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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Milo's demise

In Detroit, the final day of August 1928 saw the final day of thirty-one year old Pete Milo. Pete didn't spend his entire career in Detroit, he was known to police out west as well as the Motor City. T'was out west where Pete and a pal named Zero Pachi were convicted of murder in Utah in 1914 and sentenced to life. Both were paroled, the former, in the fall of 1926 and headed for Detroit.

On June 16, 1927 Pete and Zero were riding in a cab when they started fighting. Pete drew his gun and perforated Zero. He pushed his friend's body out of the car and forced the driver to take him from the scene. He was arrested however but the jury let him off the hook. Since Michigan was too hot for him Pete went back west where he was arrested for burglary in Salt Lake City. Once again the jury let him go and he returned to Detroit.

The boys in blue weren't aware of Pete's return until he was gunned down a mere three blocks from police headquarters. It was was about 3:30a.m. and as Pete was walking along a car pulled up and some guns went off. Underworld juries seldom acquit.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

He should have saw it coming

A bonus story about a DGIT (Dead Guy in Turban). On this date back in 1930 Chicagoans were walking about minding their own beeswax when *SPLAT* a man's body hit the sidewalk after having been tossed out of a second story window. Ok, maybe not quite a *SPLAT* from that height, maybe more of a *THUDD*. But anyways to add to the intrigue the corpse had been stabbed three times in the chest. Even more exciting is that the dead guy was Chris Vlanos, fortune teller. Who killed him and why? Also why throw him through a window? Only Chris and his killer know. Police found a crystal ball in the dead man's room but the spirits were of no help.


Today marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of the passing of Frank Dolak and Benny Holinksy. Who were they you ask? Well they were part of a gang of Bronx kidnappers who thought they would make a quick bundle by kidnapping a bookie named Bart Salvo and ransoming him back to his outfit. Unfortunately for they gang they either didn’t know or didn't care that Salvo was a connected mob guy.

To make a long story short, Salvo was snatched and ransomed then it was retribution time. Flush with cash the gang was planning their next move. Dolak and Holinsky picked up a third member of the gang named Miller and they went for a ride. Holinsky at the wheel, Miller riding shotgun and Dolak in the rear.

After a bit Holinksy announced that they were being tailed by whom he suspected were cops. Unfortunately for them it was a carload of gun toting gangsters sent to kill them. Holinksy pulled over to see if the cops were indeed following them.

Seizing the opportunity the gangster car pulled up alongside and three men, armed with pistols, jumped out. Miller saw what was happening right away and jumped out his door and rolled on the sidewalk, got up and took off as one of the gunmen fired some shots in his direction. Trapped in the car, Holinsky and Dolak had to take it as the two remaining gunmen pumped bullet after bullet into their bodies. Their guns empty, the gunmen took off. Holinsky and Dolan stayed there and waited for an ambulance. They lingered in the hospital a few hours before expiring.

The full story behind the kidnapping and other depredations of Holinksy and Dolak’s gang can be found in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The long nap

William Cusick make that Mickey Duffy was considered by some to be the Al Capone of Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. Though he grew up as Bill Cusick of Polish descent, he changed his named to Mickey Duffy because, well, because a lot of non-Irish gangsters did that in the early days. Guess when the Irish cops were handing out beatings they went a little easier on you if they thought you were green. Guess maybe it helped with the corrupt Irish politicians as well. Anyways we're getting off topic. Topic is that on this date in 1931 the Philadelphia beer baron was shot to death in his suite in the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Earlier in the day three men arrived and the foursome, whom witnesses say were in jovial mood, went out for a stroll along the boardwalk. Later they went into Mickey's suite for lunch and at some point in the early afternoon Mickey laid down to take a nap. As he slept his pal(s) shot him to death.

It was assumed that Mickey was done in by his own gang whom were unhappy with his management. Apparently he had to close down a brewery and was also under Federal indictment for shaking down trucking lines that traversed the south Jersey roadways.  Though he had been wounded in a 1927 shooting in Philadelphia, in which his bodyguard had been killed, he felt safe in Atlantic City and didn't have any security.

