The Final Insanity of Al Capone: Was Notorious Gangster Haunted by a Hapless Victim?

The Final Insanity of Al Capone: Was Notorious Gangster Haunted by a Hapless Victim?

Al Capone was a notorious American gangster whose multi-million dollar Chicago operation in bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling dominated the organized crime scene for nearly a decade. At the height of his power, he employed over 1,000 gunmen in his service and had up to half of the city’s police force on his payroll. Yet in his final years, he had descended into a frightened, quivering mess, who would scream out at night for ‘Jimmy’ to leave him alone. Did Al Capone suffer mental illness in his final years, or was he haunted by one his hapless victims?

Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (1899 – 1947) was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of recent Italian immigrants. His entrance into a life of crime began when he moved to Chicago and became a friend and bodyguard to Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol during America’s Prohibition era.

Al Capone is shown here in 1930 at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge. ( Public Domain )

It was not long before Al Capone had adopted the life of a dangerous gangster. By the age of 26, he was a powerful crime boss who had both political and law-enforcement protection. He used bribery and widespread intimidation to influence elections, and violence and murder to ensure his business in illegal breweries was a success. Capone was left virtually untouched by the law until the brutal Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of gang rivals, which led influential citizens to demand government action.

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Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

By early 1929, Capone dominated the illegal liquor trade in Chicago. But other racketeers, known as the North Side Gang, vied for a piece of the profitable bootlegging business, and among them was Capone’s long-time rival “Bugs” Moran. Capone decided that Moran was too big of a threat and had to go.

On the morning of February 14, 1929, Capone’s men, posing as police, launched a fake raid on the North Side Gang. The faux police lined 7 men along a wall and then mowed them down with machine guns. Alerted to the danger ahead of time, Bugs Moran escaped the slaughter. Photos of the victims shocked the public and damaged Capone’s reputation among his political allies, and a decision was made to finally act on Capone’s lawlessness.

The photo of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre finally forced law enforcement to act against Al Capone. ( Fair Use )

Without proof to tie him to the massacre, Capone had to be brought in on other charges. In May 1929, Capone was arrested for carrying a gun during a trip to Philadelphia and was sentenced to a prison term in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.

Al Capone Tormented by ‘Jimmy’

Al Capone’s connections ensured he was given top treatment in prison. While other prisoners suffered in bare, concrete cells with a simple slab for a bed, Capone’s cell was adorned with fine furniture, oil paintings, and a radio. But his ‘luxurious’ cell, did little to make Capone’s stay a comfortable one – it was not long before the rough and tough crime boss had transformed into a weeping and terrified mess who would send out blood-curdling screams at night, shouting for ‘Jimmy’ to leave him alone.

Left: A regular cell at Eastern State Penitentiary. ( ) Right: Al Capone’s cell. (Thesab/ CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Many people believe that ‘Jimmy’ was the ghost of one of Al Capone’s victims, who would torment him night after night. Indeed, one of the seven victims from the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was named James (“Jimmy”) Clark. Originally born Albert Kachellek, Jimmy was Bugs Moran’s brother-in-law, and died on that bloody February 14.

The torment followed Capone after he left Eastern State Penitentiary and went on to serve another 11 years at Atlanta US Penitentiary and Alcatraz for tax evasion. In 1931, Capone even called in a medium, named Alice Britt, to try to find out what Jimmy wanted. Apparently, Britt was unsuccessful and Capone continued to be terrorized.

Others point to a more scientific explanation for his torment.

Syphilis Claims the Mind of Al Capone

At about 20 years of age, Capone worked as a bouncer in a brothel, where he contracted syphilis. He never sought treatment, which caused the disease to advance into neurosyphilis, leading to dementia. After serving six-and-a-half years in prison, Capone was released in 1939 to a mental hospital in Baltimore, where he remained for three years.

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Al Capone’s health deteriorated, and by 1946 his physician and a Baltimore psychiatrist performed examinations and concluded Capone had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old child. On January 25, 1947, Capone died of cardiac arrest. He was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

The grave of Al Capone in Hillside, Illinois. ( )

No one really knows why Capone would incessantly call out ‘Jimmy’ in his final years. While many are convinced it was the ghost of his hapless victim, James Clark, others maintain that it was the guilt for his crimes combined with declining mental health that led to his torment by the unknown Jimmy, who remained with him until his final days.


