The Murder of New York City Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino

The Murder of New York City Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino
The Murder of New York City Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino

There isn’t any denying that New York City police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino was a high-quality cop — devoted and courageous. But, when Petrosino was murdered in Palermo, Sicily in 1909, he made some silly errors {that a} extra clever policeman would possibly by no means have made.

Joseph Petrosino was born in 1860 in Padula, Campania, within the southern tip of Italy, close to Naples. When he was a younger youngster, his dad and mom despatched him to America, together with a younger cousin named Antonio Puppolo, to reside along with his grandfather. Quickly after Petrosino arrived in America, his grandfather was killed in an vehicle accident. Petrosino and his cousin Puppolo had been briefly despatched to an orphanage. Nonetheless, the choose, feeling sorry for the 2 younger boys, took them into his own residence, till Petrosino’s dad and mom might come to America. Whereas ready for his dad and mom to reach in America (They arrived in America in 1874), Petrosino lived with a politically energetic Irish household. Because of this, Petrosino was given an training, which made him extra more likely to receive a very good job in America, relatively than the opposite poor Italian immigrants, who had been arriving from Italy in droves.

As a result of of the choose’s connections, on October 19, 1883, Petrosino joined the New York City Police Division. Petrosino’s mentor was Police Inspector Alexander “Clubber” Williams. Williams took a liking to Petrosino, and Petrosino rapidly moved up within the ranks of the New York City Police Division. His promotions had been largely the end result of Petrosino’s onerous work and dedication, and likewise as a result of of the truth that he was Italian, and will converse the language. That made it potential for Petrosino to infiltrate the Italian immigrant crime factions, that had been infiltrating New York City. In 1895, Petrosino was promoted to detective, and assigned to Decrease East Facet of Manhattan, which was populated by a big contingent of Italian immigrants.

The brief, stocky, bull-necked, and barrel-chested Petrosino was a well-known sight on the streets of Little Italy. He was recognizable by his massive head and a pockmarked face that by no means appear to smile. It was stated that Petrosino’s energy was monumental, and that he was not antagonistic to beating up criminals, earlier than and after he arrested them.

Petrosino first achieved prominence, when he investigated the notorious “Barrel Murder” of 1903. Though a number of males had been purchased the justice for killing a person named Benedetto Madonia (then stuffing him right into a barrel and leaving him on the streets), Petrosino knew the person who ordered the homicide was Joe Morello, the highest rating Mafia boss in New York City. Morello’s chief henchman was Ignazio Saietta, recognized on the streets as “Lupo the Wolf.” Each males had been feared by the Italian immigrants, and the mere point out of their title would trigger Italian immigrants to make the signal of the cross in trepidation.

Each Morello and Saietta had been infamous counterfeiters, and so they used a number of Italian immigrants to print up hundreds of two and 5 {dollars} payments. These denominations had been the commonest tender, used greater than some other denomination. Saietta owned a number of grocery shops in downtown Manhattan. He used these grocery shops to export and import counterfeit cash to and from Italy; the payments being stuffed into barrels of oil, or in crates of cheese. Whereas this counterfeiting garnered some good income for Morello and Saietta, it didn’t fulfill their lust for blood. Each males determined to make use of The Black Hand extortion racket, whereby they might ship sinister notes to Italian immigrants of some means, threatening them with dying, if they didn’t pay the cash demanded. An imprint of a “Black Band” was sinisterly positioned on the backside of every be aware.

One of the Italians being extorted by the Black Hand was well-known opera singer Enrico Caruso. Caruso, was at first given an ultimatum to pay $2000 for his security. Caruso, figuring out the murderous popularity of the Black Hand, agreed to pay that quantity. Nonetheless, earlier than he might pay, Caruso obtained one other letter now demanding $15,000. Caruso instantly took the second letter to Petrosino. Petrosino informed Caruso to make preparations to drop the cash off at a prearranged place. When two Italian/American males confirmed as much as choose up the cash, Petrosino arrested them on the spot.

Petrosino doggedly investigated Morello and Saietta. His perseverance lastly paid off, when in 1901, performing by an informant, he uncovered the notorious “Murder Stables” positioned at 304, 108th Avenue in Harlem. Petrosino ordered his males to dig up the stables, and so they discovered over 60 our bodies buried there. Saietta was on document because the proprietor of the stables, however he stated that he was solely the owner, and that the buried our bodies with a piece of his tenants, and never his duty. Saietta gave Petrosino a number of names that had been listed because the tenants at 304, 108th Avenue. All of the surnames had been Italian, however none of them could possibly be traced to an precise dwelling individual, in the event that they certainly existed in any respect.

