Coroner's Report: Al Capone

Coroner's Report: Al Capone

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Al Capone survived assassination attempts, brutal gang wars and an attack by a fellow inmate at Alcatraz. How did unprotected sex finally take down one of history's most notorious gangsters?


Sledge is weighing where the documents should be stored and how accessible they should be, he told the Chicago Sun-Times in a story published Thursday.

“On the one hand, we want to have them readily available,” Sledge said. “But we don’t want them so accessible that we in some way anger some part of the population who feel we are not paying proper respect to the deceased.”

The victims of the Feb. 14, 1929, massacre were five men who were known gangsters working for Capone rival George “Bugs” Moran, an optometrist who was friends with Moran’s crew and a mechanic at the garage that served as Moran’s headquarters. They were gunned down by four men, two of whom were wearing police uniforms. Since there was no evidence of a struggle, it’s believed that Moran’s men thought it was a police raid.

Homes And Hideouts Of 1920s Gangsters

Despite rap sheets an arm's length and reputations for cruelty, there's something almost romantic about the gangsters of the 1920s. With a flair for the dramatic and personalities that dominated both the news and gossip columns, these men firmly put a mark on Prohibition history.

Many mobsters, however, chose to live their daily lives rather anonymously in homes more fit for the family man than the big "boss."

We're touring the homes of some of the biggest names to grace the FBI Most Wanted list. Grab your fur coat and felt hat, but keep it down we don't want any stool pigeon ratting to the coppers about where we're going.

Al Capone's first home in Chicago was relatively modest for someone dealing in some pretty lucrative (but illegal) business. The mobster lived in the home when he first moved from New York to the Windy City. Capone lived in the Park Manor home until threats to run him out of town sent him to Florida.

The notorious mob boss moved south in 1928, buying an enormous beach-side estate that would serve as his final home.When he arrived in Miami Beach, historians say, Capone wasn’t looking to expand his empire but was searching for a place to retreat from the stress of running the mob. His beachfront home was his escape as well as the place he died in 1947. See a video tour of Capone's home here.

While Capone ruled Chicago, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel ruled New York, and then later moved on to L.A. and Las Vegas. Siegel created an empire of bootlegging and gambling, and began one of the first organized hit companies "Murder, Inc." before he settled in Los Angeles. In L.A., Siegel rubbed shoulders with the celebrity elite, even dating a few starlets, as he also planned to expand a gambling empire in Las Vegas.

Although his business was in Vegas, Siegel preferred estates in Hollywood, where he threw lavish parties.

Siegel had one of his homes, pictured above, built for his wife and children in 1938. Siegel never moved in, preferring his other home, Castillo del Lago on Mulholland Drive.

And of course, Siegel was infamously murdered in the rental home, above, of his girlfriend Virginia Hill at 810 Linden Dr, Beverly Hills in 1947.

Ma Barker was fresh off a string of high-profile robberies throughout the Midwest when she and her son Fred headed down to Ocklawaha to hide out. The two posed as a couple needing a vacation rental, but the FBI caught wind of the Most Wanted woman's plans and surprised the Barkers with a 7:15 a.m. shootout. The five-hour melee killed both Ma and her son, and the volley of bulletholes left behind are still visible in the 4-bed, 2-bath home today.

Much of the home, actually, is frozen in time from the 1935 shooting. Still owned by the family who once rented the place to the Barkers, the property recently hit the market as an non-MLS listing, with a suggested starting price of $1 million.

Capone's biggest rival and the other man responsible for much of the heyday of Prohibition crime, George "Bugs" Moran preferred to live in a hotel suite. The leader of the North Side gang — Capone led the South Side — Moran had a reputation for his violent temper, earning him the nickname "Bugs," slang for crazy. A bit of gangster lore: Moran was the actual target of the Valentine's Day Massacre, but he was at a coffee shop next door when the shooting happened.

Moran lived at the Parkway Hotel. Today the hotel has been converted to the Pierre Condominiums.