The Final Insanity of Al Capone: Was Notorious Gangster Haunted by a Hapless Victim?

Al Capone was a notorious American gangster whose multi-million dollar Chicago operation in bootlegging, prostitution and gambling dominated the organized crime scene for nearly a decade. At the height of his power, he employed over 1,000 gunmen in his service and had up to half of the city’s police force on his payroll. Yet in his final years, he had descended into a frightened, quivering mess, who would scream out at night for ‘Jimmy’ to leave him alone. Did Al Capone suffer mental illness in his final years, or was he haunted by one his hapless victims?

Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone (1899 – 1947) was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of recent Italian immigrants. His entrance into a life of crime began when he moved to Chicago and became a friend and bodyguard to Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol during America’s Prohibition era.

Al Capone is shown here in 1930 at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge (Wikimedia Commons)

It was not long before Al Capone had adopted the life of a dangerous gangster and by the age of 26, he was a powerful crime boss who had both political and law-enforcement protection. He used bribery and widespread intimidation to influence elections, and violence and murder to ensure his business in illegal breweries was a success. Capone was left virtually untouched by the law until the brutal Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of gang rivals, which led influential citizens to demand government action.


Gangster Al Capone’s Real Fear of this Ghost Will Change the Way You See this Criminal Forever

Law enforcement officers with seized bootlegging equipment, Ohio State University

With Colosimo dead, Torrio began moving into the bootlegging business and promoted Capone to be his right-hand man. Together, the two set to work cornering the market on illegal booze in the city. Thier efforts put them at odds with the rival North Side gang headed by Irish gangster Dean O&rsquoBanion, which was heavily involved in the bootlegging racket. Soon, the competition led to war. In 1924, O&rsquoBanion was murdered, likely by Frankie Yale. In revenge, a group of North Side gunmen attacked Capone, but he escaped unharmed. Torrio wouldn&rsquot be so lucky. Two weeks later, he was ambushed and shot several times.

Torrio survived his injuries, but the attack left him shaken. Once out of the hospital, he left for Italy, leaving Capone in charge of the Chicago operation. Torrio always preferred to stay out of the spotlight, conducting his gang&rsquos illegal activities in the shadows. Capone shared little of his mentor&rsquos subtlety. Once in control, Capone began cultivating an image as a celebrity. His organization was bringing in millions through the bootlegging trade and Capone spent it on flashy suits and jewelry. He made no effort to avoid the press, instead giving reporters veiled references to his work as a &ldquobusinessman&rdquo who was &ldquogiving people what they want.&rdquo

Capone became a prominent figure in the debate on Prohibition. To many, he was a simple thug. However, others believed he was taking a stand against an unjust law. But what many of his supporters neglected to mention was that all of Capone&rsquos operations were supported by extreme violence. Capone regularly orchestrated bombing campaigns and assassinations against anyone who threatened his control over the booze supply in Chicago. And soon, his ongoing war with the North Side gang would result in a horrific massacre that even Capone&rsquos staunchest supporters couldn&rsquot ignore.

On February 14, 1929, five members of the North Side gang and two of their associates were stopped by men wearing police uniforms in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. The men were led to a nearby garage, where they were lined up against a wall and brutally gunned down. The press soon dubbed the event the &ldquoSt. Valentine&rsquos Day Massacre.&rdquo There was no hard evidence in the case to go on. The one victim still alive when the real police showed up stuck by the gangster code of silence and stated, &ldquono one-shot me,&rdquo before dying of multiple bullet wounds. However, suspicion immediately fell on Capone.

St. Valentine&rsquos Day Massacre, Chicago Tribune

The public soon began clamoring for justice against the city&rsquos most notorious gangster. But protected by a web of corruption and bribes, Capone was able to avoid any charges of murder or violating Prohibition. Instead, the government focused on a lesser charge. And in 1932, Capone was finally sent to prison for failure to pay income tax. Many people saw this as another instance of Capone escaping justice for his murders. But once in prison, he suffered through his own form of punishment as he began receiving visits from the ghostly shade of one of his victims and slowly descending into madness.


