Chicago gangster Ted Newberry says: "He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." Ted was rubbed out on January 7, 1933

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two Purples Expire

November 26, 1933 - Detroit

Eddie Fletcher and Abe Axler died as they lived; Together. Known as the "Siamese Twins" of Detroit's notorious Purple Gang, both Axler and Fletcher grew up together in Brooklyn, New York. Just as Al Capone went west at the dawn of Prohibition to strike it rich, so to did Axler and Fletcher. The latter two ended up in the Motor City in the mid 1920s and became top torpedoes for the organization.

By 1933 the Purple gang was in disarray. Main gang members and former leaders were either dead or in prison. The Siamese Twins reportedly tried to go straight themselves but were unable to make a living. Designated Public Enemies 1 & 2, by Detroit law enforcement, they were also picked up on sight. It was mentioned that Axler had a bookmaking operation working out of a Detroit barber shop. There was also a report that the men were trying to muscle in on the dope racket.

Whatever the reason, the men were taken for a ride in Axler's own Chrysler sedan. They were last seen leaving a beer garden in Pontiac, Michigan. They climbed into Axler's car after midnight and drove off. Somewhere along the lines they ended up in the back seat. Fletcher on the left, Axler in the middle and another guy on the right. Someone else was driving. It appears that Axler saw what was about to happened and grasped his partner's hand. Police believe Fletcher got it first, a fusillade from a .38 from the front driver's seat. He was hit twice in the chest, once in the right arm and once in the forehead. Axler took five shots from a .45 to the ride side of the head. Unrecognizable, he slouched into his dead friend. The car was abandoned on deserted patch of road off of Telegraph Road near Bloomfield Hills.

A couple of days after the murder the Detroit Free Press stated that the Licavoli crime family had made an attempt on them a few weeks before the murder. Axler and Fletcher may have known they were on the spot because they had been spending time outside of Detroit.

L. Eddie Fletcher R. Abe Axler

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Rub-a-dub-dub Jerry Died by the Tub

"Handsome" Jerry Ferri was an ex-Chicago gunmnan who moved out to San Francisco around 1926 because things got to hot for his in Chi-town. Supposedly he got into trouble with gang leader and had to flee the city. While in San Francisco he dabbled in bootlegging, kidnapping and as one paper stated he could walk into a North Beach cafe, demand a 50-50 split and get it. He was described as a local mafia leader.

Ferri, whose real name may have been Gennero Fieve, end came at about 2:30 in the morning on November 24, 1928 when some men accosted him at the foot of the stairwell of his apartment. The guns came and they opened fire. Ferri managed to run up the stairs to his apartment, but the gunmen chased him and fired through his front door. Making their way in they chased the gangster into his bathroom. Ferri, already wounded closed the door and the men fired through the door and one of the bullets pierced the gangster's head killing him.

Handsome Jerry Ferri with his girlfriend

Friday, November 22, 2019

Cuckoos Get Two Birds

Lester Barth and Dewey Goebel were former Cuckoo gangsters who sided with Tommy Hayes when the latter split with the St. Louis gang. It is believed that the duo were responsible for the killing of some of their former gang mates.

Like most men of their ilk, Barth and Goebel met a violent death. On November 22, 1930 both men had just exited the grocery store they visited nearly everyday at the same time (a fact no doubt known to the Cuckoo gunmen in the Hudson sedan that was following them) after loading the groceries into Goebel's Ford coupe. Speculation was that the two men had a still in operation and the daily supplies were for the men they had running it.

As they drove off from the grocery store the Hudson, containing four or five men, pulled up along side and three of the men, each armed with a Thompson machine-gun, opened fire.

Bullets ripped into the coupe and went crashed through the rear window. The groceries exploded as bullet after bullet plowed into the cases. Goebel turned, hoping to lose the Hudson but the killers made the turn as well, continuing to pour fire into the coupe. After a couple of blocks the Ford jumped the curb and came to a stop. The Hudson continued and got away.

Witnesses approached the coupe and pulled the duo, both of whom had been shot in the head, from the car. Both men died later at the hospital. A search of their homes turned up a Thompson machine-gun, two pistols and ammunition in the coal bin of Barth's house.

 L. Lester Barth    R. Dewey Goebel

The death car

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Friends til the End

Around noon on November 20, 1933 the naked body of New Jersey racketeer Albert Silvers was found on a lonely patch of road outside of Somers, Connecticut. He had been stabbed twice in the heart with an ice pick and garroted with a sash cord and neck tie. When found, his tongue protruded from his mouth and blood still oozed from the stab wounds. He was partially covered with a blanket.