Before there was Capone, there was Johnny Torrio, an Italian-American mobster who is credited with beginning the Chicago gangster scene in the early 1920s. Torrio hired Capone back in New York, and when Torrio moved to Chicago, he took Capone along and eventually handed the entire business over to Capone after surviving a drive-by shooting in front of his home on South Clyde Avenue.

Torrio moved out of his home and left for Europe, only returning to New York to testify for Capone during his tax evasion trial.

Like Torrio, Frank Rio was a gangster closely tied to Capone, and he's believed to be the person who carried out the Valentine's Day Massacre. He was described as one of Capone's most loyal and trusted hitmen and was once considered to be the successor to Capone, but he rather slowly stepped back from his involvement in the mob and died of a heart attack in 1935.


Family and background Edit

John Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903 at 2053 Cooper Street (now Caroline Avenue), Indianapolis, Indiana, [7] the younger of two children born to John Wilson Dillinger (1864–1943) and Mary Ellen "Mollie" Lancaster (1870–1907). [8] : 10

According to some biographers, his German grandfather, Matthias Dillinger, immigrated to the United States in 1851 from Metz, in the region of Lorraine, then still under French sovereignty. [9] Matthias Dillinger was born in Gisingen, near Dillingen in the present-day German state of Saarland. John Dillinger's parents had married on August 23, 1887. Dillinger's father was a grocer by trade and, reportedly, a harsh man. [8] : 9 In an interview with reporters, Dillinger said that he was firm in his discipline and believed in the adage "spare the rod and spoil the child". [8] : 12

Dillinger's older sister, Audrey, was born March 6, 1889. Their mother died in 1907 just before his fourth birthday. [8] [10] Audrey married Emmett "Fred" Hancock that year and they had seven children together. She cared for her brother John for several years until their father remarried in 1912 to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Fields (1878–1933). They had three children, Hubert M. Dillinger (1913–1974) Doris M. Dillinger Hockman (1918–2001) and Frances Dillinger Thompson (1922–2015). [10] [11]

Formative years and marriage Edit

As a teenager, Dillinger was frequently in trouble with the law for fighting and petty theft he was also noted for his "bewildering personality" and bullying of smaller children. [8] : 14 He quit school to work in an Indianapolis machine shop. His father feared that the city was corrupting his son, prompting him to move the family to Mooresville, Indiana, in 1921. [8] : 15 Dillinger's wild and rebellious behaviour was unchanged, despite his new rural life. In 1922, he was arrested for auto theft, and his relationship with his father deteriorated. [8] : 16–17

In 1923, Dillinger's troubles led to him enlisting in the United States Navy, where he was a Petty officer third class Machinery Repairman assigned aboard the battleship USS Utah, [12] but he deserted a few months later when his ship was docked in Boston. He was eventually dishonorably discharged some months later. [8] : 18–20

Dillinger then returned to Mooresville where he met Beryl Ethel Hovious. [13] The two married on April 12, 1924. He attempted to settle down, but he had difficulty holding a job and preserving his marriage. [1] Unable to find a job, he began planning a robbery with his friend Ed Singleton, [8] : 22 who was an ex-convict and umpire for a semi-professional baseball team, the AC Athletics, for which Dillinger played shortstop. [14] The two robbed a local grocery store, stealing $50. [8] : 26 While leaving the scene, the criminals were spotted by a minister who recognized the men and reported them to the police. During the robbery, Dillinger had struck a victim on the head with a machine bolt wrapped in a cloth and had also carried a gun which, although it discharged, hit no one. The two men were arrested the next day. Singleton pleaded not guilty, but after Dillinger's father (the local Mooresville Church deacon) discussed the matter with Morgan County prosecutor Omar O'Harrow, his father convinced Dillinger to confess to the crime and plead guilty without retaining a defence attorney. [8] : 24