Gangster Al Capone’s Real Fear of this Ghost Will Change the Way You See this Criminal Forever

In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, effectively making alcoholic beverages illegal across the country. But people still wanted to drink making booze illegal didn&rsquot change that. It just meant that now the only people supplying that booze were criminals. And few criminals in the liquor trade were as violent or as seemingly impervious to being caught as Al &ldquoScarface&rdquo Capone. But while the law might have seemed powerless to punish Capone, Capone believed that the vengeful ghost of one of his victims stepped in to do it for them.

To understand why he believed that, you need to understand who Capone was. Capone was born to Italian immigrants in New York City and spent most of his early life getting into trouble. After getting kicked out of school at age 14 for punching a teacher in the face, he caught the interest of a prominent mobster, Johnny Torrio. Torrio soon left for Chicago to run a brothel operation for a crime boss named &ldquoBig Jim&rdquo Colosimo. But in 1917, he set Capone up with a job as a bartender in New York club owned by his friend, Frankie Yale. As usual, Capone found it difficult to stay out of trouble.

Al Capone, Biography

One night, while serving as a bouncer at the club, Capone insulted the sister of a man named Frank Galluccio. In response, Galluccio slashed Capone across the face, leaving a set of prominent scars. Capone&rsquos associates soon took to calling him &ldquoScarface,&rdquo a name Capone himself hated- he would later tell people the scars were old war wounds. Soon after, Frankie Yale called Torrio tell inform him that Capone had nearly beaten a rival gang member to death and that the police were now looking for a suspect with a prominent scar.

Torrio agreed the best thing to do was to send Capone west while the heat died down, and Capone soon turned up in Chicago to take up work as a bouncer at one of Torrio&rsquos brothels. Around that time, Prohibition went into effect, and the Chicago underworld quickly realized there was a fortune to be made in bootlegging liquor to supply the city&rsquos speakeasies. Torrio encouraged his boss, &ldquoBig Jim&rdquo Colosimo, to enter the racket. Colosimo refused, worried that the already-violent bootlegging trade would draw too much heat from the police. Torrio didn&rsquot take the refusal lightly. Instead, he placed a call to his old friend Frankie Yale.

Johnny Torrio, Historymaniacmegan

Torrio decided that Colosimo stood in the way of his profit and asked Yale if he was willing to kill him. When Yale arrived in Chicago, he settled on the violent young Capone as the perfect accomplice. In May 1920, Torrio called Colosimo to tell him that he needed to be at a cafe he owned to receive a shipment. When Colosimo arrived, he was brutally gunned down in the foyer. No one was ever charged with the murder, but Yale and Capone were almost certainly involved. And though it might have been the first murder Capone helped commit, it wouldn&rsquot be the last.


Capone in Chicago

When Capone was 19, he married Mae Coughlin just weeks after the birth of their child, Albert Francis. His former boss and friend Johnny Torrio was the boy’s godfather. Now a husband and a father, Capone wanted to do right by his family, so he moved to Baltimore where he took an honest job as a bookkeeper for a construction company. But when Capone’s father died of a heart attack in 1920, Torrio invited him to come to Chicago. Capone jumped at the opportunity.

In Chicago, Torrio was presiding over a booming business in gambling and prostitution, but with the enactment in 1920 of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol, Torrio focused on a new, more lucrative field: bootlegging. As a former petty thug and bookkeeper, Capone brought both his street smarts and his expertise with numbers to Torrio’s Chicago operations. Torrio recognized Capone’s skills and quickly promoted him to partner. But unlike the low-profile Torrio, Capone began to develop a reputation as a drinker and rabble-rouser. After hitting a parked taxicab while driving drunk, he was arrested for the first time. Torrio quickly used his city government connections to get him off.

Capone cleaned up his act when his family arrived from Brooklyn. His wife and son, along with his mother, younger brothers and sister all moved to Chicago, and Capone bought a modest house in the middle-class South Side.

In 1923, when Chicago elected a reformist mayor who announced that he planned to rid the city of corruption, Torrio and Capone moved their base beyond the city limits to suburban Cicero. But a 1924 mayoral election in Cicero threatened their operations. To ensure they could continue doing business, Torrio and Capone initiated an intimidation effort on the day of the election, March 31, 1924, to guarantee their candidate would get elected. Some voters were even shot and killed. Chicago sent in police to respond, and they brutally gunned down Capone’s brother Frank in the street.


