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JonathanVonErich

"Buster from Chicago"

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"Buster from Chicago" was a pseudonym used for a mobster and freelance hitman of the 1930s. He is alleged to have played a key role in the Castellammarese War (1929–1931) as the assassin of Giuseppe Morello and others.

Buster's crime companions knew little of his background, other than that he was from Chicago. Government informant Joe Valachi described Buster as a "college boy" in appearance and claimed he carried a Tommy gun inside a large violin case. While working with the unknown assassin, Valachi noted his exceptional skill with a wide range of weaponry including pistols, shotguns and machine guns. Buster's first murder assignment for Salvatore Maranzano was to kill Giuseppe Morello. Buster was also responsible for the deaths of top Masseria lieutenants Alfred Mineo and Steve Ferrigno, gunning them down with his guitar-case shotgun as they walked through the courtyard of a Bronx apartment complex on November 5, 1930.

Although he survived the Castellammarese War, Buster was distrustful of the new mob regime. According to Valachi's McClellan Committee testimony, Buster "was killed during an argument at a crap game."

Some claim that Buster was gangster Sebastiano Domingo, killed in 1933. Mob boss Joseph Bonanno identifies Buster as Domingo; however, Bonanno's description of Buster is very different than Valachi's. Bonanno's Buster is short instead tall like Valachi's. According to another theory, Buster is a character invented by Valachi to avoid acknowledging his own role in the killings of several mobsters.

The true identity of "Buster" remains a mystery.

Source: The Mafia Encyclopedia, 3rd edition ( Sifakis, 2005 )

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Intriguing! Especially the guitar case part!! Gotta love the imagery there! As a Chicago native, I love hearing about our troubled past. Really, the amount of gang-related murders is astounding. A lot of the time, a hitman is overlooked as a serial killer. I think because, they get paid to kill, it puts more sport into it for them. Cool article Jon, as usual.

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Posted (edited)

I'm originally from Chicago, as well. I've had some personal experience with these mobster types. One owned a cab company I drove for for a while. I can't describe what a low-life individual he was. He used some of the cab drivers to do some of his dirty work, but when I refused to participate, he said it was ok, so I kept my job, and, of course, my mouth shut. I didn't work there long, though.

He controlled the whole little town there at the time. I think later he was involved with a hit on a guy called Manny Scar. He was found in the trunk of a car at O'Hare airport. His tongue had been cut off and inserted into a private bodily location. That's what happens when you don't keep your mouth shut. lol

Another made guy I knew was a friend of some friends of mine. He was a nice guy, real friendly, but you had to be careful what you said in conversations with him. I became good at that.

He ended up being shot in the back by the police as he was climbing a chain link fence to steal a car. I knew his girlfriend, and when she visited him in the hospital he was in bad shape. Later she told me the last time he regained consciousness he looked at her and said, "You know me honey, I can't live like this," and presently died. I guess he was right.

Oh, I can tell you how they met. This guy was driving down a road and she was hitchhiking. He picked her up, they rode around for a while then stopped at a gas station for some gas. The attendant put gas in his car and she said she'd pay for it. As the attendant reached in the passenger side window to get the cash, she reached in her purse, pulled out a knife and slashed his palm. They drove off. Gas was cheap then, too. She told me about that one time.

Once I went to an apartment of a friend, and his girlfriend was there, but he wasn't home. I looked around and saw a man hunched down sitting in a chair in the shadows. I asked her who he was and she said, "Later him and me are going to a bar, and I'm supposed to point someone out to him, then leave. I'm making $400 dollars!" I left not asking any further questions.

Then another time I went to visit Bruiser Bruce, looking for this same friend. Bruce was just a connected guy who often did some work for the real thing. He lived in a shabby apartment in Cicero. After I knocked on the door and was asked who I was, I found the Bruiser and two other guys, one who was my friend, sitting at the kitchen table under a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. On the table lying in front of each were pistols.

I ignored this, and after some casual talk, I asked what was up. Bruce said they were waiting for someone. Being good friends with one of the guys, it would have been impolite for me to leave immediately, so I stayed for a while. The one guy I was friends with was my bro, so I was obliged to stay.

A bro was next down the hierarchy from a partner, nevertheless it was an important relationship, and it would have been disloyal of me to leave immediately. After about a half hour I said I had to go home, as I had to get up early to go to work. This was an exceptable excuse, so I left. I never asked what may have happened later, of course. I think the guy they were waiting for never showed up, though.

