Life in the American Mafia typically ends in one of two ways: death or prison. In a perpetual struggle over illegal power and money, murder is practically an occupational hazard. From the very first days of organized crime, mafia hits, brutal assassins, and crime's most horrifying killers underlined the fundamentally violent lifestyle of this uniquely American entity. In a world where violence is practically second nature, these are some of the most brutal killers and gruesome murders associated with the Mafia.
Some of the people on this list are classic gangsters like Al Capone. Others weren't even in the mob, but pissed off the wrong people. In either case, the lesson is clear: Stay clear of the mob and definitely don't make a gangster mad. Keep reading below to see some of the most violent murders ever committed by the Mafia.
Arnold Schuster Should Have Kept His Mouth Shut
In February 1952, 24-year-old Arnold Schuster was riding in a New York subway when he thought he recognized someone. Schuster, a man who fancied himself an amateur sleuth, followed the individual to a gas station, and then tipped off police. The man turned out to be notorious bank robber and prison escapee Willie "The Actor" Sutton, who was quickly arrested. Schuster's story appeared in the New York tabloids and he was widely interviewed on local television. Unfortunately, one of these interviews was seen by Mafia crime boss Albert "The Mad Hatter" Anastasia, an especially violent criminal. Although he had absolutely no connection to Willie Sutton, the Mafia kingpin was reportedly enraged by the attention paid to Schuster.
On the evening of March 8, 1952, Schuster was returning home from work when he was confronted by a gunman who shot him twice in the groin and once in each eye. When neighbors found him on the sidewalk, he was already dead (caution: disturbing image). No one was ever officially charged with Schuster's murder.
Dominick 'Sonny Black' Napolitano Fatally Introduced The FBI To His Crew
Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano was immortalized in the 1997 film Donnie Brasco, which told the story of Joseph Pistone, an FBI agent who successfully infiltrated Sonny Black's Brooklyn crew, which dominated the Williamsburg area of the borough in the '70s. Black engaged in the typical Mafia criminal behaviors of burglary, loansharking, bookmaking, extortion, and narcotics. Pistone spent six years gathering incriminating information for the FBI, but eventually Pistone's cover was revealed personally to Black by FBI agents at his headquarters, Brooklyn's Motion Lounge. He ignored the agents' request to think about entering the witness protection program despite understanding what the penalty for allowing the FBI into his crew would be.
On August 17, 1981, he was summoned to a meeting and, anticipating the worst, gave his jewelry to a friend. Upon entering the home of another mobster, he was pushed down into the basement and when one of his killers misfired on the first attempt to kill him, he said, "Hit me one more time and make it good." His badly decomposed body would not be found for a year, his hands cut off to symbolize the penalty for introducing the FBI to a crew.
Salvatore Testa's Philadelphia Kiss Of Death
In the 1980s, Salvatore Testa was known as a rising star in the Philadelphia crime world. "Nicky" Scarfo was both jealous and violently erratic. He soon decided that Testa would have to go and that it would be Testa's own crew who would handle the murder.
At a Philadelphia funeral attended by dozens of Scarfo-related criminals, a lieutenant of Scarfo greeted Testa by shaking his hand and kissing him for an extended time on the lips, a clear signal that Testa was doomed. On September 14, 1984, he was ambushed in the back room of a candy store and shot in the back of the head.
Antonio Caponigro Was Double-Crossed Because He Was 'Too Greedy'
Sometimes the Mafia's extreme violence is exceeded only by its breathtaking treachery. Antonio Caponigro was a high-level Philadelphia Mafioso who decided in 1980 that Angelo Bruno, the godfather of the Philadelphia Mafia, nicknamed the Gentle Don, should be eliminated.
On March 21, 1980, Angelo Bruno was shot to death in front of his Philadelphia home. Caponigro was immediately summoned to appear before the official New York Five Family Commission. Caponigro's body was found in the trunk of a car in the South Bronx on April 18, 1980, with dollar bills stuffed into his mouth and anus. Funzi Tieri assumed control of Caponigro's Newark operation and the Five Families now had wide-open access to the newly rejuvenated Atlantic City territory.