Though an East Coast racketeer, Silvers, who was a lieutenant of New York mob boss Lepke Buchalter, was murdered for his loyal friendship to a mid-westerner.  Ex-South Dakotan sheriff turned bank robber and hit man Verne Miller- who was the hottest man in America during the last half of 1933 due to his orchestrating the Kansas City Massacre, which resulted in the death of five law enforcement officers, including an FBI agent.

Silvers had helped Miller out after the KC Massacre when, with the help of his brother who was an optometrist, they supplied Miller with salesman's case full of optometry equipment so he could travel the country posing as salesman. Silvers also set Miller up with an automobile.

When Miller later escaped a shootout with police on Halloween, they found his car and both this and the optometry equipment were traced to Silvers. Since Silvers was a close associate to Lepke, the syndicate leader had a decision to make. If the FBI got hold of Silvers what might he say to get out of trouble? Men, no doubt friends of Silvers, were sent out to him, possibly in Hartford where he was known to stay or at a hotel in Massachusetts, no one knows for sure. Wherever they caught up with him the result was the same.

Albert Silvers 

Dead Men Write No Tales

After two of his brothers had met a gangster's fate, Francis Fabrizzio, the oldest and probably the first of the brothers to venture into the New York underworld, decided that if he couldn't lick them, he would expose them.

The first brother to go was Louis, who was gunned down on a lower East Side street in February of 1928. Next, brother Andrew was found in a sack in New Jersey. The murder was committed at the behest of Louis "Pretty' Amberg, but the last place Andrew was seen was the garage used by the Bug & Meyer (Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lanksy) Mob. Francis supposedly sought retribution by bombing the garage. Though Siegel was wounded, nobody was seriously hurt and little damage was done.

Unable to kill those whom Francis held responsible for Andrew's death, he decided to blow the whistle on the entire works. To that end, Francis wrote a book naming the gangsters who ran things and spilling the beans on who murdered who. Not wanting such publicity, the underworld went about eliminating Francis.  Gunmen caught up with the would be author on this date in 1932, while a lawyer was helping him put the finishing touches on the manuscript. As the two men worked at Francis' parents apartment, there was knock at the door. Some "detectives" flashed their badges and demanded to see Francis. The hoodlum author stepped into the hallway to see what it was all about and never made it back inside.

During the ensuing investigation, real detectives confiscated the manuscript and it disappeared.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Roadhouse Blues

November 19, 1923 saw the demise of St. Louis gangster William "Whitey" Doering in "Halfway", Illinois, (an area located halfway between Marion and Herrin, Illinois) in what is infamously known as "Bloody Williamson" County.

Doering, said to be a member of Egan's Rats, pulled up to Charlie Birger's roadhouse with a carload of confederates and, according to Birger, walked up the porch and called Birger out. The latter stepped out and Doering shot him. From inside the roadhouse a number of shots were returned and Doering collapsed with seven bullets in his body. His pals sped off, and he died later that day in the hospital.

Birger said that Doering tried to rob him and it was the guys in the car that shot him (bad aiming as Birger asserted they were trying to get him) but then again Birger was one of the biggest gangsters in the region and would want to pass blame elsewhere. Other theories were that Doering was a friend of the bartender that Birger had killed earlier that week and was seeking revenge. A bootlegging deal gone awry was another reason given.

Whitey Doering

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Say it ain't so, Joe

New York City-

A man stepped out of his East Side tenement on his way to church. Slouched on the steps was a man whom he took for a drunk. He shook his head and passed. Upon returning from mass he saw the man still lying there, giving him a shake,the man's hat fell off and he saw that it was a corpse. The man summoned a cop and before long identification was made. Joseph Flanagan.

Called "Baby Joe" because he was youngest of the Four Fierce Flanagans, a quartet of East Side brothers who cut a swathe through New York's underworld during the Roaring Twenties, Joseph Flanagan met his end on this date back in 1929.

His career went back to his youth when he was sent to reform school at the age of fifteen. He spent a portion of the Jazz Age in the New Jersey State Penitentiary after being arrested during a jewelry store robbery in Perth Amboy. Like his brothers, Baby Joe was mainly an armed bandit but as the decade was coming to an end police surmised that he was also involved with beer running and, right or wrong, it was for the latter that they blamed. While on his final ride, somebody had placed a gun to Baby Joe's temple around 4 a.m. that Sunday morning and pulled the trigger. The job done, they dumped his body on the stoop.

Baby Joe Flanagan