Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Our Lady of the Angels School fire

Our Lady of the Angels School fire --- ===

Could this have been a terrorist attack on a Catholic church and school? It certainly seems like an arson with insufficient evidence to convict who obviously did it.

December 1, 1958 95 killed Our Lady of the Angels School fire A fire broke out at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois, shortly before classes were to be dismissed for the day. The fire originated in the basement of the school near the foot of a stairway.  Ignition took place in a cardboard trash barrel located a few feet from the northeast stairwell. The fire smoldered undetected for approximately 20 minutes,  The elementary school was operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and had an enrollment of approximately 1600 students. A total of 92 pupils and 3 nuns ultimately died when smoke, heat, fire, and toxic gasses cut off their normal means of escape through corridors and stairways. Many more were injured when they jumped from second-floor windows which, because the building had a raised basement, were nearly as high as a third floor would be on level ground. The cause of the fire was never officially determined. In 1962, a boy who was a student at Our Lady of the Angels at the time of the fire, confessed to setting the blaze. At the time of the fire, he was 10 years old and in fifth grade. A family court judge later concluded the evidence was insufficient to substantiate the confession. Officially, the cause of the fire remains unknown. Arsonist Alan Norcutt  (birthdate approx 1947)  claimed he had accidentally started the fire at Our Lady of the Angels, but he was never charged with the crime in juvenile court. Printing the name of the suspect is libel but this is known: John E. Reid report on arsonist confession : Lives at 1836 South 50 or 58th Avenue in Cicero, Illinois Date of birth : October 4, 1948 After the fire, he was transferred to St. Attracta; and later at Cicero public school

Boy who was cleared after lie detector test confession:  Cicero Police had been pestering the boy regarding fires set in Cicero and specifically named the "back porch of Kenneth's house on 49th Court," and the basement of the house at 50th Avenue had received about $5000 damage on December 21, 1961 at about 9:30 A.M. The mother said that the boy was home with his grandfather at the time. Also, the mother stated the boy was being questioned thoroughly by the police regarding the Town Hall Bowling Alley fire which occurred at 10:00 P.M. on December 30, 1961. It was alleged by the mother that the boy was home with her and the father watching television at the time of the fire. It was further reported that the Town Hall Bowling Alley is a block and a half away from the subject's home and that one of the men named Walter "Sunny" Smith, who perished in the fire, was a boarder in the subject's home at the time. The mother of the boy, who stated that she was six months pregnant at this time, said that the boy admitted two fires to her and her husband, a garbage can behind 21st Avenue in Cicero and a hallway fire on 49th Court in Cicero. "On December 1, 1958 did you set Our Lady of Angels on fire? Answer: No." ... he probably was not telling the truth...Because of these indications the examiner confronted the subject, telling him that he was not telling the truth and that since he was a Catholic boy that there were 92 children and three nuns in heaven looking down on him now asking for the truth. The subject bowed his head, turned to the side and after a short time, during which the writer pleaded with him for the truth, he stated that he did set fire to Our Lady of Angels school on December 1, 1958. The writer listened to the details of Our Lady of Angels fire by the subject and was convinced by the manner in which he told it, that he was telling the truth.

The mention of a name, the mystery of the 'Angels' lost in Chicago fire ...
www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2010/03/post_36.html
Mar 9, 2010 - Alan Norcutt in Onondaga County Court: Arsonist arrested in Central ... While no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the school, ... he had accidentally started the fire at Our Lady of the Angels, Kuenster said. ... the fire, Kuenster said, although he was never charged with the crime in juvenile court.Alan Norcutt. Sure, he knew the guy.  Kuenster, 85, spoke Tuesday by telephone from greater Chicago, where he is a longtime journalist and writer. He is also an authority on the 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels school, a tragedy that still sears the civic memory in Chicago. Ninety-two children and three Catholic nuns were trapped and killed.  Norcutt, now in custody for arson in Onondaga County, claimed in the late 1970s that he started the fire, Kuenster said. Certainly, Norcutt seemed to have the resume. When Norcutt offered those statements, Kuenster said, he had already spent years in prison for starting more than 30 fires in Chicago, which meant he was responsible for the deaths of three people, including a Chicago firefighter. While no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the school, Kuenster said that George Schuller - a Chicago Fire Department official who died in 1993 - was convinced that Norcutt did it.

Is this the same kid who was interviewed on a lie detector?

Chicago Tribune December 17, 1964
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1964/12/17/page/3/article/kennedy-home-for-holidays-as-promised
Admit Error in Release of Young Firebug
illinois Youth Commission admitted mistake
relased convicted firebug from Sheridan reformatory 10 months
after sentenced for two fire deaths
Alan Norcutt 17
arrested tuesday admitted setting two fires Sunday
took life of one fireman and injured six others
Aug 4, 1963 admitted setting rooming house fire killed two
caught attention of police in 1956 at age of 9
throwing lighted matches into garbage cans
1j962 questioned for setting fires in garage
admitted two other garage fires
very poor home life
needs psychiatric assisstance


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Our Lady of the Angels School fire
A monument to the victims at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
Date December 1, 1958
Location Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois
Cause Arson
Deaths 95


On Monday, December 1, 1958, a fire broke out at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois, shortly before classes were to be dismissed for the day. The fire originated in the basement of the school near the foot of a stairway. The elementary school was operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and had an enrollment of approximately 1600 students. A total of 92 pupils and 3 nuns ultimately died when smoke, heat, fire, and toxic gasses cut off their normal means of escape through corridors and stairways. Many more were injured when they jumped from second-floor windows which, because the building had a raised basement, were nearly as high as a third floor would be on level ground (c. 25 ft.).[1]

The fire has been chronicled in three books, The Fire That Will Not Die by Michele McBride (ETC Publications, 1979), To Sleep With The Angels by David Cowen and John Kuenster (Ivan R. Dee, 2003), Remembrances of the Angels by John Kuenster (Ivan R. Dee, 2008) and a 2003 Emmy-winning television documentary, Angels Too Soon, produced by WTTW Channel 11 Chicago. The History Channel also featured the disaster in the television documentary Hellfire, which was an episode in the cable network's "Wrath of God" series.



Investigation[edit]

A monument to the victims in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery, by sculptor Corrado Parducci.

The cause of the fire was never officially determined. In 1962, a boy who was a student at Our Lady of the Angels at the time of the fire, confessed to setting the blaze. At the time of the fire, he was 10 years old and in fifth grade. A family court judge later concluded the evidence was insufficient to substantiate the confession. Officially, the cause of the fire remains unknown.[9][10][11][12]

In 1959 the National Fire Protection Association’s report on the blaze blamed civic authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago for "housing their children in fire traps" - their words - such as Our Lady of the Angels School.[citation needed]The report noted that both the Chicago School Board and the Archdiocese of Chicago continued to allow some schools to be legally operated despite having inadequate fire safety standards.

Although Our Lady of the Angels School had passed a routine fire department safety inspection weeks before the disaster, the school was not legally bound to comply with all 1958 fire safety codes due to a grandfather clause in the 1949 standards. Existing older schools, such as Our Lady of the Angels, were not required to retrofit the safety devices that were required by code in all schools built after 1949.



Confession of alleged arsonist of Our Lady of the Angels School Fire ...
www.olafire.com/confession.asp
The writer listened to the details of Our Lady of Angels fire by the subject and .... of the fire was set inOur Lady of Angels school and that the new criminal code, ...
January 12, 1962, [the boy], a 13-year-old boy, who lives at 1836 South 58th Avenue in Cicero, Illinois, was brought into this laboratory at 1:30 P.M. by his mother for a polygraph lie-detector test. It appears from the information given to the laboratory secretary that the request for the test was made by his mother and that lawyers for the family had suggested the test in this laboratory and that the results would be confidential to the mother.

Mrs. [name withheld], the boy's mother, spent approximately one-half hour giving information to Mr. Robert Gormack, one of our laboratory examiners, regarding the boy and stating that the Cicero Police had been pestering the boy regarding fires set in Cicero and specifically named the "back porch of Kenneth's house on 49th Court," and the basement of the house at 50th Avenue had received about $5000 damage on December 21, 1961 at about 9:30 A.M. The mother said that the boy was home with his grandfather at the time. Also, the mother stated the boy was being questioned thoroughly by the police regarding the Town Hall Bowling Alley fire which occurred at 10:00 P.M. on December 30, 1961. It was alleged by the mother that the boy was home with her and the father watching television at the time of the fire. It was further reported that the Town Hall Bowling Alley is a block and a half away from the subject's home and that one of the men named Walter "Sunny" Smith, who perished in the fire, was a boarder in the subject's home at the time.

The mother of the boy, who stated that she was six months pregnant at this time, said that the boy admitted two fires to her and her husband, a garbage can behind 21st Avenue in Cicero and a hallway fire on 49th Court in Cicero. (All of the information given to the examiner was very sketchy by the mother as to the location and date of these fires. At this point the laboratory examiner questioned her as to whether or not the boy was getting sexual gratification out of setting the fires and the boy's mother indicated that he was. She stated, "He ([the boy]) doesn't seem to realize he's setting fires and after he sets them he has guilt feelings and remorse." The mother stated that knowing his problem, as a precautionary measure to protect [the boy], she drives him back and forth to school and does not allow him to be out of the house unless he is accompanied. She stated he was being counseled by the Catholic Counselling Service and has been examined by Dr. Bergen, a psychiatrist, who is with the Catholic Counselling Service. She stated that he was also being counseled by Mi. Checko K. Poevathunkel of the Catholic Counselling Service.