These were just some street people I associated with way back then for a while. I was never involved in anything unseemly, it was just part of my normal day to day life at the time. After a while I sort of moved away from all that. It was a period of my life that was sort of interesting in its own way.

Edited by StarMountainKid

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I'm originally from Chicago, as well. I've had some personal experience with these mobster types. One owned a cab company I drove for for a while. I can't describe what a low-life individual he was. He used some of the cab drivers to do some of his dirty work, but when I refused to participate, he said it was ok, so I kept my job, and, of course, my mouth shut. I didn't work there long, though.

He controlled the whole little town there at the time. I think later he was involved with a hit on a guy called Manny Scar. He was found in the trunk of a car at O'Hare airport. His tongue had been cut off and inserted into a private bodily location. That's what happens when you don't keep your mouth shut. lol

Another made guy I knew was a friend of some friends of mine. He was a nice guy, real friendly, but you had to be careful what you said in conversations with him. I became good at that.

He ended up being shot in the back by the police as he was climbing a chain link fence to steal a car. I knew his girlfriend, and when she visited him in the hospital he was in bad shape. Later she told me the last time he regained consciousness he looked at her and said, "You know me honey, I can't live like this," and presently died. I guess he was right.

Oh, I can tell you how they met. This guy was driving down a road and she was hitchhiking. He picked her up, they rode around for a while then stopped at a gas station for some gas. The attendant put gas in his car and she said she'd pay for it. As the attendant reached in the passenger side window to get the cash, she reached in her purse, pulled out a knife and slashed his palm. They drove off. Gas was cheap then, too. She told me about that one time.

Once I went to an apartment of a friend, and his girlfriend was there, but he wasn't home. I looked around and saw a man hunched down sitting in a chair in the shadows. I asked her who he was and she said, "Later him and me are going to a bar, and I'm supposed to point someone out to him, then leave. I'm making $400 dollars!" I left not asking any further questions.

Then another time I went to visit Bruiser Bruce, looking for this same friend. Bruce was just a connected guy who often did some work for the real thing. He lived in a shabby apartment in Cicero. After I knocked on the door and was asked who I was, I found the Bruiser and two other guys, one who was my friend, sitting at the kitchen table under a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. On the table lying in front of each were pistols.

I ignored this, and after some casual talk, I asked what was up. Bruce said they were waiting for someone. Being good friends with one of the guys, it would have been impolite for me to leave immediately, so I stayed for a while. The one guy I was friends with was my bro, so I was obliged to stay.

A bro was next down the hierarchy from a partner, nevertheless it was an important relationship, and it would have been disloyal of me to leave immediately. After about a half hour I said I had to go home, as I had to get up early to go to work. This was an exceptable excuse, so I left. I never asked what may have happened later, of course. I think the guy they were waiting for never showed up, though.

These were just some street people I associated with way back then for a while. I was never involved in anything unseemly, it was just part of my normal day to day life at the time. After a while I sort of moved away from all that. It was a period of my life that was sort of interesting in its own way.

Wow SMK!

I've moved out of the City for similar events. Too much going on in Chitown! Too many gangs, too much violence. I was friends with some prostitutes and the stories they told me, were frightening! At one point there was a serial killer, leaving prostitute's bodies in garbage containers. They were real nervous around this time, although it didn't stop them from "doing business". Strangely, one of my close friends (hooker) whom I knew before she started turning tricks, was in danger one evening. Some guy had put a gun to her head, although she made it out alive, it really changed her. Into a meaner person. I couldn't handle it anymore, too many bad things were happening, so I left the city for good. It was a learning experience by far. The amount of individuals I met whom were involved in the mafia, were cold and distant. The mind-set is far out. They are all psychopaths IMO. Their loyalties to the mob are unbreakable.

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Intriguing! Especially the guitar case part!! Gotta love the imagery there! As a Chicago native, I love hearing about our troubled past. Really, the amount of gang-related murders is astounding. A lot of the time, a hitman is overlooked as a serial killer. I think because, they get paid to kill, it puts more sport into it for them. Cool article Jon, as usual.

Thanks MC. :)

Yep, the violin case part is really cool. Another cool character was Samuel "Golf Bag" Hunt, one of Capone's favorite henchman. He was a golfer, and was always hiding his shotgun in his golf bag, among his clubs. :D

I'm originally from Chicago, as well. I've had some personal experience with these mobster types. One owned a cab company I drove for for a while. I can't describe what a low-life individual he was. He used some of the cab drivers to do some of his dirty work, but when I refused to participate, he said it was ok, so I kept my job, and, of course, my mouth shut. I didn't work there long, though.

