"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Some People Can't Take No For An Answer

Kansas City gangster Saul Weissman, known as Solly, was bumped off on October 28, 1930 after a run in with Charles Haughton, head of a racing wire service in K.C. Weissman, known also as "Cutcher Head Off" and "Slicey Solly" was a bootlegger and all around general racketeer. His nicknames also more than denotes that he was a violent sort.

Originally from St. Louis, Weissman also had dealings in New York and Chicago. He first approached Haughton a few years earlier. He wanted the wire service provider to give him racing results before sending them out to bookies so he could place bets. Haughton declined.

Later Weissman approached Haughton again, Solly was getting into book making and wanted Haughton's services. Haughton declined. He didn't want to do business with him. This was followed by another request and refusal. "Well, you're going for a ride one of these days." Solly told sneered. This was followed by one more request by Weissman. Again he was refused. Weissman later left town, returning months later to face a charge for bootlegging.

Weissman returned to town to face a bootlegging charge, which he beat on October 28, after leaving the courtroom he headed for Haughton's wired service. 

Haughton, who didn't even know that Weissman was back in town, entered his race wire service. Climbing the stairs he reached the outer room. Weissman was sitting in a chair and, when he saw Haughton, he started to curse him and stood up. Haughton's mind started to race, He drew a .45 and when he heard Weissman saying something about "shoot" while reaching for his pocket, he fired his gun. A bullet tore into Weissman's throat  and he dropped to the floor while Haughton fled.

After hiding out for a bit, Haughton turned himself in but was found to have acted in self defense. Weissman went to the hospital where he died the next day. A search proved that Weissman was unarmed when shot. When discussing the shooting with the police, he told them that he told Haughton, "You don't have the guts to shoot - But he had."

Solly Weissman

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ziggy Bites The Stardust

The wee hours of October 27, 1929 saw the demise of Detroit gangster John "Ziggy" Selbin. The Detroit News described him as a petty gangster and hanger-on of the Purple Gang with a list of arrests, mostly for robbery. He was also a confederate of Irving Shapiro. Purple Gang historian Paul Kavieff fills informs us that Selbin robbed many nightclubs and blind pigs that belonged to gangsters in the area of Hamtramck. Since these gangsters bought their booze from the Purples, it was their responsibility to get rid of Selbin. Another thought is that as a pal of the late Irving Shapiro, Selbin was living on borrowed time anyways.

On Saturday night, October 26, Selbin told his parents, (the 22-year old youth still lived at home) that he was going to a Halloween party. At about half past midnight he was standing in a doorway speaking with a man who pulled out a .38 and fired five shots at the young gangster. Three of them found their mark and Selbin crumpled to the ground. The hoodlum expired while being loaded into a patrol wagon to be transported to the hospital.

John "Ziggy" Selbin

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Not So Pretty Death For Louis


About a month after his brother Joseph was gunned down in a Brownsville garage, racketeer Louis "Pretty" Amberg met a grisly fate on October 23, 1935. Louis operated on Manhattan's lower eastside and was living in a mid town hotel under an assumed name.

It appears that the Syndicate was waiting to see how Pretty reacted to his brother's murder before deciding on a course of action. When Pretty let it be known that he would be seeking revenge on those who orchestrated his brother's murder, it was deemed that Pretty should join Joseph in the great beyond.

A Lepke mobster named Mendy Weiss lured Pretty to a friend's bar just over the Manhattan bridge in Brooklyn. The proprietor invited the men into his office for a drink. Instead of a libation, two of Mendy's gorillas were waiting for Pretty and immediately started hacking him with cleavers.

Once Pretty was done for, his body was placed in an automobile. A burlap sack was placed over his head and he and the car were doused in gasoline and put to the match.