Contents

Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 17, 1899. [3] His parents were Italian immigrants Gabriele Capone (1865–1920) and Teresa Capone (née Raiola 1867–1952). [4] His father was a barber and his mother was a seamstress, both born in Angri, a small commune outside of Naples in the Province of Salerno. [5] [6] Capone's family had immigrated to the United States in 1893 by ship, first going through Fiume (modern-day Rijeka, Croatia), a port city in what was then Austria-Hungary. [3] [7] The family settled at 95 Navy Street, in the Navy Yard section of Brooklyn, New York City. Gabriele Capone worked at a nearby barber shop at 29 Park Avenue. When Al was 11, he and his family moved to 38 Garfield Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn. [3]

Gabriele and Teresa had eight other children: Vincenzo Capone, who later changed his name to Richard Hart and became a Prohibition agent in Homer, Nebraska Raffaele James Capone, also known as Ralph "Bottles" Capone, who took charge of his brother's beverage industry Salvatore "Frank" Capone, Ermina Capone, who died at the age of one, Ermino "John" Capone, Albert Capone, Matthew Capone, and Mafalda Capone. Ralph and Frank worked with Al Capone in his criminal empire. Frank did so until his death on April 1, 1924. [8] Ralph ran the bottling companies (both legal and illegal) early on and was also the front man for the Chicago Outfit for some time, until he was imprisoned for tax evasion in 1932. [9]

Capone showed promise as a student but had trouble with the rules at his strict parochial Catholic school. His schooling ended at the age of 14 after he was expelled for hitting a female teacher in the face. [10] He worked at odd jobs around Brooklyn, including a candy store and a bowling alley. [11] From 1916 to 1918, he played semi-professional baseball. [12] Following this, Capone was influenced by gangster Johnny Torrio, whom he came to regard as a mentor. [13]

Capone married Mae Josephine Coughlin at age 19, on December 30, 1918. She was Irish Catholic and earlier that month had given birth to their son Albert Francis "Sonny" Capone (1918–2004). Albert lost most of his hearing in his left ear as a child. Capone was under the age of 21, and his parents had to consent in writing to the marriage. [14] By all accounts, the two had a happy marriage despite his criminal lifestyle. [15]

New York City

Capone initially became involved with small-time gangs that included the Junior Forty Thieves and the Bowery Boys. He then joined the Brooklyn Rippers, and then the powerful Five Points Gang based in Lower Manhattan. During this time, he was employed and mentored by fellow racketeer Frankie Yale, a bartender in a Coney Island dance hall and saloon called the Harvard Inn. Capone inadvertently insulted a woman while working the door, and he was slashed with a knife three times on the left side of his face by her brother Frank Galluccio the wounds led to the nickname "Scarface" which Capone loathed. [16] [17] [18] The date when this occurred has been reported with inconsistencies. [19] [20] [21] When Capone was photographed, he hid the scarred left side of his face, saying that the injuries were war wounds. [17] [22] He was called "Snorky" by his closest friends, a term for a sharp dresser. [23]

Move to Chicago

In 1919, Capone left New York City for Chicago at the invitation of Johnny Torrio, who was imported by crime boss James "Big Jim" Colosimo as an enforcer. Capone began in Chicago as a bouncer in a brothel, where he contracted syphilis. Timely use of Salvarsan probably could have cured the infection, but he apparently never sought treatment. [24] In 1923, he purchased a small house at 7244 South Prairie Avenue in the Park Manor neighborhood in the city's south side for US$5,500 . [25] According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, hijacker Joe Howard was killed on May 7, 1923 after he tried to interfere with the Capone-Torrio bootleg beer business. [26] In the early years of the decade, his name began appearing in newspaper sports pages where he was described as a boxing promoter. [27] Torrio took over Colosimo's crime empire after the latter's murder on May 11, 1920, in which Capone was suspected of being involved. [10] [28] [29]

