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My Favorite Historic Women in Murder, "Little" Anna Antonio - Executed Innocent

We in this country make horror spectacles out of murder cases, especially when the condemned killer is a woman. We drag the thing out. We sob and wring our hands. … We play cat and mouse with the {condemned}, until we have reduced her to the last extremity of woe; then we kill her.”
I found this quote extremely interesting. It came from The NY Daily News after the execution of a woman in 1934. People often have this reaction to American serializing of murder and mayhem in our midst. We are societal monsters ourselves, always searching out more info on the sickest of our countries crimes and then bemoaning our outrage as we deny the irony in ourselves. Other countries snicker at our third world justice system and gangland tactics but we soldier on, oblivious to our own ridiculousness.

What is really interesting about the Daily News quote above is it was printed in 1934 after the execution of Anna Antonio. All these years later and still we flounder in our sickness.

Anna was an abused wife. She was called "Little Anna" by friends and family for her birdlike stature and 100 lb frame. Her husband, Salvatore, was a known gangster, drug dealer and all around asshole. He regularly abused her, their children and all those around him. He was feared by the entire neighborhood.

Salvatore was found stabbed, beaten and shot in the middle of the road one night by two college boys who rushed him to the hospital. He died only moments later. After several months police were able to track down his companions that night, Sam Ferraci and Vincent Saetta, The two men had been in a criminal endeavor with Salvatore they claim ended badly and they decided to kill him for it.

They confessed and indicated that Anna had hired them with a promise of $800 from Salvatore's insurance settlement. She was arrested and the three spend over a year in prison awaiting trial and sentencing.

The two men, meanwhile, frequently and loudly told everyone they could that they were just fine. They had no fear of getting the death penalty because a woman was involved. No one would sentence them to death. That was, unfortunately, untrue.

Once it became clear that they were, in fact, all going to die, the pair fessed up and said Anna had nothing to do with it. They had only implicated her because they felt if they did they wouldn't be sentenced to death. Hours before their execution Vincent Saetta made a jailhouse confession to his priest and jailer about what he had done. Anna admitted that the pair had told her they were angry and threatened to kill her husband but she chose to ignore it for many reasons.

Legislation and government did not care. There was a huge public outcry to save Anna. No one believed she committed the crimes she was accused of and the two who did the murder recanted their accusations, admitting it was only the $75.00 bad deal that brought on the murder. Governor Herbert Henry Lehman ordered a 24 hour stay but decided to continue with the executions.

Sadly, Anna Antonio was executed on her daughters birthday. She was perhaps the smallest person ever executed at approximately 80 lbs.

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