Louis "Pretty" Amberg

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

It's In The Bag

On October 21, 1932 one time Legs Diamond associate Dominick "Wicky" Bifano was found trussed up in a burlap sack in the back seat of a car. Prior to being bagged he was shot through the head. Bifano was with Legs' brother Eddie in Denver, Colorado back in 1928 when Dutch Schultz gunmen Joe Piteo and Gene Moran failed to bump off the younger Diamond brother. Both Eddie and Bifano barely escaped execution.

What Bifano was up to following Legs' death is unknown but he was well dressed and the recent recipient of a manicure.  It was assumed that foes of Legs Diamond finally caught up with him.


Dominick "Wicky" Bifano

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Don't Bank On It


It was supposed to be an easy job; run into the Kraft Bank located in Menomonie, Wisconsin, make everyone lie on the floor, grab the money and run. Driving the getaway car was Frank Webber, going inside were veteran bank robbers Charles Harmon, Francis Keating and Tommy Holden. The date of execution- October 20, 1931.

As planned, Webber parked the car and his three confederates alighted and entered the bank. The drew their guns and demanded money. Above the main floor was a guard who had been ordered not to do any shooting in the event of a robbery. After grabbing less than $10,000 in cash, one of the robbers demanded more money. The bank president, Sam Kraft, declared there was no more. Unsatisfied with the answer, one of the bandits fired into him.

Meantime the guard set off the alarm and headed to the roof of the bank with a rifle. Hearing this, Webber pulled the car up to the bank and stepped out with a Thompson machine-gun and began spraying the streets to ward off any would be heroes. The bandits grabbed a cashier, James Kraft, one of the bank president's sons, and another woman to use as human shields.

Running to the car the woman fell and they left her there, the cashier was pushed into the car. The desired effect of having a human shield didn't work. The guard and various towns people opened fire on the car as it drove away.

About six miles out of town, the posse found the dead bodies of Frankie Webber and James Kraft. Webber had been hit in the head by a vigilante's bullet. It was believed that the bandits had killed Kraft in retaliation. The following day, the body of Charles Harmon was found, he too, it was assumed, hit by bullets while fleeing.

Frankie Webber        Charles Harmon


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Northwest Passage

Matt Kolb was described as the Czar of crime on Chicago's northwest side and the northwest portion of Cook County. He grew to prominence in 1927 when his former business associate, Charles Graydon, became sheriff. As the sheriff's man, he was able to collect tribute and dole out favors. After Jack Zuta was shot to pieces in 1930, amongst his records were notations regarding payments made to Kolb.

One Capone biographer states that Kolb's enterprise was basically a subsidiary of Capone's organization. Another states that he was an independent whom Capone told to get out and stay out or else. Judging by the description of his murder it appears that he didn't fear his killers.

On October 18, 1931, the day after Capone was sentenced to prison, two men entered Kolb's resort, the Club Morton, located in Morton Grove. They brushed by the doorman stating that they "wanted to see Matt." Kolb was stationed near the dance floor by a door. They approached him and one of the guys said, "Hello Matt." and extended his hand. Kolb shook hands with him. The man said something which made Kolb chuckle and lean in closer. As this happened the other guy pulled out a pistol and shot Kolb a number of times in the head.

Kolb fell to the floor and the men started to leave. After a few steps the gunman said, "I'd better make sure." and went back and pumped another shot into Kolb. The two men walked out. Witnesses told police that the room was too dark and that they couldn't identify the men.

Matt Kolb

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Orgen Transplant

October 15, 1927 saw the demise of New York City gang leader Jacob Little Augie Orgen who, following the 1923 murder of his rival - Nathan Kid Dropper Kaplan, was the most powerful labor racketeer in the city. 

By 1927 Orgen was branching out into new fields. He had befriended Jack Legs Diamond who was one of Arnold Rothstein's top guys. Legs made a handful of trips to Europe as part of Rothstein's narcotic ring. Diamond was letting Orgen in on some drug deals and, in return, Little Augie was letting Diamond into the labor rackets. This didn't sit well with Orgen's chief lieutenants Lepke Buchalter and Gurrah Shapiro who were losing money on the jobs that went to Diamond.