Torrio headed an essentially Italian organized crime group that was the biggest in the city, with Capone as his right-hand man. He was wary of being drawn into gang wars and tried to negotiate agreements over territory between rival crime groups. The smaller North Side Gang led by Dean O'Banion came under pressure from the Genna brothers who were allied with Torrio. O'Banion found that Torrio was unhelpful with the encroachment of the Gennas into the North Side, despite his pretensions to be a settler of disputes. [30] In a fateful step, Torrio arranged the murder of O'Banion at his flower shop on November 10, 1924. This placed Hymie Weiss at the head of the gang, backed by Vincent Drucci and Bugs Moran. Weiss had been a close friend of O'Banion, and the North Siders made it a priority to get revenge on his killers. [31] [32] [33]

Al Capone was a frequent visitor to RyeMabee in Monteagle, Tennessee, "when he was traveling between Chicago and his Florida estate in Miami." [34]

During Prohibition in the United States, Capone was involved with bootleggers in Canada, who helped him smuggle liquor into the US. When Capone was asked if he knew Rocco Perri, billed as Canada's "King of the Bootleggers", he replied: "Why, I don't even know which street Canada is on." [35] Other sources, however, claim that Capone had certainly visited Canada, [36] where he maintained some hideaways, [37] but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police states that there is no "evidence that he ever set foot on Canadian soil." [38]

In January 1925, Capone was ambushed, leaving him shaken but unhurt. Twelve days later, Torrio was returning from a shopping trip when he was shot several times. After recovering, he effectively resigned and handed control to Capone, age 26, who became the new boss of an organization that took in illegal breweries and a transportation network that reached to Canada, with political and law-enforcement protection. In turn, he was able to use more violence to increase revenue. An establishment that refused to purchase liquor from him often got blown up, and as many as 100 people were killed in such bombings during the 1920s. Rivals saw Capone as responsible for the proliferation of brothels in the city. [33] [39] [40] [41]

Capone often enlisted the help of local members of the black community into his operations jazz musicians Milt Hinton and Lionel Hampton had uncles who worked for Capone on the South Side of Chicago. A fan of jazz as well, Capone once requested clarinetist Johnny Dodds to play a number that Dodds did not know Capone split a $100 bill in half and told Dodds that he would get the other half when it was learned. Capone had also sent two bodyguards to accompany jazz pianist Earl Hines on a road trip. [42]

Capone indulged in custom suits, cigars, gourmet food and drink, and female companionship. He was particularly known for his flamboyant and costly jewelry. His favorite responses to questions about his activities were: "I am just a businessman, giving the people what they want" and, "All I do is satisfy a public demand." Capone had become a national celebrity and talking point. [16]

He based himself in Cicero, Illinois, after using bribery and widespread intimidation to take over town council elections (such as the 1924 Cicero municipal elections), and this made it difficult for the North Siders to target him. [43] His driver was found tortured and murdered, and there was an attempt on Weiss's life in the Chicago Loop. On September 20, 1926, the North Side Gang used a ploy outside the Capone headquarters at the Hawthorne Inn, aimed at drawing him to the windows. Gunmen in several cars then opened fire with Thompson submachine guns and shotguns at the windows of the first-floor restaurant. Capone was unhurt and called for a truce, but the negotiations fell through. Three weeks later, on October 11, Weiss was killed outside the former O'Banion flower shop North Side headquarters. The owner of Hawthorne's restaurant was a friend of Capone's, and he was kidnapped and killed by Moran and Drucci in January 1927. [44] [45] Reports of Capone's intimidation became well known to the point where it was alleged that some companies, such as the makers of Vine-Glo, would use supposed Capone threats as a marketing tactic. [46] [47]

Capone became increasingly security-minded and desirous of getting away from Chicago. [45] [48] As a precaution, he and his entourage would often show up suddenly at one of Chicago's train depots and buy up an entire Pullman sleeper car on a night train to Cleveland, Omaha, Kansas City, Little Rock, or Hot Springs, where they would spend a week in luxury hotel suites under assumed names. In 1928, Capone paid $40,000 to beer magnate August Anheuser Busch Sr. for a 14-room retreat at 93 Palm Avenue on Palm Island, Florida, in Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach. [49] He never registered any property under his name. He did not even have a bank account, but he always used Western Union for cash delivery, although not more than $1,000. [50]

