• This Day in Crime History

    January 16: 1936: Serial Killer Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish was executed in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison. He was responsible for at least 5 murders, including 10-year-old Grace Budd whose murder he was sentenced to death for.

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Mass Murder: Howard Barton Unruh 9/06/1949 East Camden, NJ

Howard Unruh being arrested


John Pilarchik
Orris Smith
Clark Hoover
Helga Zegrino
Rose Cohen
Minnie Cohen
Maurice Cohen
James Hutton
Thomas Hamilton
Alvin Day
Helen Wilson
John Wilson
Emma Matlack

Murderpedia: Howard Barton Unruh
Nation’s first mass murder was the top story of Sept. 6, 1949
Howard Unruh: America’s First Mass Murderer
Wikipedia: Howard Unruh
Howard Unruh
Howard Unruh
Suspected Mass Murder, Howard Barton Unruh, dies after a long illness

Howard Unruh
Howard Unruh


11 Responses

  1. Was this pic of Unruh taken in 1989? He would have been about 70 then. Was this at a competency hearing?


  3. It’s almost beyond belief that America’s first mass murderer
    is the only one still alive. He’s the oldest in age and the
    only surviving American mass murderer. I can’t believe no
    one has interviewed this guy in 60 years, and it’s even
    more amazing that almost no one has ever heard of him.
    I just stumbled upon him by accident while reading about
    the history of mass murders in the U.S.

    note from blog owner
    I do not know that he is the first American mass murderer, but he is NOT the only mass murderer to survive. You may want to check your facts.

  4. This is my great uncle or something. The 1989 comment was hurtful as that is the year my father passed away after fighting bone cancer for almost 8 years. I cannot help my ascendants but would love to understand. I am 36 and am planning a trip to nj for a visit. will update at that time.

  5. Many people have had lot to say over the years and it shows me how judgemental people are. There were many people hurt by this incident. What has been forgotten is what Howard’s family had gone through and what we are still going through. People do not realize what the family has had to deal with behind the scene. For years we have lived through the comments and guesses. The phone calls from the press and people we don’t know. For years we have had to live with what happened and the many storys from people who think they know. Howard was the first person that caused the government to start investigating and studying the affects of what the war can do to our troops mentally and emotionally. If you take the time to read up on the reaction of some soliders who have returned from serving our country you will find family abuse, suicide, etc..this is why our troops now are put through a process of screening upon their return to the US. The government now supplies medication, support groups, treatment centers and counseling. Back in World War II these things were unheard of. If Howard had the resources when he returned things may have been different for him and his family. A family can not be held responsible for what a relative may do. If that was the case we all would have to pay the price for something that someone in our family has done. And Susie as far as trying to visit Howard that will be a difficult thing for you to try to do. I am a relative and I am not aware of Howard being a great uncle of yours. That is something you will have to be sure of. The press, the curious, the students, you name it they all have tried. It’s just not that easy. These are the things people think they can do. Howard does not walk in circles, he does not mop floors…These are the things I have read that people say. I am not a far relative of Howard I am an”Immediate” family member. One day the true story will be told with all the facts from someone who does know. Not the public- who guess, not the media- who think they know, not the students studying journalist trying to make a name for themselves, not the documentaries done with just one side of the story, and not the relatives of some of the people who were lost that day who think they have been the only ones to deal with the sad outcome. But from the people who truly do know the truth. Until that time my famiy has gone through so much that no one could ever image. And we truly feel the sorrow of losing a loved one. We lost a family member too that day from the mental outbreak that was out of his hands. There was not a trail where a quilty verdict was found. He is not heavily medicated. If Howard could have only been diagnosed and treated as everyone is in todays world. He does know what has happened and he deals with that daily. He is quiet, he is sincere, he is humble. It is very hard to sit with Howard and know that this man had done such a horrible thing. Howard only knows the world that he has lived for last sixty years. He would not know the world as it is today on the outside. I have watched and heard through the years and know what family members of the victums have had to say.

    There is one man that makes himself out to be the only person that has been affected by this. I have actually talked to people who know him and they have said that he makes them feel very uncomfortable because he has choosen to live his entire life angry and feels the need to tell everyone he meets that his family were some of the people that were lost that day, and how he will -iss on Howards grave when he dies and how he is always available to be interviewed with the media. He has tried to accuse my family of not responding and stating we owe apologies, etc. Myself nor my other family members, excluding Howard, have not done anything to them. Yes, we are truly sorry for their losses and we too wish things had been different. But we do not live in the past and we have choosen to leave things in Gods hands and that is what has made us stronger. These things that people say will not change what had happened. It’s people like him that I truly feel very sad for and sorry for. He has choosen to live his entire life with so much anger. A horrible event or loss should make us stronger and we should try our best to move on and become better people.

    Thank you for letting me respond. This is the first time I had felt the need to reply and it may be the last but I had to let people know that we are out here and things that are said are hurtful, more so when comments and statements are made without thinking and realizing that what they are saying may not be true and it does affect innocent people.

  6. In response to Susie…Waiting for an update on your visit to your ummm great uncle.

    In response to SU…
    I have been wanting to do this for a long time, but we all know you are much better at putting things in writing than myself.
    Well done.

  7. End of an era, Howard died today Monday October 19, 2009

  8. Good riddance. If I had gotten my hands on that fool I would’ve saved the state a whole lot of money.

    What he did was evil, but to kill two little boys… that scum is going directly to hell for a while, and I’m happy about that.

  9. My name is Joe. My family lived on 28th and Polk during Unruh`s rampage. I, like Orris Smith who lived directly behind our house, was 6 at the time. Linda Horowitz, my friend also, lived 2 doors down and her father Sherman owned the corner store where we bought candy. Linda was with my then baby sitter, Helen Harris, on 32nd street when Unruh opened fire. They were spared by being just out of reach. Garland Wislon, a longtime family friend, lost his wife Helen that day, along with his son John and mother-in-law Emma Matlack. I bought my first car from Garland, a 1956 Studebaker. I learned of his loss a mere 2 years ago when a friend mentioned Unruh and i deceided to look it up. No one ever spoke of the killings. We kids were sheltered to spare us nightmares tho i must say i had plenty as a teenager. Cramer Hill reeled that day as did our faith in the world. I`ll never forget nor will many who lived there and saw it firsthand. My aunt took me to the crime scene the next day. A lot of people gathered there in silence. The winds of change have cleared the air there but the memories linger forever..

  10. Joe again with a last few last thoughts. Garland`s name is Wilson, not Wislon as i had typed it in haste. Clark Hoover was my barber and i remember the little white horse in his shop. I attended H.C. Sharp on 32nd street, passing Unruh`s house each day. We all did. Sally Roach, Lucas Britt, Sonny Frett, my best friend, who lived next to Orris Smith. Luckily we missed being there that fateful morning. In closing, i cannot help but wonder where these fortunate ” kids ” are today and do they remember any of this? Like seeds, we are scattered in the wind and may never meet again. Peace be with you all..

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