by Robert A. Waters
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1926, Joe came from a middle-class family. His father, a door-to-door salesman, worked hard to keep his family afloat while Joe’s mother kept house. In addition to Juvie Joe, there was Albert, dull of intellect and certifiably insane.
At 18, while serving a short sentence in the local jail, Joe escaped. After being re-captured, he finally did hard time—three years in the state penitentiary. Upon his release, he fled to Seattle, Washington. True to his nature, Joe began burgling houses and, in 1947, served a short sentence for his crimes. Returning to Connecticut, the career criminal did a six-month stint in the Hartford City Jail for carrying an illegal weapon. In the next few years, he racked up arrests for burglary, robbery, and other offenses. In most of those cases, he avoided prison.
Then, according to the North Adams Transcript, Joe hit the big time. “In January 1951, [Joseph] Taborsky arrived on the public scene with a spectacular burst of notoriety. His mother, Mrs. Esther M. Taborsky, called police and said her son Albert would like to talk to officers. Albert said he and Joe parked near a liquor store one day and Joe got out with a gun. When he returned, Joe said: ‘The guy jumped me and I had to shoot him.’ The store operator turned out to be Louis I. Wolfson, whose murder police had been trying to solve for months. A month later, Joe was found guilty of first degree murder and his execution was set for Nov. 7, 1951.” Albert pleaded guilty, testified against his brother, and drew a life sentence.
In 1955, Joe received a stroke of luck that might have turned his life around. During his incarceration, Albert had been committed to an insane asylum. Because of this, Joe’s attorneys appealed his death sentence, alleging that a crazy man’s testimony couldn’t be used in court. The justices agreed. Suddenly, the prison doors swung open and a grinning Joseph Taborsky was released once again to prey on society.
On December 15, 1956, cops found Edward J. Jurpiewski and Daniel J. Janowski murdered in their rural service station. Then Samuel H. Cohn was killed in his liquor store. Next, Bernard J. Speyer and his wife, Ruth, died. They happened to walk into a shoe store as it was being robbed. Finally, the bandits stuck up a pharmacy and killed John M. Rosenthal. Most of Taborsky’s victims were forced to kneel on the floor, then shot in the head.
With the bodies piling up, cops finally got a break. The shoe store owner had been beaten but survived—he told detectives that the killer had pretended to be a customer and asked for size 12 shoes. Investigators looked through their crime files and came up with the name of only one offender who wore that size shoe. Joseph Taborsky.
“Mad Dog” and his partner, Arthur “Meatball” Culombe, confessed to murdering six people. In total, their deadly heists netted only a few hundred dollars. At trial, Culombe, called a “mental defective” and “moron,” got life in prison. Taborsky was once again sentenced to death.
This time the sentence would be carried out. On May 17, 1960, Taborsky was strapped into Connecticut’s electric chair. As the switch was thrown, his body snapped back, then he went limp.
He donated his remains to Yale Medical School and his eyes to a New York eye bank. If he hoped to make up for the number of ruined lives that followed in his murderous wake, he failed. Nothing could atone for the innocent victims he killed.