Lepke and Shapiro decided that their boss had to go. Orgen had an appointment to meet Diamond on the lower eastside. Diamond showed up and met Orgen and the men began to walk. A sedan followed them. After a bit, a number of gunmen got out of the car and ran up behind the two gangsters. Orgen was shot in the head. Legs turned and was shot in the stomach. This was to neutralize him. They wanted him dead he would have been killed outright like Orgen.

The gunmen jumped back in the car and sped away. Diamond picked himself up off the sidewalk and staggered to a nearby hospital. 

Jacob "Little Augie" Orgen

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Show Time In Branson

October 14, 1930 saw justice brought down on mid-west desperado Jake Fleagle. Along with his brother Ralph and two other confederates, Fleagle robbed a bank in Lamar, Colorado in 1928. It didn't go well. The bank president opened fire on the gang, and before they made their getaway, the president and his son, also a bank employee, were dead. One of the Fleagle gang had been shot in the face. The bandits did manage to get away with thousands of dollars in cash and securities. For safety, they also brought a hostage.

After the robbery, the gang fled to Fleagle's ranch in Kansas. A doctor was summoned for the wounded bandit. After he treated the wounded man, the doctor and the hostage were taken into a secluded area and executed by Fleagle. During the murders, Fleagle got some of the doctor's blood on a finger and left a smudge on the physician's car window, which they abandoned. The print was sent to to the FBI and it was identified as Fleagle's.

Over the course of two years Ralph Fleagle and the two confederates were captured but Jake was able to remain at large. Finally the law was able to track Jake to Missouri. They learned that he was going to meet an acquaintance in Branson, and set a trap. When Fleagle boarded the train to leave town they were waiting for him and approached him as he took a seat. As they shouted for him to raise his hands, Fleagle went for his gun and was shot through the stomach. The bandit was removed from the train in cuffs and leg irons and taken to a hospital where he died the following day.

Jake Fleagle

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


Chicago hoodlum Edward Lattyak was described as bandit and possibly a member of the gang headed by Henry "Midget" Fernekes. On October 12, 1925 his bullet riddled body was found on State road outside of Chicago near the town of Argo. He had been taken for a ride and tossed from a car. Police failed to connect him to any of the bootlegging gangs so chalked his murder up to revenge of his fellow gunmen. Revenge for what wasn't speculated. Lattyak had served time in both the house of corrections and Pontiac reformatory. He had been arrested several times for robbery but managed to beat the rap.

Ed Lattyak

Monday, October 12, 2020

Drainage Trouble

James Quigley was a southside saloon keeper who was said to be a one-time member of Spike O'Donnell's gang. He had recently splintered off and formed his own gang. This move put the 45-year old former railroad man at odds with both O'Donnell as well as the Saltis-McErlane gang. It was believed that Quigley had killed McErlane's chauffer George Fitzgerald.

On October 12, 1931 Quigley was found floating in a drainage canal about thirty miles south of Chicago in the city of Lockport with a bullet in his head. The murder was credited to McErlane.

James Quigley

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Frankie Goes To Manhattan

After they got rid of Joey Amberg, the Syndicate went after the henchmen that assisted Amberg in his killing of Hy Kasner. They caught up with Frankie Teitlebaum first. The specifics are lost to history but it appears that he was lured somewhere and  sombody (or somebodies) sank an ax into his head a number of times.  There is also a report that a bullet was sent into his forehead for good measure.

After killing him, the murderers stripped his body down to underwear and t-shirt and crammed him into a travel trunk. The makeshift coffin was then carried out to a sedan and driven across the Brooklyn Bridge where it was dumped on the nearest Manhattan corner. 

