- Who was Albert Anastasia; what was Murder, Incorporated, and how were they connected? [#411]
- Our quest for more information was started by an email from Richard Goldberg, "For more information on Murder Incorporated, check http://www.murderinc.com."
That site has a page on Albert Anastasia which says, "Albert Anastasia was the chief executioner for the enforcement side of the National Syndicate, Murder Incorporated. His ruthless brutality made him legendary and helped him achieve leadership of one of the most powerful Mafia families. . . . Anastasia showed a certain ability early on for killing which helped him be promoted to operating head, along with Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, of Murder Inc. This organization of contract killers was reportedly responsible for upto 500 deaths. . . ."
Another page in the site coveres more.
Another website we found that discusses Murder, Inc. and Anastasia was Albert Anastasia which says:
"Considering Anastasia's lifelong devotion to homicide as the solution to any problem it was not surprising that he and Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter were installed as the operating heads of the national crime syndicate's enforcement arm, Murder, Inc. some estimates have it that Murder, Inc., may have taken in a decade of operation a toll of between 400 and 500 victims. Unlike Lepke and many other members of Murder, Inc., Anastasia was never prosecuted for any of the crimes. There was a 'perfect case' against him, but the main prosecution witness not surprisingly disappeared."
Other links we found include:
- The West Wing Episode Guide discovered a great link on "Murder, Inc." and the candy store in Brownsville: "Blame it on all on Brownsville, Brooklyn" -Murder Incorporated.
- "In Brownsville, Brooklyn, at the corner of Livonia and Saratoga Avenues, stood a small twenty-four hour candy store named Midnight Rose's. This wasn't any ordinary candy store. It housed some of the most lethal for-hire contract killers, consisting mainly of Jews and Italians, that this country has ever known. These men, dubiously named Murder Incorporated by the press, carried out over eight hundred contract murders while sharing egg creams and betting on Dodger games at Ebbets Field. . .
"The location was ideal. The candy store was located under the elevated train that brought many people too and from Manhattan. There were always kids around from the local rows of attached houses, which provided security in its own way. A street lamp gave enough light for people to see where they were going, and a small window that faced each side of the street, was perfect for a lookout. Albert 'the Mad Hatter Anastasia, long time friend of Luciano, along with Garment District king pin Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter were perfect choices for the leadership of Murder Inc. Since it was a separate entity, Murder Inc. supplied its members with lawyers when they needed one and bought their own police protection and politicians. . . .
"Murder Inc. had strict rules. Luciano and Lansky did not want policemen, judges or district attorneys rubbed out for fear of reprisal against the Syndicate. They felt that any politicians or police personnel that were on the payroll would quickly turn against them. This was an important rule that was carried down from previous generations of Mafiosi."
- Toby O'Brien wrote us:
"During the episode 'Holy Night', Toby said the following to his father:
"Toby: 'I know about the candy store in Brownsville. I know about Louie Amberg. I know about The Half Moon Hotel. A sixth-story window in Coney Island.'
"This had to be a reference to the shady death of Abe 'Kid Twist' Reles, who was portrayed in the movie 'Murder, Inc.' by Peter Falk. (Who got an Oscar nomination for it).
- Here's the information Toby O'Brien sent us about Reles:
"American gangster, murderer and police informer. In the 1930s he was a member of Murder, Inc., the national crime syndicate's enforcement squad. During that time, Reles, nicknamed 'Kid Twist,' was arrested on various charges, including murder, robbery, burglary, and possession of narcotics. He was taken into police custody in the spring of 1940 on a homicide charge. Hoping to save his skin on a promise of immunity from prosecution from NYC's district attorney, he became one of the most famous police informants in underworld history.
"In his courtroom testimony, Reles admitted to killing dozens of people; gave explicit details about the coast-to-coast, murder-for-profit business of Murder, INC., introducing the words 'contracts' (assignments to kill); 'hits' (actual killings); and 'bums' (victims).
