Gruesome 1935 Millburg Farmer Murder Still A Mystery
The community of Millburg, MI located just outside of Benton Harbor for the most part is a quiet, small farming neighborhood that you wouldn't expect to hear much news from. However, 87 years ago a 12-year-old boy was witness to a gruesome murder of a farmer that, to this day, remains a total mystery as a Berrien County website documents:
In 1935, when August Gagliano’s beaten, lifeless body was dumped in an alley at Ninth and Lake Street, behind Pearson Construction Company in Benton Harbor, police didn’t know “whodunit.” Nor did they know when or why Gagliano was murdered, or with what weapon. Their only clue was the body itself, clad merely in a workman’s shirt, underwear, and socks. August’s head was nearly cut clean off, the throat sliced ear to ear. According to a 12-year-old eyewitness who lived nearby, the body was dumped out of a car by two men with flashlights while other men guarded the ends of the alley.
In 1940 there was finally a breakthrough in the case when August's sister-in-law, Lena Neuff confessed to arson that was connected to a fire on her farm in Riverside, which led to more evidence on the murder involving her son Joseph and Sam Tomasello, a brother of August's son-in-law. Eventually, Sam was convicted of 2nd degree and would serve 2-20 years, while Joseph was found guilty of 1st-degree murder and served life.
The crazy part of this is there were rumored to be more family members involved in the murder of August, with claims saying his wife could have been involved, which she denied. You can read the entire crazy story here. Although they may have captured the murderers, there may have been more connected that never received justice for their crimes.
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