Frank Maley

Frank H. Bezek, a 40-year old Slovenian immigrant who had risen to a position as manager at Pittsburgh Coal Company, was walking home from work along a remote stretch of Moon Run Rd. on the evening of September 6, 1911, when a man stepped out of the shadows and shot and killed him. His pockets were cut and their contents stolen, leading police to initially suspect robbery as the motive.

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View of Pittsburgh Coal Company mine, Moon Run area

After that line of investigation failed to produce any evidence or suspects, attention was focused on Bezek’s young wife, Mary. In her possession was found a letter that had been written by Frank Maley, 24, a Slovenian-immigrant coalminer who had previously boarded in her home. The letter, written after the murder, provided evidence that Maley and Mary Bezek were lovers who had conspired to kill Frank Bezek.

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Pittsburgh Press, September 16, 1911

The letter also contained an address where Maley could be reached, having fled after the murder. Posing as Mary Bezek, police wrote to Maley there and arrested him when he picked up the letter.

Once arrested, Maley quickly confessed, admitted to lying in wait and firing the fatal shot, and explained that he and Mary Bezek had plotted together to kill Frank Bezek so that they could marry. Mary Bezek denied any such plans and any relationship with Maley.

After brief jury deliberations, Maley was convicted of first degree murder on December 12, 1911, and sentenced to death on December 29. In one of the perverse benefits of chivalry, Mary Bezek was never charged.

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Pittsburgh Post, December 13, 1911

A determined and successful clemency effort was mounted. Maley’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison in Western Penitentiary on June 18, 1913.

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The commutation was granted due to the view that Mary Bezek’s role in the crime limited Maley’s culpability. Mary Bezek, it was claimed, “encouraged” Maley’s affection, complained about her husband, planned the murder with him, and even supplied him Bezek’s gun for the shooting.

After more than twenty-two years in prison, Frank Maley was paroled on January 24, 1934, on the condition that he be deported from the country.

 

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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