John Dillmann
New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1986
ISBN # -- None, but it is a book of the month club book
212 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
July 2008

PLEASE NOTE: An internet reader of these comments has written a few comments and I have posted those at the end of my own remarks. See below

This is a gripping and shocking true story of the murder of a young woman by two men who plotted the murder with about the same concern most of us have in deciding to kill a mosquito.

It is also not the sort of book I would normally read. What attracted me to the book is that the actual murderer himself was my high school history teacher. I was just fascinated to read of this man whom I got to know quite well.

In either my junior or senior year of high school (so either 1956 or 1957 school year) I had Brother Sam Corey as teacher of American history. He was the terror of the school, and had a clear sadistic streak, beating boys rather seriously for the slightest act viewed as getting out of line.

One of the things I remember so vividly of Brother Corey (as I knew him) was his quick positioning himself were the alarm to go off from the near-by fire station. Brother Corey would hurry to the classroom door, on the opposite side of the room from the windows looking out on Kingshighway Blvd. We were always supposed to sit with feet together under the desk, and hands folded together on the desk in front of us unless we were taking notes. Heads had to be facing straight ahead. Brother Corey would lean against the door to see if a single head would turn toward Kingshighway, to our left, to see the fire engine leave the station. After a few days of class no one dared, since he would come down the aisle and beat the daylights out of any student who looked to the left.

We feared him, and with good reason. However, since his beatings were so violent, and so easily provoked, and provoked without fail for any odd behavior, after our first couple weeks relatively few got hit since we behaved in the ways he approved with great fear for the consequences if we didn’t.

The terrible irony, however, is that he was really a fascinating teacher. He taught American history. I remember one particular day he came into the room, and as was his delight, began to taunt one student whom I will just call “X.” This student did get into trouble a great deal and had been the object of several Brother Corey beatings. I can’t really recall if this was our junior or senior year, but I suspect it was our senior year since the issue that day was that X was about the only one in the class who wasn’t going to the school prom (reserved for seniors).

Brother Corey taunted him. “Mr. X,” said with great sarcasm, “you’re a big man, aren’t you. Tell me, do you drink?” Well, that was a challenge, X had a reputation in the school, so he sort of laughed a near snarl laugh and said, “Yeah, Brother, I take a drink now and then.” So, Corey reached into his black Brothers of Mary suit and pulled out a half-pint of vodka. “What’s this, X?” “It’s vodka, Brother.” “You drink this don’t you?” “Yeah, sometimes.” “Well, have a drink now,” said Corey, and sort of slammed the bottle down on the desk.

The whole class paused, hardly breathing, we had no idea what this was about. X also hesitated, trying not to lose the appearance of his cool, but really not knowing what in the world to do.

Brother Corey, snarled a chilling laugh, and said, “Go ahead, with my blessings, have a drink, big shot.”

So he did; tilted the bottle back and had a sort of gentle swig, without chocking or coughing.

Corey, shot back – “No, a REAL drink, you’re a big shot.”

X lifted it and took what seemed to be a pretty large swig, and still didn’t sputter or choke. I think most of us were quite taken with it all.

Corey picked up the bottle, walked to the desk and slammed the bottle down on the desk, him standing behind it. He carefully positioned it in the center of the desk, close to the front, closest to us. He fiddled with it a bit to set it just so. Then he reached into the his pocket and pulled out a rosary. He draped the rosary over the neck of the bottle, and wrapped the rosary round the bottle neck until only the end was left, then he carefully draped the rosary down on the front of the bottle with the crucifix about when the name of the booze was. He stepped back, his nasty snarl grin on his face. Folded his arms and just looked at us. He must has stood there 2-3 minutes, it seemed an eternity, us sitting straight, feet together under the desk, hands folded on the desk.

Then he began: “Al Smith, the Vatican, the rosary, the Catholics, vs. Herbert Hoover and Prohibition. This is the election of 1928!”

I never forgot that opening, and actually learned a great deal of American history from Brother Corey. He had many other very creative ways of getting our attention – about history, not merely about discipline.

Assuming this was my senior year I would have been about 17. He was a big man, not so tall, but very broad. Not really fat at that time (in the book I’m commenting on soon, he was extremely fat), but huge. Yet he seems to have only been 6 years older than us. He seemed much older and seems to have lied to us since he claimed to have been a former marine. It seems this wasn’t the case. He himself had been a student of the Brothers of Mary in a Texas high school just some 6 years prior to this time.