During the course of the mother's stay in this laboratory she told Mr. Stephen Kindig, our Chief Examiner, that the boy, [the boy], was an illegitimate child and that he was conceived as a result of she being raped by her step-father while she was a teenager, that the child was born in a home for unwed mothers and that it was planned that the child would be put out for adoption but she was unable to agree to this arrangement and kept the child. The alleged rape was brought to the attention of the authorities at the time and her step-father was questioned about it. She stated that her step-father, as the result of an injury, had several steel plates in his head. The mother also stated that her present husband, [name withheld], who adopted [the boy], bought all kinds of sports equipment for the boy but the boy just was not interested in sports and consequently did not use them.

After this preliminary information was received, [the boy], the subject, was taken into one of our examining laboratories. The subject was left in this laboratory for approximately one-half hour alone while Mr. Cormick informed the writer as to the details of the case. At approximately 2:30 P.M. the writer went into the room with [the boy]. After informing the subject of the accuracy of the lie-detector and explaining the attachments, during which time the subject was most interested and inquisitive, he was confronted by the writer and told to tell the whole truth before the lie-detector test. The subject answered the writer, stating that he was going to tell the truth and he was not going to lie. He then stated that he did set fire to Kenneth's back porch on 49th Court, that he did set fire in the basement at the house at 50th Avenue on December 21 (the subject was supposed to have been home with his grandfather at the time), and that he did set fire to a garage on Ridgeway Avenue in Chicago "next to where I used to live." The subject then stated that he took lighter fluid, matches and paper and spread it around and set fire to a hallway and door to an apartment near where he used to live in Chicago, near Springfield and Ohio Streets. The subject then stated to the writer, "Do you have any others as bad as me on this test?" The writer stated there were many much worse, that there were murderers that sat in that same chair. The subject then stated that he felt so bad after he set fires that he wishes he wasn't even born and then inquired as to whether or not it was only boys who set fires. The subject was told that it was boys or men mostly. He then stated, "Why wasn't I born a girl?"

The writer inquired as to what school he went to and he stated he went to the Cicero Public School. The writer asked his religion and he said he was Catholic. The writer stated "but you don't go to a Catholic school", and the subject answered "I did go to St. Attracta and before that I went to Our Lady of Angels School." 

The subject then informed the writer upon questioning that he was in the fifth grade at Our Lady of Angels School at the time of the fire and the writer asked him to tell the truth as to whether or not he started the fire at Our Lady of Angels School. The boy stated he did not but said "On the afternoon that it happened I was coming back to school with a boyfriend of mine who lived on Springfield Avenue. I said I got some matches in my hand and I could burn down the school and we wouldn't have to go to school no more." The writer asked the subject if he did have matches in his hand at the time and he said he did not but he told his friend that he did. The writer again asked the subject to make sure that he tells the truth regarding this fire especially because the writer would definitely include that fire in the lie-detector test. The subject was somewhat evasive but denied setting the fire at Our Lady of Angels school.

It was decided not to discuss the school fire further but to attempt a lie-detector test on the subject. Just before doing so the writer inquired if there were any other fires that he had set and that he wanted the test to show the truth. The subject then stated that the first fire that he ever set was before he ever went to school, that he set a garbage can on fire and that almost set a garage on fire and that his mother and grandfather had to hurry to put out the fire or it would burn the garage down.

 The subject then told the writer that he also set a hallway on fire on Cermak Road where he set a shade on fire, that he also set a fire in a two-flat building at 1905 South 49th Court, that he lit papers and matches and the door caught on fire, and that he also set a fire and it only burned the porch a little.

The writer then prepared questions for the lie-detector examination and included two fires, one the fire on December 30th of the Town Hall Bowling Alley, and second the fire at Our Lady of Angels School which occurred on December 1, 1958. before this test the subject was asked where he was at the time of the Town Hall Bowling Alley fire which occurred at 10:00 P.M. on December 30, 1961 in Cicero and he stated that his mother and himself were watching television that night but that his father was not there. He stated that his mother fell asleep on the couch and that he went to bed without her knowing it.

The subject was given a card control test in which he was presented seven number cards, face down, and told to choose one of the cards and then to answer "No" to all the cards during the course of the test. It was explained to the subject that the purpose of this test was to determine whether or not the lie-detector would work on him. There was considerable movement by the subject during the course of this test and a great movement in the blood pressure recoding at the time the subject answered "no" to card #5 and the subject agreed that card #5 was his chosen card. The subject's boyish curiousity (sic) caused him to ask to see how the lie-detector worked on card #5 and he was shown this response.

During the course of the test regarding the fires, the subject gave continuous and continual movement throughout Question #5, "On December 1, 1958 did you set Our Lady of Angels on fire? Answer: No." Because of the possible discomfort of the blood pressure cuff on the subject, it was decided to submit a test without the blood pressure, and there were indications in the subject's polygraph records that he probably was not telling the truth on the question regarding Our Lady of Angels fire. The responses regarding the Town Hall Bowling Alley fire was not clear and therefore no true indications were obtained. As a result of this testing, the writer was of the opinion that the subject was not telling the truth regarding setting Our Lady of Angels fire and decided that since the individual test was so short, that is only six questions, that the subject was purposely moving in order to avoid detection on the questions of Our Lady of Angels fire. The same type of movement was made when the subject answered "no" to his card in the card test. Because of these indications the examiner confronted the subject, telling him that he was not telling the truth and that since he was a Catholic boy that there were 92 children and three nuns in heaven looking down on him now asking for the truth. The subject bowed his head, turned to the side and after a short time, during which the writer pleaded with him for the truth, he stated that he did set fire to Our Lady of Angels school on December 1, 1958. The writer listened to the details of Our Lady of Angels fire by the subject and was convinced by the manner in which he told it, that he was telling the truth.

Because of the enormity of the admission, the writer called a conference with Mr. George Lindberg, Mr. Stephen Kindig and Mr. Robert Cormack of this laboratory staff to decide what should be done in this case. The case was complicated due to the confidential nature of it but it was decided, for possible future reference, that a detailed statement should be taken from the subject.

Before this, however, the writer decided to inform the subject's mother as to the admission and to the other admissions made regarding fires. The writer took Mrs. [name withheld] into a private conference room and knowing of her pregnant condition and realizing from prior information that she had two previous miscarriages, it was decided to inform her gradually as to the admissions. Considerable time was spent with her by the writer and finally the writer stated that the lie-detector indicated that [the boy] had set the fire at Our Lady of Angels School. As concerned as the mother seemed to be, it appeared to the writer that she must have had some strong suspicion that this was the case before bringing the boy to this laboratory. She did not inform the writer beforehand that the subject had even attended Our Lady of Angels School or about any previous fires besides the two in Cicero. Mrs. [name withheld] then asked if she could call her husband and the writer suggested that she do so immediately and also if she had a lawyer to call him as well. She stated that she would talk with her husband first. The writer then told Mrs. [name withheld] that he would take a detailed statement from [the boy] regarding this and other fires.

At 5:30 P.M. a statement was taken in shorthand from the subject, [the boy], by our laboratory secretary, Mildred McGuffie, in the presence of the writer and Mr. George Lindberg of this laboratory regarding Our Lady of Angels fire. This statement was transcribed and later signed by [the boy] and witnessed by Mildred McGuffie, George W. Lindberg, Stephen J. Kindig and John E. Reid. (The original copy of this statement is in your files, a carbon copy of this statement was given to Mrs. [name withheld].) While this statement was being typed by Miss McGuffie, Miss Jacquelyn Hill, another laboratory secretary, was called to take a general statement regarding other fires admitted to by [the boy]. Mr. Lindberg and the writer were in the room at the time of the questioning which started at 6:45 P.M. In this statement [the boy] told of setting about twelve fires. After this statement was transcribed, it was witnessed by Jacquelyn A. Hill, George W. Lindberg and the writer. The original copy of this statement was given to you for the State's Attorney's files, two copies remain in our files, and one uncorrected copy was given to Mr. and Mrs. [name withheld].

While these statements were being transcribed and while the subject, [the boy], was in the examining room alone, he requested to look at some magazines and several were given to him for his entertainment. While sitting in the laboratory and turning the pages of these magazines with his left hand, he took his penis out of his trousers with his right hand and masturbated while hurriedly turning each page of the magazine with his left hand. The subject was observed through a two-way mirror but was not overheard in that the sound system was removed from this laboratory's quarters as a result of its prohibition by law. It appeared from the observation that the subject was afraid one of the examiners would step into the room and observe him masturbating and he put his penis away and then tore out a page from Look magazine, January 2, 1962 issue, folded it and put it into his pocket. The writer was told that the subject also tore out pages in other magazines and put them in his pocket. (This magazine was also given to you for the State's Attorney's files.) The actions of the subject, including his active masturbation while in the examining laboratory, was observed by the writer, George W. Lindberg, Robert Cormack and Stephen Kindig. The same type of masturbation procedure was used by the subject on a total of four occasions while he was left alone in the room. There was no indication the subject had an ejaculation during any of these four masturbations although each of the masturbations were for approximately one minute duration. It is possible that the subject masturbated more often during the time he was in the examining laboratory than was observed in that the subject was only observed when he was allowed to be alone for a period of time and the observation was used for purposes of preventing the subject from injuring himself or possibly jumping out the window.

At 7:05 P.M. Mr. [name withheld] arrived at this laboratory and was taken into the conference room where his wife was waiting. Mr. Stephen Kindig of this laboratory staff visited with them until the writer had completed the witnessing of the statements After the writer left and the mother was visiting with Mr. Kindig, she telephoned her husband's employer so that he would be contacted and told to dome to this laboratory. The mother also telephoned Mr. [withheld], her step-father, at her home.

