this day in crime history: december 18, 1931

On this date in 1931, gangster Dutch Schultz finally got his wish. “Ain’t there nobody that can shoot this guy so he don’t bounce back?” Dutch once asked about his rival, Jack “Legs” Diamond. Old Legs, whose other nickname was “Clay Pigeon,” had this annoying habit of surviving assassination attempts.

By 1931, Legs had moved upstate to start bootlegging and narcotics operations. He spent the night of December 17th partying in Albany, after having just beaten the rap in a kidnapping trial. He left his girlfriend, showgirl Marion “Kiki” Roberts, around 11 PM, and went back to the boarding house on Dove Street, where he had been staying. Around 5:30 AM, two men entered the boarding house, went to the second floor room where Diamond was sleeping it off, shot him in the head multiple times and fled the house.

The murder of Legs Diamond remains unsolved, but there were multiple theories about who was responsible. Dutch Schulz was an obvious choice. Lucky Luciano was another likely candidate. Some think it was local Albany thugs, or that the hit on Legs was ordered by Dan O’Connell, the head of the notorious Albany Democratic Machine. The Machine not only controlled politics in Albany, they also ran the local rackets. And they weren’t open to the idea of competition. This being the case, the hit may have been carried out by members of the Albany Police Department. Double-crossed ex-partners are always a good bet too, and Legs had some of those out there gunning for him. The best theory I’ve seen so far can be found in Pat Downey’s latest book, Legs Diamond: Gangster, available from Amazon in paperback and ebook editions.

The picture above, which I took six years ago today, is of the house at 67 Dove Street in Albany, where Legs Diamond was killed. It now belongs to author William Kennedy.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Jack Diamond (gangster)

Gangster City – Jack “Legs” Diamond

Albany Times UnionMobster’s 1931 murder remains unsolved

Brooklyn Daily EagleDIAMOND IS SLAIN AFTER ACQUITTAL

My 2012 interview with author Pat Downey

 

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4 thoughts on “this day in crime history: december 18, 1931

  1. John D.:
    Always did like this story, and you have done an exemplary job of bringing it to us.
    Not to mention, whenever I see that house,it SO looks like the ones that Philly USED to have down in th area just south of downtown.
    Looks like there might be a downstairs apartment?
    Either way, it’s been there for a while.

    Good call.

    Roll safe out there

    Like

  2. I never thought of Albany as a hotbed of gangland activity, but every city has its share of folks who got nasty if you trespass on their turf.

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    • It wasn’t, really. The Machine had a lock on everything, so it kept the mafia out for the most part. Legs apparently didn’t quite get that. I do, however, doubt O’Connell’s version of events. But it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Albany PD located Legs and tipped off the people who were looking for him. But we’ll probably never know for sure.

      Like

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