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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elmer's Tune

Called a "card sharp and petty racketeer" by police, Forty-three year old Elmer Johnson was also a bandit and it was his part in a speakeasy robbery that cost him his life on this date in 1933. Johnson had been rushed to the hospital at 2:00am with five bullet wounds in his back after being shot down on the street. Since he was just a petty racketeer, Elmer did not feel bound by the unwritten rules of the underworld and broke the first gangster commandment, Though Shalt Not Squeal, and named his attackers. They were Ernest Snyder and Carl Christianson. A squad car was sent out and the two men were quickly apprehended and brought to the hospital where Johnson identified Snyder as the actual shooter before dying. Snyder of course remained mum on the issue but Christianson, impressed with Elmer's singing ability, let go with an aria of his own entitled I Saw Snyder Shooting Santa Claus Elmer Cause (he participated in speakeasy robbery last night).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pulpy Goodness

"Any last request before we pull the switch Muggsy?"

"I'd like a blonde with a tommy gun and a crooked cop with a revolver and a knife. That about does it...oh and, if it's not asking too much, a gat for myself."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sam I Was

On this date in 1927 Sam Raplansky, a thirty-year old member of a gang called the Madison Street Boys, was hanging out at the mob's HQ, the Madison Street Boys club, until about 10:00 pm when he left for a while. At around midnight Sam returned to the clubhouse, which was crowded with various club members including his brother Harry. While in the hallway somebody came up to Sam and shot him in the face twice and once in the body.  Rushing into the hallway, Harry and other gang members found Sam and carried him outside to a cab for a rushed trip to the hospital. All was for naught however as Samuel had been killed instantly.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fat lady sings for the Fats

The day after Frank Devlin's body was discovered in 1929 [see yesterday's entry] Thomas Walsh, another portly New York gangster, was knocked off in Coral Gables, Florida. Besides girth, "Fatty" or "Fats" as he was also called, had another thing in common with Devlin, both men had ties to Arnold Rothstein.

Walsh, who was thirty-three at the time of his death, was a former body guard of Rothstein's who moved to Florida a few weeks after the latter's death. In the Sunshine State Walsh and another New York gangster, Arthur "Chick" Clark, owned a piece of a gambling room ran out of the Biltmore Hotel. In addition to an anonymous partner two other men, K.L. Gaylord and Eddie Wilson were also involved in the enterprise.

At 12:20 a.m., as Walsh and Clark were seated amongst the gamblers watching the nights play, partner Eddie Wilson appeared in the doorway brandishing a pistol. Once he sighted Walsh he raised the gun and fired five times. Two of the bullets hit the stout gangster in the abdomen and one nicked Clark in the arm. Walsh tried to get on his feet but fell forward on his face dead. The first reaction of the press and the police was to say that the killing was some how related to the Rothstein murder but as the investigation went on it was determined that Eddie Wilson was unhappy with Walsh because the latter was trying to shake down Wilson's share in the gambling enterprise.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Frankie goes to Whitehouse

On this date back in 1929 a man was walking in a field near what was known as the Somerville-Clinton Highway in Whitehouse, New Jersey when he saw what he thought to be a pile of clothes near a clump of pine trees. [Long time readers of DGIS have probably already figured out what it was]. Investigating, he made the grisly discovery that it was a frozen DGIS who had been shot in the left temple three times.

Police identified the dead man as Frank "Blubber" Devlin and figured that he had been "taken for a ride" roughly forty-eight hours earlier. The condition of his pants and coat showed that he had been dumped from a car and dragged to his resting spot by the pine trees.

"Legs" Diamond was credited with killing Devlin although it was never proved. Revenge was given as the reason because Devlin, supposedly on orders from Arnold Rothstein, was sent to Denver, Colorado with fellow gangsters Eugene Moran and Joe Piteo, to kill Legs' brother Eddie who was convalescing there with a case of tuberculosis. [Moran and Piteo were definitely on the hit team. There was a third man but as of yet he hasn't been positively identified]

Devlin had an extensive record dating back to the September 6,1921 murder of Walter Vogel with whom he shot it out with at the Transfer saloon. Since that time police said that he had been involved with Owney Madden's gang as well as keeping busy as a robber. When he left his home for the last time on February 6, he had three indictments against him from the previous year, one for assault and robbery, one for robbery  and one  for grand larceny. Where he was going that February 6, is unknown but after he said good-bye to his mother and brother he went to the bank, withdrew $1000 and disappeared.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Up on the roof

Salvatore Natoli was a twenty-four year old drug dealer who had served a term in the Elmira Reformatory for a robbery and, at the time of his death, had a Federal narcotics charge pending against him. The impending drug trial may have been the reason Natoli was bumped off. Perhaps the men he worked for were afraid of what he might say when in custody. Whatever the reason, at about 8:30pm on this date in 1935 Natoli was lured to the roof of a Harlem tenement and shot in the head. He was found about eight hours later by one of the building's tenants.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This wasn't in the brochure

Ninety-two years ago today a busload of tourist witnessed a gangland killing first hand as their tour bus cruised through Little Italy. The victim was Joseph Marone. Mr. Marone was strolling down the street when a car containing four men pulled up behind him and fired a shot. Marone dropped to the sidewalk with a bullet in his thigh. Before any more shots could be fired the tour bus pulled up between the car and Marone and the shooters sped off.

The tourist thought they were watching the filming of a movie and didn't realize that Marone was actually hurt but a pedestrian who knew better went and fetched a cop. At first Marone's leg wound appeared superficial and he was taken to Bellevue hospital where he was arrested. But at midnight the police received word from the hospital that he had died.

During his interrogation Marone kept his mouth shut and said nothing about his affairs or the men who shot him but police believed he was part of a burglary gang and double crossed the other members when it came to divvying up the spoils. The police also said that Marone knew he was a marked man and only left his house in the daytime. The killers, they speculated had been staking out his house and that's how they got him.