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

Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ice Man cometh and Findeth a Deadeth Guy

We close out July with a visit to Chicago where on this date in 1928 an ice man making a delivery to a saloon found the body of Benny Zion half buried under some trash in the alley outside the saloon. He'd been shot inside but his assassins deemed it only right to clean up after themselves and drag him out to the garbage bins.

Why would somebody want to kill Benny? Well we don't know for sure but the cops said it might have to do with the fact that Benny was out of custody on bonds adding up to about $100,000 for his part in the killing of Octavius Granady, a guy running for councilman in the 20th ward. Seems that somebody was afraid that Benny might start talking once the investigation heated up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Two out of three ain't bad

Twas on this day in 1929 it was when on Chicago's west side Sgt. Murrin, a cop, was walking to work and came across three guys banging away at each other in Madison Street. As he ran up one of the guys staggered into a car with a woman at the wheel and sped off.  Left at the scene were  bootlegger James "Bozo" Shupe and his partner George Riggins, proprietor of the cigar shop out front of which the shooting took place. Both men had been hit. George collapsed on the riding board of a parked car and Bozo simply collapsed.

The cop took the wounded gangsters to the hospital where a short time later a woman pulled up and dropped off Thomas "Big Six" McNichols, also said to be in the beer business. Big Six said he was standing on a corner when some guy whom he didn't know shot him. When asked about Bozo and George he snarled and said "Don't bother me".

Bozo was the first go followed a few hour later by Big Six. Before the latter gave up the ghost he told his mother that he had two grand in cash and a $3000 ring. She brought this up with the Police who told her that he had nothing of the sort when he got to the hospital.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Elmhurst Beanfield War

Bean farmer Louis Cornell of Elmhurst, Illinois was enjoying a quiet evening at home eighty-four years ago this evening when the solitude that only a bean farm can offer was shattered by gunfire. Louis got on the horn and called the police who came out and, after a search of the area, reported that nothing was amiss. Satisfied that he did his civic duty, Louis settled down for a summer slumber.

The following morning Louis went about his bean farm chores when he came across another Louis. In this case it was Louis Falduto, we don't really know what he looked like because in addition to being shot his features had been turned to mush with a hatchet, or possibly a big knife.

Louis, the live one, called the police again. This time they not only found the dead guy but were also able to determine that he had jumped from a moving a car ( when he was still alive of course), Louis, the dead one, had apparently realized he was going for a one way ride and made a dash for it. The car pulled over and a number of men went after him on foot. Louis, the live one, heard the conclusion of the chase last night before calling the cops.

Although Louis Falduto, the dead Louis, had no rap sheet, police said that he was an alky cooker who ran into trouble with gangsters.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pulpy goodness

Who brings a zombie to a mummy fight?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chicken Ala Spot

Eighty-Six years ago this afternoon three St. Louis gangsters were keeping a rendezvous in what was called a "chicken yard" on the outskirts of the city in Wellston. The trio, James Russo, Mike Longo and Jack Griffin pulled into the yard at 2:00pm and waited. After a moment two cars pulled up and blocked the only way out.

The threesome seemed to realize they were on the spot and jumped from their car with their guns out and began firing at the cars. From inside a nearby chicken coop a Thompson went off. Longo dropped by the car dead. Russo and Griffin ran for cover. Russo caught a fatal dose of lead while heading for a tree and fell.  Griffin caught six bullets but managed to make it to a nearby house.

A witness described the machine gunner to a police artist:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the ice picks bite.

On this day back in 1931 Chicago bootlegger John Bakovatz took a nap. Bootlegging generally means long nights so we can see why John would snooze during the day. Little did John know that his nap would last an eternity.

Since the young kiddies were napping in the same room as pop, Mrs. Bakovatz took the opportunity to go visit the neighbors leaving a quiet house with no one to raise an alarm should somebody like, I don't know, an underworld hitman come by. One wonders what John may have been dreaming about. Perhaps visions of his ex partner Sherlock (yes Sherlock) Gasparino who had recently fled the country because he was afraid that he was going to be put on the spot danced in his head. By the way, as his name would imply, Sherlock was the smarter of the two for there was indeed danger afoot.

As John lay there sawing logs, into his room crept one of those fellows whom Sherlock feared. He approached the sleeping bootlegger and, wanting to do his deed in silence, plunged an ice-pick into John. Nothing wakes a man quicker than an ice pick in his person. Now that John was awake there was no need to be quiet so the killer pulled a gun and sent a bullet into John's throat. John went back to sleep.

The melee didn't wake the kiddies, anyone who has had small children knows that the tykes can sleep through anything. Not until John's brother in-law showed up did anyone know something was amiss.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Job opening

Phillip Plazza was said to be the top gangster of Chicago Heights with a couple of hundred guys on his payroll. He had "scores" of alky cookers working for him and in a raid on one of his "cafes" Prohibition agents uncovered one of the largest stills on record along with 10,000 gallons of hooch and another 1,000 gallons of wine.The wealthy gangster was also currently under indictment for his booze biz.

