A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

African-American Series: Murder at Cliffwood Beach (1928)

The body of Frank Barret, 27 years old, of Cliffwood Beach, was found in the sage grass at the foot of South Concourse near the Raritan Bay, according to the 20 Apr 1928 edition of The Matawan Journal. 

The Keyport Police removed the body to Harvey S Bedle's morgue in Keyport, where Monmouth County physician Harvey W Hartman and Dr S H Cassidy determined that Barret had not drown but rather suffered a fractured skull from a blow above the left eye. Barret's pants were filled with sand as if to weigh down the body once tossed into the bay.

After a brief investigation, Chief Monmouth County Detective John M Smith identified Mattie Brown of Cliffwood as a material witness to the murder of Barret by Powell "Low Down" Harris, Ernest McKinley, and James Ghosson. The witness reported that the men had been drinking when a dispute arose, at which time those being sought beat the victim and then followed him down to the beach.

I found no follow up to this story and little evidence of any of the alleged murderers in the 1920 and 1930 Federal Censuses. By 1930, James Ghosson seemed to have relocated to Newark, where he was working as a porter at the YMHA.


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