this day in crime history: november 17, 1989

On this date in 1989, drug dealer and mobster Costabile “Gus” Farace, Jr. was shot and killed in his car in Brooklyn, NY. Joseph Scalfani, an associate of Farace, was also shot, but survived the attack. Farace, a low-level associate of the Bonanno crime family, was being sought by federal agents in connection with the shooting death of DEA Agent Everett Hatcher, who was killed in Staten Island the previous February. Farace’s murder would remain unsolved until 1999, when two former Bonanno associates, James Galione and Mario Gallo, pleaded guilty to the crime. Bonanno family members reportedly ordered the hit because they feared Farace would turn informant if the feds arrested him for Agent Hatcher’s murder.

Further reading:

Office Down Memorial Page – Special Agent Everett Emerson Hatcher

New York magazine – “Death of a Hood”

New York Times“In Plea Bargain, Two Admit guilt in Mob Figure’s ’89 Killing”

Wikipedia – Costabile Farace

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this day in crime history: november 16, 1957

EdGein

On this day in 1957, hardware store owner Bernice Worden went missing. Worden’s son contacted police and relayed his suspicions that a local man named Ed Gein may have had something to do with it. Gein had been in the store the previous evening and promised to return the following day to purchase some antifreeze. The last receipt made out by Bernice Worden before she had disappeared was for antifreeze.

Police searched Gein’s property, where they found Worden’s decapitated body hung upside down in a shed. One witness described it as “dressed out like a deer.” A search of Gein’s house turned up human noses, human female heads, masks made from human skin, a belt made of female human nipples and various other grisly accessories. They also found the head of Mary Hogan, a tavern owner who had been missing since 1954.

Police arrested Gein. He eventually confessed to killing Hogan and Worden. He claimed the other body parts were obtained through grave robbery. There was evidence at local cemeteries to back up Gein’s claim that he had robbed nine graves. He told police that he specifically targeted recently deceased women who bore a resemblance to his late mother.

Gein’s bizarre behavior apparently began after the death of his domineering mother (sound familiar?) when he decided that he wanted to become a woman. He had used the corpses to create a “woman suit” so he could pretend to be female (that one rings a bell too, doesn’t it?).

At his arraignment, Gein pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He was found not competent to stand trial and was committed to a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. In 1968, Gein’s doctors declared him competent to stand trial. He was tried and convicted of the murder of Bernice Worden, the only murder for which he was ever convicted. He was returned to a secure mental hospital, where he died in 1984 at the age of 77.

Further reading:

Murderpedia – Edward Gein

ThoughtCo – Ed Gein

Wikipedia – Ed Gein

This Day in Crime History: November 15, 1959

On this date in 1959, two ex-convicts murdered four members of the Clutter family at their home in Kansas. The murderers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, broke into the Clutter home after being told of Herbert Clutter’s cash-filled safe. After discovering there was no safe, and that Herbert Clutter did not keep large amounts of cash on hand, Smith flew into a rage and killed Clutter by slitting his throat and shooting him. Following Herbert’s murder, his wife Bonnie, and his children Nancy, 16 and Kenyon, 15 were each killed with a shotgun blast to the head.

Police were quickly onto Hickock and Smith, thanks to a tip from the same prison inmate that had told the two killers about the nonexistent safe in the Clutter home. They were arrested in Las Vegas, NV on December 30, 1959. At trial they attempted, unsuccessfully, to plead temporary insanity. Both men were convicted of the murders. They were executed by hanging at Kansas State Penitentiary on April 14, 1965.

Further reading:

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

Crime Museum – In Cold Blood

GCPD – Clutter Family Murders

Wikipedia – In Cold Blood

this day in crime history: november 13, 1974

HighHopes

On this date in 1974, 23 year old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. walked into Henry’s Bar in Amityville, NY and announced that he thought his parents had been shot. Several people left the bar with him and went to his house to check on his parents. As it turns out, they were dead in their bed. The police were called. When they arrived, they searched the house and discovered that DeFeo’s four younger siblings, two brothers and two sisters, were also dead in their respective beds. All six family members had been shot.

DeFeo, a known troublemaker and drug abuser, spun a tale for police about a mob hitman killing his parents. As the investigation progressed, details of DeFeo’s story didn’t hold up. He eventually confessed to all six of the murders.

At trial, DeFeo and his attorney, William Weber, attempted an insanity defense. The jury didn’t buy it, and Defeo was convicted of six counts of second degree murder. He was given six consecutive twenty-five to life sentences. DeFeo is currently incarcerated at Green Haven Correctional Facility. His next parole hearing is in July 2017.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s probably because it was this crime, and DeFeo’s attempt at an insanity defense, that were the inspiration for the story of The Amityville Horror.

Further reading:

The Amityville Murders

Wikipedia – Rondald DeFeo, Jr.

Amityville: Horror or Hoax

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

J-Grit – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles

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

this day in crime history: november 10, 1924

On this date in 1924, Chicago North Side gang boss Dean O’Banion was shot and killed in the back of the Schofield flower shop (pictured above), which served as his headquarters. Apparently the Chicago Outfit, which ran the South Side, decided it didn’t like the competition. They sent some of the boys to visit O’Banion in his shop. They gunned him down as he was working on a floral arrangement for mob luminary Mike Merlo’s funeral. The hit touched off a gang war between the two factions that would last five years, and would come to an end in the wake of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

My Al Capone Museum – Dean Charles O’Banion

Wikipedia – Dean O’Banion

Graveyards of Chicago – Dion “Deany” O’Banion

this day in crime history: november 6, 1982

On this day in 1982, Shirley Allen was arrested for murdering her husband Lloyd. The murder weapon? Poison. Anti-freeze, to be precise. The motive? Lloyd’s life insurance policy.

It seems that old Shirley had lost a previous hubby, John Gregg, under mysterious circumstances in 1978. Unfortunately for Shirley, Mr. Gregg had replaced Shirley as beneficiary on his life insurance policy shortly before he died.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Shirley took another crack at whacking a husband while married to one Joe Sinclair. Joe noticed that his coffee tasted a little off, and went to the police. He elected not to press charges and filed for divorce instead.

For Shirley, third time was the charm. And you can bet she did her homework and checked into Lloyd’s insurance policy before she offed him. Gotta love a woman who learns from her mistakes. But Shirley never got to spend the money. Her daughter saw Shirley putting the antifreeze into Lloyd’s drink and turned her in. An autopsy confirmed that Lloyd Allen had consumed a lethal dose of anti-freeze. Shirley Allen was tried and convicted of murder. She was sentenced to life in prison.

Maybe we shouldn’t judge Shirley Allen too harshly. Her real motive may have been altruistic. Maybe she thought her husband needed anti-freeze in his system. After all, look who he was sleeping with. One. Cold. Bitch.

Murderpedia – Shirley Elizabeth Allen

History Channel: A woman ices her husband with anti-freeze