Photo of Helen Coberg's funeral on May 10, 1929

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91 years ago on May 3rd, Helen Coberg died as a result of blood poisoning and severe trauma to her body. Hotel employee, Alice Forsythe, found the Queens native, 34, in room 311 of the Mansfield Hall Hotel clinging to life. Coberg had been brutally raped and beaten and left for dead. She was the wife of Patrolman Christopher Coberg for 16 years. She also had a daughter, 15, named Helen.

April 24th, 1929, Coberg began her day working as an interior designer at the Gimbel Brothers department store. Part-way through her shift, her manager stated she left to visit her ill father at the Roosevelt Hospital. What happened after that is a mystery that remains so to this day. 10 days later, Coberg succumbed to her injuries at Flower Hospital. It’s said in a May 1929 article from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, that Coberg refused to disclose why she was at the hotel.

Initially, her death was thought to be the result of a hit-and-run, a statement reiterated by her husband. Another theory was a botched abortion since Coberg was found with a gash to her privates. The autopsy ruled her death a homicide a day later. When Forsythe found Coberg covered in blood, Coberg spoke Gentner’s name and phone number. A few days after the attack, Coberg is linked to another police officer, Patrolman Frank Gentner. Forsythe called him but he did not show at the hotel. It is speculated that Gentner had been at the hotel at the same time as Coberg under the assumed name “Fred Merritt” from Philadelphia. This statement was confirmed by a hotel employee who helped arrange the room for Gentner.

Gentner denied all claims and said Coberg called him after she had too much to drink. He says he then drove her to the hotel to sleep and he never saw her again. Interestingly, Coberg’s daughter Helen reported Gentner called their house just hours before Coberg met her attacker.

According to NY Daily News, speculation remains that the police and Mr. Coberg alike, tried to cover up the murder to save themselves from embarrassment. Rumors of a coverup grew as the police failed to respond to her death being ruled a homicide and an internal investigation was launched as a result.

Police believed Coberg was a victim of a torrid affair-gone-wrong. They claim she met Gentner at the hotel when things escalated and he attacked Coberg. May 10, 1929, Helen Coberg was laid to rest without justice. Unfortunately, Gentner was never convicted of Coberg’s murder, he was released from jail five months later. Questions still remain unanswered about the vicious attack in room 311 nearly 100 years later.

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