Dillinger was convicted of assault and battery with intent to rob, and conspiracy to commit a felony. He expected a lenient probation sentence as a result of his father's discussion with O'Harrow but instead was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for his crimes. [10] His father told reporters he regretted his advice and was appalled by the sentence. He pleaded with the judge to shorten the sentence, but with no success. [8] : 25 En route to Mooresville to testify against Singleton, Dillinger briefly escaped his captors but was apprehended within a few minutes. [8] : 27 Singleton had a change of venue and was sentenced to a jail term of 2 to 14 years. He died September 2, 1937 from fatal gunshot wounds. [15]

Incarcerated at Indiana Reformatory and Indiana State Prison from 1924 to 1933, Dillinger began to become embroiled in a criminal lifestyle. Upon being admitted to prison, he was quoted as saying, "I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here." [8] : 26 His physical examination at the prison showed that he had gonorrhea, and the treatment for the condition was, apparently, extremely painful. [8] : 22 He became embittered against society because of his long prison sentence and befriended other criminals, including seasoned bank robbers Harry "Pete" Pierpont, Charles Makley, Russell Clark, and Homer Van Meter, who taught Dillinger how to be a successful criminal. The men planned heists that they would commit soon after they were released. [8] : 32 Dillinger also studied Herman Lamm's meticulous bank-robbing system and used it extensively throughout his criminal career. [16]

Dillinger's father launched a campaign to have him released and was able to obtain 188 signatures on a petition. On May 10, 1933, after serving nine and a half years, Dillinger was paroled. Just before he was released from the prison his stepmother became sick, and she died before he arrived at her home. [8] : 37 Released at the height of the Great Depression, Dillinger had little prospect of finding gainful employment. [8] : 35 He immediately returned to crime. [8] : 39

On June 21, 1933, he robbed his first bank, taking $10,000 from the New Carlisle National Bank, which occupied the building at the southeast corner of Main Street and Jefferson (State Routes 235 and 571) in New Carlisle, Ohio. [17] On August 14, Dillinger robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio. Tracked by police from Dayton, Ohio, he was captured and later transferred to the Allen County Jail in Lima to be indicted in connection to the Bluffton robbery. After searching him before letting him into the prison, the police discovered a document which appeared to be a prison escape plan. They demanded Dillinger tell them what the document meant, but he refused. [10]

Earlier, while in prison, Dillinger had helped conceive a plan to enable the escape of Pete Pierpont, Russell Clark, and six others he had met while in prison, most of whom worked in the prison laundry. Dillinger had friends smuggle guns into their cells which they used to escape four days after Dillinger's capture. The group that formed up, known as "the First Dillinger Gang,” consisted of Pierpont, Clark, Charles Makley, Ed Shouse, Harry Copeland, and John "Red" Hamilton, a member of the Herman Lamm Gang. Pierpont, Clark, and Makley arrived in Lima on October 12, 1933, where they impersonated Indiana State Police officers, claiming they had come to extradite Dillinger to Indiana. When the sheriff, Jess Sarber, asked for their credentials, Pierpont shot Sarber dead, then released Dillinger from his cell. The four men escaped back to Indiana, where they joined the rest of the gang. [10]

Dillinger is known to have participated with the Dillinger Gang in 12 separate bank robberies, between June 21, 1933, and June 30, 1934. [18]

Evelyn "Billie" Frechette met John Dillinger in October 1933, and they began a relationship on November 20. After Dillinger's death, Billie was offered money for her story and wrote a memoir for the Chicago Herald and Examiner in August 1934. [19]

Autopsy Reports Uncovered From 1929 Valentine's Day Massacre

Published February 12, 2016 &bull Updated on February 12, 2016 at 2:42 pm

The Cook County medical examiner's office is considering how best to preserve and display the newly unearthed autopsy reports alongside inquest transcripts from Chicago's Valentine's Day massacre of 1929.

Written by hand, the autopsies on the seven bullet-riddled bodies vividly describe why the slayings are still considered Chicago's most infamous gangland killing.

Executive officer James Sledge, a local history fan and a Chicago native, said he felt a chill down his back when he first read the documents outlining the attack at a Lincoln Park garage that left seven men dead and more than 160 machine gun casings littering the scene.

