Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 16, 1933
For more than six hours last night and early this morning, Queens detectives questioned Harry Murch, 15, about the killing of 12-year-old Willie Bender, and at 1:30 a.m. Harry confessed that he had done it, the police announced.
According to the confession, as the police told it, Murch tied the younger boy with a section of rope and stabbed him to death with a kitchen paring knife.
The body of the Bender boy was found yesterday afternoon in an unoccupied house at 5 Mauretania Avenue, in the Richmond Hill Circle section of Queens, a short distance from the Bender home at 6 Bergen Landing Road. The boy had been missing for more than two weeks since the afternoon of January 31.
Everett Nylund of 1846 East 26th Street, inspecting a row of houses in Richmond Hill Circle for the owners before making repairs on them, came upon the youngster’s body, the knife still in place and a piece of blue and white gingham in the dead boy’s mouth as a gag.
The gingham, which detectives traced to the Murch home on Lulu Avenue, in the same neighborhood, directed police attention on young Murch, and confession was finally obtained after John Miller, 10, of 10 Mauretania Avenue, also subjected to lengthy questioning, revealed that he saw William Bender stabbed to death by Harry Murch.
Murch looked Magistrate Peter Daly boldly in the face when he pleaded not guilty in magistrate’s court this afternoon. He asked for a hearing in a firm voice and the court fixed February 24 as the date for this.
The boy was unaffected when Mrs. Bender yelled in court:
“Take that murderer away before I take the law into my own hands. He killed my son.”
Police quieted her.
Murch will be kept under 24-hour police guard at the Jamaica Childen’s Shelter until the hearing.
Murch gives the appearance of a normal though slow-witted boy of his age — he is only a sixth grade pupil at Public School 124. He had something of a local reputation as a bully.
The killing, as the confession revealed, was the result of petty revenge — because the Bender youngster had once said that Murch struck a woman over the head with a monkey wrench.
Murch resented that story, the Miller boy told Inspector John J. Gallagher, in charge of Queens detectives, and had threatened to get even with Willie Bender. On the afternoon of January 31, Murch told the other two boys that he intended to rob a peanut vender, first tying up his victim. He knew exactly how he would tie him — and if the other two would come with him he’d show them how.
All three then went into the Mauretania Avenue house where the Bender boy offered to have the demonstration done on himself.
Then, after tying and gagging Bender, Murch drew out a knife, said, "Now take this!" and plunged the knife into the younger boy’s chest.
Seeing that, Johnny Miller ran home. He told the inspector that until last night he never told anyone about the stabbing for fear of what Murch might do to him.
Murch, it appeared from the confession, was the leader of a vaguely conceived “secret society,” whose members had taken the oath not to snitch — and Murch believed the Bender boy had snitched.