Feud with Aiello

In November 1925, Antonio Lombardo was named head of the Unione Siciliana, a Sicilian-American benevolent society that had been corrupted by gangsters. An infuriated Joe Aiello, who had wanted the position himself, believed Capone was responsible for Lombardo's ascension and he resented the non-Sicilian's attempts to manipulate affairs within the Unione. [51] Aiello severed all personal and business ties with Lombardo and entered into a feud with him and Capone. [51] [52] Aiello allied himself with several other Capone enemies, including Jack Zuta, who ran vice and gambling houses together. [53] [54] Aiello plotted to eliminate both Lombardo and Capone, and starting in the spring of 1927, made several attempts to assassinate Capone. [52] On one occasion, Aiello offered money to the chef of Joseph "Diamond Joe" Esposito's Bella Napoli Café, Capone's favorite restaurant, to put prussic acid in Capone's and Lombardo's soup reports indicated he offered between $10,000 and $35,000. [51] [55] Instead, the chef exposed the plot to Capone, [52] [56] who responded by dispatching men to destroy one of Aiello's stores on West Division Street with machine-gun fire. [52] More than 200 bullets were fired into the Aiello Brothers Bakery on May 28, 1927, wounding Joe's brother Antonio. [51] During the summer and autumn of 1927 a number of hitmen Aiello hired to kill Capone were themselves slain. Among them were Anthony Russo and Vincent Spicuzza, each of whom had been offered $25,000 by Aiello to kill Capone and Lombardo. [52] Aiello eventually offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who eliminated Capone. [55] [52] At least 10 gunmen tried to collect on Aiello's bounty, but ended up dead. [51] Capone's ally Ralph Sheldon attempted to kill both Capone and Lombardo for Aiello's reward, but Capone henchman Frank Nitti's intelligence network learned of the transaction and had Sheldon shot in front of a West Side hotel, although he did not die. [53]

In November 1927 Aiello organized machine-gun ambushes across from Lombardo's home and a cigar store frequented by Capone, but those plans were foiled after an anonymous tip led police to raid several addresses and arrest Milwaukee gunman Angelo La Mantio and four other Aiello gunmen. After the police discovered receipts for the apartments in La Mantio's pockets, he confessed that Aiello had hired him to kill Capone and Lombardo, leading the police to arrest Aiello himself and bring him to the South Clark Street police station. [53] [57] Upon learning of the arrest, Capone dispatched nearly two dozen gunmen to stand guard outside the station and await Aiello's release. [53] [58] The men made no attempt to conceal their purpose there, and reporters and photographers rushed to the scene to observe Aiello's expected murder. [56]

Political alliances

The protagonists of Chicago's politics had long been associated with questionable methods, and even newspaper circulation "wars", but the need for bootleggers to have protection in city hall introduced a far more serious level of violence and graft. Capone is generally seen as having an appreciable effect in bringing about the victories of Republican William Hale Thompson, especially in the 1927 mayoral race when Thompson campaigned for a wide-open town, at one time hinting that he'd reopen illegal saloons. [59] Such a proclamation helped his campaign gain the support of Capone, and he allegedly accepted a contribution of $250,000 from the gangster. In the 1927 mayoral race, Thompson beat William Emmett Dever by a relatively slim margin. [60] [61] Thompson's powerful Cook County political machine had drawn on the often-parochial Italian community, but this was in tension with his highly successful courting of African Americans. [62] [63] [64]

Another politician, Joe Esposito, became a political rival of Capone, and on March 21, 1928, Esposito was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of his house. [26] Capone continued to back Thompson. Voting booths were targeted by Capone's bomber James Belcastro in the wards where Thompson's opponents were thought to have support, on the polling day of April 10, 1928, in the so-called Pineapple Primary, causing the deaths of at least 15 people. Belcastro was accused of the murder of lawyer Octavius Granady, an African American who challenged Thompson's candidate for the African American vote, and was chased through the streets on polling day by cars of gunmen before being shot dead. Four policemen were among those charged along with Belcastro, but all charges were dropped after key witnesses recanted their statements. An indication of the attitude of local law enforcement to Capone's organization came in 1931 when Belcastro was wounded in a shooting police suggested to skeptical journalists that Belcastro was an independent operator. [65] [66] [67] [68] [69]

A 1929 report by The New York Times connected Capone to the 1926 murder of Assistant State Attorney William H. McSwiggin, the 1928 murders of chief investigator Ben Newmark and former mentor Frankie Yale. [70]