The attack, carried out by men dressed as city police officers, is widely believed to have been ordered by famed Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone. The crime was never solved.

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Shortly after Sledge joined the medical examiner's office in 2014, he asked for permission to look at the autopsy records. His staff took multiple trips to a Cook County government warehouse to find the reports, which were tucked away in a metal file cabinet.

Sledge is weighing where the documents should be stored and how accessible they should be, he told the Chicago Sun-Times in a story published Thursday.

"On the one hand, we want to have them readily available," Sledge said. "But we don't want them so accessible that we in some way anger some part of the population who feel we are not paying proper respect to the deceased."

The victims of the Feb. 14, 1929 massacre were five men who were known gangsters working for Capone rival George "Bugs" Moran, an optometrist who was friends with Moran's crew and a mechanic at the garage that served as Moran's headquarters. They were gunned down by four men, two of whom were wearing police uniforms. Since there was no evidence of a struggle, it's believed that Moran's men thought it was a police raid.

The documents that are now in Sledge's possession offer insight into the 87-year-old investigation of the unsolved crime.

"The reports are very graphic about what happened," Sledge said. "You read about history, you talk about it, but to have something in your hands — it gives you an odd feeling."

Those documents include an inquest interview with the optometrist's mother in which the coroner prepares her for the grisly state of her son's body.

Other documents also outline the difficulties investigators faced while attempting to solve the crime, including witnesses who were too afraid to testify, the limits of forensic science and photographers who were eager to document the event.

Sledge wasn't immediately available for comment Friday.

Becky Schlikerman, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said the office is still considering what to do with the documents.

The documents have to remain the property of the Medical Examiner's office because they are autopsy reports, she said.

The Truths Behind The Killings of Anselmi, Scalise and Guinta

This story, overtime has been added to and exaggerated by the decade. The more the story has been told the more elements that have been embellished, and Hollywood certainly has played its part in making this event more spectacular than it was.

Let’s set the scene firstly.

Al Capone in the late 1920’s had a lot of enemies, one of them was Joe Aiello. In February 1929 gangland Chicago, if not gangland America was shook when Capone orchestrated the St Valentines Day Massacre. This event alone turned many high profile mobsters against Capone – bringing too much heat on the mob, and the way he went about taking out opposition mobsters.

Joe Aiello put a $50k bounty up for anyone who would kill Capone. The bounty was taken up by Chicago Outfit’s Sicilian hitmen, Albert Anselmi and John Scalise known as ‘The Murder Twins’. Now, the shocking part to this was that Anselmi and Scalise were Capone’s most trusted hitmen and had no issues with Capone. Add to that the fact that they made a good living under him. We can only speculate that greed got the better of the two men, who also brought in Joseph Guinta.

The Death Of Albert Francis Capone

Public Domain A newspaper clipping announcing Capon’s name change.

On July 8, 2004, Albert Francis Capone died in the tiny California town of Auburn Lake Trails. His wife, America “Amie” Francis, told a reporter that Albert Francis Capone was much more than his family name.

“Al Capone has been dead a long, long time,” she said. “His son had nothing to do with him. Let him rest in peace, for crying out loud. He suffered enough in his life for being who he was.”

After changing his name, Albert Francis Capone, aka Sonny Capone, aka Albert Francis Brown lived a quiet, law-abiding life. He married three times and is survived by numerous children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

He’s proof that, sometimes, the apple falls far, far from the tree.

3 Torture And Special Privileges

Unlike present-day America where a majority of prisons look more like country clubs than actual penitentiaries, Alcatraz was the epitome of what it meant to serve hard time. It has been said that inmates were subjected to harsh discipline at the hands of guards and Warden James Johnston. This included beatings, starvation, and being thrown in the &ldquodungeon.&rdquo

Perhaps most of the inmates&rsquo dismay about their treatment was their claim that Capone was the only prisoner who did not receive such brutal handling. Instead, he was granted special privileges due to his political influence.