Oh, for some reason everyone seems to think he was killed on the 30th or 31st, but as Mickey Duffy himself used to say, "You can't believe everything you read on the internet."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hooray for Hollywood

unless you're gangsters new to the neighborhood
then three pistols go ka-plooey
killing two mugs from St. Louie
who were there to sell their drugs
R. Whiting, J. Mercer, P. Downey

Yes, it was eighty-one years ago today that St. Louis gangsters Harry Mackley and Frank Keller stopped into a Hollywood eatery for their final supper. Whilst the duo broke bread three guys entered and approached their table. Each man drew a gun and emptied it into Mackley and or Keller. The trio of killers then walked out to a waiting auto and made a successful getaway.

Though both men were originally from St. Louis Harry was known to the police of New York and New Jersey as the result of some nefarious activities. It wasn't Harry's first time in Tinsel Town either, he had been arrested as a suspect in a murder back in 1929.

Both men flew in from St. Louis the week before and checked into one of the city's premier hotels. They also got in touch with a woman who had moved there from Kansas City about three years earlier. It was her car that the men used to drive to the restaurant. Cops traced it back to her and through her they learned that Mackley and Keller also had an apartment in town. They checked it out and found $1000 worth of drugs. That's nearly eighteen grand in today's dollars. So perhaps local drug dealers wanted them out of the way or maybe, as the police believed, the murder was retribution from the 1929 killing. Either way, that's wrap!

 Crimes, like customers who get killed before the check comes, don't pay.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jack wasn't nimble nor quick

Around 1:00am eighty-five years ago today a Detroit patrolman was making the rounds when he came across a blood spattered car in the alley behind Euclid Avenue. Hanging out of the auto across the running aboard was racketeer and "police character" Jack Isenberg. And yes it was Jack's blood which had spattered the car. The result of somebody placing a gun inches from his temple and pulling the trigger twice. Why would somebody want to kill Jack? The cops had a couple of reason, maybe it was revenge for the killing of another guy or maybe it was a couple of his own boys who took him out because as it turns out Jack was going to go on trial for a robbery and, well, just maybe his accomplices were afraid of what he was going to say.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LONdon After Midnight

We here at the DGIS studio would like to remember another DGIC (dead guy in cape) that left us in August. On this date in 1930 Lon Chaney Sr. the man of a thousand faces, like the man of a thousand voices, kept perfectly still. Old timers will tell you that it was his make-up that killed him. His autopsy report however will say it was throat cancer.

Chaney was a big proponent of prison reform, feeling that the institutions of his day did not rehabilitate criminals they only made them mean, bitter, angry and prone to be repeat offenders.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Devil Went Down to Saratoga Springs

"I'll bet this semi-precious stone, against your soul that I'm better at Yahtzee than you."
"I say old man, I'll take that bet and you're gonna regret cuz I'm the best thats ever been"

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The not-so-St.Valentine's Day massacre

On this date in 1931 New York had their very own version of the St. Valentines Day Massacre when three men were kidnapped from a dance club, driven to a remote area, lined up against a wall and mowed down with machine guns. Wow! A mini-massacre. How come we never heard of that before. Well, cause it didn’t really happen that way, but the editors of the daily rags thought it sounded good and, really when you think about it, why bother with facts. However, when only one of the victims died it was learned that .38’s were used and not machine guns so the public was un-impressed and the story was quickly forgotten.

How the non-massacre really went down - Anthony Ferrara stepped out of a Brooklyn Dance along with his friends Angelo Ciurrani and Murray Leonardi. He was immediately jumped by two men and dragged to a sedan and tossed into the rear tonneau where gang leader Barney Wolfson and two others waited.