Some few years latter I heard some rumors that Corey had left the Brothers of Mary and was working in St. Louis selling guns, but I don’t know much about that rumor.

The book I just finished reading is a reported non-fiction account by John Dillmann and is the story of a brutal and heartless premeditated murder of a young woman, Patricia Albanowski. She was killed in New Orleans January of 1974. The actual murderer was my former history teacher, Sam Corey, then a Christian minister and owner of several massage parlors in San Antonio, Texas. He worked with a 26 year old con man, Jim Giesick, who had a long history of insurance frauds. The two men decided to pick a woman, any woman who seemed suitable; Giesick would marry her and insure her heavily, then kill her. Corey would do the major planning and the killing itself and get 75% of the take, Giesick would get the other 25%.

And this is exactly what they did. Patricia Albanowski was picked, a young lonely, very beautiful and astonishingly naïve girl. She had gone to get a job at one of Corey’s places believing it was really a massage parlor where one got a massage. Giesick conned her into a very quick marriage, and on a honeymoon trip to New Orleans, with plans to continue on to a Caribbean cruise, Corey, with Giesick’s help, ran her down in a hit-run killing. They had insured her with about $300,000 in various insurance policies.

Young and new police detective John Dillmann was assigned the case, and after a call from Albanowski’s parents in Trenton, NJ. convinced him to check out this seeming accident.

What follows is a detailed account of the detective work and the trial which led to the conviction of both Corey and Giesick. Corey is still today in prison in Louisiana.

I said above with a bit of skepticism this was a “reported” non-fiction account. I don’t mean to suggest I think this was a fictional account. However, I do come away from the book with a bit of skepticism about the role of the author, John Dillmann, and the carefully constructed drama of the story. No doubt it is well-done as a story, and no doubt he was the primary investigator and such. But, there is so much in the story which is self-aggrandizing of the author, that I just have nagging discomforts of what his role actually was.

However, I have of doubts at all about what was uncovered about Sam Corey and Jim Giesick. These were really disgusting people, heartless in the extreme, having not the slightest respect for human life at all. They deserved any punishments they got, and Corey definitely deserves to remain in prison the rest of his life. Unfortunately Giesick is already out of prison. In order to be able to convict Corey, the prosecutor made a deal with Giesick for a lesser sentence if he would turn state’s evidence against Corey.

The book is well-written as a thriller, again, in a style that would probably make a very good non-fiction novel in the detective story genre, but which raised a number of red flags for me in the reading.

However, I do tip my hat to author Dillmann in creating a gripping account that disgusted me in the very ways I think Dillmann wanted us to feel toward the killers.

It’s not the sort of book I normally read and definitely wouldn’t have read it were it not to have come up at a recent reunion luncheon of a bunch of us from the McBride High School class of 1957. The book has circulated around to others of my classmates, and I took it home this time.

It is a very strange feeling to know that I really knew this man, loved his teaching and learned a lot from him, did well interacting with him outside of class, albeit, on my most special best behavior in his presence, and then to discover this other life of his. It is just a very very strange feeling.


The notes below came from an internet reader who came upon these notes and wrote the following additions. This person decided not to make a personal identification.

I [was in] New Orleans, and saw much of Sam Corey's trial. He was a very scary guy. He was on death row until the US Supreme Court struck down the capital punishment statute in place in LA. that he was convicted under. I had heard that he ran death row when he was there due to his intelligence and guile. If he was teaching you in '56 or '57 he must be pretty old now. A woman who worked for him in one of his parlours said that he had gotten into trouble when he was a Christian Brother [Corbett notes: He was a Brother of Mary, not Christian Brother]because he made obscene phone calls to a nearby convent

In a later exchange the correspondent added this:

Sam's atty., F. Irvin Diamond, was one of the best criminal defense attys in N.O. at that time, and in his closng he mentioned his client's religous training and said that to convict Sam the jury would have to believe Geisick and his wife, both of whom had testified against him. During Diamond's cross examination of Geisick he got him to admit that he had been married 4 times by the age of 26. Giesick posed as a psychologist and told the women who worked at Sam's parlours that they were too inhibited, and the cure for that was immediate sex with him.

I dont remember if it was in the book or not, but Sam put on a roman collar when he attended the victim's funeral and accepted contributions from some of the mourners to say a mass for her soul.

Corbett adds: Yes, this latter story is in the book. Also, the correspondent indicated that a note is being sent to another person who was also in N.O. at that time and who also attended the trial, so perhaps even more information might be forthcoming."

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu


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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu