Friday, November 18, 2011

Solving a murder at Harlem’s Green Parrot Grill

It may be the only time a tropical bird helped crack a New York cold case.

On July 12, 1942, Max Geller, owner of the Green Parrot Bar and Grill on Third Avenue and 100th Street, was shot to death in his small restaurant by a lone gunman.

None of the restaurant’s patrons could (or would) identify the killer, and the police had no clues.

Months passed, and finally, a breakthrough. Geller had kept a real parrot in his restaurant, and a detective learned that the bird was trained to call regular customers by name.

Witnesses had said that the bird screeched “robber robber robber” as his owner was shot. The detective, however, “had a hunch that the parrot had actually repeated “Robert Robert Robert.”

“Suspicion focused on a man named Robert Butler, 28, who had left Manhattan shortly after the shooting.”

Cops located Butler, a former taxi driver, in Maryland, where he confessed to shooting Geller in a drunken rage because Geller refused to serve him.

Brought back to New York in November 1943, Butler was sentenced to 15 years.