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.

For more on Sutton’s escape and the murder of Arnold Schuster, check out my true crime short, Over the Wall: The True Story of the 1947 Escape from Holmesburg Prison.

Holmesburg Prison Escape

Further reading:

Find a Grave – Arnold Schuster

Wikipedia – Arnold Schuster

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

  1. John D.:
    That a great story, and does go to prove that being a game show contestant never really gives you a pass from the MOB (especially if they happen to tune in that day).

    Very good call.
    (used to live a couple miles from Holmesburg, too)

    Roll safe out there.

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    • I’m increasingly less inclined to believe the story about Anastasia. I’m beginning to suspect that Vito Genovese concocted the story to justify having Anastasia killed. As for Schuster’s killer, it was probably Sutton’s friend (and fellow escapee) Fred Tenuto. Tenuto seemed to vanish into thin air, so it’s possible that Anastasia had him whacked for drawing too much attention. Just my two cents. 🙂

      Like

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