When Max Geller was shot to death in Harlem, New York City, the police were at a loss because most witnesses on the scene refused to talk. Geller owned and operated the Green Parrot Bar and Grill in Harlem, where he was brutally shot in July 1942. Investigation Discovery’s ‘True Nightmares: Tales of Terror: Trick or Treat’ delves into the murder and portrays how a lucky break and a parrot helped investigators solve the case. Let’s dig into the details and find out where the perpetrator is at present, shall we?
How Did Max Geller Die?
Max Geller was a resident of the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem in New York City. He was a respected individual in his community and was known for running a small restaurant — Green Parrot Bar and Grill — located on Third Avenue and 100th Street. Reportedly, the restaurant got its name from a green parrot which Max owned and kept in the restaurant at all times.
Max was at his usual place serving drinks and food on July 12, 1942, when a heavily intoxicated person walked into the restaurant. As Max refused to serve the patron on account of his intoxication, the man pulled out a gun and shot Max on the spot. Once the police were called, they arrived to find that the bullet had gone straight through Max’s vocal cords. The restaurant owner was unable to speak but was still alive when he was shifted to a nearby hospital. While at the hospital, Max reportedly went into a coma and succumbed to his injuries around three weeks later.
Who Killed Max Geller?
Surprisingly, although several customers were present in the restaurant during the shooting, they could not identify the perpetrator. According to the show, witnesses told police that they were either too engrossed in conversation or distracted to pay attention. Thus, without a single lead or clue, the police were initially at a loss on how to progress. Once the case turned into a homicide investigation after Max’s death, detectives decided to reinterview all witnesses.
Soon the authorities learned that the parrot in the restaurant was trained to call the regular customers by name. Moreover, according to the show, during the shooting, the bird kept chirping, “Robber, Robber.” Based on a hunch, the detectives checked records and learned that a cab driver, Robert Butler, was a regular customer of the restaurant. Additionally, it was also discovered that Robert stopped appearing for work shortly after the murder and had even moved out of New York City.
Wondering if “Robber” could have meant “Robert,” officers focused their attention on locating Robert Butler’s whereabouts. Once detectives caught up with Robert, they put him under tough interrogation until he cracked and confessed to shooting Max Geller. Based on the confession, Robert was then arrested and charged with murder.
Where Is Robert Butler Now?
According to the show, detectives brought Robert back to New York in 1943 and made him stand trial for Max Geller’s murder. Ultimately, the jury found him guilty, and on February 10, 1944, Robert was sentenced to 15 years in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. Unfortunately, there are no reports detailing when he was released from prison, and Robert’s preference for privacy also made his whereabouts unclear. Thus, with no concrete news, it is pretty difficult to determine what ultimately happened to Robert Butler.