Just Doing Her Job

In 1957, George Metesky was arrested and accused of being the most wanted man of his day--New York City's Mad Bomber.

George Metesky after His Arrest

During his interrogation, Metesky confessed to planting 33 homemade explosive devices in public places.

Obviously with the panic caused by bombs exploding at movie theaters and such, police officials declared The Mad Bomber "Public Enemy Number One" and dedicated all possible resources to apprehending the offender.

The tip that solved the case and implicated Metesky was provided by a file clerk named Alice G. Kelly who worked at Consolidated Edison.

Either on her own initiative or after being asked by her superiors to review employee files for anyone that might have motivation to harm others due to a conflict with the company (historical accounts vary), Ms. Kelly identified George Metesky as a person of interest.

Metesky had previously made threats against the company after becoming dissatisfied with a worker's compensation claim (he had been employed with the firm until being injured in 1931).

Once police had Metesky's name, they were able to gather enough evidence for an arrest--which led to a confession.

With the case's publicity, the reward money for helping to catch Metesky was enormous.

Multiple parties including one of the newspapers (The New York Journal American), applied for a portion of the reward.

One person who did not seek the reward money?

Alice G. Kelly.

When asked why not, she stated that she was just doing her job.

She was certain that it was something anyone else would have done.

Now, I am not sure what a file clerk's salary was in the 1950s, but I assume that the reward for assisting to apprehend the Mad Bomber would have allowed Ms. Kelly a life of luxury. New house. New car. Lots of vacation time. Lots of media attention.

Certainly, no more filing.

But she didn't take the money.

She did something good and refused all accolades.

Personally, I would rather read about and be inspired by more of the Alice G. Kelly's of the world.

I know they are out there.

I just need to push aside much of the other gossip news to find them.



32 comments:

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

That's impressive... and that photo... mad isn't the word... his eyes are freaky!

Diane Estrella said...

I have never heard this story. Really incredible! :O)

Bossy Betty said...

Loved hearing about this woman who did the right things just for the reason that it was the right thing to do! Pretty simple when you think about it!

Momma Fargo said...

Great story! I, too, wish there were more Alices in the world. Love the crazy pic on the Mad Bomber. He looks the part. LOL

Pat Hatt said...

Never heard this story either. Sadly not many people would pass it up, nice to see someone who wasn't ruled by greed. Yeah he looks freaky too.

Brian Miller said...

that is pretty cool that she did not take the money and that says a lot about her as a person as well....ha...yeah his face is interesting...not all there i would say...

Clarissa Draper said...

We need more Alice Kellys in the world.

messymimi said...

So many quiet heroes, in big cases and small. The person who finds your wallet and gets it back to you, totally intact. The person who slips in and pays your bill when they know you are hard up, and do it quietly, so you really don't know who it was.

These are the people to emulate.

Stephanie D said...

Fantastic post! And a great reminder of what's really important.

Sarah Ahiers said...

...I would have totally taken a cut of the money

LD Masterson said...

We need more of those kinds of story. Helps restore our faith in mankind.

Nikole Hahn said...

Awesome story! Yes, I so agree. I wonder though how many of us would have the backbone to refuse the reward money?

Secret Agent Woman said...

That's a great story. The guy must have actually been psychotic - he looks gleeful.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's a great story. I love it when people do things for the right reasons and not because of the money.

terri said...

Loved this story. There are more Alices out there and their stories need to be told.

Beth Zimmerman said...

They're out there somewhere ... I hope! You find the most interesting bits and pieces to blog! I always come away having learned something!

Unknown said...

I love this story -- I'm an Alice fan, too! If only we had more folks like this (but actually, we probably do -- we just don't hear about them!) Thanks for sharing, SD!!!

sean fraser said...

I'm just blown away by this weird story

Maxi said...

Alice G. Kelly is a hero. It wasn't about the money, how refreshing.
Blessings ~ Maxi

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I'd like to read about more Alice's, too. There's so much corruption in the world, it can make us feel powerless. What would have happened if Alice felt that way? Maybe she would have blown through her task and said she didn't find anything. Maybe that crazy-a bomber would have killed more people.

As for the money, I think she should have taken it. You can do an awful lot of good with money, including taking down corruption.

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
Wow, that was a story I had NEVER heard tell about...until today.
Imagine that...a person of conviction, integrity with a pure sense of work ethics...!

Used to have a lot more of those around...wonder why they don't appear as numerous THESE days?

Sure could use a handful of "ALICES" down in D.C., that's for sure.

Very good story (and comments).

Stay safe out there.

lisa said...

I'm not sure that would happen in today's world. Heroes are sometimes found in the most unusual places.

ladyfi said...

She inspires!

BobKat said...

Good story - I had not heard of this one either. I have two observations though. 1) Alice deserved the reward money - it is not selfish to be rewarded for one's intelligence and diligence. 2) This guy reminds me of James Holmes, the shooter in Aurora, CO. If history is suggesting his "grudge" began in 1931, yet he didn't act out until the 1950's, then wow! And again, it was Alice who put this together. She earned the reward.

Ciara said...

That is truly inspiring. I'd like to think I'd do the same, but facing a college tuition for my eldest, and two younger boys having to switch to private, I think I'd be tempted. How sad is that. :( I really admire this lady.

Theresa Milstein said...

We live in an age where people like the Kardashians are constantly in the news for nothing special and people who do terrible things get 6-figure book deals. I'd like to hear about more people like her too. Thanks for sharing.

That bomber's smile freaks me out.

SuziCate said...

Always like hearing about people who do good without expecting to be rewarded...there are still good people in the world!The good far surpass the bad; we just don't hear about them as often.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Slamdunk - I loved reading this story - gosh .. we need more Alices in this world ... it occasionally happens now, but isn't the norm ..

Thanks for telling us about her .. fascinating read - cheers Hilary

carma said...

wow - very noble of her. You don't see that anymore! The Mad Bomber looks like your everyday annoying neighbor type :D

Jen said...

I wish she had taken the money. A person like her would have used at least some of it for good - and she DID deserve it.

Candice said...

That's one happy looking jailbird!

Luisa Doraz said...

Nice story. Kind person. I do believe they are out there. I just wish we had more of them around. Stay well and happy. :)