this day in crime history: march 8, 1952

On this date in 1952, clothing salesman Arnold Schuster was shot and killed outside his home in Brooklyn, NY.  A month earlier, Schuster had been riding the subway home from work when he recognized a fellow rider as wanted bank robber Willie “The Actor” Sutton.  Schuster followed Sutton from the subway to a nearby garage, where Sutton went to work changing the battery on his car.  Schuster then tipped off the police who arrested Sutton.

Schuster’s murder was never solved.  Years later, mob turncoat Joe Valachi testified that mob boss Albert Anastasia ordered the murder after seeing Schuster on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret.*  Anastasia had no connection to Sutton, he just hated “squealers”.  Five years later, Anastasia would find himself on the receiving end of a “hit”, orchestrated by rival boss Vito Genovese, and Anastasia’s underboss Carlo Gambino.

*While researching the 1947 Holmesburg Prison escape, I recently found something that pokes a major hole in Valachi’s story: I’ve Got a Secret premiered in June 1952, four months after Schuster’s murder. If Anastasia saw Schuster on TV, it couldn’t have been on that show.

Further reading:

Find a Grave – Arnold Schuster

Wikipedia – Arnold Schuster

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3 thoughts on “this day in crime history: march 8, 1952

  1. Your research conclusion was veeeery interestink. I’d always heard the same story about Anastasia. Was Schuster, maybe, interviewed on a local news show? Did Anastasia have some cop in his pocket who gave up Schuster? (Nah, impossible!)
    Or maybe Anastasia had nothing to do with it. When Valachi told the story, Anastasia was dead, and who was around say different?
    Another mystery.

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    • It’s certainly possible Anastasia saw him on a different show, or maybe read about him in the paper. Schuster’s name got a lot of mention for a few days after Sutton’s arrest. But I’m beginning to suspect that Anastasia’s involvement might have been a story cooked up by Vito Genovese to make Anastasia appear unstable. That might help excuse Genovese’s having ordered the killing of a sitting family boss. Not coincidentally, Valachi had been a member of the Genovese family. Just a theory.

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