In 1905, New York City Police Commissioner William McAdoo appointed Petrosino the top of the newly shaped “Italian Squad.” Petrosino, with 27 devoted males working below him, was capable of thwart the Black Handers at nearly each flip. From 1905 to 1909, Petrosino and his squad arrested a number of thousand Italian criminals. Greater than 500 Italians criminals had been despatched to jail, and 1000’s extra had been deported again to Italy. To indicate how efficient Petrosino and his males had been, in 1908 alone, there have been 44 bombings, and 70 males arrested for these bombings. As well as, there have been 424 Black Hand extortion complaints, and 214 arrests had been made consequently of these complaints.

So as to add harm to insult, Petrosino, after he heard that Saietta had been personally concerned in a number of black hand homicide’s, confronted Saietta in Saietta’s Little Italy grocery retailer. The New York Occasions reported, “Petrosino walked as much as Lupo and stated one thing in a low voice. Then the detective’s fist shot out and Lupo fell to the ground. Petrosino, based on a number of eyewitnesses, gave Lupo a extreme beating.”

Saietta’s humiliation was step one within the Black Hand’s elimination of Joseph Petrosino. Elevating a glass of wine, Saietta informed an affiliate regarding Petrosino, “He has ruined many. This is a drink to our success right here, and the hope of debt to him. It’s a pity that it should be achieved stealthily – that he can not first be made to undergo as he has made so many others undergo. However he guards his disguise so properly that it should be achieved rapidly.”

On February 20, 1909 New York City police Commissioner Theodore Bingham determined to disband the Italian Squad and as an alternative create a “Secret Service” department of the New York City Police Division. Petrosino was appointed the top of the Secret Service, and was given 14 males, with the directive to “Crush the Black Hand and drive anarchists out of town.”

Quickly after, Police Commissioner Bingham despatched Petrosino to Palermo, Sicily, to collect details about Italian immigrants in New York City who ought to be deported again to Italy, as a result of of the crimes they dedicated whereas again of their homeland. This mission by Petrosino was speculated to be so secretive, that his fellow officers had been informed Petrosino was house sick. Inexplicably, as quickly as Petrosino departed for Italy, an article appeared within the New York Herald, saying Petrosino’s supposedly secret journey.

Leaving his spouse and three-year-old daughter behind, Petrosino traveled aboard the liner Duca di Genova in top quality, below the alias Simone Velletri. Petrosino carried solely two yellow suitcases with him. To throw folks off the observe who would possibly know of Petrosino’s intentions, the vacation spot of the ship was Genoa, Italy. On the primary two days of his voyage, to not are available in contact with the opposite passengers, Petrosino stood alone in his room. When Petrosino lastly appeared topside, he informed his fellow passengers that he was going to Italy to discover a remedy for a digestive discomfit. But, Petrosino’s face was within the New York City papers so usually, it was unattainable for him to not be acknowledged. One one that did acknowledge Petrosino was the ship’s purser Carlo Longobardi. Petrosino begged Longobardi to not inform anybody on the ship who Petrosino actually was.

There was one other mysterious man aboard the ship, who made Petrosino’s acquaintance. This man referred to as himself Francesco Delli Bovi. When the ship docked in Genoa, Delli Bovi bought off the ship with Petrosino. Delli Bovi vanished and not using a hint, and it was later decided that his solely goal on the ship was to shadow Petrosino.

Upon arriving in Genoa, Petrosino took the primary prepare accessible to Rome. In Rome, Petrosino stood on the Lodge Inghilterra. On his first morning there, Petrosino traveled to the US Embassy to satisfy Ambassador Lloyd Griscom. The goal of this assembly was for Petrosino to collect info on over 2000 Italian criminals, now dwelling in New York City, that Petrosino needed to deported again to Italy.

Petrosino felt protected in Rome, however he wouldn’t have felt so protected if he had recognized that Italian-American newspaper L’Araldo Italiano had run a narrative detailing Petrosino’s Italian journey, saying that his ultimate vacation spot can be Sicily. The info for this newspaper article might solely have come from contained in the New York City Police Division. This story was picked up by a number of different newspapers, an important of which was the New York Herald’s European version. Petrosino lastly realized his intentions had been now public, when he met two Italian-American newspapermen, whom he had recognized from New York City, in entrance of the Press Membership on the Piazza San Silvestro. Petrosino informed the 2 newspaper males that his journey was speculated to be a secret, and he implored them to not inform anybody of his arrival.

The two newspaper males agreed, and even supplied to point out Petrosino the native websites of curiosity. Whereas he was strolling in Rome with the 2 newspapermen, Petrosino noticed a poorly dressed man observing him. Petrosino informed the scribes “I do know that man.” However Petrosino couldn’t keep in mind the place he had seen this man’s face earlier than. Petrosino adopted the person at a protected distance to a close-by submit workplace. On the submit workplace, Petrosino noticed the person write a telegram. When the person approached the counter to ship the telegram, Petrosino bought shut sufficient to listen to the person say that the telegram was going to Sicily.

Being suspicious that he was now being tailed, Petrosino determined to not journey to Palermo instantly. As an alternative, he took a prepare to Naples. In Naples, Petrosino paid the proprietor of a small ship to take him to Palermo. Petrosino arrived in Palermo on February 28, safe within the feeling that he had not been adopted.

