I am a soon to be retired Duke Medical Center library researcher, who enjoys writing. I have been writing on Wikipedia for years and have begun to write
ebooks. My pastimes include selling books on EBay, genealogical research, baseball (Pittsburgh Pirates), collecting antique furniture and coins, and spending time with Kingsley, my cocker spaniel.
William Bufalino came head to head with Senate Rackets Committee Chief Counsel Robert Kennedy in 1959. Kennedy and committee chairman John McClellan were convinced of Bufalino's ties to organized crime. Bufalino denied this as a witness and sued Kennedy following the conclusion of the Senate proceedings. Bufalino later defended Alan Markowitz, a topless dance club owner, before retiring in 1982.
William Medico became friends with Mafioso Russell Bufalino during their youth in Pittston, Pennsylvania. By 1938 Bufalino moved to Buffalo and became an organized crime figure there. Phil Medico and James Osticco, both Medico Industries officers, were prominent figures in the Bufalino syndicate. The McClellan Committee investigating organized crime called Bufalino a thoroughly ruthless figure.
Two Gun Crowley entered Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York after being treated for multiple wounds at Bellevue and Nassau County Hospitals. His lawyers mailed a desperate appeal to NY Governor Franklin Roosevelt. The plea to save Crowley's life asked that he be saved to study criminals like him, who were an absolute menace to American society. Crowley made headlines for two brutal murders.
Norine Byrnes, Catherine Porter and Jola Springs were three young women who died unnecessarily when a fire erupted on the set at Pathe' studios in Manhattan. Motion pictures were transitioning from silent to sound in late 1929. Pathe' had covered a huge arc light with drapery that ignited around 9:30 a.m. Dancers were getting ready to perform in a cabaret scene. Eddie Elkins Orchestra was playing.
The last twenty years of actress/singer Noel Francis' life are very sketchy. Little is known about her death except that she died on October 30, 1959. The surname Stevenson was attached to the name Noel Francis at the end of her life. It is uncertain if she was married or had children or grandchildren. She was a moderately successful film actress just when movies were acquiring sound, i.e. 1930s.
In February 1914 a trial opened in Newton, Massachusetts dealing with risque photographs taken by artist Henry Orne Rider. As a photographer he took pictures of high school girls at his studio. On one occasion he was sued by William A. Graham of nearby Waltham. The father demanded $10,000 for nude studies Rider had taken of his daughter Helen. Local police added charges of corrupting youth.
Aniello DellaCroce was a resident of Mulberry Street in New York City's Little Italy. Oddly he avoided indictment for the 1974 murder of Charles Calise, a principal in DellaCroce's Gambino loansharking operation. Calise had turned FBI informant before his assassination. DellaCroce's residence was just across the street from the Ravenite Social Club, a center of Gambino family crime activity.
Thomas Karate Pitera was a methodical killer who dismembered his victims and kept parts of their anatomy, i.e. ears, etc., as trophies. He had a long career with the Bonanno family and was most recently confined to a Federal prison in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Pitera was a skilled martial arts proponent who preferred killing with a gun. He buried his victims on a Staten Island beach.
The Brooke Shields-Gary Gross trial of November 1981 raised numerous issues about a photographer's rights to photos he/she has taken. Nude and semi-nude photos of the "Pretty Baby" actress/model were taken when she was ten years old. Shields and her mother went to court to stop any further commercial use of these pictures. The young woman's image had changed greatly by the time she was sixteen.
The fate of Irving Puggy Feinstein is an example of the sheer ruthlessness of Murder, Inc.operatives. On September 4, 1939 Feinstein was tortured with a rope and ice pick at the instigation of Abe "Kid Twist" Reles. Later Reles and Anthony "Duke" Maffetore would turn on their associates. Both of them lost their lives in the process. Reles jumped or was pushed out of a hotel window in Coney Island.
Herbert Bayard Swope was a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for a New York newspaper. He was the only journalist to write damaging stories alleging strong ties between the NYPD and the New York City underworld. The principal operative of a gambling racket, NYPD Lt. Charles Becker died in the electric chair at Sing Sing in 1915. A year earlier his Mafia accomplices were executed in the same chair.
The assassinations of Max Zweifach aka Kid Twist and Sam Tietch aka "Cyclone Louis" prompted a manhunt for Louis Pioggi aka Louis the Lump. A short man with dark brown hair and eyes, Pioggi was a young thug. He rose to the top of Paul Kelly's infamous Five Points band. In an era of dives haunted by gangsters in Chinatown, Coney Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan, police pursued Pioggi to Connecticut.
