Perhaps one of the most sensationalized murders of the mid 19th century, the lurid details (and theories) surrounding Rogers’s mysterious death caught national attention as the Murder of the Beautiful Cigar Girl. Rogers was a particularly attractive young woman working as a clerk at a Manhattan tobacco shop where the clientele included influential writers like Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. A few days after she went missing, her corpse was found floating on the Hudson River near Hoboken’s Sybil Cave. Wild theories spread about how she died, including gang violence and a botched abortion performed by Madame Restell. When her fiancé committed suicide near where her body was found months later, he became a prime suspect in some minds. Edgar Allen Poe was fascinated by the case and fictionalized the murder in the sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.”
New Yorkers like to think they’ve seen everything, but every once in awhile there’s a terrible, shocking death that surprises even them. Unlike the most haunted places in NYC, which include a fair amount of folklore, there’s no denying the unsettling nature of these horror movie–worthy murders and the fact that whoever killed them got away with it. Whether the departed was a hip-hop superstar, a mobster worthy of the under-the-radar Museum of the American Gangster or a beloved member of the community, these deaths shook the city and had people talking for decades after.