He also owned two roadhouses where he sold his goods, the Milano cafe and the Derby Inn. A month and half earlier a jeweler and his date were killed in a drive-by as they stepped out of the Derby. Police believed that the bullets were meant for Plazza.

On this date back in 1926 Plazza stepped outside of the Milano, which was only four short blocks from the police station. As he stood outside his cafe a sedan drove by and a number of guns went off. The next day the Chicago Heights help wanted section had an ad seeking a new underworld gang chief. Great pay but no job security.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love stinks

On this date back in 1928 Philadelphia gangster John Farrar alias Johnny the Wop was at the Black Horse tavern in Easton Pennsylvania having a swell time with a blonde dish. Johnny excused himself to use the phone. While Johnny conversed four guys toting sawed off shotguns entered the Black Horse. Patrons hit the dirt and the blonde dish commenced to screaming cause she put two and two together real quick like and figured out the reason for the arrival of the hogleg quartet.

Johnny was still on the phone when the guns went off. After a series of loud noises what was left of Johnny slumped to the ground as the gunmen ran out to a car with New York license plates and sped off. Police said that Johnny was erased due to some gang feud in Brooklyn, but... Pssst, come closer...can you keep a secret? Good, just between us, word on the underworld grapevine was that the blonde dish Johnny was making time with, well she was the main squeeze of a Philadelphia big shot who didn't like the fact that Johnny took his sweetie away so he called in some fellows from New York to help mend his broken heart.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Choose your friends wisely

Eighty four years ago today marks the exit of one Peter "Ash Can Pete" Inserio from the Chicago underworld. Now before you go making assumptions about Pete's hygiene please know that he was known as Ash Can Pete because he was proprietor of the Ash Can club. Now if you would like to make assumptions about a drinking hole called the Ash Can, go ahead. Others possibly did because Pete changed the name to the Idle Hour club by this date in 1930.

So here we have Ash Can Pete, (Perhaps if he lived longer he would have become Idle Hour Pete, we'll never know) Sitting outside his club when somebody(ies) came up and fired six bullets into him. Police arrived and Pete was still kicking. They took him to the hospital and along the way asked who it was who shot him. "I don't know," said Pete, "but they did a good job." and so they did, Pete died a short time later.

When asked for a motive the police stated that Pete had recently aligned himself with the Moran-Aiello gang. They, by the way, were Al Capone's top enemies. If true, not a good move on Pete's part.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Goodbye Larry

At 2:00am on this date back in 1931 Cincinnati gangster Larry Coates had just left a camp on the outskirts of town. In the car with him was his father. They met outside of town because Larry was persona non grata in Cinncy. Why? Well for a number of reasons but mainly because a gun  found in his possession after an arrest in Florida was found by ballistic experts to have fired the bullets that killed another Southern Ohio gangster by the name of Jew John Marcus earlier that year. Coates beat it from Florida.

After the campground rendesvous, Coates was giving the old man a ride home in his high dollar sedan complete with bullet proof windows. However, if bullet proof windows are to be effective they must be rolled up. Being that this was a warm July night, Larry had his window down.

As they approached the city limits another car pulled up alongside them. Larry looked over and didn't care for what he saw and hit the gas. The other car did like wise and caught up. A shotgun, and possibly other guns, went off and Larry slumped over the wheel with shot in the back of his head, neck and shoulder. The elder Coates grabbed the wheel and managed to steer the car into an embankment.

Coates was rushed to the hospital After the crash senior Coates stood around waiting for help. After some time a cab pulled over saw the dying gangster and took off. Once back in town he called the cops who sent an ambulance. Coates was taken to the hospital where he lingered until shedding his mortal coil on July 28.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Live by the gun, die know the rest.

On the evening of this date back in nineteen hundred and twenty-nine Philadelpia gangster Richard "Patsy" Morella was loitering in front of a store on Girard Avenue just east of Broad Street whence from the middle of Girard one gunman, said to be Sam Cohen, pulled out a pistol and began firing.

For some reason Patsy thought the shots were coming from inside the store he was standing in front of and turned and began to fire blindly into the shop. Using Patsy's confusion to his advantage, Cohen ran up and knock him to the ground with a blow to the head. Once Patsy was down, Cohen put his gun to the prone man's head and fired. Then he took off.

Cohen was arrested the following the day. Police say that Patsy was rubbed because he killed this guy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

We only kill each other - Occasionally at the same time

It was a good old fashion duel in Chicago's 19th ward  back in the USA, back in the bad old days.
It happened like this friends, In the heat of a summer night, in the land of the dollar bill...wait, that's a different Chicago story.

Those shooting it up cowboy style on this date in 1925 were James Vinci and Joseph "Machine gun Joe" Grannada. Chicagoans were already familiar with Vinci. He drove the car of shooters who murdered labor racketeer Mossy Enright in 1920. As for Grannada, well, his moniker says it all. Both men were in a saloon when a fight broke out between them and they took to the streets to let their guns finish the argument.

