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By Bruce Wigo
This is the final story of a three-part series on “The Aquatots Murder Case” regarding the death of 5-year-old Kathy Tongay and the subsequent murder charge against her father, Russell.
This month’s episode: Russell Tongay’s appeal, life in (and out) of prison, what happened to Kathy’s brother Bubba, and the impact the case has had on them. age group sports in America.
After Russell Tongay was convicted in 1954 for killing his daughter by forcing her to plunge manslaughter into a 10-meter tower in January, he was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor. But his lawyers immediately appealed the verdict to the Florida Supreme Court and Tongay was released on $ 5,000 bail.
Confident in his ultimate vindication, Tongay calmly proceeded to promote his son, Bubber, whom he now referred to as Bubba, at swimming shows in Mexico and Central and South America over the serf’s objections. But when they entered Nassau on their last stopover before returning to Miami, Tongay was ordered to leave by British authorities as an “unwanted foreigner”.
It would take 17 months for the Supreme Court to render its decision. During this interval, Bubba Tongay was making the headlines.
In the summer of 1953, shortly after her sister’s death, but before her father’s trial, Bubba had competed in her first AAU swimming competition and surprisingly broke three Florida Gold Coast AAU records for group d age of 10 years and under as 7 years. old.
But the negative publicity and his escapade south of the border kept him away from competitions until January 1955. It was then that he was registered for the international double telegraph meeting of the ‘AUA between the all-star teams from Berlin (Germany) and Miami. Before the event could take place, some local officials challenged Bubba’s amateur status, but the AAU allowed him to participate in the “goodwill” meeting sponsored by the US State Department.
The teams swam the events at the same time in their respective cities, and the results were announced on Voice of America. As Berlin beat Miami 227-195, 9-year-old Bubba Tongay was the American star, setting two American records for the 9-10 age group, swimming the 50-meter freestyle in 34.2 and 50 in 40.7.
CONDEMNED TO PRISON
Five months later, the Florida Supreme Court dismissed Tongay’s appeal and sentenced him to Raiford Prison on May 13, 1955. When he entered the jail, Russell Tongay weighed 280 pounds. Due to his poor physical condition, rather than heavy labor, he was assigned to light farm work, picking peas, pulling cane, etc.
One night in July, he tied a noose with a military belt, tied it around his neck and tried to hang himself from his bunk. But a guard found him choking and loosened the belt in time. He was hospitalized for four days and upon his return to prison he was reassigned to secretarial duties. It was then that he thought about saving his wife from suffering without him for 10 years and filed for a divorce, based on mental cruelty because she “didn’t love him anymore”. But she swore she still did, and the petition was dismissed.
Tongay then revealed that he had a spot on his lung, which was confirmed by prison doctors who examined his x-rays. He was losing a lot of weight, and as a Coast Guard veteran Tongay asked for a pardon so that he could be treated in a Virginia hospital rather than by jail medics.
His pardon request was denied, but the board, made up of elected officers from the Florida cabinet, agreed to break the precedent and temporarily release him so he could be treated at a VA hospital in New York. -Orléans.
Then came the incredible series of events that made headlines nationwide.
ON THE RUN
The council assigned a prison guard to drive Tongay to the VA hospital. Along the way, the car was involved in an accident and Tongay claimed to have been injured. He was treated at a local hospital, but no injuries could be found. While the car was >> being repaired, he was taken to a restaurant to eat. When the guard paid the check, Tongay ran to the door and disappeared between the cars in a parking lot.
Two weeks later, William “Red” Burell, a friend of Tongay’s and coach at Coral Gables High School in Miami, received a call from Tongay, who was in a VA hospital in Los Angeles. It was Tongay, who said he was in a Virginia hospital for treatment for lung cancer. He had amnesia and didn’t know how he got there, but he wanted Burell to intercede with the Governor of Florida for his pardon. But when it was found out where he was, he was arrested and the governor immediately issued an extradition order.
In Los Angeles jail, Tongay sliced both wrists with a double-edged razor blade in what hospital officials described as “an insincere attempt” to kill himself. This time, while he was being held in a padded cell, two guards were sent to retrieve him.
