Bill Passes That Could Give Hartford Woman a Reward She Was Denied in 1953

A 2008 memoir documenting the murder of an 11-year old girl and efforts to arrest her killer inspired the bill.

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Connecticut’s General Assembly unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that could give a woman a reward she earned nearly 70 years ago. House Bill 5088  was introduced to recognize and compensate Ms. Patricia "Pidgie" D'Allessio for her help in taking a sexual predator and murderer off Hartford’s streets in the 1950s.

Following the brutal 1953 murder of 11-year old Irene Fiederowicz in Hartford’s south end, police sought leads. A reward of $3,000 was offered. A teenager, who was assaulted by the same attacker only days before, came forward. She offered information to police that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Malm, but was never given the reward money. On Wednesday, more than six decades later, a bill was voted on to remedy that, and it received unanimous approval.

“It was never about the money. It was more about the recognition that injustice was done and that we recognize that,” said Edwin Vargas, D-6th Dist., who introduced the bill.

As the bill was discussed there was also support from Republicans.

“We don’t often get a chance to set right 70-year-old mistakes made by our state and I’ll be proud to support the bill,” said Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-117th Dist.

The woman at the center of the bill is known by the pseudo name "Pidgie" D'Allessio, a false name given to her in the Mary-Ann Tirone Smith memoir, “Girls of Tender Age,” to protect her identity.  

After being sexually assaulted by Malm, “Pidgie” offered police information that was initially dismissed but later verified and used to arrest and convict Malm. 

Watching the vote of approval, Tirone Smith said, she wept.

“It brought justice for “Pidgie,” and that’s all I wanted,” the author said.

For Tirone Smith, the story is personal. Fiederowicz was a childhood friend and she considers “Pidgie’s” efforts to identify her killer heroic.

“Not only did she identify him in a lineup. She had to go in the room where the lineup was being held because they wanted her to hear his voice,” Tirone Smith said.

The book documents how “Pidgie” came forward, offering information to police that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Malm, but was never given the reward money.

Tirone Smith said the vote validates what “Pidgie” lived through then and carries with her today.

“I know that “Pidgie” and her family are going to be incredibly pleased by finally being honored,” Tirone Smith said.

The bill now needs to pass the Senate before being signed by the governor.

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