Amazing story, StarMountainKid, thanks a lot for sharing. :tu:

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Thanks MC. :)

Yep, the violin case part is really cool. Another cool character was Samuel "Golf Bag" Hunt, one of Capone's favorite henchman. He was a golfer, and was always hiding his shotgun in his golf bag, among his clubs. :D

Amazing story, StarMountainKid, thanks a lot for sharing. :tu:

You start the most interesting threads jon.

Gonna go for amazing 'made men' names?

Samoots Ammatuna.

Honest to God, he carried a violin case.

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You start the most interesting threads jon.

Gonna go for amazing 'made men' names?

Samoots Ammatuna.

Honest to God, he carried a violin case.

Well thank you very much dear friend, it means a lot coming from a very intelligent connaisseur like you. :tu:

Thanks for sharing the info about Ammatuna, never heard of him. :)

Another strange name: Otto Berman, who was an accountant for Dutch Schultz, had a very strange nickname: Abbadabba.

Yep, a lot of Gangsters were carrying their weapons in a violin case. Actually the Cliché about gangsters carrying their weapons in violin cases came by mistake, because the very popular "Tommy Gun" ( or Thompson machine gun ) was carried in a case that was very similar to a violin case.

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Well thank you very much dear friend, it means a lot coming from a very intelligent connaisseur like you. :tu:

Thanks for sharing the info about Ammatuna, never heard of him. :)

Another strange name: Otto Berman, who was an accountant for Dutch Schultz, had a very strange nickname: Abbadabba.

Yep, a lot of Gangsters were carrying their weapons in a violin case. Actually the Cliché about gangsters carrying their weapons in violin cases came by mistake, because the very popular "Tommy Gun" ( or Thompson machine gun ) was carried in a case that was very similar to a violin case.

H'm I take it you don't think musos can get vicious... :innocent:

Well, I don't know that I'm a connosseur but I do like a good murder.

Here's another one for you.

Tony Accardo aka Joey Batters

I think he got the nickname because of his favorite way to rub out the opposition. There was a rumor that he was one of the murderers in the St Valentine's Day Massacre.

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Here's another one for you.

Tony Accardo aka Joey Batters

I think he got the nickname because of his favorite way to rub out the opposition. There was a rumor that he was one of the murderers in the St Valentine's Day Massacre.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Accardo was also known as "the Big Tuna", probably his most famous nickname. I'm skeptical about his involvment in the St Valentine's Day Massacre. He bragged about being one of the killers, but the FBI doubt that he was there.

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Thanks for sharing. :)

Accardo was also known as "the Big Tuna", probably his most famous nickname. I'm skeptical about his involvment in the St Valentine's Day Massacre. He bragged about being one of the killers, but the FBI doubt that he was there.

Here's another one for you.

Hop Toad Guinta.

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"Buster from Chicago" was a pseudonym used for a mobster and freelance hitman of the 1930s. He is alleged to have played a key role in the Castellammarese War (1929–1931) as the assassin of Giuseppe Morello and others.

Buster's crime companions knew little of his background, other than that he was from Chicago. Government informant Joe Valachi described Buster as a "college boy" in appearance and claimed he carried a Tommy gun inside a large violin case. While working with the unknown assassin, Valachi noted his exceptional skill with a wide range of weaponry including pistols, shotguns and machine guns. Buster's first murder assignment for Salvatore Maranzano was to kill Giuseppe Morello. Buster was also responsible for the deaths of top Masseria lieutenants Alfred Mineo and Steve Ferrigno, gunning them down with his guitar-case shotgun as they walked through the courtyard of a Bronx apartment complex on November 5, 1930.

Although he survived the Castellammarese War, Buster was distrustful of the new mob regime. According to Valachi's McClellan Committee testimony, Buster "was killed during an argument at a crap game."

Some claim that Buster was gangster Sebastiano Domingo, killed in 1933. Mob boss Joseph Bonanno identifies Buster as Domingo; however, Bonanno's description of Buster is very different than Valachi's. Bonanno's Buster is short instead tall like Valachi's. According to another theory, Buster is a character invented by Valachi to avoid acknowledging his own role in the killings of several mobsters.

The true identity of "Buster" remains a mystery.

Source: The Mafia Encyclopedia, 3rd edition ( Sifakis, 2005 )

I was reading about Capone last night and bingo up comes the nick 'Buster'. Apparently, it was used for Leo Brothers.

