But he was perhaps best remembered for his investigation to free a young man from prison in a matricide case, beginning with only the suspicions of the playwright Arthur Miller, who lived a few miles from the crime scene. “He said he thought Peter Reilly could have killed his mother, but wondered how he could have done it without getting blood on his clothes,” Mr Corry wrote in 1975. “The playwright said it bothered him .”
By that time, the case had been cold for two years. Mr Reilly was convicted of murdering his mother, Barbara Gibbons, at their home in Canaan, Conn., on September 28, 1973, though he insisted he had returned from a church meeting and found her body on the floor, the victim of a brutal attack. Her head was nearly severed, she had been stabbed repeatedly, and both her legs and some ribs were broken.
Under all-night grilling by state police detectives, he confessed, though he recanted the next day. The trial was filled with ambiguities – over Mr. Reilly’s movements on the night of the murder, the absence of a weapon or bloodstains on his clothing, and the timing of the calls he made after finding the body.
A jury convicted him of manslaughter and he was sentenced to six to sixteen years in prison. The matter was largely forgotten until Mr. Miller approached Mr. Corry, whose investigation revealed a crucial time difference. A priest said Mr. Reilly left the church at 9:40 p.m. for a six-mile ride home. His first call after finding the body, to a doctor, came in at 9:52 p.m
A judge ruled that Mr. Reilly had not had enough time to commit the murder and remove all the bloody evidence before police arrived at 10:02 p.m. The charges were dropped and Mr. Reilly was released. No one else was ever caught.
Another Corry inquiry was triggered by a 1982 literary dispute over the authenticity of books by Mr. Kosinski, a Polish-born novelist. After an article by Barbara Gelb in Times Magazine detailing his early life under the Nazi and Communist governments in Poland and his American writing successes, The Village Voice published its own story. The paper claimed he plagiarized in the service of the CIA, that his plots were stolen from Polish novels unknown in America, and that hired “editors” wrote his books.
Mr. Corry responded with a 6,000-word article in the Arts and Leisure section defending Mr. Kosinski. Mr Corry argued that the allegations of plagiarism and other nefarious activities were the product of a 15-year-long disinformation campaign by Polish communist intelligence agents, which resulted from the novelist’s allegations to Polish authorities for cracking down on the Solidarity movement.