Saint Valentine's Day Massacre

Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, despite being at his Florida home at the time of the massacre. [71] The massacre was an attempt to eliminate Bugs Moran, head of the North Side Gang, and the motivation for the plan may have been the fact that some expensive whisky illegally imported from Canada via the Detroit River had been hijacked while it was being transported to Cook County, Illinois. [72]

Moran was the last survivor of the North Side gunmen his succession had come about because his similarly aggressive predecessors, Weiss and Vincent Drucci, had been killed in the violence that followed the murder of original leader, Dean O'Banion. [73] [74]

To monitor their targets' habits and movements, Capone's men rented an apartment across from the trucking warehouse and garage at 2122 North Clark Street, which served as Moran's headquarters. On the morning of Thursday, February 14, 1929, [75] [76] Capone's lookouts signaled four gunmen disguised as police officers to initiate a "police raid". The faux police lined the seven victims along a wall and signaled for accomplices armed with machine guns and shotguns. Moran was not among the victims. Photos of the slain victims shocked the public and damaged Capone's image. Within days, Capone received a summons to testify before a Chicago grand jury on charges of federal Prohibition violations, but he claimed to be too unwell to attend. [77] In an effort to clean up his image, Capone donated to charities and sponsored a soup kitchen in Chicago during the Depression. [78] [2]

The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre led to public disquiet about Thompson's alliance with Capone and was a factor in Anton J. Cermak winning the mayoral election on April 6, 1931. [79]

Feud with Aiello ends

Capone was primarily known for ordering other men to do his dirty work for him. In May 1929, one of Capone's bodyguards, Frank Rio, uncovered a plot by three of his men, Albert Anselmi, John Scalise and Joseph Giunta persuaded by Aiello, to depose Capone and take over the Chicago Outfit. [80] Capone later beat the men with a baseball bat and then ordered his bodyguards to shoot them, a scene that was included in the 1987 film The Untouchables. [81] Deirdre Bair, along with writers and historians such as William Elliot Hazelgrove, have questioned the veracity of the claim. [81] [82] Bair questioned why "three trained killers could sit quietly and let this happen", while Hazelgrove stated that Capone would have been "hard pressed to beat three men to death with a baseball bat" and that he would have instead let an enforcer perform the murders. [81] [82] However, despite claims that the story was first reported by author Walter Noble Burns in his 1931 book The One-way Ride: The red trail of Chicago gangland from prohibition to Jake Lingle, [81] Capone biographers Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz have found versions of the story in press coverage shortly after the crime. Collins and Schwartz suggest that similarities among reported versions of the story indicate a basis in truth and that the Outfit deliberately spread the tale to enhance Capone's fearsome reputation. [83] : xvi, 209–213, 565 George Meyer, an associate of Capone's, also claimed to have witnessed both the planning of the murders and the event itself. [3]

In 1930, upon learning of Aiello's continued plotting against him, Capone resolved to finally eliminate him. [55] In the weeks before Aiello's death Capone's men tracked him to Rochester, New York, where he had connections through Buffalo crime family boss Stefano Magaddino, and plotted to kill him there, but Aiello returned to Chicago before the plot could be executed. [84] Aiello, angst-ridden from the constant need to hide out and the killings of several of his men, [85] set up residence in the Chicago apartment of Unione Siciliana treasurer Pasquale "Patsy Presto" Prestogiacomo at 205 N. Kolmar Ave. [55] [86] On October 23, upon exiting Prestogiacomo's building to enter a taxicab, a gunman in a second-floor window across the street started firing at Aiello with a submachine gun. [55] [86] Aiello was said to have been shot at least 13 times before he toppled off the building steps and moved around the corner, [87] attempting to move out of the line of fire. Instead, he moved directly into the range of a second submachine gun positioned on the third floor of another apartment block, and was subsequently gunned down. [55] [86]

Federal intervention

In the wake of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, Walter A. Strong, publisher of the Chicago Daily News, decided to ask his friend President Herbert Hoover for federal intervention to stem Chicago's lawlessness. He arranged a secret meeting at the White House, just two weeks after Hoover's inauguration. On March 19, 1929, Strong, joined by Frank Loesch of the Chicago Crime Commission, and Laird Bell, made their case to the President. [88] In Hoover's 1952 Memoir, the former President reported that Strong argued "Chicago was in the hands of the gangsters, that the police and magistrates were completely under their control, …that the Federal government was the only force by which the city’s ability to govern itself could be restored. At once I directed that all the Federal agencies concentrate upon Mr. Capone and his allies." [89]

