On the morning of May 23, 1896, a 38-year-old man known as Fisherman Pete was found dead on the floor of his 10x12 shanty, about a 100 yards south of McFadden Wharf (now the Newport Pier). The right side of his head had been crushed, 40 gashes and cuts marked his body, and a number of his fingers had been chopped off.
It was Newport Beach’s first murder. It also was the grisliest homicide ever in Newport Beach and maybe all of Orange County. But remarkably, historic crime had been lost to time. Until now.