Mr. and Mrs. [name withheld] were then taken into the writer's private office. The writer told Mr. and Mrs. [name withheld] the details of the confessions and gave them a copy of each confession. Mr. [name withheld] told the writer that he thought that this was confidential and that it should not go any further and the writer stated to both Mr. and Mrs. [name withheld] that because of the enormity of Our Lady of Angels School fire, because of the amount of money that had been spent and is being spent in the investigation, because at the time of the setting of the fire their boy was only ten years old and could not be penalized in regard to the fire and because [the boy] is in definite need of psychiatric treatment, this information should be given to the authorities. Mrs. [name withheld] stated, "but they will bring out all the other fires that happened in Cicero and he was old then." She then asked if this disclosure could be made without publicity and the writer was unable to assure her but promised that if they made the disclosure to the proper authorities that the writer not make any statement whatsoever. Mr. [name withheld] then stated that they would put him in the electric chair or put him in jail forever and mentioned a number of other penalties and he was told by the writer, as Mrs. [name withheld] was earlier told, to contact a lawyer and get him down to this office. Mr. [name withheld] informed the writer that Mr. Dino D'Angelo was the attorney who referred them to this laboratory and that this was promised to be of a confidential nature. The writer then insisted that this be brought out to the authorities so that [the boy] would get the proper psychiatric treatment while he was still a child and before someone else would be burned to death at a later date when [the boy] would bear the full brunt of the penalty oat that time. The writer impressed on both Mr. and Mrs. [name withheld] of their moral responsibility as well as their responsibility to their son as parents.

In reading the statement Mrs. [name withheld] noted that her son refereed to a chapel in the school basement and she immediately stated that the boy was making up the story in that there was no chapel in the basement at Our Lady of Angels School. Mr. [name withheld] used that as an illustration of the imaginativeness of the boy's mind. He further stated that at the time of the Our Lady of Angels fire, [the boy] told them that a fourth grade boy showed him matches and said that he was going to set the school on fire. (This statement is quite significant in that there was a reference to a plan to set the school on fire at the time of the fire and this was referred to specifically by [the boy] in his statement in this laboratory.) However, at the time of the fire it is possible that [the boy], after setting the fire, used an alter-ego, that is someone who did not exist and tried to place the blame on this non-existent person. As a result of the statement by Mrs. [name withheld] that there was no chapel, the writer left the office and asked [the boy] if there was a chapel in the school basement and he stated there was and when told that his mother alleged there was not chapel in the basement, he stated, "She's crazy. She sat in the chapel and waited there for a while, my mother and me." The writer returned to the office and informed Mrs. [name withheld] of [the boy]'s statement and then Mr. [name withheld] asked to see [the boy]. As soon as Mr. [name withheld] walked into the examining room where [the boy] was waiting, he yelled at the boy loudly, "Did you set that fire?" The boy immediately said "No." Mr. [name withheld] asked in the same loud tone, "Why did you say so?", and the boy retorted, "Because he told me to (pointing to the writer)." The writer was upset by this procedure and asked that the boy leave the room and after closing the door reprimanded Mr. [name withheld] for his attitude in this matter. He was informed that the boy, while sitting in the room alone, had masturbated and Mr. [name withheld] stated that it was his fault in that he caught him masturbating on one occasion and slapped his penis real hard. The writer, after calming Mr. [name withheld] down and having a rational discussion with him, stated that if he did not see fit on his own to take this to the proper authorities, that the writer would do so. Mr. [name withheld] then asked sufficient time to consult with his attorneys in that they would get in touch with the writer after the weekend. Mr. [name withheld] then shook hands with the writer and left the laboratory.

On Saturday, January 12, 1962, the writer contacted Mr. D'Angelo the attorney for the [name withheld] family, who is a member of the law firm of Geocaris, D'Angelo and Dahl. The writer asked Mr. D'Angelo to bring these facts to the authorities and briefly state the reasons as were stated in this report. Mr. D'Angelo asked that he confer with his law partners over the weekend and discuss the matter with the [name withheld] family and would contact the writer on Monday morning. No cntact was made by Mr. D'Angelo, therefore, the writer placed a call and talked with Mr. Geocaris who stated that Mr. D'Angelo would return the call at 1"30 P.M. At 2:45 P.M. when no call was received, the writer again called Mr. D'Angelo and talked with him. He stated he woild have more discussion with his law partners and would return the call again. Later in the afternoon Attorney Dahl contacted the writer and stated that after discussion with the family, they believed the boy did not set the fire to Our Lady of Angels School and therefore would not disclose this information to the authorities and stated, "I hope you will not either." The writer informed them that during the day he had contacted Professor Fred E. Inbau of Northwestern University Law School who was lecturing in Louisville, Kentucky and discuss the manner, responsibilities as well as the legal responsibilities in this case as to privileged communications. Professor Inbau agreed that the information should be placed in the hands of the Juvenile authorities for the benefit of the boy and that Judge Cilella, being the judge of the Family Court, should be contacted in lieu of anyone else. Professor Inbau made this decision realizing that the boy was ten years old at the time of the fire was set in Our Lady of Angels school and that the new criminal code, which he believed applied in this case, states that a boy under the age of thirteen is incapable of committing a crime, therefore, no criminal punishment should be concerned with in this case. These facts were given by the writer to both Mr. D'Angelo and Mr. Dahl in conversations with them with the final suggestion to Mr. Dahl to discuss the matter with Professor Inbau in that Professor Inbau would be in his university office before 5:00 P.M. After Mr. Dahl refused to disclose this information to the authorities, the writer contacted Judge Cilella of Family Court and Judge Cilella immediately stated that he did not want to disqualify himself in that he may have to hear this case in the future, therefore, he did not want to receive any information from the writer. On Monday morning, January 15th at 10:00 A.M., the writer received a call from Sergeant Drew Brown of the Chicago Police Arson Squad inquiring as to whether [the boy] was tested in this laboratory on Friday, that he had information that the boy had confessed the crime and that this information came to him from among other sources, Monsignor Gorman, Chaplain of the Chicago Fire Department. The writer informed Sergeant Brown that he was unable to disclose this information and that if anything was forthcoming it would probably come from the attorneys for the family. About 11:00 A.M. a Chicago Tribune reporter, George Bliss, contacted the writer and was quite informed as to the confession having been obtained in this laboratory and was anxious for the details regarding this confession. Again the writer refused to comment in any respect but it appears the information was sufficiently sound, that Mr. Bliss came to this laboratory and remained in the laboratory until 6:30 P.M. that evening. At that time as a final gesture the writer told Mr. Bliss that Judge Cilella was contacted but he refused to accept any information on the case. At 10:00 P.M. that evening the writer was called at home and told by Mr. Bliss that he decided with his editors to print the story but delete the boy's name and that his editors had talked to Judge Cilella.

During the course of the conversation with George Bliss, he told the writer that the Chicago Tribune had a reporter named Whistler in Cicero for the past month and a half and they had information as to all the questioning of this boy as well as interrogations of his teacher, Miss Tristano, who was on the faculty of Our Lady of Angels School in 1958.

The writer believed that he satisfied his moral obligation after this information was made public and responded promptly when he was summoned by your office to supply the information obtained. The writer did not wish to contact the police or to contact your office in this matter because of the possibilities of arresting the subject and believed that the lawyers or the parents would complete their moral obligation and benefit the boy by taking the information to the Family Court. It was with reluctance that the writer had to follow the course that he did follow in this case.

Respectfully submitted,

John E. Reid





Return to Documentation
John Reid Report
Timeline
Confession Interview
Time Line of January 12, 1962 Interview
1:15 - 1:30 Mrs. [name withheld] and son, 13 year old [the boy] enter Laboratory reception room and had a chair.
1:30 - 2:00 Mrs. [name withheld] interview by Mr. Cormack
2:00 [the boy] escorted to Laboratory #1. No polygraph apparatus attached
2:00 - 2:30 Mr. Reid and Mr. Cormack confer. [the boy] sitting alone in laboratory #1.
2:30 Mr. Reid enters Laboratory to interview [the boy]. No polygraph apparatus attached.
2:30 - 3:30 Subject admits 11 fires, and told the examiner that he was a student at the Our Lady of Angels School at the time of fire, December 1, 1958.
3:30 - 4:00 Polygraph apparatus attached. Subject gives polygraph examination regarding the fires in issue including Our Lady of Angels.
4:00 Polygraph apparatus removed. Subject told the examiner that he set Our Lady of Angels fire in the presence of John E. Reid.
4:30 - 5:00 John E Reid confers with George W. Lindberg and Stephen J. Kindig. [the boy] sitting alone reading
5:00 - 5:30 John E. Reid confers with Mrs. [name withheld] regarding [the boy]'s admissions.
5:30 - 6:40 John E. Reid, Miss McGuffie, George Lindberg take statement and [the boy] draws sketch of Our Lady of Angels School. Sketch witnessed by signature of John E. Reid, Miss McGuffie and George W. Lindberg. (2nd floor, stairs & basement area, chapel, boys room)
5:50 Subject given glass of milk and egg salad sandwich.
6:40 [the boy] left alone in Laboratory #1.
7:45 - 8:10 George W. Lindberg and John E. Reid observe masturbation through observation window.
6:45 - 7:45 Miss Hill, George Lindberg and John Reid take statement relating to other fires.
7:00 - 7:15 [the boy] given Chocolate Soda.
7:45 - 8:00 [the boy] sitting alone while statements are being typed.
6:45 - 7:15 Actual time for taking of statement by Mr. Reid, Mr. Lindberg and Miss Hill relating to other fires.
7:15 - 7:30 Miss Hill type statement to other fires.
7:30 - 7:45 Statement to other fires read, corrected, initialled and signed in presence of John E. Reid, Miss Hill, and George Lindberg.
7:45 - 8:10 [the boy] sitting alone and taken to washroom.
8:10 - 8:30 Statement admitting Our Lady of Angels fire is read, corrected, initialled and signed in the presence of John E. Reid, Miss McGuffie, Stephen J. Kindig and George W. Lindberg.
8:30 John E. Reid confers briefly with the parents who left the office at approximately 8:45 to 9:00.