Supposedly,he took out Jake Lingle in 1929 in a pedestrian underpass in Chicago. Lingle was a newspaper hack who'd been friendly with Big Al but who'd crossed Snorky (Big Al) one too many times.

Snorky. I love that nick and so did Capone.

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Here's another one for you.

Hop Toad Guinta.

Haha, great one. :D

Another one: Joseph Carna, also known as "Junior Lollipops". Don't ask me why. :unsure:

Supposedly,he took out Jake Lingle in 1929 in a pedestrian underpass in Chicago. Lingle was a newspaper hack who'd been friendly with Big Al but who'd crossed Snorky (Big Al) one too many times.

I have read about Lingle in my Encyclopedia of American Crime ( Sifakis, 1982 ). Interesting case, Lingle was living a double life. He claimed his fortune came from one of his family member, when in fact it's clear that he was involved in many of Capone's illegal business. Fascinating story, fun to read. :)

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Haha, great one. :D

Another one: Joseph Carna, also known as "Junior Lollipops". Don't ask me why. :unsure:

I have read about Lingle in my Encyclopedia of American Crime ( Sifakis, 1982 ). Interesting case, Lingle was living a double life. He claimed his fortune came from one of his family member, when in fact it's clear that he was involved in many of Capone's illegal business. Fascinating story, fun to read. :)

Sure is. I think Lingle was getting delusions of grandeur, expecting Snorky to fix races when Lingle wanted him to. I also think he double crossed Snorky a couple of times but anyway, someone, somewhere, decided Lingle had to go.

The killer was apparently dressed as a priest.

Maybe he thought no-one would chase a man of the cloth holding a smoking pistol...

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Sure is. I think Lingle was getting delusions of grandeur, expecting Snorky to fix races when Lingle wanted him to. I also think he double crossed Snorky a couple of times but anyway, someone, somewhere, decided Lingle had to go.

The killer was apparently dressed as a priest.

Maybe he thought no-one would chase a man of the cloth holding a smoking pistol...

I agree, I'm sure Lingle, who from all accounts had a huge ego, wanted more money/power/importance from Capone, and he was killed because of that, because he wanted more ( typical story, it must have happened at least 1000 times in the history of organized crimes ). From what I have read Lingle was simply not a good "team player"; he was too "loud" ( he had two houses, was taking expensive vacations with his family, had two cars ); as a reporter he was paid $65 a week, but when he was killed, he had $1,400 in his pocket. He created many stories to explain his fortune, but was never able to stick to one story ( once he said he received a huge amount of money from a relative, other times he said he sold stocks, etc. ). I'm sure he knew a lot of things that he should have never learned. Capone, in a way, had all the reasons in the world to kill him.

Thanks, I wasn't aware that the killer was apparently dressed as a priest, very interesting. :)

Edited by JonathanVonErich

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I agree, I'm sure Lingle, who from all accounts had a huge ego, wanted more money/power/importance from Capone, and he was killed because of that, because he wanted more ( typical story, it must have happened at least 1000 times in the history of organized crimes ). From what I have read Lingle was simply not a good "team player"; he was too "loud" ( he had two houses, was taking expensive vacations with his family, had two cars ); as a reporter he was paid $65 a week, but when he was killed, he had $1,400 in his pocket. He created many stories to explain his fortune, but was never able to stick to one story ( once he said he received a huge amount of money from a relative, other times he said he sold stocks, etc. ). I'm sure he knew a lot of things that he should have never learned. Capone, in a way, had all the reasons in the world to kill him.

Thanks, I wasn't aware that the killer was apparently dressed as a priest, very interesting. :)

Well Jon, St Valentine's Day killers - 2 were dressed as cops. A guy pulling a contract in public would probably want to be able to blend in.

I'm thinking Lingle was a Capone hit - Snorky would often import gunmen from outside Chicago for his big hits. His old boss Frankie Yale for the Colosimo hit in 1920. The St Valentine's hit. Lingle's whack.

Some of these guys (not Yale) can apparently be tied to the Purple Gang from Detroit.

Now there's another one of those names. The Purple Gang.

Maybe they liked beetroot? :ph34r:

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Well Jon, St Valentine's Day killers - 2 were dressed as cops. A guy pulling a contract in public would probably want to be able to blend in.

I'm thinking Lingle was a Capone hit - Snorky would often import gunmen from outside Chicago for his big hits. His old boss Frankie Yale for the Colosimo hit in 1920. The St Valentine's hit. Lingle's whack.

Some of these guys (not Yale) can apparently be tied to the Purple Gang from Detroit.