Wolfson informed his two henchman, let's call them Stan & Ollie, that they grabbed the wrong guy, it was Ciurrani that he wanted not Ferrara. You see, Wolfson lead a gang of desperadoes that did some robbin’ and supposedly some killin’ and Ciurrani was a former member of the Wolfson mob who had “failed to connect” on a couple of jobs and to make matters worse was now bad mouthing Wolfson. So, with pistols drawn the two men went back and got Ciurrani and Leonardi (who for some reason stayed put???) and forced them into the car at gun point. They didn't even want Leonardi either but since he and Ferrara were there and dead men tell no yarns…

The three amigos were taken to a lumberyard in a secluded part of Brooklyn and lined up against the wall. Unfortunately for Ferrara, Wolfson an ex-marine with much gun experience, stood behind him while Ciurrani and Leonardi had average gun-toting schmoes (we'll assume Stan & Ollie; you'll see why) behind them. The signal was given and the triggers pulled. Ferrara dropped with a bullet in the head while Ciurrani and Leonardi’s would be executioners missed completely (see) and the duo made a run for it. However, Wolfson, (the guy who could shoot) managed to bring both down with two shots a piece before they got far.

The killers drove away while Ciurrani and Leonardi, both still alive, began to crawl to safety. Luckily for the wounded men the night watchman from the slaughterhouse across the street heard the shooting and called the authorities who arrived in minutes. Although unconscious when the ambulance arrived, Ciurrani came to in the hospital and told the police what happened.

Epilogue: Five days later police got a tip that a group of gangsters were holing up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.  With upwards of thirty officers armed with shotguns, riot guns and tear gas the authorities surrounded the building. Three detectives made their way to the second story apartment and, hearing voices inside, knocked on the door. No one responded to the knock so the detectives proceeded to blow the lock off the door with a shotgun.

Inside they found seven members of the gang, one, Harry Liebowitz, on the floor screaming over a superficial wound. The others, including Wolfson, were all found hidden around the apartment and gave up without a fight. In addition to a number of robberies and two murders, the police tried to blame the lumber yard shooting on them and after nineteen hours of "questioning" the gang admitted to the shooting.

Twenty-four year old Ferrara, although killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was a member of the underworld. He had a record dating back to 1922 when he was arrested as a juvenile delinquent. He was arrested again on November 27, 1929 for assault and robbery but discharged only to be arrested a month later with Leonardi for robbery for which both young men were sent to Elmira.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Did the Butler do it?

Shortly before 4:00am on this day back in 1930 Detroit police received a call about a shootout taking place on Brooklyn Avenue and Grand River Ave.. By time they got there the shooting was over and lying in the street was bootlegger and possessor of a criminal record William Butler. Nearby was a bullet riddled coupe containing "fifteen sacks of whiskey and two five gallon tins of alcohol". It seems that men in a truck forced the coupe to the curb and attempted to help themselves to  the cache of hooch but the occupants of the coupe weren't in a sharing mood, hence the fireworks. Which side was Butler on? Good question. If anyone has a Ouija board let us know. What is known is that in the end the coppers ended up with the goods.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Big trouble in Little Italy

 Joseph Cigna and Anthony Justiano were standing on a corner in New York City's Little Italy on this date back in 1931. Eight other guys were chatting it up with the duo when four other guys walked up and pulled out some pistols.

Cigna and Justiano apparently knew they were the targets because the both of them immediately fled. The gunmen followed letting loose with a barrage of gunfire. One of the duo almost made it into a tenement but dropped dead at the door while the other pitched forward on the sidewalk. Autopsies proved the gunmen to be competent marksmen. Cigna was hit by eight bullets and Justiano ten.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Truth is stranger than fiction

August sixteenth marks the passing of two of the Twentieth Century's most iconic DGIC (Dead Guys in Capes ) and we here at the DGIS Institute would like to take a moment to remember these two great performers.  As most people know Elvis died on this date thirty-seven years ago but what most people don’t realize is that twenty one years before that the world lost its original caped icon; Bela Lugosi. That’s right Dracula himself passed on August 16, 1956.