The mention of a name, the mystery of the 'Angels' lost in Chicago fire ...
www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2010/03/post_36.html
Mar 9, 2010 - Alan Norcutt in Onondaga County Court: Arsonist arrested in Central ... While no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the school, ... he had accidentally started the fire at Our Lady of the Angels, Kuenster said. ... the fire, Kuenster said, although he was never charged with the crime in juvenile court.Alan Norcutt. Sure, he knew the guy.  Kuenster, 85, spoke Tuesday by telephone from greater Chicago, where he is a longtime journalist and writer. He is also an authority on the 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels school, a tragedy that still sears the civic memory in Chicago. Ninety-two children and three Catholic nuns were trapped and killed.  Norcutt, now in custody for arson in Onondaga County, claimed in the late 1970s that he started the fire, Kuenster said. Certainly, Norcutt seemed to have the resume. When Norcutt offered those statements, Kuenster said, he had already spent years in prison for starting more than 30 fires in Chicago, which meant he was responsible for the deaths of three people, including a Chicago firefighter. While no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the school, Kuenster said that George Schuller - a Chicago Fire Department official who died in 1993 - was convinced that Norcutt did it.

Even so, Kuenster doesn't believe Norcutt was the one.

Whether Norcutt makes that claim today remains unclear. His lawyer, Laurin Haddad, was unavailable Tuesday. According to a report by Jim O'Hara of The Post-Standard, Norcutt, 62, became familiar with Syracuse during his years as a carnival worker, following his release in 1979 from an Illinois prison. He was arrested last week on charges of setting fire in October to a trailer on Park Avenue.


Our Lady of the Angels school fire - Page 5 - Findadeath
www.findadeath.com › Forum › Life Goes On › Police Blotter
Jul 28, 2012 - 50 posts - ‎12 authorsI would still like a pm on the little jerk's named that started the fire, want .... Looking for name of 13 yr old confessed arsonist of the Our Lady of Angels fire. ... Hearing that he was in Vietnam, I wonder what war crimes he ... I've been trying to find information on the Town Hall Bowling Alley fire that he


Our Lady of Angels School fire - Chicago Tribune
www.chicagotribune.com/news/.../chi-chicagodays-ladyangelsfire-story-story.html
Firemen rescue an injured girl from the Lady of Angels school's second floor, after a ... for other arsonblazes but refused to pin him with blame for the school fire.

Reclaiming a charred childhood | Articles | News | OakPark.com
www.oakpark.com › News › Articles
Dec 2, 2008 - Main · Articles · Opinion · Features · Sports · Crime · Obits · Blogs ... School fire survivors forge connections, begin to find healing ... Jim was a sixth-grader in Pearl Tristano's class at Our Lady of the Angels School on the West Side. .... interest in bringing up the suspect who confessed in 1962 as the arsonist.

THE OUR LADY OF ANGELS FIRE - American Hauntings
troytaylorbooks.blogspot.com/2014/12/innocence-lost-our-lady-of-angels-fire.html
Dec 1, 2014 - Like many other schools of that era, Our Lady of Angels was ... Unbelievably, the schoolhad passed a fire inspection two months before. .... The alleged arsonist denied it his entire adult life, and has reportedly died. ..




*Wikipedia
Our Lady of the Angels School fire
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




Our Lady of the Angels School fire
A monument to the victims at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
Date December 1, 1958
Location Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois
Cause Arson
Deaths 95


On Monday, December 1, 1958, a fire broke out at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois, shortly before classes were to be dismissed for the day. The fire originated in the basement of the school near the foot of a stairway. The elementary school was operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and had an enrollment of approximately 1600 students. A total of 92 pupils and 3 nuns ultimately died when smoke, heat, fire, and toxic gasses cut off their normal means of escape through corridors and stairways. Many more were injured when they jumped from second-floor windows which, because the building had a raised basement, were nearly as high as a third floor would be on level ground (c. 25 ft.).[1]

The disaster was the lead headline story in American, Canadian, and European newspapers. Pope John XXIII sent his condolences from the Vatican in Rome. The severity of the fire shocked the nation and surprised educational administrators of both public and private schools. The disaster led to major improvements in standards for school design and fire safety codes.

The fire has been chronicled in three books, The Fire That Will Not Die by Michele McBride (ETC Publications, 1979), To Sleep With The Angels by David Cowen and John Kuenster (Ivan R. Dee, 2003), Remembrances of the Angels by John Kuenster (Ivan R. Dee, 2008) and a 2003 Emmy-winning television documentary, Angels Too Soon, produced by WTTW Channel 11 Chicago. The History Channel also featured the disaster in the television documentary Hellfire, which was an episode in the cable network's "Wrath of God" series.



Contents [hide]
1Background
2The fire
2.1Outbreak and reaction
2.2Evacuation
2.3Rescue
3Investigation
4Victims
4.1Room 208
4.2Room 209
4.3Room 210
4.4Room 211
4.5Room 212
5Responses
6Legacy
7Popular culture
8See also
9References
10Further reading


Background[edit]

Our Lady of the Angels was an elementary school comprising kindergarten through eighth grades. It was located at 909 North Avers Avenue in the Humboldt Park area on Chicago's West Side, on the northeast corner of West Iowa Street and North Avers Avenue (Some sources describe the school as "in Austin").[2] The neighborhood had originally been heavily Irish-American, but had gradually developed in the first half of the twentieth century into a largely Italian-American middle class community. The area was also home to several other first-, second-, and third-generation immigrant groups, including Polish Americans, German Americans, and Slavic Americans. Most of the families in the immediate neighborhood were Roman Catholic.

The school was one of several buildings associated with the large Roman Catholic parish; others included a church, a rectory, which was adjacent to the church, a convent of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was across the street from the school on Iowa Street, and two buildings one block east on Hamlin Avenue referred to by the parish as Joseph Hall and Mary Hall respectively, which housed kindergarten and first-grade classes. The Hamlin Avenue buildings were not involved in the fire, and aside from some minor smoke inhalation problems (no deaths or serious injuries), neither were the first floor of the north wing, the entire south wing, or the annex.[3]

The total of the devastation was confined to the second floor of the north wing. The north wing was part of a two-story structure built in 1910, but remodeled several times over the years. That wing originally consisted of a first-floor church and a second-floor school. The entire building became a school when a new, much larger church was opened in 1939.[4] A south wing also dating from 1939 was built and was connected in 1951 by an annex to the north wing. The two original buildings and the annex formed a U-shape, with a narrow fenced courtyard between.

Allowing for a grandfather clause that did not require schools to retrofit to a new standard if they already met previous regulations, the school legally complied with the state of Illinois and city of Chicago fire codes of 1958 and was generally clean and well-maintained; nonetheless, several fire hazards existed. Each classroom door had a glass transom above it, which provided ventilation into the corridor but also permitted flames and smoke to enter once heat broke the glass. The school had one fire escape. The building had no automatic fire alarm, no rate-of-rise heat detectors, no direct alarm connection to the fire department, no fire-resistant stairwells, and no heavy-duty fire doors from the stairwells to the second floor corridor. At the time, fire sprinklers were primarily found in factories or in new school construction, and the modern smoke detector did not become commercially available until 1969.

In keeping with city fire codes, the building had a brick exterior to prevent fires from spreading from building-to-building as in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. However, its interior was made almost entirely of combustible wooden materials—stairs, walls, floors, doors, roof, and cellulose fiber ceiling tiles. Moreover, the floors had been coated many times with both flammable varnish and petroleum-based waxes. There were only two (unmarked) fire alarm switches in the entire school, and they were both in the south wing. There were four fire extinguishers in the north wing, each mounted 7 feet (2.1 m) off the floor, out of reach for many adults and virtually all of the children.

The single fire escape was near one end of the north wing, but to reach it required passing through the main corridor, which in this case rapidly became filled with suffocating smoke and superheated gases. Students hung their flammable winter coats on hooks in the hallway (there were no lockers). There were no limits to the number of students in a single classroom, and because of the post-World War II "baby boom" this number sometimes reached as many as 64 students. The school did not have a fire alarm box outside on the sidewalk, the nearest one being a block and a half away. With its 12-foot (3.7 m) ceilings and a basement that extended partially above ground level, the school's second-floor windows were 25 feet (7.6 m) above the ground, making jumping from them extremely risky, exacerbated by the fact that the grade surface under all windows was concrete or crushed rock.
The fire[edit]
Outbreak and reaction[edit]

The fire began in the basement of the older north wing between about 2:00 p.m. and 2:20 p.m CST. Classes were due to be dismissed at 3:00 p.m. Ignition took place in a cardboard trash barrel located a few feet from the northeast stairwell. The fire smoldered undetected for approximately 20 minutes, gradually heating the stairwell and filling it with a light grey smoke that later would become thick and black, as other types of combustibles became involved. At the same time, it began sending superheated air and gasses into an open pipe chase very near the source of the fire. The pipe chase made an uninterrupted conduit up to the cockloft above the second floor classrooms (see "Evacuation" below).

The smoke began to fill the second-floor corridor, but remained unnoticed for a few minutes. At approximately 2:25 p.m., three eighth-grade girls, Janet Delaria, Frances Guzaldo, and Karen Hobik, returning from an errand, came up a different staircase to return to their second-floor classroom in the north wing. Of these three, only Delaria survived. The girls encountered thick grayish smoke, making them cough loudly. They hurriedly entered the rear door of Room 211 and notified their teacher, Sister Mary Helaine O'Neill.