Now there's another one of those names. The Purple Gang.

Maybe they liked beetroot? :ph34r:

Good point about the Valentine's day massacre.

I have researched the case on the web, and I have found informations that were not written in my "Encyclopedia of American Crimes". The book was written in 1982, so maybe the author simply didn't had all the informations necessary. Anyway, it seems that you are right about "the priest", however it's not clear wheter or not the "priest" was the trigger man. Some reports state that two men were involved in the murder; one dressed as a Priest and the other a thin blond man, and it seems like the blond man was the one who pulled the trigger. However other reports claims that the "priest" was the one who killed Jake. Again, difficult to know what really happened. Witnesses' descriptions to police at the time of the murder differed in several important details. Perhaps Leo V. Brothers was really the killer, but i'm not 100% convinced. One thing I'm convinced of: Capone was behind the murder, no doubt in my mind.

About the Valentine's Massacre: Do you agree that Jack McGurn was one of the killers ?? I'm almost convinced he was one of them, even if he had an alibi ( the blonde alibi ), and even if some people claims he never went out on Valentine's Day ( McGurn was allegedly very superstitious, he never went out on that day, was always staying in his room, eating sandwiches and reading magazines ). But I believe he was one of the killers; reports state that somebody passing by heard one of the "cops" say "Mac", one of McGurn's nicknames. Again, difficult to know the truth, but I'm sure he was involved.

Haha beetroot, why not ?? :lol:

Yeah, there's many theories as to the origin of the name Purple Gang. My favorite: the name came from a merchant who complained that members of the gang were "tainted, off-color," like bad meat, "they're purple." :w00t:

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Lingle knew he was being tailed - he told a copper! but he went into the underpass anyway.

About McGurn - St VDM to me has his fingerprints all over it, the planning anyway. Snorky was in Palm Springs and he racked up an enormous phone bill to Chicago.

The lookouts - it's just the same as when Snorky took out Hymie Weiss. Louise Rolfe - the blonde alibi. Another one of those great nics!

I think McGurn planned the hit but he certainly wasn't dressed as one of the cops who entered 1st. Moran's men would have known who he was straight away and they weren't cowards, whatever their peculiar idea of right and wrong was. No way would they have turned their backs and allowed their weapons to be taken without doing something.

If McGurn was a shooter he had to have been one of the 3 men who came in the 2nd group and I myself have my doubts. Yes McGurn as the planner but as a shooter, what if something went wrong and he was recognised? I think they stuck to their usual route of employing out of towners for the hit.

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Another strange and unique nickname:

Harry Strauss, probably the greatest hitman ever, was called "Pittsburgh Phil".

Why Pittsburgh Phil ?? We don't know. One theory is that he got the nickname because he was a sharp dresser ( I still don't understand the link with the name ), another theory is simply because Strauss thought that it sounded tougher and more interesting than Big Harry. :huh::mellow:

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Another strange and unique nickname:

Harry Strauss, probably the greatest hitman ever, was called "Pittsburgh Phil".

Why Pittsburgh Phil ?? We don't know. One theory is that he got the nickname because he was a sharp dresser ( I still don't understand the link with the name ), another theory is simply because Strauss thought that it sounded tougher and more interesting than Big Harry. :huh::mellow:

I don't know where the Pittsburgh comes from. He was born in Brooklyn and worked for the Brooklyn based Murder Inc.

You know, it could be one of those you had to be there era nicknames. Like 'snorky' as in a good dresser.

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You know, it could be one of those you had to be there era nicknames. Like 'snorky' as in a good dresser.

I agree, well said.

Same thing for Felix Alderisio, who was one of the best hitman in Chicago, in the 30's and 40's. He was nicknamed Milwaukee Phil. :wacko:

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Was Sebastiano Domingo the legendary "Buster from Chicago" ?? Was "Buster" a creation of mob informant Joseph Valachi ??

Here are two very interesting ( yet controversial ) articles about the possible identity of "Buster":

http://www.americanmafia.com/Mob_Report/6-10-02_Mob_Report.html

http://www.onewal.com/a017/f_swmichigan.html

Judge for yourself. :)

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They both have different ideas as to Buster. I've always thought it was Fred "Killer" Burke.

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Posted (edited)

Burke is a good possibility. The only thing bothering me about this theory is that Burke died in 1940; "Buster" apparently died in 1931. However this could mean nothing; maybe Burke simply decided to "retire" his character of Buster in 1931. Hey, it's possible, who knows. :D

Burke sure is another fascinating character.

Edited by JonathanVonErich

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