New evidence in 61-year-old murder of Irish Immigrant in Worcester, Massachusetts
Police may have new lead in cold blooded slaying of innocent immigrant
After the murder of newly arrived Irish emigrant Sean Goggin in Worcester in 1951, Police Chief William P. Finneran made a promise to Goggin’s parents that those “responsible for this most dastardly act” would be brought to justice. Now, more than 60 years later, investigators may be a step closer to delivering on that promise.
Goggin, a native of Youghal in Cork had been in Worcester for just over a week before he was killed. Prior to that, Goggin had been in Canada for two years. He was just 20 years old when he was killed.
Detective Sgt. Mark J. Sawyer of the Unresolved Homicide Unit said last week that, “We've recently located some evidence that we believe is of probative value to us, and we believe is worth testing at the state crime lab. We are in the process of submitting that to the state crime lab. We hope to develop a DNA profile from that evidence."
The technology being used in today’s reinvestigation into the murder was not available during the 50s. Sgt. Sawyer, however, declined to name specifically what the new evidence is.
Sergeant Sawyer elaborated on Goggin’s background. “Sean came here for work and ironically he was due to start a job the following day. He was a pattern maker and was due to start a job here in Worcester."
In Worcester, Goggin had moved in with Cornelius Herlihy, the uncle of one of Goggin’s schoolmates back in Ireland. On the night of March 11, 1951, Herlihy received an odd phone call to his house, one that he assumed to be a wrong number.
At around 10:30 pm, Herlihy answered the phone to a person who said he was a Mr. Anderson, who said he would be able to ‘pay him tomorrow.’ Herlihy didn’t know anyone by the name of Anderson, and was baffled by the phonecall.
Just 15 minutes later, two men knocked on the back door of the Herlihy house on the dark and rainy March night.
"We're from Western Union with a telegram," the men allegedly said to Goggin who had gone to answer the door. At least one of them was masked, and held up a handgun and said something to the likes of ‘This is a holdup.’
"Mr. Herlihy then grabbed hold of the firearm and struggled with the assailant, at which point a round was discharged from the firearm," Sgt. Sawyer said. That round went into the ceiling.
However, when the other man fired off two shots from his .32-caliber Colt, Goggin was struck in his heart and died 15 minutes later.
Goggin’s body was flown back to Ireland for burial, despite leaving behind a still unsolved case.
Investigators have speculated that perhaps they were attempting to kidnap Cornelius Herlihy, who was the sales manager of United Dairy System Inc. The theory was that the suspects might have wanted him to open the company safe.
Sgt. Sawyer said that he was “impressed” with the investigation that was conducted in the aftermath, but takes heed to the fact that 1951 wasn’t nearly as technologically advanced as it is today.
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