Murray Humphreys was born to an affluent Welsh family on Chicago's North Side. Some biographers believe he left school after the third grade while others have written that he completed high school. Suave and debonair he possessed qualities that mobsters like Al Capone found invaluable to their organizations. Humphreys organized laundry unions and then expanded to unionize milk truckers and others.
Connie McCallister and Esther Vigliatore were two of the madams arrested in the Long Island prostitution scandal of 1964. The network was unique involving housewives from Suffolk and Nassau Counties. There were also floaters from New York City who prostituted themselves in the operation. Authorities believed that the business was mob connected. Johnny Dio and Frank Costello's names were mentioned.
Samuel Carbone was involved in loan sharking. Along with notorious racketeer Joseph Zicarelli he faced multiple indictments. Then in the summer of 1971 he was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car on a Newark street. He had a single bullet in the back of his head. Soon a series of gangland murders followed, including that of former boxer Cowboy Joe Lucignano. The Campisis were involved.
Joseph Stassi was a large player in the gambling rackets managed by Joseph 'Bayonne Joe' Zicarelli. Their main area was Elizabeth and Union County, New Jersey. By 1969 Joe and Anthony were enmeshed in a heroin smuggling ring that originated in Europe. The narcotics were shipped to New York via Montreal, Quebec.In 1976 there was an attempt to break the brothers out of a New York prison.
Cliff Allison is an important figure in Formula 1 and sports cars despite having an abbreviated racing career. He began racing Cooper Formula 3 cars at Charterhall, Scotland in 1952. It took three years to gain the attention of Lotus boss Colin Chapman. By 1958 he joined Lotus as Graham Hill's teammate. In 1959 Cliff was recruited as a factory works driver by Enzo Ferrari. He drove F1 until 1961.
The KLM Constellation was a piston engine, propeller plane built by Lockheed from 1943-1958. The day of the Bombay crash, July 12, 1949, journalists on board were returning from an extended tour of Indonesia. The airliner faced multiple difficulties on its approach to the airfield. The pilot faced inclimate weather and flight control failed to route him to another aerodrome. Disaster was imminent.
Standard Airlines flew between New York and Los Angeles on unscheduled flights in the late 1940s. These flights appealed to any consumers for their discount rates. Among the passengers who died on the SAL C-46 was an Air Force private on furlough to L.A. An in flight altercation between two passengers may have inadvertently caused the plane to crash.
There are multiple mysteries involved in the disappearance of a plush Pan American World Airways airliner that crashed en route to New York from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The airplane came down in an inverted position on a mountain in the jungles of central Brazil. It took days to locate the craft and many more to cut through the thick foliage sufficiently to reach the plane. Sabotage was suspected.
My e-book looks at a catastrophe that befell an Avianca-Colombia Super Constellation in light of numerous other aviation disasters that occurred in January 1960. New York to Jamaica Flight 671 was carrying passengers en route to winter vacations as well as to South American business meetings. Among the seventeen Americans who perished were the son and daughter in law of a U.S. Senator.
Moe Kleinman was involved in murder along with the gambling and liquor rackets he controlled. Among the most publicized murders linked to him was the 1931 slaying of Cleveland City Councilman William Potter. Moe Dalitz recalled the details of Potter's demise. At first the murder appeared to be a suicide. Then police found Potter dead inside an apartment suite. A Kleinman associate was seen there.
Female students modeling in the nude has caused controversy at many colleges. My e-book profiles a number of scenarios in which the student models were dismissed, restricted or sanctioned. In 1967 a University of Florida student, Pamela Brewer, was placed on probation for posing nude for an off campus magazine. When she was reinstated a second nude photo surfaced from the same set of photos.
Joseph Canepi Jr., like his father was a successful contractor in Yonkers and Westchester County. Elsewhere in business life however, Canepi's ethics can be called into question. For example he was accused of secreting a car that he took from a business in 1915. In 1903 he was one of six men indicted in a poolroom racket. In 1932 Canepi was involved with a man who impersonated a federal agent.
Thomas Lucchese and his brother Giuseppe "Joe Brown" Lucchese were partners in the garment and trucking business. Thomas was held briefly for the murder of a street peddler in 1928. The man's name was Louis Cerasulo and he was gunned down while talking with his uncle near East 114th Street. Police later discovered that the victim was part of a chicken protection extortion racket in Harlem.
