Things occur which we expect to have no mirrors, echoes, or similitude. Yet, as we know, things do occur in multiples. Multiple islands form an archipelago. Multiple events form a era. It is said that we each have a double somewhere upon this earth. At other times we unexpectedly meet friends in remote places. It appears to be an enigma that in groups of fifty there are at least two people with the same birthday. Mathematical combinations and permutations explain some of this. On the other hand the phrase “Things occur in threes” has appeared through the ages with little or no rebuttal.
In the unique circumstances which I am about to divulge, there were several mirrors in the events involved. Most of the people that played an unwitting part in these events never met, but were touched by one man who they all knew.
That man was Philip X.
It was the flood of 1936 that Phillip believed was his first memory. There were other memories that he had at an earlier age but Philip could not see those as clearly as he did the flood. He remembers being in an automobile in 1936 and riding down from the hills surrounding the Susquehanna River valley. On the flat lands of the valley water was everywhere. Houses stuck out from the still waters which were the color of mottled jasper.
“Yes, that is what it looks like” he thought; “shiny arrowheads made from brown and tan jasper.”
His grandfather had collected the arrowheads on the riverflats. He taught Philip the different types of flint that were used to make them. The riverflat once held a large Indian village. Now, both the Indian village and the white man’s village were under this brown muddy water. Philip wondered if there was a connection between the flood and the arrowheads. “Did this flood occur because my ancestors were stealing arrowheads from their ancestors?” he wondered. An uncontrollable shiver ran through Philip and he let out a whimper.
“Something is happening to Philip again” said his brother who was seated in the back with him.
Philips mother turned around and looked at him. “Are you all right?” she asked. “You look strange” she added.
The shiver subsided and Philip responded “Yes Mommy, I’m OK. It was the arrowheads.”
Philip’s mother inspected his facial color and scanned him over; twice. She then placed her hand on his forehead. “No fever” she pronounced, whereupon she turned around and assumed her normal position in the front passenger seat. While looking over the flood scene she asked Philip “Arrowheads? What arrowheads? What are you talking about?”
“You know Mommy. The Indian arrowheads and their village is now flooded. Why?” responded Philip with an answer and a question.
“Oh Philip, you say the strangest things. I wish you could explain more clearly so we could understand what you’re getting at.”
The people in the car were silent as they rode along. They were well aware of Philip’s strange questions. An occasional “Oh, look at that!” was shouted as one person would point out a flood spectacle to the others. These punctuations broke the silence as Philip sat quietly in the back seat. He was busy contemplating the arrowheads and the flooded Indian village.
* * *
Forty three years later, 1979, a country home in upstate New York housed three adults and several children. The adults consisted of the homeowner and his wife. The third adult was his brother-in-law. The homeowner was a massive man. The brother-in-law was tall and thin but not as athletic as he had been seventeen years ago. Back then he was loading and unloading his truck or tramping through the underbrush and deep woods of upstate New York. He loved the woods and spent most of his free time there.
It was the middle of the night and the brother-in-law was plying his trade at the kitchen table. The homeowner was expected to be sleeping upstairs but his weight betrayed him. The floor boards squeaked beneath his feet.
The brother-in-law quickly abandoned his efforts at the kitchen table. He thought that the rifle sounded quite different inside the house. The bullet followed its intended path and tore through the homeowner’s neck. As it fragmented it tore away a sizeable piece of flesh taking some large veins with it. Somehow the homeowner was able to remain at the top of the staircase.
The brother-in-law fired a second shot. It also hit the intended target. The homeowner fell backward with another deep wound. This time it was in his arm. He could hear the bolt action of the rifle carrying a third cartridge into the chamber. The wounded man knew that retreat was no longer an option. Half falling, half leaping, he descended the stairs and was grabbing at the rifle. His assailant pulled the trigger for the third time. The battle over the rifle had deflected the shooters aim and the bullet sheared off a portion of the larger man’s foot. The rifle fell to the floor as they grappled. The assailant grabbed a large hunting knife that lay nearby. He attacked his brother-in-law with it. He wondered if the huge man would ever fall.
* * *
Six years had passed since the flood of 1936. Philip had seen other floods since then but nothing matching that one. Binghamton had been decimated by the waters of the Susquehanna, Chenango, and their tributaries; the Otselic, the Tioughneoga, and the Oeuleot.
Each year Philip wondered about the Indian village that lay beneath his jasper colored flood waters. Something haunted him about it. Other things also haunted Philip. He had night dreams that involved a movie theatre. The theatre had a large stone fortress attached to the back of it. He could not see the fortress unless he went into the theatre, behind the curtain, and up a flight of stairs. A door was located at the top of the stairs. It was lighted and had the word “EXIT” printed in red on the frosted glass. Each time he opened the door the parapet was always there. It had a three foot high stone wall around its outer rim that protected people from falling over the side.