"He also named his accomplices, such as Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, Harry Strauss, Frank 'Dasher' Abbandando, Buggsy Goldstein, and Happy Maione, and important syndicate leaders such as Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Albert Anastasia.
"A much hated stool pigeon, Reles was kept under heavy police protection at the Half Moon Hotel in Brooklyn's Coney Island section while he testified in 1941. On November 12, 1941, he jumped, fell, or was thrown out of a sixth floor window of the hotel to his death."
source: Abe "Kid Twist" Reles
Here's the information Toby O'Brien sent us about Louis Amberg:
"During the prohibition era, there were Jewish gangs, including that of the Amberg brothers. Louis Amberg, named 'Pretty' because of his extreme ugliness, was the terror of Brownsville by the time he was twenty. Another character was Abe Reles, a killer and famous stool pigeon, who, when he was murdered by being thrown out of a six-story building, was known as 'the canary who could sing but couldn't fly.'
source: Celebrating Jewish Life in a Unique Borough
More information from Toby O'Brien about Louis Amberg:
Louis "Pretty Amberg" Amberg
Death: Oct. 23, 1935
Organized Crime Figure.
"During the 1920s and 1930s he, along with his brother Joseph, were the most feared gangsters in the Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
On October 23,1935 (the same day Dutch Schultz was murdered) Louis
Amberg's body was found in a burning car in Brooklyn. He was killed with an ax and a shotgun blast, put in a car and set on fire. The murder contract was carried out by Abe Reles and his men in 'Murder Inc'.
Cause of death: Murdered
New York, USA
Plot: Block 2, Row 12R, Grave 4
source: Find A Grave - Browse by Cemetery: Montefiore Cemetery
- Toby O'Brien also provided some speculation:
"Since Toby also mentioned the candy store in Brownsville - which I think might be the setting for that opening scene. . . .
"As for the mention of Amberg, I can't see Jules Ziegler being old enough to be involved in that. He would have been a lot older than Jerry Adler's portrayal when he showed up for Christmas at the White House. But Amberg must have held some significance - perhaps Jules Ziegler worked for the remnants of Amberg's gang, twenty years after Pretty Louis' death."
- More information on Louis "Lepke" Buchalter and Murder, Inc. from the 1994 New Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- "Buchalter derived his nickname from 'Lepkeleh' (Yiddish for 'Little Louis'). . . . Between 1932 and 1934 he allied with Lucky Luciano in founding the national crime syndicate. About 1933 he put together his best killer-enforcers, under the command of such gunmen as Albert Anastasia and Abe 'Kid Twist' Reyes , and established as a sideline an organization that would kill --- or beat or mutilate --- anyone (except syndicate members) for a price. . . . The outfit was later popularly dubbed Murder, Inc. . . . he. . . died in the electric chair at Sing-Sing State Prision in 1944."
(volume 2, page 594)
- More information on Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and Murder, Inc. from the 1994 New Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- "The son of Austrian-Jewish immigrants, Reles stole his nickname of Kid Twist from a gangster idol and pursued a life of crime. . . . . fearing prosecution for murder, he began talking to Brooklyn district attorney William O'Dwyer on March 23, 1940. He told about a national organization (popularly dubbed Murder, Inc.) to which he belonged and which dealt in murder for hire; its leaders included Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter and Albert Anastasia. He supplied dozens of dates, persons, and places --- providing the authorities with information on some 70 unsolved murders that had been performed by 'contract.'
". . . before Anastasia could be brought to trial, Reles's usefulness ended. He had been lodged in Coney Island's Half Moon Hotel guarded by 18 policemen in three shifts round the clock. Nevertheless, on the morning of Nov. 12, 1941, he fell from a window to his death. The official verdict was that while alone, he had tried to escape and accidentally fell. But an informer of a later day, Joseph Valachi, would suggest, 'I never met anybody who thought Abe went out that window because he wanted to.'"
(volume 9, page 1015)