Today’s subject is about the brutal murder of Michael Farmer. A 15-year old who was murdered in Washington Heights in 1957 by a gang called “The Egyptian Kong’s.”
Recently, I learned about the murder of Michael Farmer. It was vital for me to discuss his story. Before Dominicans and more people of color came to the neighborhood, historically Jewish and Irish residents were living in Washington Heights.
It’s news to me to find out about the Egyptian Kings and the Dragons. At the time, they were two teen gangs in New York City. The Kings and the Dragons were mostly Puerto Ricans and African Americans, but several Caucasian groups also appeared on the streets. Those gangs were bumping heads.
In July 1957, the Egyptian Kings and Dragons attacked two white boys headed for a swim. They thought the boys were members of a local Irish gang called the Jesters, but neither of them was.
Two teenagers, Michael Farmer and Roger McShane made their trip to the public swimming pool on Amsterdam and West 173rd Street. The same swimming pool is still there to this day. It’s called the “Highbridge Swimming Pool.” Back to the story, the facility was closed. This didn’t stop the teens from breaking in for late-night dips. It became a costly mistake on their part. Why? The pair had no idea what was about to happen.
Egyptian Kong’s came from the bushes and surrounded the pool. 16-year old McShane screamed to his friend to run, but Farmer had a leg crippled. Therefore, he couldn’t escape fast enough. The gang surrounded Farmer. He had no chance against them. The group beat him to the ground, and Farmer received kicks and punches. On top of that, the gang sliced him with knives and struck him with a dog chain. One of the members used a machete on Farmer.
Before Farmer died in the hospital, he told the police who did it. I believe that poor parenting played a role in why this horrific murder happened. Teenagers are not supposed to be out this late in the streets. Maybe if the parents had strict rules, then this would’ve never happened.
Twenty young men got arrested, 11 of whom were 14 years old or younger, and the most extended murder trial the city had ever seen. It was the twelfth gang-related murder in Washington Heights that year.
One 14-year-old nicknamed “The Little King,” admitted he stabbed Farmer in the back. Also, seven young teenagers, aged 16 to 18, stood trial for first-degree murder. Th
In March 1958, Lencio DeLeon, Charles “Big Man” Horton, George Melendez, and the president of Egyptian Kings confessed in their participation on the night Farmer was killed.
On April 15, the jury convicted four boys of second-degree murder with sentences of 20 years to life, two of second-degree murder with a maximum sentence of 15 years. The remaining three were cleared of charges.
Stay tuned for more historical events that took place in Washington Heights.