Crime History, Jan. 22, 1957: ‘Mad Bomber’s’ 16-year terror campaign of NYC comes to end

George Metesky

George Metesky

On this day, Jan. 22, in 1957, New York City police arrested the Mad Bomber, George P. Metesky, for setting dozens of explosives around the city over two decades.

For 16 years, the Mad Bomber had terrorized New York, leaving 47 pipe bombs in subway stations, department stores, movie theaters, office buildings and the New York Public Library.

There seemed no rhyme or reason behind the targets, and the notes left at some of the scenes suggested the work of a single man.

Fifteen people were injured by the bombs over the years. No one was killed in the attacks, but the public moved about nervously.

The New York Journal-American eventually helped solve the mystery. The newspaper published an open letter in December 1956 urging the Mad Bomber to give himself up. Seeking a public forum, the bomber wrote back, saying he would not turn himself in and referred to a grievance against the electric company, Consolidated Edison.

”I was injured on a job” at a Consolidated Edison plant, he wrote in a follow up letter. ”My medical bills and care have cost thousands — I did not get a single penny for a lifetime of misery and suffering.”

The letters gave Con Edison enough clues to find records that led to George P. Metesky, a 53-year-old bachelor who lived with two older sisters in Waterbury, Conn.

The detectives who went there in January 1957 searched the house and found bomb parts. They arrested Metesky and brought him in. Metesky was deemed to be a paranoid schizophrenic and was sent to a hospital for the criminally insane.

After 17 years, Metesky was ruled no longer dangerous and was set free in 1973. He died in Waterbury in 1994 at age 90.


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