Sunday, April 6, 2014

New York Boy Kidnapped, Murdered

On February 24, 1938, twelve-year-old Peter David Levine disappeared from New Rochelle, New York.  While walking home from school with a companion, Peter stepped into a store to buy candy.  He was never seen alive again.

The New Rochelle Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a massive search.  Soon Peter’s father received a note demanding $60,000 in cash for the return of his son.  He could raise only half, and offered that to the kidnappers.

On May 29, after weeks of silence, Peter’s torso washed ashore behind a home on Long Island.  An Associated Press story described the scene: “One hundred local police and G-men searched nearby shores today for the remnants of the body of kidnaped 12-year-old Peter Levine, whose wire-trussed, headless torso was yielded up last night by the waters of Long Island Sound…”

The night before Peter’s body was found, another kidnapping occurred.  James Bailey “Skeegie” Cash disappeared from his Princeton, Florida home.  For two weeks, the cases ran simultaneously in newspapers across the country.  The difference between the modestly wealthy parents of Peter Levine and the “obscure country merchant” father of Skeegie was stark.  But both parents did all they could to bring their sons home.

The inside story of these cases is told in a dramatic new book by Robert A. Waters and Zack C. Waters.  While the Levine case was never solved, the Cash abduction reached a horrifying conclusion in the swamps of the Everglades.  The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash: J. Edgar Hoover and Florida’s Lindbergh Case breaks new ground in the history of child abduction. 


John Woodward said...

Thank you for your post and information on the Levine boy's murder in 1938. A few moments ago, I was reading entries from the diary of my late father's half sister, Florence. She died in 1945, age 31. She had made an entry in her diary in May of 1938 about the Levine boy. Her entry reads: "Found Levine boy missing since February, found dismembered body in Lake." I thought it may be local to where she was living in Hornel, NY. Apparently not local, but commenting on the news reports she had heard.

mark john junor said...

i grew up just blocks away from that the spot he disappeared, before i read your piece i had never heard of him, or his murder....i thought i knew everything there was to know about my hometown!! its really a shock to know this story, and how history has glossed over it and forgotten him, the two youtube video's with news coverage of him and this article are all that remains. are there any further details you can provide??

Robert A. Waters said...

This unsolved case has intrigued me for many years. There's quite a bit of info about it on the internet. Some newspaper archives websites have copies of the old newspapers that reported on the case. If you're interested, I wrote a very brief account of it in my book, The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash. Thanks for reading my blog.