Ciro Terranova had a brief career as an important Mafioso in New York City. He worked as an underboss for Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria before Masseria was slain on Coney Island during the Castellammarese War. Ciro's star as a mobster declined after Charles Lucky Luciano took charge of Mafia operations. My book focuses on two obscure crimes in Terranova's life, one in 1909 and another in 1930.
Toto D'Aquila was shot 5 times by unknown assailants in October 1928. He had just driven from the Bronx to take his wife to a doctor in Manhattan. As his wife and four children made their way into the physician's office Toto stepped outside to repair his car. Looking up from the hood of the auto he spoke with the men briefly before they shot him multiple times. D'Aquila was the first Gambino boss.
Before 1970 Alphonse Attardi changed his name to Jim Carra, had plastic surgery and gave a detailed interview to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. He turned his back on the Mafia, opting to risk his life as an informant, someone who was constantly chased by mobster executioners. The information he provided federal agents was crucial to prosecuting organized crime cases of the mid 20th century.
Peter Panto was a union leader much ahead of his time. On a single evening he drew more than 1,200 for a local Brooklyn meeting. He instilled in the longshoremen a desire to rid themselves of the racketeering mobsters who feasted on their earnings. Warned to stop his campaign against hoodlums on the shipping docks he persisted until his life was endangered. He was last seen alive on July 14, 1939.
Harold Giles Hoffman agreed to carry a message from Albert Anastasia to Joe Adonis while the gangster was in prison in Trenton. The New Jersey governor denied knowing either Anastasia or Adonis. He also denied knowing that Anniello Ercole had a criminal record. Ercole, an ex-boxing manager, was picked to carry a missive to Adonis from Anastasia. My e-book looks at Hoffman's ties to the syndicate.
The Ku Klux Klan carried out some frightful and deadly activities in Alabama during 1949 and 1950. My e-book profiles Klansmen like Alvin Alphes Horn, a part-time Baptist preacher who was accused of murdering a shop owner in rural central Alabama. Horn was indicted along with William Hugh Morris, a Birmingham Ku Klux Klan leader. The murder and numerous floggings occurred over a period of months.
The Sherry-Netherland opened for business on November 1, 1927. In the spring of '27 a large fire brought about construction delays. The failure of a standpipe nearly resulted in the building's destruction. My e-book looks at the era of great hotel construction in New York City. Architects designed the Sherry-Netherland, the Pierre, the Breakers (Miami) and many more great hotels in the 1920s.
The twin-engine Mitchell Bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in late July 1945 was en route to La Guardia Airport from Massachusetts. A veteran pilot was lost in a dense fog. Flying at approximately 1,775 feet the aircraft was beneath a 2,000 feet altitude limit followed by aviators at the time. Aside from the three crewmen on the B-25D eleven building occupants lost their lives.
As the wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, Varina Howell had tremendous responsibilities. Factional struggles between women from the different states required mediation.The First Lady was also responsible for visiting the sick and wounded soldiers in hospitals. Receptions for late arriving officers were planned. By 1864 Varina was advising her ailing husband and shaping policy.
The Crystal Palace was a resplendent iron age edifice built in Manhattan from European designs. The original Crystal Palace, constructed in London's Hyde Park, opened in 1851. The American structure was built specifically for the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Too soon the Crystal Palace was being used to store lumber, canvas and other easily combustible materials. It burned in 1858.
Roger Touhy died in a hail of shotgun blasts near his sister's home in Chicago. Only recently paroled from Stateville Prison, where he was serving a 99-year-sentence for kidnapping, the hoodlum died in the company of his bodyguard. Touhy was one of a number of Irish brothers whose family immigrated to the United States. Three of them died in shootouts before the end of the 1920s.
The Windsor Hotel was a fixture on Fifth Avenue in the late 19th century. John D. Rockefeller, authors Matthew Arnold and Oscar Wilde and foreign dignitaries stayed there regularly. My e-book looks at the day of the fire and recounts eyewitness accounts of events. It is likely that the inferno began on the first floor. A stray match or a blaze that began in the kitchen may have been responsible.
The inferno in the Asch Builiding on March 25, 1911 is undoubtedly the most notorious and influential industrial fire in history. From the ashes of the 8th, 9th and 10th floors grew a strong International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). Ironically the union was founded the year before. 146 lives, most of them young immigrant women, were lost in the disaster. It might have been prevented.