In each reoccurrence of the dream Philip chose not to be protected by the wall. Instead he would climb on top of it and inch his was over to another part of the fortress. A loose stone would sometimes break lose and fall. It seemed like it would take forever for the stone to reach the water below where it would land with a loud splash. Philip would search for a way to climb down by hanging on to outlaying stone footholds. His goal was to locate the source of the water. Large stone tunnels would direct the slow moving water but Philip could never locate the source before the dream ended. He often wondered, when awake, if the dream ended before his search was over or did he simply not remember the end of the dream. Philip was deeply bothered by the enigma of not being able to recall or finish the dream.
Other dreams seemed deeply imbedded in Philip’s mind but these were not sleep induced dreams. These dreams occurred in the middle of the day. They had a deep effect on his ability to concentrate. Philip, in school, looked out the window and would lose himself. He appeared no different than any other boy in his beginning teens. Spring and fall had a typically strong pull in this respect. Most boys in upstate New York would be thinking about fishing and hunting as they looked out the window. Nature called them and they responded in similar fashion. It also responded quite differently at times.
* * *
The massive body of the larger man overcame his brother-in-law’s attack. He was able to take the knife from him. He stabbed him time and again until the attacker lay dead on the living room floor. It was only then that the larger man realized that he had been stabbed and shot several times.
As he began to assess his situation he saw two of his infant children standing there. They had observed the knife fight. His eyes drifted to the kitchen. His wife was tied, spread-eagle fashion, to the kitchen table. Cloths line rope tightly bound her wrists and ankles to the table. Her night gown had been ripped open exposing her nude body. The large man, although bleeding profusely from gunshot and knife wounds, was able to crawl into the kitchen. He cut the ropes from one of his wife’s wrists, handed her the bloody hunting knife, and then died.
In this rural community the fire company was the first call in emergencies. The wife called the fire station and the assistant chief was the first one to respond. There, lying on the floor, dead, soaked in blood, were two men; the homeowner and his brother-in-law. The sheriff’s department of Tioga County was notified.
* * *
Philip’s daydreams would take him deep into the woods that he loved so much. He would picture himself sitting beneath a large tree with his back against it. Inevitably, in these day dreams, it would get dark and the leaves would start rustling. The imaginary breeze increased and Philip had to seek shelter as the temperature seemed to be getting colder. Among the trees he would find a small church; always without a sign of denomination. Once inside he would kneel and pray for a happy life; something that he felt he would never experience. Then in another pew a pretty young girl would appear. Philip’s young body would respond. He became aroused and experienced a daydream erection. At that very moment a minister would walk to the altar and everyone was requested to stand up. There was Philip in his daydream, standing in church with a large bulge in his pants; and everyone was looking at him. His day-dream was broken by an authoritative voice.
“Philip, Philip” the teacher would call when she saw him in one of his stupors. “Are you with us today?” She then always asked “Philip, would you please read for us?” while stating the page.
Philip started reading while sitting at his desk; quite aware that his erection was real and no daydream at all.
“Philip, please stand while you read so that we can hear you” the teacher would ask. Philip knew that everyone inspected the obvious and giggled about it. He would become quietly enraged and his situation would not subside. He suspected that the teacher also realized what was happening and that she, somehow, received perverse satisfaction from it. He hated the older woman for it.
* * *
It was just two days prior to the murder when the home owner was drawn into another threat. The entangled relationships of the people involved need to be clarified in order to paint a clear picture.
We need to go back three years before the 1979 slaying and justifiable homicide. The husband, Ed, who had been murdered, had a sister, Betsy. The sister married the man who was to eventually slay Ed. Then, nine months before the terrible event described above, the sister and her husband, the attacker, separated on an informal basis. The reason for the separation is unknown but a comment from a very close friend is.
“Him and Betsy, they were both a little off. But they were good people.” This friend appears often in the attacker’s history and at the most inopportune times.
For reasons unknown to us, Ed’s sister Betsy decided to move out of the residence. However, her husband, Ed’s brother-in-law, was allowed to continue living there. Two days before Ed was slain Betsy placed several calls to Ed’s house. She threatened to kill him. Apparently Ed took the calls seriously. He contacted the sheriff of Chemung County, where Betsy lived, and filed a complaint against her. Betsy was picked up and jailed the next morning. That night Ed’s brother-in-law formed a plan to be carried out the next morning.
