Small-time true crime from New Castle, Pa.

John Saul, “Disorderly Conduct”, 28 July 1957

John Saul

Two weeks after divorcing his first wife, citing indignities against his person, John Saul got married again. His mug shot was taken seven months later, when he was arrested for disorderly conduct just three days after he began divorce proceedings for the second time. He was thirty-one years old, and he never remarried. He left his job at Bruce-Merrilees Electric and went to work for his friend, Gedio Filigenzi, of Gedio’s TV Service, as a color TV repairman.

In June, 1960, an eighteen-year-old woman named Beverlee Jean Ornelas came to New Castle. She had walked out on her husband, leaving him in Struthers, Ohio, and leaving her baby with her mother in Toledo. She asked for work as a waitress in the private bar of the Casa Savoia hall on South Mill street, the meeting place of an Italian fraternal organisation. John was on the club’s board, serving as the sergeant-at-arms. Gedio was the president. They gave Beverlee Jean the job.

A short time after she started working there, John, Gedio and some other club members—including Norman Cook, a Democratic state committeeman—took Beverlee Jean to a place known as Trott’s cabin, a cottage on the outskirts of town, and told her that she was going to work for them as a prostitute, and that they would break her arms and legs if she went to the police.

They put her to work in railroad cars in the Fenati brick yard. Later, they used a room in the Leslie hotel, where Gedio would wait in the bar and take money from the clients. There might be six or seven a night, at $8 each. One night, in the New Penn hotel, most of the members of the Earle Contractors softball team from Washington DC were sent up to her. After the first week, Beverlee Jean was given $15 to buy a new dress and have her hair done. She had no other money, but she got free liquor and had the use of an apartment on Long avenue.

A month after she arrived in New Castle, Beverlee Jean managed to contact Frank Park, the Shenango township justice of the peace, and asked him for help. He called Norman Cook, the committeeman, and told him what she had said. Cook and some of the other men went to the apartment she was using and pounded on the door, shouting to be let in. Beverlee Jean ran out onto the fire escape, partially clothed, and screamed for help. The men left before the police arrived, but were arrested after she identified them in her statement.

John and two of the others were released due to lack of evidence. Gedio and Cook were sentenced to three to six years and one to two years in the workhouse, respectively. After they returned home, they were elected to senior positions on the boards of other Italian fraternal organisations. Beverlee Jean spent seventy days in protective custody in the county jail while the trial took place. Her baby was made a ward of the court and was later given up for adoption, as was a second child who was born after she left New Castle.

John was re-elected sergeant-at-arms of the Casa Savoia. There is no further record of his life.

Sources: New Castle News (30 July 1943, “Twenty-Six Men At Fort Knox Starting Training”; 13 July 1956, “Courthouse News”; 27 July 1956, “Courthouse News”; 28 November 1956, “Man Hurt In Fall”; 12 December 1956, “Savoia Boosters Hold Elections For Coming Year”; 25 July 1957, “Not Responsible”; 19 July 1958, Classifieds, “Gedio’s TV Service”; 21 July 1960, “6 Men Charged In Morals Case”; 22 July 1960, “Six Men Arrested In Morals Case All Plead Innocent”; 26 July 1960, “Three Men Held In Morals Case”; 20 September 1960, “Morals Case Before Court”; 21 September 1960, “Cook On Stand In Third Day Of Morals Case”; 22 September 1960, “Cook Case Ends, Brothers Face Perjury Charge”; 30 September 1960, “Jury Finds Filigenzi As Guilty”; 5 October 1960, “Material Witness Released From Jail”; 28 November 1960, “Cook Leonelli Are Sentenced”; 5 Dec 1960, “Filigenzi Sentenced”; 13 March 1961, “Gedio Filigenzi Pleads Guilty”; 10 June 1961, “Criminal Court”; 28 November 1961, “Park Released”; 4 December 1962, “Merilillo Wins President Post of Casa Savoia”; 18 December 1967, “Cook To Head Abruzzi Club”; 16 April 1968, “Deaths Of The Day”; 14 March 1977, “County Report”); Commonwealth v Filigenzi, Opinion by J Watkins, June 15, 1961; Email from Ruben Ornelas to Robin Ornelas.

2 responses

  1. The real story here is Beverlee’s story. Thank you for telling what you could tell of it. I’d like to break the arms and legs of all the guys who took part in this horror.

    November 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    • Absolutely. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? And the city kept her in jail for seventy days rather than, say, safe accommodation out of town? Two months in jail for being forced into prostitution. Just awful.

      November 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm

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