Billy Ranieri's early fall 1928 kidnapping brought anxiety to Chicago's Little Italy. The 10-year-old's abduction was one of many crimes the Mafia perpetrated in the Italian section. By December the kidnapping trial had began. The day before the trial began "Ole Scully", little Billy's godfather, was slain by thugs who followed him into a restaurant. It was the beginning of a wave of violence.
The body of John Peanuts Manfredonia was found by his wife around 3:30 on the afternoon of November 28, 1978. The bookie's murder remained unsolved despite an investigation by Westchester County, New York law enforcement, Detective Lieutenant John Kelly remained steadfast. He continued probing the murder on his own. In 1981 a suspect wanted for selling weapons to federal agents was arrested.
The ax murder of Robina Lyttle is most ironic because her killer was a seemingly meek individual. While he was imprisoned Patrick McClafferty's fellow inmates were surprised to see how harmless he appeared in his cell. However he killed his Irish Catholic girlfriend with a single violent blow with a rusty ax. He also tried his best to burn her after he had cut off her head, hands and limbs.
The Luciano family of New Orleans became a target of violence from rival grocers/restauranteurs in 1903. Urged by Charles DiChristina a group of Italian familiies invested in a macaroni factory in nearby Donaldsonville. After its completion one of the partners, Francesco Genova, tried to takeover the business. Mafia violence persisted through a string of serial ax murders between 1917-1919.
Max Sasanoff was inspired by the beauty of a violin player who was a fellow prison inmate. His incarceration coincided with the remodeling of the Catholic chapel in the Atlanta Prison. After listening to the beautiful music late one afternoon Max experienced visions on two occasions during a sleepless night. The next morning he requested a sketch pad and crayons to begin a drawing of Christ.
Benedetto Madonia was dispatched from Buffalo to Pittsburgh by the Morello gang in February 1903. He was sent there to assist three counterfeiters who had been arrested and convicted only weeks before. After Madonia was murdered New York City Police detectives discovered letters written between the slain man and Giuseppe Morello the head of a counterfeiting ring. The notes led to numerous arrests.
Originally from Pennsylvania Harold Gibbons was of Irish descent. His rise as a labor leader was accompanied by many who disagreed with his methods. Among his opponents were union rivals and St. Louis law enforcement detectives. Some of these men testified before the United States Racket Committee in 1958. It is noteworthy that strikes called by Gibbons were accompanied by arson and violence.
Restaurateur Louis Capone was electrocuted on March 4, 1944, the same evening that garment industry racketeer Louis Lepke Buchalter was put do death at Sing Sing Prison. The two men went to the electric chair for murdering Brooklyn teamster and confectioner Joe Rosen. Some time later Capone was held for the murder of Joseph Amberg a Brooklyn Mafioso. He claimed to have been at the race track.
Bodies of potential witnesses against Murder, Inc. were found in Swan Lake and other Sullivan County locales. Another was found beside a hotel in Loch Sheldrake. Jacob Drucker owned a farm in Sullivan where some grizzly remains turned up. Murder, Inc. was a kill for hire gang organized in Brooklyn. Gangsters like Charles Lucky Luciano used Murder, Inc. assassins to eliminate their opponents.
Columnist Dorothy Thompson believed Orson Welles deserved the Congressional Medal for his War of the Worlds broadcast. She believed this because the fear and panic produced prompted an awareness of the power of demagoguery to influence masses of people. Broadcast on Halloween Eve in 1938 it happened during an era when Hitler and Mussolini threatened world peace. The story made headlines for days.
Daniel A. Serritella was Al Capone's dupe. He acted as a gofer between Scarface and Chicago's Mayor William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson. Serritella rose from committeeman to Illinois State Senator from Chicago. He was also linked to the three Capone men who died violently at the Blue Hour Saloon in April 1930. Capone dominated Chicago's liquor trade, various businesses and instrumental labor unions.
A wealthy Roman, Giorgio Scarlatti's career spanned the 1950s. His sports car career began in '50 and by late he was racing Formula 1 cars. Despite successful results with Maserati in 1957 the Italian car maker opted to get out of racing after the season. Giorgio also drove an Alfa Romeo and various F1 autos fielded by Scuderia Centro Sud. He and Lorenzo Bandini won a key race at Pescara in 1961.