In one instance, convict John M. Stadig claimed that he and another prisoner had circulated a petition asking for reading material and one motion picture to be shown per month, a request that was met with the duo being chained and starved in the dungeon. This form of punishment even led Capone to take sides with Stadig, going on strike with the other prisoners in protest of his fellow inmates&rsquo abuse.

Regardless of Capone&rsquos support, the preferential handling afforded to the mobster enraged fellow prisoners. They described the Rock as a &ldquohell hole from which men are willing to risk their lives to escape.&rdquo Despite Stadig&rsquos claims, prison officials emphatically denied the story, which originally ran in the Madera Tribune in December 1934. However, the government maintained that Alcatraz was not designed as a place for reformation.

Parting thought: How did the violence feel?

The fact that our questioner, Molly, selected the 1920s as the comparison point — as opposed to, say, the 1980s or 1990s — says something about the way violent crime is covered. Why did she choose the Prohibition period?

“It’s the most violent time I could think of in Chicago history,” she says. As we know, Capone’s era was likely not the city’s most violent, but it’s understandable to connect the two time periods that way. Real violence in both eras — ours and the 1920s — has been sensationalized by the media. “Sure, we have crime here,” said Mayor William Hale Thompson in 1928. “Chicago is just like any other big city … except we print our crime and they don’t.”

In the 1920s most Chicagoans heard about citywide crime through newspapers, which were published about three times daily but focused readers’ attention on just a few dramatized, operatic stories.

It was quite different from today’s coverage, which involves a 24-hour news cycle and an ongoing scroll of Twitter and Facebook posts about the latest shooting or weekend body count.

Compared to the way crime was covered in the 1920s, today’s coverage “makes you feel it’s more pervasive than it is,” says Leigh. “But it also trivializes it, in a weird way.”

Read Al Capone's Obituary From 1947

W hen notorious gangster Al Capone died 70 years ago&mdashon Jan. 25, 1947&mdashit was quietly, like little else in his life.

As TIME’s report on Capone‘s death made clear, the scars on his face were the outward symbol of his “hot-tempered, dramatic, sentimental and tough” personality. When he moved to Chicago, during Prohibition, that personality turned into a business asset, as his fame spread within the city’s world of bootlegging and brothels. In 1929, during the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, his gunmen put an end to the rival O’Banions. And, as the story explained, winning that war was just one part of the damage he did:

Capone never paused in his drive for power. He bought politicians wholesale and had complete immunity from the law&mdashfrom 1923 to 1926 Chicago had 135 gang killings, six arrests, one conviction, no executions. He gained control of gambling, prostitution, dance halls, dog tracks and roadhouses as well as the enormous beer and liquor business. The U.S. called him Public Enemy No. 1.

…At the height of his power, in 1927, when he was but 28 years old, he grossed $105 million. He wore expensive clothes, glittered with diamonds, bought whole sections of first-night theater seats for himself and his gunmen. He grew gross and paunchy and wore a bulletproof vest. He traveled in a seven-ton armored car. He gave enormous banquets &mdashat some of which the guests entertained themselves by squirting each other with bottles of vintage champagne. He maintained a big personal bodyguard, watched its members to see that none “went cuckoo” under the strain. If a man looked nervous, he was exposed to a series of pretty girls, then killed if he did not react to their charms. Said Capone: “When a guy don’t fall for a broad, he’s through.”

But, though he successfully managed to foil both enemies who wanted to kill him and those who wanted to try him for murder, he was eventually convicted in 1931 for evading taxes. During his time at Alcatraz, he fell ill&mdashthe result of an old syphilis case. Released in 1939, he kept to himself, leading a quiet life until his death.

“He was 48,” the obituary concluded. “Death had beckoned to him for years, as stridently as a Cicero whore calling to a cash customer. But Big Al had not been born to pass out on a sidewalk or a coroner’s slab. He died like a rich Neapolitan, in bed in a quiet room with his family sobbing near him, and a soft wind murmuring in the trees outside.”

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault:Big Al

Watch the video: Al Capone Downfall


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