A couple of days ago, I mentioned one of the greatest fences of all times, Marl Madelbaum. Today I’ll introduce you to a counterpart of hers, “Deadshot” Mary Shanley, an early 20th century undercover supercop. Hadley Meares of Atlas Obscura has unearthed the story of this fascinating woman.
“Deadshot” Mary Shanley was born in Ireland in 1896. Her family immigrated to America, and in 1931, Mary joined the NYPD. This was an unusual step for a woman of her time, though not unheard of.
During the first half of the 20th century, policewomen in America often worked undercover, on so-called “women’s beats.” “They are called upon regularly to trail or trap mashers, shoplifters, pickpockets and fortune-tellers; to impersonate drug addicts and hardened convicts, to expose criminal medical practice, find lost persons, guide girls in trouble, break up fake…
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