December 1, 2019


This edition of our Confidential series recounts the sensational story of a policeman who murdered a nurse, dumped her body behind Prospect Tower, and then shot himself.

Daily News, July 5, 1946
The bizarre story, a tabloid sensation, begins in the early morning hours of Independence Day, 1946. Patrolman Mariano Abello and his supervising sergeant are making their nightly rounds. At 5:00 AM, the sergeant visits Hotel Tudor for a routine check, following up on a recent series of hold-ups. He goes in alone, telling Abello to wait in the car. When the sergeant returns fifteen minutes later, Abello and the car are gone.

Around 5:30 AM, a bus driver spots an abandoned patrol car with a flat tire near a "lonely, ill-lighted sidewalk under the Tudor City bluff on Slaughter House Row" [today the site of Ralph Bunche Park]. Patrolman Abello is standing near the car, and several feet away is the body of a woman, who has been strangled to death. Abello tells the bus driver to guard the body while he goes to the police station.

Instead, he commandeers a passing car at gunpoint and orders the driver to take him to the Bronx, telling him "I'm in a hell of a mess." Abello manages to hide out for eight hours until he is cornered by a phalanx of detectives. Rather than surrender, he shoots himself in the head. He is sent to the hospital in critical condition, with little chance of survival, and lapses into a coma.

It's all rather hard to imagine, since Abello is a model cop, on the force for ten years with a "spotless record for sobriety and conduct." He's 35, handsome, happily married. Not much is known about the victim, Catherine Miller, a 42-year-old divorcee. She's been living in New York for about a year, working as a secretary, a clerk and a practical nurse. She has no fixed address, storing her clothing in a locker at Grand Central. She has been arrested several times for intoxication, and the autopsy shows she had been drinking on the night of her death.

There is no evidence that the pair knew each other, and thus there is no motive for

the killing. The mystery deepens. Abello remains in a coma, the days pass, and then reports surface that Abello and Miller were in the same bar that fateful night ‒ Louis' on E. 31st St. Miller was a regular there, while Abello dropped in for reasons unknown. No witnesses saw them together that night, but regulars said the cop and the nurse did in fact know each other.

The story fades away in the press. By August, Abello is out of his coma, and, miraculously improved, appears for his arraignment in Homicide Court on the charge of first-degree murder. The trial begins in May, 1947. The most damning testimony comes from the driver of the abducted car, who states that Abello told him, "Drinking is bad. I just killed a woman. She was a slut."

The defense does not have much of a case, and Abello never takes the stand. He is ultimately convicted of second degree murder, and sentenced to 20 years to life in Sing Sing.

Daily News, May 17, 1947. Abello's wife awaiting the verdict.

What exactly happened the night of the murder remains a mystery to this day.

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