Died New York City, Dec. 13, 1952.
He reportedly was born on Staten Island in July 1866 (a birth year of 1865 is sometimes seen) into the already large family of Henry and Elizabeth Carey. Henry, born about 1824, was an immigrant from Ireland; Elizabeth, born about 1830, was a native New Yorker. Arthur was raised in an Irish neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan.
Henry had died by the time of the 1880 federal census. With several children already off on their own, Elizabeth then was raising Arthur and three other siblings in an apartment on Christopher Street in Manhattan.
Arthur joined the police force on March 1, 1889. He learned his craft under Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes and Captain George W. McClusky. He was made a detective in 1892.
He took a bride, Lucy, in 1895. They eventually had seven children together. The family lived at first at 124 West 115th Street in Manhattan, but subsequently moved north to the Bronx. They lived in a number of locations in that borough, including an apartment on Nelson Avenue near Boscobel, within the Highbridge neighborhood, and a private home at 2792 Bainbridge Avenue, just northwest of Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden.
Around the turn-of-the-century, Arthur's police work focused almost exclusively on homicide cases. He participated in the investigation of the 1903 barrel murder case and in the related arrest of the dangerous Tomasso "the Ox" Petto.
Carey was promoted to lieutenant in 1906 and captain the following year. He assumed temporary leadership of homicide detectives in 1908. Carey was moved out to command a Brooklyn precinct between 1910 and 1914 but then returned to the Homicide Bureau.
As a "murder man," Carey was regularly called upon to investigate the most horrific of crimes. He was a leader in the investigation of the 1920 Wall Street terrorist bombing that claimed dozens of lives. In 1921, he worked on a case in which the upper half of a woman, who had been beaten and strangled to death, turned up in a sewer excavation at Long Island City. He also worked on a number of gangland murders, including the Barrel Murder, the 1921 killing of Joseph "Joe Pep" Viserti and the 1928 killing of Arnold Rothstein.
He reached the rank of deputy inspector in 1926. Late in 1928, Police Commissioner Grover A. Whalen forced him into retirement, as the centralized detective system was dismantled.
He briefly continued his work as a sleuth for the Westchester County district attorney. In this period, Arthur, his wife and three of their children, lived on Seminary Avenue in Yonkers.
Carey's autobiographical Memoirs of a Murder Man was released in 1930. The book focuses on Carey's detective work in homicide cases and features a chapter on the Morello Mafia's infamous 1903 Barrel Murder. (Read this chapter on our website.)
By 1935, Arthur and Lucy were in retirement, living a 321 Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx, quite close to their former Bainbridge Avenue home.
Carey died Dec. 13, 1952, at his Bronx residence. He was 86 years old. His two oldest sons, Donald and Arthur Jr., had followed him into the New York Police Department. They were serving as detectives at the time of his death.
- New York State Census of 1915.
- New York State Census of 1925.
- United States Census of 1870.
- United States Census of 1880.
- United States Census of 1900.
- United States Census of 1930.
- United States Census of 1940.
- Anderson, Isaac, "A murder man blows the gaff on crime," New York Times, July 6, 1930, p. Book Review 13.
- Carey, Arthur A., with Howard McLellan, Memoirs of a Murder Man, Garden City NY: Doubelday, Doran and Company, 1930.
- "Arthur Carey, 87, ex-inspector, dies," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1952, p. 90.
- "Detectives say they hope to find driver of horse," New York Evening World, Sept. 27, 1920, p. 8.
- "Half of slain woman's body found in pool," New York Tribune, Oct. 23, 1921, p. 8.
- "'Joe Pep,' ruler of Little Italy in Harlem, slain," New York Tribune, Oct. 14, 1921, p. 1.