This false sense of safety triggered Petrosino to make a number of lethal blunders. Though he took a false title on the lodge he stood at in Palermo, Petrosino opened a checking account below his personal title on the Banca Commerciale. Petrosino felt so comfy that he was not being watched, he gave his actual title to the waiters who served him at Café Oreto, the place he dined nightly. Most likely his worst mistake of all was that as an alternative of carrying his gun, he left it in his lodge room hidden in his suitcase.

By March 7, Petrosino had collected greater than 300 penal certificates that may make sure the deportation of many Italian criminals now dwelling in New York City. Cautious of crooked policeman in Palermo, Petrosino lastly met with the Commissioner of Police Baldassare Ceola on March 6. Ceola stated later that he was not impressed with Petrosino’s competence. In a letter to the prefect of Palermo, Ceola stated, “I noticed directly that Lieutenant Petrosino, to his drawback, was not a person of extreme training.” Ceola additionally felt that Petrosino was additionally not very prudent, since when Ceola supplied Petrosino the providers of a bodyguard, Petrosino refused the provide.

Again in New York City, Morello and Saietta had been plotting Petrosino’s demise. In New York City, Petrosino was a tough man to kill, as a result of, as Saietta informed Morrelo, “Rattling detective. The satan guards himself too totally. When he walks it’s with a loaded revolver in his hand lined by a pocket, and two policeman with out their blue coats stroll close to him eyeing everybody.”

Morello and Saietta knew that in Palermo issues can be very totally different. That they had a number of mates dwelling in Palermo prepared to do soiled work for them. And most significantly, Petrosino had little safety from the native regulation enforcement, as a result of he reused their help, resulting from his distrust of their intentions.

Morello despatched two of his finest killers, Carlo Constantino and Antonio Passananti, to Palermo to trace down Petrosino. There they met with probably the most feared Mafia boss in all of Italy, Don Vito Cascio Ferro. Cascio Ferro had a vendetta in opposition to Petrosino too, as a result of in 1902 when Cascio Ferro traveled to New York City to increase his legal empire, he was compelled to flee again to Italy as a result of of heavy stress from Petrosino.

On Friday night time, March 12, 1909, Petrosino went to have his nightly dinner on the Café Oreto. It was raining out and Petrosino was sporting a raincoat, and carrying an umbrella. Petrosino took his traditional desk, along with his again to the wall, so he might see anybody approaching him. In response to the waiters, Petrosino was within the center of his meal, when two unusual males strode to his desk. These males spoke to Petrosino for only some moments. Petrosino didn’t invite them to take a seat down with him, and he dismissed them with an indignant wave of his hand. As quickly as the lads left the restaurant, Petrosino put three lire on the desk for his dinner, and hurried after the 2 males.

At 8:50 PM, Petrosino was standing within the piazza of the Garibaldi Backyard, when three pictures rang out. When a passerby arrived a couple of seconds later, he discovered Petrosino useless, with bullet holes in his proper shoulder, his cheek, and his throat. The throat wound had been the deadly one. In Petrosino’s pocket was discovered a postcard addressed to his spouse, which stated, “A kiss for you and my little woman, who has spent three months removed from her daddy.”

Stories later stated that three males had been concerned in Petrosino’s homicide. Beside the 2 males who confronted Petrosino on the Café Oreto, the third man was believed to be Don Vito Cascio Ferro himself. When questioned by the police, Cascio Ferro stated he was having dinner on the house at a Sicilian member of the Italian Parliament on the time of Petrosino’s dying. Nonetheless, there have been reviews that Cascio Ferro had slipped quietly away throughout dinner, lengthy sufficient to participate in Petrosino’s homicide, then slip again to the banquet, earlier than anybody was the wiser.

The killing of Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino despatched tremors all through the streets of New York City. Instantly, Police Commissioner Bingham was fired, as a result of of the leak contained in the police division, which led to the tales within the newspapers detailing Petrosino’s journey to Italy. It’s estimated that, as a result of of Petrosino’s demise, 1000’s of Italian criminals weren’t deported again to Italy, and so they continued to terrorize the streets of New York City for many years to return.

It took three weeks for Petrosino’s embalmed physique to return to New York City. The funeral mass was on April 9, on the previous St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Avenue, close to Houston Avenue. The day had been declared a public vacation, and over 20,000 folks gathered within the streets to look at the hearse, carrying Petrosino’s physique, experience from the church to Calvary Cemetery in Queens. The hearse was accompanied by 1000 policeman 2000 schoolchildren and uniformed representatives from 60 Italian associations.

A number of movies have been made primarily based on the life of Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino. They included a silent film made in 1912 referred to as “The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino.” In 1960, Ernest Borgnine portrayed Petrosino within the movie, “Pay or Die.” And Lionel Stander additionally performed Petrosino within the 1973 film, “The Black Hand.”

Source by Joseph Bruno