death was a suspiciously frequent visitor there. Eleven men had died in seven years; but their death records told a bewildering story of "accidents" and "natural "natural causes." Time and again, when death struck, ' police descended upon Delray to investigate. But never were they abb to unearth an iota of evidence that the deaths were not what they seemed. But the suspicions continued to rankle in their mind. Meanwhile, the secret was well-guarded well-guarded well-guarded within the shabby frame house, where the blinds THE case broke in their hands when they sifted the contents contents of an old trunk in the attic. Jumbled in with a pile ol yellowed financial records kept by Mrs, Veres was a "death record"; 75 Insurance policies naming Rose Veres as bene-., bene-., bene-., flclary and taken out on roomers roomers in the house. Startled, Whitman noted that many of the canceled policies bore names of men who had met mysterious deaths in the Veres home. In the pile were four policies drawn upon the life of SHe Mak from which Mrs. Veres would have collected a total of $4,000! Intense grilling failed to even ' dent the composure of the woman. woman. Dressed in a long black dress, her jet black hair covered by a lace cap, Mrs. Veres' pale, inscrutable eyes never wavered from the faces of her questioners. questioners. She insisted she spoke no English, and questioning was carried on with an interpreter until she was trapped talking English with her son. She told police Mak had climbed up to fix the attic window, window, which was in need of repair. repair. She swore she was on the first floor of her home when Mak fell. Her son, William, 18, declared he was at a neighborhood neighborhood movie at the time of the accident. T ETU RNING to the Veres' 11 home, Whitman made the discovery which resulted in the arrest of Mrs. Veres and her son for Investigation of Murder. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the attic window! Then, for 18 consecutive hours, the questioning went like this: Whitman: "Why did he go up the ladder?" Mrs. Veres: "To fix the window." window." Whitman: "But the window wasn't broken." Mrs. Veres: "He went up to fix it anyhow." Whitman: "Did you ask him to fix it?" Mrs. Veres: "I asked him." Whitman:: Why didn't you send your son?" Mrs. Veres: William couldn't fix it." Whitman: "But it wasn't broken, so why did you have to send anyone?" Trapped in this fashion countless countless times, . Mrs. Veres would simply refuse to hold up her end of the conversation any further. Stumped, police turned to other sources of information. Their llnding unraveled a weird collection of fact and fiction; of old-world old-world old-world superstitions mixed with cold knowledge. The girl told police that she learned Mrs. Veres wanted her to aid in murdering Steve Mak in return for the riches. When she refused, the girl said Mrs. Veres threatened to kill her if she told her mother. Another witnefs declared ha saw Mrs. Veres place the ladder, upside down, against the side of the house shortly before Mak' ascended. It was also learned that a handy man had spent the hour previous to Mak's climb watering watering the clay at the side of the house where the ladder was to stand. The ladder was not placed in position until the clay had been saturated to a slippery bog. pOLICE were handicapped by the fact that the 16 roomers who had been living in the house . had fled, terrified, on the day Mak was injured. One roomer, who had left tha house two weeks before Mak's death, was located in Logan, West Virginia, and returned here. He told police he had seen Mak beaten several times by Mrs. Veres. The roomer said he asked the woman why she kept Mak, inasmuch as he paid no board. Mrs. Veres told him, coldly, "I knew what I'm doing," he said. Asked why he left, the roomer told police Mrs. Veres wanted to take out an insurance policy in his name and when he refused, refused, she and William Veres beat him with blackjacks. A neighbor told of seeing Mak the morning before his fall. "I'm having trouble again," the neighbor quoted Mak as saying, saying, "She's trying to kill me.'' Mrs. Veres, who was present at the time, told Mak: "You stop talking to neighbors or I'll slit your throat," the witness said. Alex Proczeo, 60, April 16, 1931, acute dilation of heart. Gabor' Veres, 35, Jan. 2, 1927, carbon monoxide. This man was Mrs. Veres' husband. He died In his garage while repairing his car after the garage door had shut. His insurance policy, which had lapsed, was reinstate ed by Mrs. Veres four days before before his death. Laszlo Tath, 88, Jan. 2, 1927, carbon monoxide. (Died with Mrs. Veres' husband.) Balit Peterman, 68, April 27, 1931, pneumonia. John Nordai, 30, Oct. 15, 1925, acute dilatation of heart. Gabor Fejes, 58, Feb. 7, 1925, chronic pancreatitis. John Sokivon, 44, June 24, 1926, hanged in basement. ' John Coccardi, 1925, cause unknown. unknown. Steve Falsh, 1925 or '26, alcoholism. alcoholism. pOLICE uncovered strange tale3 of m-en m-en m-en who became mysteriously ill after leaving V Ok., IpU J Ji f TN THE Delray section, A strangely enough, police found that neighborhood tongues tongues were loosening. The detectives detectives attributed It to the fact that Mrs. Veres as safely in Jail. Police found a fourteen-year-old fourteen-year-old fourteen-year-old fourteen-year-old fourteen-year-old girl who charged that Mrs. Veres had asked her to come and live in the rooming house. The girl stated that Mrs. Veres promised to buy her clothing A CANVASS of Insurance companies who had handled the policies, revealed that several several companies had refused to write any more policies for Mrs. Veres. "We discovered a situation there we didn't liltc" company agents said. One salesman revealed revealed that a week prior to Mak's death, Mrs. Veres tried frantically to reinstate two policies policies she held on Mak's life that had elapsed. Refused, she virtually virtually demanded that a new policy for $2,000 be written, and became abusive when she was refused. Several of Mrs. Veres' creditors creditors told that she had approached approached them prior to Mak's death and said she was expecting to get some insurance money soon. The window which Mak was to "repair" was cut off from the rest of the attic by a wooden partition. A witness was found who said Mrs. Veres sawed a four-foot four-foot four-foot hole through the partition partition two days before Mak fell. In spite of tha pile of circumstantial circumstantial evidence, police were still without either a confession or an eye witness. The record of previous deaths was brought to light and scrutinized. They were: Steve Sebestan, 54, died Sept. 21, 1924, cerebral hemorrhage. Bcnl Kato, 48, Mar, 2, 1926, myorcarditis. WILLIAM VERES Abo sentenced to life the rooming house against Mrs. Veres' wishes. Then, working wearily througn a houss-to-house houss-to-house houss-to-house houss-to-house houss-to-house canvass, canvass, Detectives Whitman and Rose ran across Rose Chevala. In the trial, which began before before Recorder's Judge Thomas Cotter on Sept. 30, the eleven-year-old eleven-year-old eleven-year-old eleven-year-old eleven-year-old girl's eye witness story was the climax. She said that after Mak's body had plum-metted plum-metted plum-metted to the ground, she looked looked up, and framed in the attic window, were the heads of Mrs. Veres and William Veres. Mrs; Veres brushed cobwebs from her hair aa she gazed down, the girl testified. Mak, the girl said, did not clutch frantically as would a normal person who had stumbled. stumbled. He fell inertly, she said, and she heard him moan while his body was in the air. Police contended that Mak was knocked unconscious and then thrown from the window. The trial brought the middle ages of Old Europe, with its folklore of werewolves and "hex" women Into 20th century Detroit. Many a witness paled before the fixed expression In Mrs. Veres' tolorless eyes. Found guilty of first degree murder. Rose Veres on Oct. 14 was sentenced to life in the House of Correction and she is still there. William Veres was sent to Jackson Prison for an equal term. He is now making efforts to obtain a pardon.