* * *
Philip’s school work was very inconsistent by the time he was fifteen years old. Apparently his writing teacher loved the creative stories that Philip would submit for homework. His overactive imagination, daydreams, and night-dreams were excellent fodder for such stories. She gave him an “A”. On the other hand his spelling teacher found that his attributes in that that subject were quite lacking. She failed him. Philips grades in other subjects were, similarly, quite dissimilar. Philip quit school at sixteen.
The woods and rivers are what beckoned Philip. All of his free time (and some that should have been spent at a job) was used for this escape into nature. When he did work Philip could not stay at one place of employment very long. He was fired from or quit several jobs.
Philip’s domestic life was also inconsistent. At times he lived with his mother in Glen Castle. At other times he lived over a laundry in Binghamton. Yet his name could be found scribbled on mailboxes of friends where he would stay for short periods of time. These friends would say that Philip would show up, stay a while, and then leave just as unexpectedly. Sometimes he even lived in his automobile.
There was no one who disliked Philip. He was considered a good friend by many, always willing to help anyone who was in need. His material possessions were few but he would offer the shirt off his back if someone needed it. Several people stated that he was friendly and talkative.
Philip had good friends all over the southern tier and central New York.
* * *
Where was the attacker prior to the murder on Bardwell Road in Nichols, Tioga County, New York? For details we would have to ask his friend who identified him as “a little bit off.” For general time frames we can consult the local newspapers between 1962 and 1979.
– Broome County, NY County Jail Fall of 1962
– Matteawan State Prison for the Insane, NY 1962 to 1965
– Judged Mentally Competent 1965
– Broome County, NY County Jail 1965
– Binghamton State Hospital for the Insane 1965
– Matteawan State Prison for the Insane, NY 1965
– Madison County, NY County Jail 1965
– Marcy State Hospital for the Insane 1965
– Matteawan State Hospital for the Insane, NY 1965 to 1971
– Judged Mentally Competent 1971
– Madison County, NY County Jail 1971
– Attica, NY State Prison 1971 to 1974
– On parole 1974 to 1979
The itinerary above begs more questions than it answers.
* * *
Philip’s young adult life was spent, as previously stated, in the woods or on a river. He continued living in various parts of Binghamton. Philip had gained a thorough knowledge of the deep forests and its animals. There were several dozen of these New York State forests within an hour’s drive of Binghamton. These mature forests were the result of depression era plantings by the Civil Conservation Corps. Philip knew the feeding habits of the animals whether they browsed by day or by night. He knew their regularly used trails and understood how their habits changed during the mating season.
Philip developed an excellent knowledge of firearms also. His proudest possession was a Winchester .38 caliber rim fire rifle. It has been said that he could shoot out the eye of a deer and kill it with a small caliber .22 rifle. This feat would be accomplished by waiting until the animal had turned its head to the perfect angle. Philip would put the bullet through an eye socket and into the skull cavity where it would ricochet around destroying the brain. Philip was proud of the fact that he could kill his game with one shot. That way it did not suffer from being wounded and hunted down.
New York State Game Wardens insisted that Philip would do most of his deer hunting late at night; illegally. It would appear that this may be true except for the fact that Philip had no arrest record.
* * *
How does one account for such a variety of stays at local and state institutions? It is hard to fathom especially when the attacker had no prior arrests. We must look at the atmosphere of the sixties to understand some of the reasoning and the level of crimes.
The sixties, as we all know, were a period of introspection for the populace of the United States. We were involved in Vietnam and our nation was divided on the morality of that war. The universities were in turmoil, both over Vietnam and also over anything else that the more radical students would feel offended by. The Miranda Rule for warning suspects of rights was fairly new. Some officials thought “What rights should a criminal have?” while others thought “There is no criminality until a conviction is handed down.” Voluntary confessions were accepted and then, at times, not admitted as evidence.
On top of all this New York State was trying new ways to handle inmates of mental institutions. New drugs offered great promise. Many institutionalized citizens suddenly found themselves out on the streets. Who would ensure that they would take their medications after they were released? The plan was patchwork at best. There existed no foolproof plan to keep these people from hurting themselves (or others.)
* * *
It was a busy week for the authorities in Broome, Chenango and Madison Counties of New York. Local police, sheriff’s deputies, state police, coroners, district attorneys and state forest wardens were kept up all hours of the night and day. They were attempting to put pieces of a grizzly puzzle together.
In the meantime Philip was enjoying his normal weekend hunts and even found time to date his new girlfriend Clara Blair. Clara’s relatives thought much the same of Philip as his friends did. “Very talkative and friendly,” “Always willing to help anyone in need,” “Somewhat of an exaggerator but very nice person,” “Very quiet and to himself at times.”