During the journey from California to Florida by train, Tongay refused to eat, saying he was ill. He lay down in his bunk and got his sheets dirty rather than getting up to use the bathroom. He had to be helped by the guards wherever he went. While transferring the trains, he was taken away in a wheelchair and his guards were deeply convinced that he was a weak and very sick man.
Next, near Mobile, Alabama, he found some clothes and covered his jail gear when the guards were unaware. The “invalid” was miraculously revitalized, and he rushed through some cars and jumped off the bandwagon. The guards got off at the next stop and called the mobile detectives, who were able to capture the fugitive. For the remainder of the trip, Tongay was in chains.
To continue reading the latest installment of the Kathy Tongay murder case,
Click here to download the December 2021 issue of Swimming World, available now!
Bruce Wigo, historian and consultant to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, was President / CEO of ISHOF from 2005-17.
[Dressel Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports]
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014 NATERS OF THE YEAR 2021
by Dan D’Addona, Matthew De George, John Lohn and David Rieder
World: Caeleb Dressel (American male) & Emma McKeon (Pacific Rim female)
Pacific Rim Male: Zac Stubblety-Cook
American: Katie Ledecky
European: Evgeny Rylov & Sarah Sjostrom
Africans: Ahmed Hafnaoui & Tatjana Schoenmaker
022 TOP 10 PERFORMANCES 2021
by John Lohn
Five-time Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel tops the list of best swimming performances in 2021, thanks to his world record in the 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics. Overall, the top 10 performances consisted of seven female efforts and three male efforts. Another breakdown reveals seven individual races and three relays to set world records.
025 HONG KONG HEROES
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People gathered in malls, crowding in front of large screens to watch their national heroes run for the Olympic medals. Others watched on televisions in office conference rooms, while train passengers had their mobile devices tuned to the Tokyo Games. What they saw was that Siobhan Haughey became the first and only Olympian from Hong Kong to win multiple medals — two silvers in the 100 and 200 freestyle.
032 ISHOF FILE: AQUATOTS MURDER CASE — THE STORY OF KATHY TONGAY (Part 3)
by Bruce Wigo
This is the final story of a three-part series on “The Aquatots Murder Case” regarding the death of 5-year-old Kathy Tongay and the subsequent murder charge against her father, Russell. This month’s episode: Russell Tongay’s appeal, life in (and out) of prison, what happened to Kathy’s brother, Bubber, and the impact the case has had on them. age group sports in America.
044 NUTRITION: HOLIDAYS / INTENSE WORKOUT
by Dawn Weatherwax
To train hard, you have to eat hard! Make sure you put as much emphasis on nutrition and sleep as you do on your workouts.
036 COACHING IN A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT (Part 2)
by Michael J. Stott
Last month, in Part 1, Swimming World explored how COVID-19 has changed swimming training as we have known it. This month, we take a look at some of the issues and opportunities that swim clubs face as they strive to be the sport of choice for a younger generation.
042 SWIMMING CONCEPTS: MAXIMIZING SWIMMING SPEED (Part 6) —THE PUSH PHASE
by Rod Havriluk
In freestyle and butterfly, swimmers generally decrease the time of the pushing phase to increase swim frequency and swim speed. In doing so, the premature upward movement of the elbows pulls the hands upward and compromises propulsion. Most swimmers can gain additional propulsion during the pushing phase by pushing the hand back instead of pulling the hand up.
045 SPECIAL PACKAGES: ZOE DIXON — VERSATILITY IS KEY
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Zoe Dixon, member of the 2021-2022 Junior National Team, has had quite a year. Swimming for coach Norm Wright at NOVA of Virginia, the 17-year-old is ranked No.1 in Virginia and 11th nationally for the 2022 class, and has signed up to the University of Florida.
047 Q&A WITH COACH BRENT BOOCK, ELMBROOK SWIM CLUB (Wis.)
by Michael J. Stott
048 HOW THEY TRAIN CAMPBELL STOLL
by Michael J. Stott
041 DRY CTÉ TRAINING: FINISH STRENGTH
by JR Rosania
051 UP & COMERS: THOMAS HEILMAN
by Shoshanna Rutemiller
COLUMNS AND SPECIAL SECTIONS
012 A VOICE FOR SPORT
013 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT THE 1951 PAN AMERICAN GAMES?
028 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
050 HIGH HASTIC SCORES
052 WORD OF GOUTT
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