Some say Catherine Pappas’ murder happened after they had a cup of tea. But on tonight’s A Crime to Remember, the dramatization of her murder in the 1940s Bronx area suggests that the killer attacked her after they had a cup of coffee. Whichever it was, it is insignificant compared to the brutal attack Catherine Pappas (Kitty Pappas) sustained in her home, a place where she thought she’d always be safe.
On Investigation Discovery’s A Crime to Remember, in the episode “The Gentleman Killer,” when a beautiful wife is found strangled to death in her New York City home, detectives are on the hunt for a mysterious gentleman caller who targets and attacks women after he suddenly gets a headache. Look out for multi-award winning actress Jacinth Sutphin, who will play the role of Mrs. Jones.
Reclusive Egyptian-Born Wife Found Dead In Bronx Home
It was 1941 when a man returned home and found the body of his dead wife in their bedroom. Immediately, Bronx detectives were summoned to the scene, where they found the beautiful housewife with a gentleman’s handkerchief stuffed in her mouth. It also appeared that the woman had been strangled. The victim was 29-year-old Catherine Pappas.
Murdered Over Tea?
Detectives determined straight away that the victim had been robbed since there were several expensive items missing from the home. While taking a look around the home, police investigators were met with an eerie scene: a dead woman in the bedroom and evidence in the living room that the murder happened just after two people had a cup of tea or a cup of coffee.
The New York Daily News offers more details.
“Two coffee cups and saucers, from the couple’s finest china, were set out on a serving table, next to a plate of cookies and two partly filled wine glasses. A picture from the Pappas wedding two years earlier had been left on a chair. It was usually hanging over the dresser, and police figured that Kitty must have taken it down to show it to her guest. A bottle of aspirin and a water glass were on another small table.”
There were also apparent signs of a struggle. It was theorized that the killer had attacked the woman in the living room all of a sudden and then dragged her body to the bedroom area. No signs of sexual assault were visible, according to Cumberland News Now.
Bandit Needed An Aspirin
After some investigating, police believed that Catherine Pappas’ death might be linked to a string of attacks that had been occurring all over the East. In the other attacks, women reported answering a knock at the door and then being attacked after the stranger stated that he needed an aspirin due to a headache.
In some of the attacks, the victims had previously met the stranger while he was hitchhiking. His mode of targeting his victims would be to get their home addresses, send a post card, and then arrive at the home, where he would attack the housewives while they were home alone.
Fingerprints and handwriting samples were instrumental in pinpointing the killer, who was later identified as George Joseph Cvek.
George Cvek eventually confessed to the murder of Catherine Pappas. At one point, he was also thought to have had a hand in the murder of Elizabeth Jensen, another Bronx woman who was strangled with a necktie.
Catherine Pappas was originally from Alexandria, Egypt, and lived in her Bronx, New York, home with her husband, who was a coffee importer.
According to the New York Daily News, Catherine Pappas didn’t particularly care for strangers. She kept to herself, didn’t associate much with neighbors, and had most of the items she needed delivered to her home. Home was supposed to be a truly safe place for the pretty housewife, who neighbors called “The Egyptian Princess.” In the end, her home turned out to be the most unsafe place possible.
George Cvek was sentenced to death and finally executed by electrocution in 1942. Although the story is vastly different, the case is somewhat of a reminder of “Lonely Hearts Killer” Raymond Fernandez, a serial killer who targeted lonely women who had placed ads. Fernandez used voodoo and letters to erotically entice his victims, according to Time.
- George Cvek was known as “The Aspirin Bandit,” according to Murderpedia.
- An old photo of Catherine Pappas and Elizabeth Jensen can be seen here.
- Last week, the episode “Paradise Lost” aired on A Crime to Remember.
Watch this chilling story on A Crime to Remember tonight at 9/8 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery. In a comment, tell us what you find interesting about these old crimes that are featured on the series.
[Featured Image by John Lindsay/AP Images]