this day in crime history: november 12, 1941

On this date in 1941, Murder Inc. associate-turned stool pigeon Abe “Kid Twist” Reles went on a flight. Out the window of room 623 of the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. It was a one-way trip. And no frequent flier miles for old Abe Reles, who had flipped on his former Murder, Inc. associates, was under police protection at the time. Did he jump, or was he pushed? Did the cops look the other way, or did they take a more “active” role? Did Reles’s fellow snitches occupying the “Squealers Suite” at the Half Moon have a hand in it? Thanks to a thoroughly shoddy investigation by the police and the Brooklyn D.A., we’ll probably never know for sure. But one thing we do know is that “Kid Twist” traded in his nickname for a new one: “The canary who sang, but couldn’t fly.”

Further Reading:

Wikipedia – Abe Reles

The American Mafia – Abe Reles

J-Grit – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles

The Canary Sang but Couldn’t Fly, by Edmund Elmaleh

8 thoughts on “this day in crime history: november 12, 1941

  1. According to guys in the 60 Precinct that I spoke to decades ago, what they figure is that someone wearing a police uniform gave the cop babysitting the door, a relief break, and then threw Reles out the window. I stood at the spot where the body landed, and there is no way in hell, that he fell. He would have had to have been an olympic squat-thrust athlete to have jumped that distance. He was thrown. Maybe by more than one person, but he was tossed out the window. Probably grabbed him by the wall and ran, momentum propelled him out.


    • The book I linked above puts forth another interesting theory. The author thought that the other snitches that shared the Squealers’ Suite with Reles threw him out the window. The cops either looked the other way, or were sleeping on duty when the murder went down. Reles was not a loved man, so there was a large number of people who wanted him dead.


      • Cop at door was removed, as per cops I spoke to when I went through the 60 Pct from time to time. They told me, and their information was from cops that were On the Job when it happened, the person at the door was not a cop but wearing a police uniform, in case someone showed up unexpectedly. Real cop guarding the door, was told that replacement was his relief break, to cover the fixed post at the door. I knew two people but they’re both gone now, who might have known. One grew up around Murder, Inc.’s members, from his neighborhood of Ocean Hill, way back, and the other I drove around when I had a Learner’s Permit, an old guy “Uncle Harry”, who was an actual member, but I was too young to know or understand any of it back then. Just an old guy always chewing the same cigar and almost never lighting it. Smart man, used to give me business tips. Today, there might be one person who knows something, but he is in his nineties and lives somewhere on the eastern tip of Long Island. Everyone else is gone.


  2. John D.:
    ROFL…”went on a flight” (out a window)…priceless!
    The theories as to how this was pulled off are pretty compelling.
    And I think we CAN rule out “suicide”, right?
    Nor was he on LSD and thought he was Superman.
    Very good post.

    Stay safe out there.


  3. Peter Falk was very menacing as Reles in the movie Murder, Inc. He even killed Buddy from the DIck Van Dyke Show. The movie was kind of bashful about portraying his death. Perhaps they were hesitant about pointing fingers at the NYPD.


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