Given the extraordinary coverage generated by the Casey Anthony case, it might seem as though nothing could compare. But long before the internet, there was Alice Crimmins.
She was the Casey Anthony of her time, a mother excoriated for her randy behavior, her name and story splashed across the front pages of the NYC tabloids. The Alice Crimmins trial and story had everything Casey Anthony's case has and then some. You could say that the Crimmins case is one part Casey Anthony and one part Etan Patz, the missing SoHo boy whose disappearance kicked off this modern age of child abductions.
Today, NYC is dealing with its latest horrible case of child snatching, that of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, the Brooklyn boy whose body was found in pieces after being abducted by a stranger to whom he asked directions.
Today also happens to be the 46th anniversary of the day that Alice Crimmins, a Queens mother, reported her two young children were missing from their ground floor room. The window was open and the two children -- Eddie Jr. and Missy, aged five and four -- were gone. Poof! Crimmins was in the middle of a custody dispute with her husband Eddie and at first Alice suspected he had something to do with the kids' disappearance. He insisted he did not and immediately the police were called. That of course is very different from what happened in the Anthony case but, almost as soon as the first detective arrived on the scene, moral judgments were made.
Alice was universally described as a 'sexpot' or a 'sexy redhead.' Her nickname was Rusty and she was in fact a cocktail waitress not afraid of wearing skimpy outfits to get the most tips. She also was known to have a lot of boyfriends, one reason cited by her husband for wanting custody of the children. She was a modern woman at the dawn of feminism who was happy as a clam that her sour marriage to Eddie Crimmins broke up. This way, she said, she could have her freedom instead of being stuck in a boring and loveless marriage.
Shortly after the couple reported the children missing, the two kids were found dead in nearby lots.
Alice was put on trial for their murders and she was beside herself. According to reports, she was not afraid to jump up and call someone out in the court, referring to them as a 'liar' or a 'worm.' She was convicted but her case was ultimately overturned and she only spent a couple of years in prison. Sound familiar? To this day, no one knows who killed her two young children and, in retrospect, it seems very unlikely it was Alice.