It was a Sunday morning when Philip and Clara left her home in Earlville, Chenango County. The forty-seven year old Clara, mother of four, did not return home that evening. Clara’s family attempted to reach Philip through people he worked with. They were unsuccessful because Philip was out hunting with friends.
Thirty-two year old Philip was hunting that Sunday evening on Cresson Hill Road in Windsor, New York. When he and his friends returned to his automobile they found that a tire was flat. The most likely cause was from a stone puncture on the rough dirt road. A new tire was required for the fix. Walking down the hill they stopped at the home of Richard and Iva Mae Munson. On a previous occasion, and for the same reasons, these hunters had purchased a tire from the Munsons. This time there was no tire for sale. The hunters departed perplexed. Philips hunting companions arrived home at 3:00 A.M. the next morning.
Richard Munson worked odd shifts at the Delaware & Hudson railroad yard. To avoid interrupting his family’s sleep in the middle of the night, when he typically came home, he slept in an old trailer next to the house. Monday was his day off. He awoke, went to the house and had breakfast. His wife mentioned the story about the hunters looking for a tire. Iva Mae, a hard working woman of 41, then asked her husband to go to town and pick up some sugar for some jam she was making. He did as asked and also picked up his three daughters after school.
* * *
Philip had decided to sleep in his car that Sunday night. He may have been hunting illegally. Once more he stopped at the Munson home. The husband was in town. Iva Mae may have inadvertently laughed at a crude suggestion that Philip made. Philip placed two clean shots from his prized Winchester .38 rim fire into her head. He then ripped off most of her clothes and, with his hunting knife, slashed a gaping wound across her abdomen. We are not sure where Philip went after that but we are positive of what he did the previous day.
Clara Blair’s body was found in the deep woods at the border of Chenango and Madison Counties. Clara was also shot in the head and had most of her clothes ripped off. It is unclear as to whether either woman was sexually molested but it appears more likely in the case of Clara Blair.
Mrs. Munson’s head wounds were so horrific that it was first thought that she was bludgeoned to death. The Chief New York City Medical Examiner was flown in to advise on the autopsy.
Clara Blair’s body was not discovered for close to a week and her face had rapidly decomposed due to the wounds of the .38 Winchester.
Philip confessed to the Munson murder but not the Blair case. His prized Winchester was recovered after he described where he hid it. The rifle had been disassembled and hidden in two separate locations. It was proven to be the same rifle that Clara Blair was murdered with.
I would be remiss if I did not expand on Philips incarceration at the various New York State and local institutions that were listed above.
– Philip X. Quinlivan murders Clara Blair, Sept. 9th, Iva Mae Munson, Sept. 10th, 1962
– Broome County, NY, Jail, September, 1962; Philip arrested for the murder of Iva Mae Munson.
– Binghamton Psychiatric Center, October, 1962; mental evaluation determined that Philip, because of mental defect, could not understand the charges against him.
– Philip incarcerated at Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally Insane, NY, 1962
– Doctors at Matteawan judged Philip mentally competent, 1965
– Philip returned to Broome County, NY, County Jail ,1965
– Philip was determined to have had his Miranda Rights violated
– Philip returned to Binghamton State Hospital for evaluation, 1965
– Philip found incompetent to stand trial, 1965
– Philip returned to Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally Insane, NY, 1965
– Doctors at Matteawan once again determine that Philip is competent, 1965
– Philip returned to Madison County for trial in the murder of Clara, 1965
– Philip pleads guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, 1965
– Philip sent to Marcy State Mental Hospital for evaluation, 1965
– Philip committed to Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally insane, 1965
– Doctors again find Philip competent, 1971
– Philip returned to Madison County Jail for sentencing in Blair case, 1971
– Philip committed to Attica State Prison for violent offenders, Attica, NY, 1974
– Philip released on parole, 1974
– On supervised parole, 1974 to 1979
– Philip murders his brother-in-law, Ed Shirley, Nichols, New York, 1979
The similitude and echoes of this case are many. However they do exist within this true story of the man who created an archipelago of murders.
* * *
Both Iva Mae Munson and Clara Blair were older women.
Both Iva Mae Munson and Clara Blair had four children.
Clara Blair was murdered in the back country near Marsh Road.
Iva Mae Munson was murdered in the back country near Marsh Pond.
Philip’s friend was present, with comments, in the news story of 1962.
Philip’s friend was present, with comments, in the news story of 1979.
Errors by various state authorities appear to echo from 1962 to 1979.
Philip commits murder for the third time in 1979.
* * *
I would like to thank the Local History Section of the Broome County (New York) Public Library for the availability of film copies of local newspapers that made this story possible. .