Joseph Taborsky, “Mad Dog,” was a murderer who was sentenced to death after a string of brutal robberies and murders in Connecticut during the 1950’s.
Six people were killed during a string of armed robberies and murders that became known as the “Mad Dog Killings”. A number of others were shot, beaten, or pistol-whipped but survived. Joseph Taborsky earned his nickname due to the savagery of the killings that condemned him to death. In 1957 Connecticut package store hours were modified to close at 8:00 pm from 11:00 pm due in part as a response to the crimes of Taborsky and his partner Arthur “Meatball” Culombe.
Joseph Taborsky was executed by electric chair at the age of 36. His execution in 1960 was the last in Connecticut (and in New England) until that of Michael Bruce Ross in 2005. Taborsky donated his body to Yale School of Medicine, and his ashes were later buried in the garden of Christ Church Cathedral.
Death Row and Joseph Taborsky
Joseph Taborsky is an anomaly in Connecticut death penalty lore. He is the only convict sent to death row not once, but twice, for different crimes. Taborsky first came to Connecticut’s death row for the 1950 murder of Louis Wolfson, a West Hartford liquor store owner, during a robbery. His younger brother Albert, who was also his co-conspirator, testified against Taborsky at the trial in exchange for a life sentence.
In prison, however, Albert exhibited signs of mental illness and was institutionalized. Joseph Taborsky, having learned through the prison grapevine that his brother Albert wound up in an insane asylum, appealed his case.
In 1955, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed Taborsky’s conviction (and death sentence) because the sole witness against him – Albert – was incurably insane. Because there were no other witnesses to the robbery and murder of Wolfson, Joseph Taborsky could not be tried again. Thus, he was freed from death row, after less than three years, in early October 1955. Taborsky appeared appropriately humble, stating, “You can’t beat the law. From now on, I’m not even going to get a parking ticket.”
Second Time Around
After his release from prison, Joseph Taborsky met another felon, Arthur “Meatball” Culombe, who would become his accomplice during the “Mad Dog Killings”. In one grocery-store robbery, a 3-year-old girl was running around the store as Taborsky beat her grandparents unconscious. When Taborsky ordered Culombe to shoot the girl, Culombe hid her beneath a deli case, told the girl to be quiet, and fired a shot into the floor. Taborsky left, believing that the girl was dead.
Because of this incident, his low IQ, and his cooperation with the authorities, Culombe was given a life sentence. Joseph Taborsky, however, received the death penalty on June 27, 1957. He thereby became the only convict sent to Connecticut’s death row on two separate occasions for two separate crimes. On May 17, 1960, Taborsky, age 36, was executed by electric chair for the “Mad Dog Killings”. Before his execution, he would also confess to the 1950 murder of Wolfson.
Murder Victims of Joseph Taborsky
First murder: Louis Wolfson was killed on March 23, 1950, on Taborsky’s 26th birthday. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the face.
“Mad Dog” murders: Edward Kurpewski and Daniel Janowski were killed on December 15, 1956. They were both shot in the back of the head.
Samuel Cohn was killed on December 26, 1956. He was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest.
Bernard “Buster” Speyer and Ruth Speyer were killed on January 5, 1957. Both shot in the head.
John M. Rosenthal was killed on January 26, 1957. Like Cohn, he was shot in the chest.
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