The similarities between the two stars doesn’t end there either. You thought that the Lincoln–Kennedy coincidences were eerie just examine these facts:

1- Bela Lugosi was the king of horror until he was usurped by a Brit. One William Henry Pratt, better known as Boris Karloff who starred in Frankenstein. Elvis was the king of rock until usurped by four Brits*, those lads from Liverpool , The Beatles.
2- Bela died in 1956. Elvis’s career was born in 1956.
3- Bela was born in Hungary and in his last years Elvis was always hungry
4- They both wore capes.
5- Bela played a carny in Murders in the Rue Morgue, Elvis played a carny in Roustabout.
6- Both have two vowels in their first name
7- Both had sex with Marilyn Monroe in the White house
8- Bela drove a Presley and Elvis drove a Lugosi
9- Bela shot heroin. Elvis shot tvs
10- Bela made “the Black Cat”. Elvis was a Black Belt

You can’t make this Dead Guys in Suits copyrighted material up folks. Just try to sleep tonight knowing what you now know.

* BTW, shave and a hair cut? That's two Brits.

Friday, August 8, 2014

World War Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

We took the day off here at the the DGIS Institute and I treated the interns to a matinee. Since I haven't seen it yet, we watched World War Z... Spoilers coming.... Now I generally don't rant when I have a problem with a movie, but there were too many problems with this one.

Hollywood has been making movies for over a century, how can they make these kind of mistakes. How can they drop a hundred million on a film, watch the end product and say, "That's great, get it out there." when it is so obviously flawed?

We'll start at the beginning.

Brad Pitt & family are having a nice pancake breakfast. The tv is on and you hear something about rabies on the news. Next scene the family is in downtown Philadelphia for some reason and the zombie plague hits out of nowhere. The Pitt family is stuck in traffic. Oh, no, a family stranded, what can they do? Miraculously a crazy garbage truck driver starts plowing through the traffic opening a lane and Pitt follows him out of the traffic jam.

Now, I usually give an allowance in films for unlikely things to happen so that is the one they get.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Only moments after getting out of the traffic jam the Pitt family gets in a car accident. Uh oh, now they are in trouble; zombies all around, they have no way out, how are they gonna do it? What special U.N. training does Brad have that will save his family while everyone around them is perishing??? They happen to find an abandoned RV with the keys in it. In down town Philadelphia mind you. That nobody else trying to save themselves thought to get in. Oh, and it has a rifle.

Brad turns to his wife and says, "We need to get out of the city." Now that's smart thinking, when a zombie outbreak occurs the last place you want to be is in a populated area, so where does Brad go? The Poconos maybe, central PA. farm country? No, he takes his family to Newark, New Jersey. He and his family deserve to die.  Newark isn't a city you want to go to on a Pleasant Valley Sunday, let alone a zombie armageddon. Why the hell would he take his family to a large metropolitan city after fleeing one? Especially so close to New York where another 8 million zombies are running amuck. Not to mention he would have had to drive through Trenton to get there, along the Jersey turnpike, which I assume would have been full of cars leaving the NY/NJ area. But no, they some how just end up in Newark.

Pitt, who we come to learn used to work for the U.N. in some sort of capacity phones his U.N. contact. They decide he can help so send a chopper for him and his family. They get rescued and are taken to a ship in the Atlantic.

They tell Brad they need him to help stop the zombie plague but in true cinematic hackney fashion he declines, he is in effect, the gangster who refuses to do the one last job, the retired detective who gets pulled back in for one last case. The reluctant warrior who gets sent on one final mission. Why doesn't he want to? What's his big beef with the U. N? Far as we can tell he quit to be a stay at home dad and he wants to stay with his family. So how do they get him to do the one last job? Tell him that he and his family will be removed from the ship if he doesn't help.

So now Brad is aboard. It is his job to shadow some young wunderkind health worker whom the powers that be think can stem the outbreak. Not really sure why Brad is there since they are also sending some Navy Seal type guys to protect the wunderkind. Anyways, they go to S. Korea where they believe the outbreak began. Upon arrival it is kind of eerie, we know the wunderkind has to buy it because Brad is the star, but how is it going to happen, one zombie? A whole hoard? What original, grisly death does the writer have in store for the wunderkind?...he trips and shoots himself. Now Brad is in charge. In S. Korea, he learns, nothing. He is tipped off that Israel knew about the impending zombie plague, go there and learn more he is told. So he goes.

