The Southampton Goodnight Kiss Murder

Officer Harold Winters had finished his coffee, and was ready to get back into his patrol car and continue policing the streets of Southampton. Officer Winters was working the night shift and it was his habit to enjoy his dinner break in the company of his girlfriend, Mary.  He pushed the last bit of his sandwich into his mouth, washing it back with his coffee, gathering any loose items he needed before turning to say goodnight to his girl. Harold  took Mary in his arms and held her tight. As they embraced and kissed each other goodnight, Mary heard a loud explosion and felt Harold Winters go limp in her arms.  He dropped to the floor,  red liquid spilling from a wound in the back of his head. Mary screamed as he fell, taking in the terrible scene. Even as she  ran to the phone calling for help, she knew exactly what had happened. It was Frank. She had been afraid of this for months.

The shot that killed Harold Winters was fired at approximately 10pm on a Friday night, August 5,1949.

Earlier that evening, Frank Zieman crouched in the darkness and watched through the back window as the couple inside stood up, their arms encircling each other. As their lips met, it was more than he could bear. Everything that had happened in the past few months crashed in on him at that moment, so he aimed his rifle at the back of Harold Winter’s head and pulled the trigger. Seconds later, Frank ran towards his parked car while his heart, no doubt, pumped wildly in his chest. Once inside the car, he started the engine and took off towards Sunrise Highway, racing towards Bridgehampton, checking his rear view mirror the entire way.

Frank Zieman had one more thing to do before he was finished.

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Frank  was born in 1904 in Southampton, NY.  His father, Leo Zieman, was born in Poland and his mother Marian was from Germany. Frank Zieman was Leo and Marian’s 6th child.

Leo Zieman made his living as a driver for a coal company and could not read or write at the time of Frank’s birth.  As the years went on Leo and Marian Zieman continued having children, ending up with a grand total of eleven by 1920.

At that time, four of the Zieman children were gainfully employed and presumably helping with expenses while 15 year old Frank Zieman and the others attended school. The Zieman family spoke Polish, German and English and by 1920 Leo Zieman had learned to read and write.

Ten years later, Frank’s father, Leo, has a new job working at a “clubhouse” and the family has moved to West Prospect St.  At the same time Frank Zieman was still living at home, a single man, working as a plumber.

Between 1930 and 1935 Frank Zieman exchanged his plumbing career for a job in retail sales. It was while he was working behind the counter at a large “chain store” in Southampton, that he met a pretty red-headed young woman named Mary. Mary would eventually become Mary Zieman and in 1935 give birth to a son. For a man like Frank Zieman, this must have been the happiest time of his life.

Frank would later leave the retail sales business and take a lucrative position in the civilian branch of the Navy. The position would require Frank to work overseas for a while. With a wife and child to provide for, it was an opportunity to better himself and Frank Zieman took it.

Harold Winters graphic


It was when Frank returned, after being overseas for months, that he discovered his wife of 15 years had taken a trip to Palm Beach, Florida and gotten a divorce behind his back. To make things worse, Frank eventually discovered that Mary was deeply involved with another man, Officer Harold Winters.

The series of events that followed, would dispel any doubt that this discovery devastated Frank Zieman,

Frank Zieman Graphic

One wonders if Frank Zieman and Harold Winters might have even known each other in some capacity? Considering that they both grew up in Southampton Village, it’s not out of the question.

Even though Harold Winters was technically born on Grand St. in Brooklyn, he spent most of his life in Southampton. His father,  John Winters, worked as a machinist in a rope factory and his mother, Stella was a stay at home mom. Harold Winters had one brother growing up, 8 years his senior. His name was John Jr.

In 1920, for some unknown reason, the Winters family split apart. John Sr. and Stella Winters left Brooklyn to live in Jersey City, minus their 2 children. John Winters Jr. went off on his own and 15 year old Harold Winters moved to Southampton to live with his grandparents.

The Southampton household consisted of Cleveland Winters, his wife Eva and Eva’s mother Jane Wells, who was 90 years old at the time. Cleveland Winters was 64 and worked as a freelance farm laborer which is difficult work at any age.

Harold Winter’s grandparents had taken on the extra responsibility of raising their grandson, and they must have done a very good job. Harold made them all proud in 1929, when he became a motorcycle patrolman with the Southampton Police Department.

At the age of 25, the handsome police officer married a pretty 23 year old school teacher  named Marion. They lived on Wooley St. and were described  as the perfect family…

until Harold Winters met Mary Zieman, that is.

The Murder House


After 3 children and almost 20 years of marriage, Marion Winters divorced her husband Harold right around the same time that Mary Zieman made her trip to Palm Beach Florida and divorced her absentee husband Frank.

No one really knows exactly how long Mary Zieman and Harold Winters had known each other, but It would seem  they became serious approximately  six months before Frank Zieman returned home from the Pacific.

Frank Zieman thought he was coming home to a loving wife and instead returned, only to discover that his wife had divorced him six months earlier and he didn’t even know it. For months after his return, Frank obsessed over his marriage, expressing outrage at the fact that his ex-wife and her new lover were spending time in the very same house that the Ziemans had lived as husband and wife. Even the telephone was still listed in Frank Zieman’s name.

Suicide Collage

After returning from overseas, where he was working hard to make a good living for his family, Frank  was forced to move out of his own house and accept the fact that his family was gone. He moved to an apartment in Islip, and was able to get a good job working for the Central Islip State Hospital, however he was never able to move on.

Zieman was spotted in Sag Harbor around 6:30 on the night of the murder, drinking with friends.

The evidence would later show that Frank Zieman arrived in Southampton around 10pm and waited in ambush outside of his house for Harold Winters to arrive. Then, as the couple embraced and gave each other a goodnight kiss, Frank Zieman shot Harold Winters in the back of the head. After the shooting Frank  got into his car and drove to a beach at the end of Ocean Avenue, in Bridgehampton. Shortly after arriving there he  took his own life.

His body was found, along with a suicide note, 9 hours after he murdered Harold Winters.

The beach  Frank Zieman drove to that night, was the same spot he had chosen to court his wife Mary and eventually the place where he had asked her to marry him.  Hw sad that a final act of desperation,  would make it the place he also chose to end his life.

Suicide site

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