That meeting launched a multi-agency attack on Capone. Treasury and Justice Departments developed plans for income tax prosecutions against Chicago gangsters, and a small, elite squad of Prohibition Bureau agents (whose members included Eliot Ness) were deployed against bootleggers. In a city used to corruption, these lawmen were incorruptible. Charles Schwarz, a writer for the Chicago Daily News, dubbed them Untouchables. To support Federal efforts, Strong secretly used his newspaper's resources to gather and share intelligence on the Capone outfit. [90]


The Final Insanity of Al Capone: Was Notorious Gangster Haunted by a Hapless Victim?

Al Capone was a notorious American gangster whose multi-million dollar Chicago operation in bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling dominated the organized crime scene for nearly a decade. At the height of his power, he employed over 1,000 gunmen in his service and had up to half of the city&rsquos police force on his payroll. Yet in his final years, he had descended into a frightened, quivering mess, who would scream out at night for &lsquoJimmy&rsquo to leave him alone. Did Al Capone suffer mental illness in his final years, or was he haunted by one his hapless victims?

Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone (1899 &ndash 1947) was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of recent Italian immigrants. His entrance into a life of crime began when he moved to Chicago and became a friend and bodyguard to Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol during America&rsquos Prohibition era.

Al Capone is shown here in 1930 at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge. (Public Domain)


A criminal career finally halted

During most of the 1920s, it had been assumed that income that came from illegal activities could not be taxed. But in 1927 the Supreme Court ruled that this kind of income was indeed subject to income tax. In June 1931 Capone was indicted (formally accused) on twenty-three counts (charges) of income tax evasion. He had never filed an income tax return (a statement of earnings that must be submitted to the federal government every year), and he owned nothing in his own name. A persistent agent of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), however, found a notebook that showed income recorded under Capone's name. Capone was charged with owing the government more than two hundred thousand dollars in unpaid taxes.

During the course of the trial, Capone tried to bribe the jury to find him innocent. The judge changed the jury at the last minute. To his surprise, Capone was convicted on four of the counts, which was enough to send him to jail for eleven years. He went first to Chicago's Cook County jail, where he could pay for privileges and comforts and even continue to conduct business from behind bars. After a year, though, he was transferred to a harsher environment at the federal penitentiary (prison) in Atlanta, Georgia. Two years later he was moved to the newly built prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

Surrounded by icy, shark-infested waters, the prison was totally isolated from the outside world. During his imprisonment, Capone lost all his influence and power in the world of organized crime. Meanwhile, the syphilis he had contracted as a teenager had returned, this time in its final and worst form, leading to brain damage. By the time he was released in November 1939, Capone's mental capacity had greatly decreased. He spent his last years living quietly at his Palm Island, Florida, estate. He died in 1947, soon after his fortyeighth birthday.


The Final Insanity of Al Capone: Was Notorious Gangster Haunted by a Hapless Victim? - History

Ep 155 features Dee, a dispatcher out of the city of Rockport, Texas. In this episode Dee shares her 9-1-1 story as well as what it was like to work in dispatch during Hurricane Harvey. Rockport was ground zero for this hurricane and her story is an amazing one. From the city running out of resources to no cell service for weeks, Dee, along with her crew and those on the road worked hard. But what if you have to tell someone no to a request for help? In dispatch you don't tell people no but in this situation. there is no other option.

This is a must listen. To Dee, her crew, those out on the road and the TERT team that came out to assist, thank you for what you do and thank you for sharing this story. As always, if you have any comments, questions or you would like to be a guest on the show send an email to [email protected]

Ep 154 is an extension of the podcast called Imagine Listening. It features the stories from the #IAM911 movement but this episodes' stories come from the 9-1-1 professionals of the Kentucky Emergency Services Conference. Following their stories is a presentation I gave at the conference. For years I have helped tell the stories of 9-1-1 dispatchers from all over the world but this time it's my turn. There are four videos shown during this presentation that you can view below. This is a must listen and share.


Watch the video: Al Capone The Real Scarface Most Famous Gangster in History - Crime Documentary