Frankie Teitlebaum

Friday, October 9, 2020

Should've Hopped On The Bus, Gus

October 9, 1933 saw the demise of Chicago hoodlum, Gus Winkeler. Originally from St. Louis, Winkeler spent the better part of the 1920s robbing banks around the country. By the late Twenties he and his confederates were killers for hire in the employ of Al Capone. Known as Capone's "American Boys" Winkeler and his cohorts took part in the 1928 murder of New York kingpin Frankie Yale as well as the 1929's infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which seven Northside gangsters were mowed down with machineguns and shotguns.

Over the years Winkeler rose in the Capone gangs' ranks and by 1933 was running a lucrative nightclub and other ventures on the Northside. He was good friends with another hoodlum named Ted Newberry who tried to take out Frank Nitti and ended up going on a ride himself. The syndicate was bit wearing of Winkeler after that but didn't make a move. 

Because of his former bank robbing exploits, the FBI, which was gearing up for its war on crime, started questioning Winkeler on a regular basis. With Capone behind bars, Nitti and his cohorts decided that Winkeler was a liability. As he was leaving a beer distribution plant, two men with shotguns cut him down.

Gus Winkeler

Friday, October 2, 2020

In The Still Of The Night

On the morning of October 2, 1930, Sam Therina, a bootlegger in the employ of the Cuckoo gang, climbed out of a sedan in front of a St. Louis hospital and collapsed. He had been hit in both hips by blasts from a Thompson machine-gun.

Inside the hospital he told authorities that the bodies of Cuckoo gang members Peter McTigue and William Boody could be found at a still that the gang had set up approximately twenty-eight miles south and across the Mississippi river in Illinois. The rival Shelton gang had previously stated that that was their territory and anyone operating there would face the consequences.

Therina along with a few other guys;  Cuckoo member James Darmondy and Joe Moceri were cooking the mash that would be turned into whiskey. The night before McTigue and Boody showed up. Inside a slapped together shack, McTigue, Boody and Therina slept on cots. Moceri slept out side and Darmondy worked the still. 

At just about sun up rival gangsters crept up to the shack. Sticking the muzzle of a Thompson through a crack, the gunman opened fire. Therina was hit in the hip and, not knowing what was happening, got up from his cot and was hit again. Falling to the floor, he realized what was happening and stayed down. 

When the gunmen stepped away, Therina crawled over to McTigue's cot and felt him. Drawing back a bloody hand, he decided he was dead then crawled over to Boody's cot. 

"You hurt, Bill?"

Boody leaned up with a bloody face.

"Yeah. You better get out of here. I'm finished." The gangster said before falling back on his cot and letting out a gasp.

Therina, crawled to the door but stopped when he heard the machine-gun firing again. These shots were aimed at Moceri who was hit, but managed to escape into the woods. Darmondy also managed to get away.

Once the killers drove away, Therina crawled to Boody's sedan and managed to drive himself back to St. Louis.

Peter McTigue                     William Boody

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Spot on the Spot

October 1, 1933 marked the demise of one Joseph "Spot" Leahy. Spot was said to be one of the last of New York's infamous Gopher gang and the toughest man in Hell's Kitchen. Though he gathered a bit of press in his day, he never grew into a gangster of stature. Spot got his drinking money from bully work, such has strong arming for gangster Larry Fay. In addition to his other interest, Fay owned a fleet of taxi cabs. Leahy and others would keep rival taxi drivers from popular stops, allowing only Fay's drivers to pick up the fairs. He also had ties to a bootleg gang lead by Alfred "Dutch" Handel that operated on Mahattan's west side.

Leahy boasted at one time that gangsters Legs Diamond and Vannie Higgins were afraid to operate in the Hell's Kitchen district on Manhattan's west side because they didn't want to deal with him. In addition to a handful of underworld killings, in 1931 he arrested for beating his wife to death but managed to beat the rap. 

The knife was Spot's weapon of choice and it was by the knife that he was dispatched. Before sunrise, Spot was entering a hallway that would take him to a speakeasy. Someone came up from behind and slashed his throat a number of times.

Joseph "Spot" Leahy