What was the fight over? I think it went something like this:
"My good man, surely you'll agree that Mack Sennett is the king of comedy."
"You're daft Sir, the king is surely Hal Roach."
"Mack Sennet!"
"Hal Roach!"
"To the street sir, I demand satisfaction."
"After you, sir."

The DGIS Institute is open to other possibilities if you care to share.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Unholy Toledo*

Today in 1931 the body of "Cleveland Beer Baron" Al Jaffee, (not to be confused with Mad Magazine artist Al Jaffee) was found on a lonely Toledo road just south of the Michigan border. He wasn't by himself either. the fellers who bound, gagged and fired a couple of .45 bullets into his head figured they should send him off with a companion and so did the same to his body guard Harry "The Carpenter" Gertzlin.

A couple reasons offered for the offing were that they were trying to muscle in on the Toledo alcohol scene and that they were there to settle a situation regarding the hijacking of one of their liquor trucks. If it was the latter then I doubt they were satisfied with resolution.

*Didn't come up with that one ourselves, it's a title of book about Toledo gangsters.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gas, Guns & Gus

Gus Buselaki owned a filling station in downtown St. Louis back when you didn't have to pump your own gas. You just sat back while some guy in an appropriate outfit filled your tank, washed your windshield and probably even thanked you for coming in.

Yes, Gus was a proprietor of just such a place. Gus was some other things too. Gus was also an organizer for the "Service Car Drivers Association". Gangster was also listed as one of Gus's occupations.

So there Gus was standing about his station just after midnight back on this date in 1931 when a sedan drove by and either two machine-guns with 25 round drums or one gun with a 50 round drum opened fire from a window spraying Gus's establishment as well as Gus himself with upwards of fifty bullets.

Nine other people were about and two woman were slightly wounded. As for Gus, a good percentage of the fifty bullets came to rest in him.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Since Chicago has been so bountiful with dgis we shall remain here another day and remember one Edgar "Spiker" Smith who went the way of all gangster flesh on this date back in 1931.

Yes friends it was eighty-three years ago this evening that a citizen of Chicago's south side went to the coppers and reported that he saw, right in front of his own house mind you,  a man get shot in a sedan. Later that night said car was found with "Spiker" (not to be confused with Edward "Spike" O'Donnell, another Chicago hoodlum and survivor of numerous assassination attempts) slumped over in the front passenger side.

Spiker was called both a Capone hoodlum as well as the body guard of Danny Stanton. Regarding the latter, both he and Spiker were wanted in Waukesha, Wisconsin for the murder of prominent Chicago hoodlum Jack Zuta who got a fatal dose of lead while hiding out there in a resort. Together with Danny, Spiker was fighting extradition to Wisconsin to stand trial.

Police said that Spiker was bumped off because of a south side beer war or possibly for retaliation for killing a film projectionist in a labor feud. Being sentimentalists we here at the institute like to think he got it from his "friends". Maybe he was getting nervous about the Zuta business and they thought it would be better if he went on a one way vacation.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chicago house call

On this date back in 1926, thirty-seven year old well-to-do contractor Joe Ciccone was, like most family men, home with his wife and six children. Unlike most family men however Joe was said to be a high ranking member of the Genna gang. For those who may be new to the gangster genre the Gennas were a powerful Chicago gang ran by the six Genna brothers. Unfortunately for Joseph and other gang members, by 1926 three of the brothers were dead and the gang was on the ropes.

For whatever reason rivals decided that Joe had to go too. Apparently Joe didn't get out much because his assassins decided the best way to get him would be at his house. So shortly after midnight two guntoters rang his doorbell. With his entire family in the living room, Joe answered the door and...well you can guess the rest.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pulpy goodness

Sorry to be the one to break it to you folks, but yes, the Gorton's fisherman does have a sordid past.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not the type of autoshow Detroit wanted

Eighty-four years ago today, alleged Detroit racketeer Samuel Cilluffo was driving his coupe along the streets of the Motor City when a sedan containing four other alleged racketeers forced Sam's buggy to the curb. Once stopped, a rain of twenty shots peppered Sam's coupe. After the the first round, two of the alleged racketeers clambered out of their car and mounted Sam's running board and fired another eleven shots into Sam.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pushing up weeds

T'was on this day in 1931 it t'was that Dave Amdur, said to be a Cleveland racketeer was found dead in a clump of weeds in Pennsylvania just over the Ohio border near the city of Warren.

According to Dave's pal,  Joseph Blank, also of the racketeering brotherhood, the duo were walking along the Sharon - Youngstown highway before the rising of the sun when a car passed them, came to a stop and backed up along side them, and, occupants of said auto thusly opened fire on the duo. Amdur took three shots to the head, Blank took some lead to the arms and chest but managed to make his way to a night watchman's shanty and get help.

Of course Blank knew of no reason why anyone would want to hurt him and his pal. He said they had left Cleveland the day before and were on their way to New York. What he didn't say was why they were walking and how Amdur ended up in the Pennsylvania weeds. We here at the DGIS Instituted smell a ride job...and French toast. Friday is French toast day here.