Israel tells him they learned about the coming plague by picking up radio signals from somewhere in India, they don't know where so again we learn nothing, it's about this time that the writer realizes he doesn't have anywhere to go either, so as Brad is talking to an Israeli soldier he saved, he suddenly figures it out, in a true Matlock type moment, he realizes what needs to be done. All by the luck of conversation, you know kind of like in Independence Day, or any other film where the protagonist says, "W..what did you just say?" or "Say that again! No the first part!..That's it!!!"

This is getting long so I'll just skip to the end where suddenly Brad starts talking to us in voice over like Red in Shawshank Redemption. He goes on about how the ending is just the beginning and we need to help each other to survive ...Suddenly this is a narration movie. We don't know why the plague started, how it ends, nothing. Oh yeah, and the zombies don't eat people they just bite you once and move on. So not sure how Brad's solution really works since the zombies don't eat people. Did I mention the zombies don't eat people?

Subplots that go nowhere: When escaping from Newark they take some kid with them who goes on to do absolutely nothing. When the powers that be think Brad is dead, they ship his family to a refugee camp in Nova Scotia, Brad learns of this and gets mad as hell and then...nothing. He meets them at the end of the film and they hug during the "Red" Pitt Shawshank voice over.

Now some will say, if you had read the book you'd know why certain things happened, but a movie should work on its own.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Two Vacancies

 Vincent Pisano and Oresta DeRobertis were former members of the "Forty Thieves" gang that operated out of the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. By this date in 1934 both men were living in a rooming house and each had a room on the top floor.

At 4:00am, eighty years ago this morning, two gun men gained entrance to the house. They made their way upstairs then split up. One went into Pisano's room, the other DeRoberis's. All the tenants of the house were suddenly awakened by numerous shots, twelve actually. Six of which lodged in Pisano's abdomen and three, out of the six that were fired at him, in DeRobertis' skull.

Why? Who knows, maybe the "Forty Thieves" didn't take kindly to becoming the "Thirty Eight Thieves" or maybe the landlord knew she could get more money for the top two rooms. I suspect they had the best view.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gonna have a good time

Hey, hey it's my boithday! Cake and suds for everyone! 113 can ya believe it?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Death in Vienna

On this date back in 1930 just outside the town of Vienna, Ohio (A hamlet seven miles north of Youngstown) local residents called the police reporting gunfire. The police arrived and, in the road, found a car with forty-eight bullet holes in it. Inside the car was a sawed off shotgun which hadn't been fired.

In the street near the car they found a guy whom they tentatively identified as Salvatore Raggazzio. They could only tentatively ID him because a good portion of his face was missing. Police figured that Salvatore had made an appointment with some others and when he alighted from his car to walk over to meet the others - rat-atat-tat.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Over There

One hundred years ago today Germany invaded Belgium on their way to France. Doing so brought Britain into what, by the end of the week, would be WWI. At this point every soldier's uniform was still clean and they were all hoping for a little adventure assuming that the war would be over by Christmas. Not realizing that this:
Would become this:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Should have stayed in his car

"Big" Arthur Callen, 38, was a Philadelphia "Big Shot". He drove about in a bullet proof car which, we are told, saved his life at least a couple of times. However, on this date back in 1929 Arthur was standing at Park Side and Memorial Aves. when a gunman walked up and fired six dum dum bullets into him. The gunman walked to getaway car which was conveniently nearby and was whisked away. Arthur stayed where he was.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Guns of August

   Tony Marino AKA Dominic Russo, we are told, hooked up with Al Capone when Al was serving a sentence in Philadelphia for carrying a concealed weapon. The two hit it off and Al brought Tony back to Chicago when their sentences were up and put him to work in Cicero running some things. What could be better for a hoodlum. The most powerful criminal in America likes you and puts you to work in his domain.
Fast forward a couple of years.

Big Al is prison, your benefactor is gone.

On this date in 1933 Tony sat in his car, parked outside of a garage when a slow moving sedan drove by and three machine gunners raked his car with bullets killing him. Or did that happen? There is at least one report that stated Marino was standing in front of the garage when a number of men came out of the garage and fired numerous bullets into his back and head. We will leave it up to you to decide what happened to Tony.