O'Neill got up from her desk and began lining up her students to evacuate the building. When she opened the front door of the classroom moments later to enter the hallway, the intensity of the smoke caused O'Neill to deem it too dangerous to attempt escape down the stairs leading to Avers Avenue on the west side of the building. She remained inside the classroom with her students to await rescue. The fire continued to strengthen, and several more minutes elapsed before the school's fire alarm rang.

About this same time, a window at the foot of the stairwell shattered due to the intense heat, giving the smoldering fire a new oxygen supply. This burst of heat also ignited a 30 inches (760 mm) by 24 feet (7.3 m) roll of material, described by the fire chief in his report as "tarred building paper", stored in the area, which, along with the petroleum-based waxes on the floors, caused the thick, oily black smoke that was believed responsible for so many of the smoke inhalation deaths in the building. The wooden staircase burst into flames and, acting like a chimney, sent hot gases, fire, and very thick, black smoke swirling up the stairwell.

At approximately the same time, the school janitor, James Raymond, saw a red glow through a window while walking by the building. After running to the basement furnace room, he viewed the fire through a door that led into the stairwell. After instructing two boys who were emptying trash baskets in the boiler room to leave the area, Raymond rushed to the rectory and asked the housekeeper to call the fire department. He then ran back to the school to begin evacuation via the fire escape. The two boys meanwhile returned to their class and warned their lay teacher, which prompted her and another teacher to lead their students out of classrooms in the annex area of the second floor. The teachers had looked in vain for the school principal before deciding to act on their own to vacate the school. Unknown to them, the principal was in the other wing, covering a class for an absent teacher.

As they left the building, a teacher pulled the fire alarm, but it did not ring. Several minutes later, after leaving her students in the church, she returned to the school and attempted to activate the alarm again. This time, the alarm rang inside the school, but it was not automatically connected to the fire department. By this time, however, the students and teachers in the north wing classrooms on the second floor were essentially trapped, whether they knew about the fire or not.

Despite Raymond's visit to the rectory soon after 2:30 p.m. to spread the alert, there was an unexplained delay before the first telephone call from the rectory reached the fire department at 2:42 p.m. One minute later, a second telephone call was received from Barbara Glowacki, the owner of a candy store on the alley along the north wing. Glowacki had noticed flames in the northeast stairwell after a passing motorist, Elmer Barkhaus, entered her store and asked if a public telephone was available to call the fire department. Police initially thought this 61-year-old man was a suspect in the blaze until Barkhaus voluntarily came forward and explained himself. Glowacki used her private telephone in her apartment behind the store to notify authorities.
Evacuation[edit]

The first floor landing was equipped with a heavy wooden door, which effectively blocked the fire and heat from entering the first floor hallways. However, the northeast stairwell landing on the second floor had no fire blocking door. As a result, there was no barrier to prevent the spread of fire, smoke, and heat through the second floor hallways. The western stairwell landing on the second floor had two substandard corridor doors with glass panes propped open (possibly by a teacher) at the time of the fire. This caused further drafts of air and an additional oxygen supply to feed the flames. Two other doors were chained open when they should have been closed; these doors were at the first and second floor levels leading into the annex. The upper door was quickly closed, but the lower one remained open throughout the fire.

As the fire consumed the northeast stairway, a pipe chase running from the basement to the cockloft above the second floor false ceiling had been feeding superheated gases for some minutes on a direct route to the attic. The building's old roof had been re-coated numerous times, and had become very thick. Consequently, the heat of the fire was not able to burn quickly through the roof. If it had, it would have opened a hole that would have served to vent much of the smoke and gasses. Eventually, as the temperature continued to rise in the enclosed space, the wood of the cockloft itself flashed over.

The fire then swept down through the hallway ceiling's ventilation grates into the second floor corridor as it flashed through the cockloft above the classrooms. Glass transom windows above the doors of each classroom broke as the heat intensified, allowing superheated gasses and thick black smoke in the hallway to enter the classrooms. By the time the students and their teachers in the second floor classrooms realized the danger (and the occupants of several of the rooms, until that moment, did not realize the danger), their sole escape route into the hallway was impassable. The second floor of the north wing had become a perfect fire trap.

For 329 children and five teaching nuns, the only remaining means of escape was to jump from their second floor windows to the concrete or crushed rock 25 feet (7.6 m) below, or to wait for the fire department to rescue them. Recognizing the trap they were in, some of the nuns encouraged the children to sit at their desks or gather in a semicircle and pray. But smoke, heat, and flames quickly forced them to the windows.

One nun, Sister Mary Davidis Devine, ordered her students in room 209 to place books and furniture in front of her classroom doors, and this helped to slow the entry of smoke and flames until rescuers arrived. Out of the 55 students in the room, eight escaped with injuries, and two died; Beverly Burda, the last student remaining in the room, evidently passed out from smoke inhalation and died when the roof collapsed. Another student, Valerie Thoma, died at a hospital on March 10, 1959, as a result of her injuries.
Rescue[edit]

Fire department units arrived within four minutes of being called, but by then the fire had been burning unchecked for possibly as much as 40 minutes and was fully out of control. The fire department was then hampered because they had been incorrectly directed to the rectory address around the corner at 3808 W. Iowa Street; valuable minutes were lost repositioning the fire trucks and hose lines. Additional firefighting equipment was summoned rapidly, as the fire situation was quickly upgraded to "five alarm" (all available equipment and units). In 1959, the National Fire Protection Association’s report on the blaze exonerated the rapid response of the Chicago Fire Department and its initial priority to rescue pupils rather than merely fight the flames.

The south windows of the north wing overlooked a small courtyard surrounded by the school on three sides, and a 7-foot (2.1 m) high iron picket fence on the fourth side facing Avers Avenue. Because of earlier problems with vandalism, the gate in the fence was routinely kept locked. Firemen could not get ladders to the children at the south windows without first breaking through the gate. They spent two minutes battering the gate with sledgehammers and a ladder before they managed to smash it by backing a fire truck into it.[5] The locked gate delayed the rescues of rooms 209 and 211.

Firemen began rescuing children from the second-floor windows, but nightmare conditions in some of the classrooms had already become unbearable. Children were stumbling, crawling, and fighting their way to the windows, trying to breathe and escape. Many jumped, fell, or were pushed out the windows before firemen on ladders could reach them. Children jumped with their hair and clothes on fire. Some died later as a result of the fall, and several more were seriously injured. Many of the smaller children were trapped behind frantic students at the windows.[6]

Some younger students who managed to secure a spot at a window were then unable to climb over the high window sills, or were pulled back by others frantically trying to scramble out. The temperature continued to increase until a flashover occurred in the hallway and several of the classrooms at approximately 2:55 p.m. Firemen struggled desperately to pull students and nuns from windows as those classrooms partially filled with screaming children exploded. Firemen noticed that the white shirts of children in the windows changed color and turned brown.[7]

Shortly after the flashover, a wide portion of the school's roof collapsed over rooms 208, 209, and part of 210, and the massive downward rush of heat likely killed several other students and their teachers in rooms 208 and 210 instantly (Room 209 lost only one child, Beverly Burda, in the room itself, and she had been overcome by smoke inhalation before the roof collapsed).

Inside the burning school, a quick-thinking nun rolled petrified children down a stairwell when fear made them freeze. Injured students were rushed to five different hospitals, sometimes in the cars of strangers. Priests from the rectory raced to the scene, grabbing frightened students and escorting them through the smoke to the doors. One of the priests, Father Joseph Ognibene and Sam Tortorice, a parent of one of the students were able to rescue most of the students in room 209 by passing them through a courtyard window on the second floor into the annex. Janitor James Raymond, though badly injured himself from a deep glass cut on his arm, worked in tandem with Father Charles Hund to open a locked emergency door leading to a fire escape outside room 207. Thanks to their efforts, all of the students and their teacher, Sister Geraldita Ennis, were rescued from that room.[8]

In room 212 which was located at the opposite end of the hallway from the source of the fire, flames did not actually invade the room, but the toxic smoke and heated gasses penetrated here as much as in any other second floor room, and just over half of the 55 students inside and their teacher, Sister Mary Clare Therese Champagne, succumbed to asphyxiation. When the Chicago Fire Department's new "snorkel" unit arrived, this was one of the first rooms that it began pouring water into, lowering the temperature inside the room significantly and the children who had not asphyxiated were then rescued by fire fighters with ladders.

Glowacki took injured children into her candy store beside the school to escape the winter chill while they awaited medical attention. Neighbors and parents raced into the school to rescue students on the lower floor or erect ladders outside that proved to be too short for the second floor. 74-year-old Ed Klock suffered a stroke while attempting to assist the children. Residents of houses along Avers Avenue opened their doors to provide sanctuary and warmth for the children.

Local radio and television reports soon broadcast the news across the city. WGN-AM radio broadcast continuous updates of the fire, with Chicago Police Officer Leonard Baldy providing observations from an overhead helicopter. Panicked mothers and fathers left their homes or workplaces and raced to the school. Mothers pleaded to enter the burning structure. A crowd of more than 5,000 anxious parents and onlookers had to be held back by police lines.

This number grew in the late afternoon as news of the disaster spread and bodies of victims were slowly removed by firemen. It was first hoped that fatalities might be relatively low, under the mistaken belief that the fire alarm had been sounded early enough. The toll climbed quickly once the blaze was partially extinguished and firemen were able to explore the building. National television networks interrupted their regular programming to announce details as the scope of the disaster widened.

Between the delayed discovery and reporting of the blaze and the misdirection of the response units to the wrong address, the firemen arrived too late. Although they rescued more than 160 children from the inferno, many of the students carried out were already dead. Some of the bodies were so badly charred that they broke into pieces while being picked up. In room 212, none of the dead had been burned; the children who perished, as well as their teacher, all died of smoke inhalation.
Investigation[edit]

A monument to the victims in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery, by sculptor Corrado Parducci.

