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.
Roy DeMeo was a New York based member of the Gambino crime family who ran his own crew of criminals in Brooklyn. This particular group of thugs specialized in murder and contract killings that typically involved dismemberment and the ultimate disappearance of any trace of the victim. Those slated to die would be lured to DeMeo's headquarters, the Gemini Lounge, through the promise of a meeting, drugs, or some other inducement for them to enter the apartment area behind the bar itself.
DeMeo would be surreptitiously waiting for them with a silenced pistol in one hand and a towel in the other. After a point blank shot in the back of the head, DeMeo would carefully wrap the towel around the wound to prevent too much blood from spilling. As quickly as possible, a confederate would stab the victim in the heart to minimize excessive bleeding. Then the body would be deposited in a bathtub where it would bleed out as much as possible. If a victim was murdered to send a message, they would dump the body publically for all to see. Otherwise, blood would eventually be washed down the drain and DeMeo, a trained butcher, would supervise a quick and efficient dismemberment, with body parts packed in plastic and stuffed in cardboard boxes. The boxes would be included with refuse intended for a large local landfill.
Richard Kuklinski was known as the "Ice Man," the perfect nickname for a Mafia contract killer who murdered several dozen victims in any number of ingenious ways. At 6' 5" and nearly 300 lbs, Kuklinski was also physically well suited to his chosen vocation. As a young man, he began stalking and killing derelicts on Manhattan's West Side. Kuklinski quickly became involved in Gambino pornography bootlegging, collections, and, occasionally, contract murders.
His methods were diverse and included stabbing, shooting, blunt force trauma, and even employing cyanide from a spray bottle, an especially difficult method to use. Kuklinski also employed an additional process to thwart investigators. He would freeze his dead victims in an industrial freezer, sometimes for years, before thawing and dumping them, completely obscuring their actual date of death.
This would eventually be Kuklinski's undoing. When he dumped a body in warm weather before completely thawing it, the medical examiner found ice crystals in the lungs of the victim. Dubbed "The Ice Man" by law enforcement, they eventually connected him to the murders of five people, mostly his friends and business associates, and he was sentenced to life in prison in 1988. After appearing on numerous crime documentaries discussing his methods and life, Kuklinski died in prison in 2006.
Anthony Spilotro was so ruthlessly effective as a Mafia enforcer and killer that, in 1971, he was sent to Las Vegas to oversee the Chicago mob's casino cash skimming and criminal operations in the rapidly expanding gambling mecca. He earned this reputation through his involvement in numerous egregiously violent murders in the Chicago area. Reenacted in the 1995 film Casino, Spilotro and kidnapped Billy McCarthy, another criminal who found himself at odds with the mob. Spilotro placed McCarthy's head in an industrial vice and demanded the identity of McCarthy's partner, exerting pressure until one of his victim's eyes popped out of his head. McCarthy gave up his partner's name and Spilotro rewarded him by slitting his throat.
When the Outfit suspected that one William "Action" Jackson had turned informer to the feds, he was assigned to Spilotro who tortured him for two days. He was beaten, sliced up with knives and razor blades, burned with a blow torch, had his skin ripped off of his 300 pound frame, and ultimately hung by the rectum with a meat hook until his heart gave out.
Sometimes the Outfit would summon Spilotro from Las Vegas when they had a special need in Chicago. In January, 1978, someone stupidly burgled Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo's house while he was on vacation. Spilotro was assigned to discipline the individuals responsible for this transgression and he quickly identified the professional theft ring involved. In six weeks, he murdered all six men - all died horribly from stab wounds and torture. Spilotro returned to Vegas and Tony Accardo had sent a clear message.
Throughout the '20s, Al Capone battled George "Bugs" Moran for control of Chicago's organized crime operations, especially bootlegging and alcohol sales. Moran controlled the North Side neighborhood and was constantly competing with Capone for control over smuggling and trafficking operations. Capone decided that he needed to completely eliminate Moran and his gang. In a scheme that was elaborately planned for months, Capone's top henchmen, "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, sent four men, some dressed as police officers, into Moran's Clark Street headquarters on the morning of February 14, 1929. Lookouts believed that Moran was already present. In fact, he had seen the "police officers" entering his building and decided to hide out.
The decision to dress some of the assassins in police uniforms proved to be wise, as gang members grumbled but felt intimidated enough to agree to line up against a wall for what they presumed would be petty arrests. Instead the men dressed as civilians, opened up with Thompson submachine guns, spraying all seven of Moran's gang with numerous rounds of .45 caliber bullets long after they fell to the ground. The two other killers shot into the pile too, obliterating the victims.