The cause of the fire was never officially determined. In 1962, a boy who was a student at Our Lady of the Angels at the time of the fire, confessed to setting the blaze. At the time of the fire, he was 10 years old and in fifth grade. A family court judge later concluded the evidence was insufficient to substantiate the confession. Officially, the cause of the fire remains unknown.[9][10][11][12]

In 1959 the National Fire Protection Association’s report on the blaze blamed civic authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago for "housing their children in fire traps" - their words - such as Our Lady of the Angels School.[citation needed]The report noted that both the Chicago School Board and the Archdiocese of Chicago continued to allow some schools to be legally operated despite having inadequate fire safety standards.

Although Our Lady of the Angels School had passed a routine fire department safety inspection weeks before the disaster, the school was not legally bound to comply with all 1958 fire safety codes due to a grandfather clause in the 1949 standards. Existing older schools, such as Our Lady of the Angels, were not required to retrofit the safety devices that were required by code in all schools built after 1949.
Victims[edit]

All of the deceased (92 children and three nuns) lived in Chicago and occupied classrooms on the second floor of the north wing. All of those who perished on the day of the fire died when smoke, heat, fire, and toxic gases cut off their normal means of escape through corridors and stairways. Many more were injured, some severely, when they jumped from second-floor windows.
Room 208[edit]

Room 208, a room located in the northeast corner of the north wing housing Sister Mary St. Canice Lyng's 7th Grade Class, had twelve student deaths out of forty-seven students. Several ladders were placed near Room 208's windows. Of them, the ladder placed by Mario Camerini, a janitor, successfully reached Room 208's windows and allowed several students, including all of the remaining boys, to escape.[1] The three boys killed died at their desks due to a spurt of heated gases. The conditions of 208 and the three dead boys are depicted in a black-and-white illustration by a Life magazine artist. Sister Mary St. Canice also died.
Room 209[edit]

Room 209, a room housing Sister Mary Davidis Devine's 8th grade class, had two student deaths. Of all of the students, one, Beverly Burda, died in the classroom, while a second, Valerie Thoma, died in a hospital three months later. The survivors credit Devine's decision to stack books at the door to slow entry of the smoke and an awning that provided an easier jump for their survival. Sam Tortorice, a parent of Room 209 student Rose Tortorice, climbed on the awning to assist the escapes of the Room 209 students. Father Joseph Ognibene joined Tortorice and rescued students.[4] Devine, mistakenly under the impression that all of the students were rescued from the room, agreed to be rescued. By the time Devine and the rescue crews noticed Burda lying in the classroom, conditions made her rescue impossible, and she was killed when the roof collapsed. Devine died on October 14, 2006, at the age of 100.
Room 210[edit]

Room 210, housing Sister Mary Seraphica Kelley's 4th grade class, had 28 student deaths out of the 57 students inside at the time of the fire. Kelley also died, making a total of 29 deaths in Room 210. the most deaths of any of the classrooms. The smaller and weaker bodies of the fourth graders contributed to the high death toll, as many of the children were unable to scale the window ledge. The fire entered the room at a quicker rate since two boys attempted to open the door to the room. Upon discovery of the fire, the flames forced the boys away from the door, preventing closure of the door and allowing the fire to attack the children.
Room 211[edit]

Room 211, housing Sister Mary Helaine O'Neill's 8th grade class, had 24 deaths out of the 48 students inside at the time of the fire. Normally 63 students occupied the room; at the time, 13 boys helped with a clothing drive at the church and 2 male students stayed away from the school due to illness. The existence of a picket fence blocked firefighters and hampered the rescue of the middle schoolers in 211. The firefighters could not save all of the students before the room flashed over, killing the remaining students. Sister Mary Helaine O'Neill, the teacher, was severely burned died on September 27, 1975.
Room 212[edit]

Room 212, housing Sister Mary Clare Therese Champagne's 5th grade class, had 26 deaths out of the 55 students. The deaths all were due to smoke inhalation. Sister Mary Clare Therese also died. Life Magazine's picture of a firefighter carrying the body of ten-year-old John Jajkowski, who died in Room 212, became world famous and was later used as a fire-prevention poster.
Responses[edit]

The funeral for the three nuns took place first. A Requiem Mass was offered in Our Lady of the Angels Church after more than 2,000 parishioners paid their respects to the deceased teachers as the closed caskets lay in repose in the convent. A color guard of 100 policemen and firemen accompanied the coffins into the church. More than 100 nuns from the order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary attended from across Illinois as well as from their main convent in Dubuque, Iowa. The funeral procession had several hundred vehicles. The three teachers were interred side by side in a grave next to other nuns of their religious order at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in suburban Hillside, Illinois.

For 27 of the young victims whose families accepted the offer to participate in it, a Solemn Requiem Mass and funeral service took place at the Illinois National Guard Armory abutting Humboldt Park, as the parish church was not large enough to accommodate the huge crowd. Cardinal Francis Spellman, Archbishop of New York, came to Chicago to lend his support. The families of the other children who were victims of the fire elected to bury their children privately. Many of the young students were buried in the "Shrine of the Holy Innocents" plot at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, which is adjacent to Mount Carmel Cemetery. A monument there lists the names of all 95 victims. Some of the students were buried in other cemeteries: 18 in St. Joseph Cemetery, 18 in St. Adalbert Cemetery, 12 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1 in St. Nicholas Cemetery, and 1 in Norway Cemetery in Norway, Michigan.

A relief fund was set up to assist distraught families and to care for injured children in future years. The Chicago metropolitan area rallied to provide support. Hollywood stars such as Jack Benny visited injured children in hospitals. A city newspaper, The Chicago American, devoted its entire front page on December 5, 1958, to photographs of the deceased students under the headline, "Chicago Mourns".[13]

Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered flags across the city lowered to half staff.
Legacy[edit]

Firefighter Richard Scheidt carrying John Michael Jajkowski, Jr. from the school

The December 16, 1958, issue of Life Magazine printed a major article about the fire, containing many pictures and reconstructed drawings of the classrooms. The first page of the article featured an image of firefighter Richard Scheidt carrying the body of 10-year-old John Michael Jajkowski, Jr. from the building. The photograph of Jajkowski, a fifth grader in Room 212, later served as a fire prevention safety poster nationwide. Jajkowski, an accomplished musician, played the accordion and served as a church choir member, and had expressed a desire to become a priest.[14] Like 25 of his other classmates, John was suffocated by black, oily smoke.[15] Steve Lasker took the photograph of Scheidt and John as the fire department was beginning to achieve control over the fire.[16]

After the Our Lady of the Angels School fire, Percy Bugbee, the president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said in an interview, "There are no new lessons to be learned from this fire; only old lessons that tragically went unheeded."[17] Sweeping changes in school fire safety regulations were enacted nationwide. Some 16,500 older school buildings in the United States were brought up to code within one year of the disaster.

Ordinances to strengthen Chicago's fire code and new amendments to the Illinois state fire code were passed. The National Fire Protection Association estimated that about 68% of all U.S. communities inaugurated and completed fire safety improvements after the Our Lady of the Angels fire, one of which being an increased number of law-mandated fire drills throughout the academic year. In addition, fire investigators came from as far away as London to study the lessons that could be learned.[citation needed]

The City Council of Chicago passed a law requiring that a fire alarm box be installed in front of schools and other public assembly venues. The interior fire alarm systems of these buildings must be connected to the street fire alarm box. Another requirement was that all schools where it was deemed vital would have sprinkler systems installed. However, nine months later, in September 1959, Fire Commissioner Quinn, when interviewed by WNBQ reporter Len O'Connor, admitted that although 400 of the 1040 schools in Chicago at that time had been deemed in critical need of sprinkler systems, only two had actually had sprinklers installed.[18]

OLA students attended classes that were taught by their own teachers in nearby public school facilities, including John Hay School, Rezin Orr School, Ryerson Elementary and Cameron Elementary until the new Our Lady of the Angels School was finished in time for the school year beginning in September 1960.[19]

The ruins of the school were dismantled in 1959 and a new Our Lady of the Angels School, located at 3814 West Iowa Street, was constructed in compliance with the latest required fire safety standards, such as installing a sprinkler system. The modern three-story building with 32 classrooms plus a kindergarten opened in September 1960. Donations from around the world helped to fund the new construction. As a result of a steady decline in enrollment during the 1990s, the Archdiocese of Chicago closed the school after the class of 1999 graduated.[20] The archdiocese had previously closed the other buildings of the parish in 1990 and merged OLA with the parish of St. Francis of Assisi. The OLA school building is currently leased to the Galapagos Charter School.[21]
Popular culture[edit]

Some scenes from the 2003 movie Finding John Christmas are based on the OLA fire.[22]

The documentary film Our Obligation, made by the Los Angeles Fire Department, is a dramatization of a "similar" disastrous school fire, explaining all the safety measures that should have been in place and functional. The filmmakers stated that the school in the film is not supposed to be OLA, but most of the details are identical, down to the iconic image of the dead student being carried out by the fireman. Additionally, the school depicted in the film is not a Catholic school like OLA, but a "regular" public elementary school with typical schoolteachers and students. This film was produced in 1959 during fire tests being made at Robert Louis Stevenson Junior High School located at 725 S. Indiana St. in East Los Angeles. The building (built in 1926) was scheduled for demolition due to seismic concerns, so the LAFD used a three-story section for the tests. The school building was replaced with a one-story structure. Our Obligation is available for free viewing and downloading at the Internet Archive.

The play entitled When Angels Wept by playwright Charles Grippo had two productions in Chicago in 2013 and was based on the Our Lady of the Angels School fire. The story is centered around a small group of survivors of the fire and how the tragedy affected their lives until present day.
See also[edit]
Collinwood School Fire
New London School explosion
Bath Consolidated School
References[edit]

Jump up^ David Cowan and John Kuenster, To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire (1996) excerpt
Jump up^ "/NewsStoriesAll.asp#MemoriesStay Memories stay forever - Our Lady of Angels fire survivor," hosted by Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958 Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "90 PERISH IN CHICAGO SCHOOL FIRE; 3 NUNS ARE VICTIMS; SCORES HURT; PUPILS LEAP OUT WINDOWS IN PANIC," hosted by Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "90 PERISH IN CHICAGO SCHOOL FIRE; 3 NUNS ARE VICTIMS; SCORES HURT; PUPILS LEAP OUT WINDOWS IN PANIC," hosted by Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "A listing of survivors of the Our Lady of the Angels Fire". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
Jump up^ Groves, Adam. "OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS SCHOOL FIRE, CHICAGO: DECEMBER 1, 1958" Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ Groves, Adam. "OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS SCHOOL FIRE, CHICAGO: DECEMBER 1, 1958" Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "Room 206 Survivors". http://www.olafire.com/Survivors.asp#206. External link in |website= (help);
Jump up^ "Was it Arson?". Our Lady of the Angels School Fire. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
Jump up^ "Boy Admits Fire Fatal To 95", The Miami News, January 16, 1962, p1
Jump up^ Baum, Michael (February 24, 1962). "Boy Denies Setting School Fire; Ruling Due March 6". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
Jump up^ "Clears Boy, 13 in School Fire He Confessed", Chicago Daily Tribune, March 14, 1962, p3
Jump up^ "Chicago Mourns," The Chicago American, hosted by Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958. December 5, 1958 Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "John Jajkowski age 10 - a victim of Our Lady of the Angels school fire Chicago Illinois December 1 1958," Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958. Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "OLA Fire Survivors By Classroom Room 212," Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958. Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "John Michael Jajkowski, Jr.," Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958. Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ Bruno, Hal, "Old Lessons Continue To Go Unheeded," Firehouse. Retrieved August 17, 2007. Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
Jump up^ "It Must Never Happen Again", WNBQ News Department.
Jump up^ Our Lady of the Angels Chicago School Fire Photo gallery - December 1, 1958 Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "04-lent99.html". Archived from the original on 8 May 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
Jump up^ Galapagos Charter Schools Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Jump up^ "Ask Valerie," CBS Archived January 12, 2011, at WebCite
Further reading[edit]
David Cowan and John Kuenster, To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire (1996) excerpt
Michele McBride. The Fire That Will Not Die, (ETC Publications, Palm Springs, CA, 1979)
John Kuenster. Remembrances of the Angels: 50th Anniversary Reminiscences of the Fire No One Can Forget, (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 2008)
Dudek, Mitch. "Survivors remember horror of Our Lady of the Angels fire." Chicago Sun-Times. December 1, 2013.

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Man accused of local arson admits setting 36 fires in Chicago as a ...
www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/man_accused_of_local_arson_adm.html
Mar 7, 2010 - 2010-02-25-db-Norcutt1.JPG Dick Blume/The Post StandardAlan Norcutt in Onondaga County Court on his local arson case. He is linked to ...

Syracuse man who killed Chicago firefighter in 1964 arson sentenced ...
www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/syracuse_man_who_killed_chicag.html
Nov 10, 2010 - You should spend the rest of your life in prison," Onondaga County Judge Anthony Aloi told Alan Norcutt after declaring him a persistent felony ...

The mention of a name, the mystery of the 'Angels' lost in Chicago fire ...
www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2010/03/post_36.html
Mar 9, 2010 - Alan Norcutt in Onondaga County Court: Arsonist arrested in Central New York had a lethal history, going back to Chicago. (Dick Blume ...

New York arsonist who set fire that killed a Chicago firefighter 46 ...
https://www.statter911.com/.../new-york-arsonist-who-set-fire-that-killed-a-chicago-fi...
Nov 11, 2010 - Sixty-three-year-old Alan Norcutt will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. But it isn't for the fire he set as a 17-year-old in December 1964 fire ...
Sixty-three-year-old Alan Norcutt will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. But it isn’t for the fire he set as a 17-year-old in December 1964 fire that killed Chicago firefighter Joseph Carone Sr. It also isn’t for the August 1963 Chicago rooming house fire that killed two men. Norcutt served time for a string of 36 fires in Chicago but was released in 1979. Norcutt is going back to prison for a relatively small fire he set in a storage trailer in Syracuse a little more than a year ago.
birthdate: 1947

December 17, 1964 - ADMIT ERROR IN RELEASE OF YOUNG ...
archives.chicagotribune.com/1964/12/17/.../admit-error-in-release-of-young-firebug
Policeman Harry Lustig (left) and Alan Norcutt in north side Boys court yesterday. ... Norcutt appeared in Boys court yesterday on two arson charges and Judge ...


FindACase™ | The People v. Norcutt
il.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19700128_0000093.IL.../qx
Jan 28, 1970 - The defendant, Alan P. Norcutt, was convicted after a jury trial in the ... on each charge ofarson and a term of 15 to 30 years on the charge of ...

NORCUTT, ALAN, PEOPLE v, – CourtListener.com
https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4306275/norcutt-alan-people-v/
Mar 28, 2014 - Opinion for NORCUTT, ALAN, PEOPLE v, ... The judgment convicted defendant, upon a jury verdict, of arson in the third degree. It is hereby ...
 -- The People v. Norcutt, 44 Ill.2d 256 (1970)
THE PEOPLE v. NORCUTT THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee, v. ALAN P. NORCUTT, Appellant. 44 Ill.2d 256 (1970), 255 N.E.2d 442 No. 39744. Supreme Court of Illinois. Opinion filed January 28, 1970. GEORGE C. ADAMS, of Chicago, appointed by the court, for appellant. -- The People v. Norcutt, 44 Ill.2d 256, 256 (1970)
JUSTICE SCHAEFER delivered the opinion of the court: The defendant, Alan P. Norcutt, was convicted after a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County under indictments which charged him with setting fire to two separate buildings in Chicago and with the felony-murder of a fireman who was killed in the course of fighting one of the fires. The defendant, who was 17 years old and had one year of high school education, was sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary for a term of 15 to 20 years on each charge of arson and a term of 15 to 30 years on the charge of murder, the sentences to run concurrently. On this direct appeal he makes three principal contentions: that his constitutional rights were violated by the admission into evidence of confessions given while in police custody; that the trial court improperly denied his petition for a change of venue; and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict of the jury. The two acts of arson of which the defendant was convicted took place within a short span of time on Sunday, December 13, 1964, and the buildings involved were located only a few blocks apart. One fire, which broke out at 10:30 A.M., was in a building at 671 North Clark Street; the other, which began at 12:03 P.M., was in a building at 224 West Illinois Street. The defendant lived with his stepfather and his mother, Mr. and Mrs. John Redden, in an apartment building located at 853 North Clark Street. He had been convicted in January, 1964, on a plea of guilty to two indictments charging him with arson committed during the summer of 1963, and had been released on parole on November 25, 1964.

our lady of the angels fire 95 students killed 50th anniversary ...
wMay 23, 2011 - 20 posts - ‎8 authorsState of Illinois v Alan P Norcutt. Judged: 2 .... I mean the boy who attended OLA, not the convictedarsonist who confessed as an adult. Reply ».Archdiocese take responsibility for what? Sure, with 20/20 hindsight the fire standards were unacceptable, but the school WAS in compliance with the regulations at the time. Put responsibility where it lies, with the arsonist. And yes, I went to Catholic school for 16 years. I am an agnostic now, but I don't feel the need for Catholic bashing. The conditions at OLOA were matched by many public schools at the time. You sound like those people who blame the architect of the World Trade Center because it collapsed after being hit by fuel-laden planes the size of which he could not have conceived of when he designed it.
Jacoma Corporale wrote:
The children that died in that fire are still waiting for justice to prevail; where is the justice? Without justice there's no peace in sight. By process of elimination we cannot blame the children nor their parents, so why hasn't the Archdiocese stepped up to the plate to take responsibility & accountability? Whoever you are, you have blood on your hands. I, unfortunately am a product of Catholic schools for 12 years, & know the rampant stupidity of that time. No, God did not take the good ones; no, it was not an act of God. These phrases were used by the Nuns & Clergy as a coverup. I was 3 years old when the fire occured, yet, when I attended Catholic Grammar School a few years later, this fire was never mentioned. The Nuns & Priests had orders to "dummy up" & cover up. I went to Mass every morning before class; never in the 8 years I attended was this tragedy mentioned. How does the Archdiocese justify this? How dare you pretend that this never happened, or stupidly think that if you sweep it under the rug it will go away?
Back in the 60's, a favorite phrase the Nuns loved then was telling kids like myself that if we did or said something they did not like, we would "go to hell". I was too young to say this then, but am old enough now to tell the Clergy & Nuns to go to hell themselves.

Arpatruc
Oron-la-ville, Switzerland
#78 May 28, 2012
The justice ruined the life of the janitor who was innocent, but instead, protected the real murderer, a 10yo boy from Cicero who confessed lit the fire. He draw a perfect plan and located precisely the origin of the fire; as well as he mentioned details the police didn't released. The judge Alfred Cilella admitted years later in private that he had known the boy was guilty.
The boy continued to light more arson fires; one of which had fatalities.

The list of survivors of class 206 mention 
three confirmed 10yo boys,
two 11yo and 
three boys of unconfirmed age.

According their respective testimonies, J. Grosso and P. Sprovieri (both 10yo) were sent to the basement for an unknown reason. They both turned back together in class when they saw the smoke.
"On the afternoon of the fire, Ms. Tristano sent me (Grosso) and another boy on an errand down to the basement but we never made it. We saw smoke and went back to the room."
Sprovieri sister says "He (Sprovieri) and another student were in the halls completing some job or task they were given when they saw the smoke. They ran and told their teacher who instructed the class to evacuated from the school"

W. Kellner went to the basement before the fire to empty garbage pails with another student but came back alone,
"On the day of the fire, I was sent down to the basement along with another student from Room 206, a prime candidate for having started the fire, to empty garbage pails. I knew this student pretty well and had seen him light matches in apartment buildings prior to the date of the fire [...] he did not return to the classroom when I did that day, that there was no fire in the basement of the school during the time I was in the basement of the school and that the fire was noticed shortly after this student returned to the classroom"

That don't match the confession of the arsonist who declares being alone,
"I asked my teacher if I could be excused and went to the washroom..."

Another whiteness from the same class confirm the arsonist confession, remembered him leaving the classroom at around 2 pm.
"I remember him raising his hand, right around two o'clock, asking to use the washroom. He left that room and when he came back it wasn't long before Miss Tristano noticed the smoke and had us evacuate."

More strange, a fourth schooler, F. Grimaldi (11yo) said before coroner's jury being in the basement alone too,
"...went to John in AM, heard funny sounding noise in boiler room, can't explain it. Went to John in early afternoon, smelled smoke. Ran upstairs to 2nd floor and told nun about smoke. Teacher was Miss Pearl Tristano, lay teacher.".

That let as arsonist,
a) the three boys of unconfirmed age :
V. Jacobellis
M. Leonard
G. Mash
b) F. Grimaldi (although is is 11 yo)
or c) W. Kellner himself

What we know from the John E. Reid report on arsonist confession :
Lives at 1836 South 50 or 58th Avenue in Cicero, Illinois
Date of birth : October 4, 1948
After the fire, he was transferred to St. Attracta; and later at Cicero public school.

Some sources said he died in California in September 2004 (not confirmed)


#82 Aug 5, 2012
State of Illinois v Alan P Norcutt

should have said suspected arsonist above. While 2 people confessed, neither was prosecuted.

Do you know the name of the suspect? I mean the boy who attended OLA, not the convicted arsonist who confessed as an adult. #94 Feb 18, 2013
Yes, however since there was never a conviction, printing his name is libel



Norcutt claimed but did he do it? Apparently different from the unnamed and cleared confession kid.
http://www.olafire.com/ShowTopic.asp?A=N
Norcutt is   another troublesome neighborhood kid, somewhat older than "the boy", who was also a (previously)known petty arsonist. To make a long story short, he was eventually eliminated all together as a suspect according to Cowan and Kuenster in "TSWTA". Notwithstanding his trying to take credit for the fire, eventually law enforcement were confident in stating that he had nothing to do with it, which was also the view of Kuenster and Cowan in the book. A classic "red herring".
Tony

Patrick

12/03/2015 09:33 When I reflect back .. I was living and went to school at HOC at the time of the fire .. Yes I was traumatized by that horrible day ( I felt the media especially LIFE Mag should be held accountable by those explicit and over exposed coverage photos also the graphic images presented by all the media that day as partly responsible ) .. Only today are we exposed to such gruesome media and we are not as moved as we were in '58 because of Vietnam and the media has used to it's fullest extent which really began back then watching the war on TV .. However this was 1958 ! This type of coverage had a very profound effect on all of us from that day of the fire .. I choose to call it "the haunting" for us survivors we continue to bare to this day .. We lived on Lavergne st and Superior 2nd floor we had a terrace balcony view N.E. at the thick black smoke less than a mile away we saw and heard the ambulances and fire trucks screaming down Chicago ave east along with gawkers walking fast paced to the scene which I am certain they regreted later .. With all of that St Anne's is just blocks north on Lavergne st at Thomas where my mom had been a volunteer along with whom ever was at St. Anne's as patient's that horrible day .. You would as a patient remember my mom's ( everyone's ) friend sister Harmona at the hospital during those days in recovery .. We lived in the HOC neighborhood for app 4 yrs after the fire then moved to the SPC parish on North ave .. My point being in each of those neighborhoods ? Were found at the time at least one active under the age of 17 yrs arsonist that were caught setting fires in both neighborhoods and later again caught as adults ! These "whack jobs" or nut cases were allowed to roam free for years ! At the very least they should have been under some kind of strict probation especially after the OLA mass murder .. Allowing that kid to go free without some sort of monitoring while keeping the family identity from being compromised (his youth only in protecting them ) is an outrage !!! Moreover this put other people's lives in peril !
chgobonbon

12/08/2015 19:28 I totally agree with you Patrick. I was 10, and all we watched on the TV was the news, seeing the devastation, seeing eyewitnesses reporting on how horrible it all was. It was sensationalism at its worse. The black and white newspaper article with the faces of most of the children, sat on my kitchen table for me to stare at. The article showing the mound of winter coats stating that many would not be there to retrieve their coats. Vital information regarding this case was sealed, for the protection of the boy, the catholic archdiocese, and the city of chicago. Yes, this was mass murder, mass attempted murder, and psychology damaging to many children. The arsonist child Norcutt was mentioned many times, and proven NOT be the culprit in this case, yet his name STILL appears. Many feel it happened so many years ago, and what is the point of requesting the truth to be finally known to all. My feelings are the same as yours, This was and still is an outrage. Another year has gone by, many remember what happened that day, but have NO clue regarding exactly what happened that day. If you know what I mean.
Patrick

12/22/2015 09:28 Hi Bon Bon .. Thanks .. I really I don't care what the kids name is now ? That the ( kid's name ) serves as a diversion from the real truth of this no doubt cover up .. What needs to be spelled out clearly as the horrible ( unnecessary ) images taken that day are the facts ? These are people ! Clergy the archdiocese all are people humans that are quite capable of error or worse .. Their are many ways to justify just about anything .. If you really have a trust and belief in God he will not allow this type of temptation without your being aware of your deed .. Let's not forget the business end of this story what is at stake .. Not an attempt to scruitinize Catholocism in any manner .. This is not my motive .. Never was I molested by a priest ! To that end no one from my or any other parish did I ever hear of this type of disgusting act upon growing up ? Father Veto at St.Pete's used to pitch pennies with us just so he could talk to us about the bigger picture our Lord Jesus ! My grammer school education from the caring nun's who had the patience along with the priests to deal with a sometimes class clown brat like myself .. I could never have asked for better with apologies to the publics ( public school kids met many great friends ) who read this .. However you were gyped ( jipped ) ! We left HOC to spend a half a semester at Lewis school and my mother yanked us out of there faster than you can spell cat after she sat through one reading class upon enrolling us at SPC in spite of the schools protest of mid term en rollment ! That said I miss and love the nuns and priests that helped raise me and so many others .. What this is about is that upper mgt fringe the attorney's at all levels surrounding this event with each others cooperation .. The real facts lay dormant ! Like mass murderers John Gacy Jeffery Dahmer Richard Speck that were able to testify they actually believed they had some justification for what they did ! Oh ! I wanted to only get out of school early the kid testified .. They all had one common including this kid's testimony .. They felt no remorse .. None ! If you or if I by proven accident set this fire ? Can't speak for you of course .. I would never have been able to live with this .. Never ! To these type of people it is like falling off your bicycle you get back on and ride with the oh well type attitude and rub your scrapped knee.. No guilt whatsoever .. Gee I'm sorry those kids died I really did'nt want that to happen.. Wow ! Like the aforementioned killers this kid was possessed .. I truly believe that .. Along with some kids from both of my old neighborhoods when at 5-7 years old swearing their heads off like demons whenever provoked ? Some were always playing with matches most of us avoided these kids as being "cockeyed" .. We used to laugh and poke fun at them but really this was "creepy" behavior when we discussed these individuals as adults later in life .. Where did they ever learn that kind of language ? I remember one of the kids mom and his dad whom would never use this type of language ? Weird and un satisfied testimony this to me is a cover up ..
chgobonbon

12/23/2015 18:20 The kid was mentally unstable, his mom knew it, his step father knew it, and the counselor who treated him knew it. He was a threat to his neighborhood, a threat to students and teachers. He knew that fire not only damages buildings, garages, porches, but also kills people. He would NOT have any guilt, cause he knew exactly what would happen. Fire was his way to get back at people ie, teachers for reprimanding him and fellow students for teasing, laughing, bullying him. This was payback and MASS MURDER. I have a hard time , knowing that IN only 3 years at the Starr school, he was totally rehabilitated.Thank YOU to Daley's lap dog judge, He was Given A complete clean slate record.OUT and off to Viet Nam just a normal individual with a conscience, RIGHT!


Cops: Author an arsonist  'Great Chicago Fires' writer is charged with starting one
June 14, 2005|By Chicago Tribune.
A former firefighter and co-author of a book on the deadly 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire was being held Monday on charges that he torched a storage building at a North Side church.
Chicago author David Cowan spent the last decade studying and documenting fires, co-authoring one of the most extensive volumes on the Our Lady of Angels blaze, which killed 92 children and three nuns.

In recent years his life was not going as planned, those close to him said Monday. He had been fired from the Bellwood Fire Department in 2003, had nearly been divorced and recently was fired from a job as a church janitor.

He apparently bottomed out last week, said his wife, Ursula Bielski, when he allegedly set fire to a storage building on the grounds of St. Benedict Church in the city.

Now the noted author--whose book titles include "Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City"--stands charged with arson and was in the Cook County Jail late Monday.

Cowan wanted to be caught, Bielski said, allegedly setting the fire and waiting near the building for her. Bielski runs a "ghost tour" that takes visitors around to Chicago haunts on a bus, a vehicle that Bielski parks at the church in a lease arrangement.