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Murder on St. Valentine's Day - Page 3 of 3

On March 14, the police announced several other suspects. They were Joseph Lolordo, Fred Burke, and James Ray. Lolordo had dropped out of sight and would remain at large. Burke and Ray were a pair of hoods from East St. Louis, Illinois. James Ray had vanished, and Fred Burke was a bank robber and killer who at the time was wanted in Ohio in connection with the murder of a policeman. Burke’s whereabouts was also unknown.

The police also made some arrests. Three of Capone's hired killers, John Scalise, Albert Anselmi, and Joseph Guinta were taken into custody. Guinta was freed shortly thereafter for lack of evidence. Scalise and Anselmi made bail and were released. Scalise and McGurn were later indicted on seven charges of murder. McGurn eventually beat the case on a legal technicality, and all charges against him were permanently dropped. This happened when the prosecution failed to bring McGurn to trial after he had demanded and was denied a trial in four separate terms of court. The prosecution had been forced to wait because there was never enough evidence to bring McGurn to trial. It didn't help that McGurn's girlfriend was prepared to testify that they had been together in a hotel room at the time of the killings.

Al Capone returned to Chicago on May 7, 1929. On the evening of his arrival, Scalise, Guinta, and Anselmi were the guests of honor at a Capone party. After a nice meal, Capone beat his honored guests with a baseball bat, then for extra measure, shot them. Their bodies were found early the next morning. Scalise and Guinta were in the back seat of a car that had been rolled into a ditch along side a rural Indiana road. Anselmi was found twenty feet from the car. The killings had to do with internal Capone business, and were unrelated to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.8

So, as things stood, one suspect had beaten the prosecution on a legal technicality, three others were dead, and three more were still at large. There was no concrete evidence tying Capone to the crime, and the police hadn’t found the murder weapons.

Ten months after the massacre, when it seemed as though the investigation had died on the vine, the police goy a lucky break. On December 14, a police officer in St. Joseph, Michigan was escorting two motorists to the police station. The motorists were having an argument over a minor traffic accident. One of the men suddenly drew a pistol and fired three shots into the policeman, killing him instantly. The murderer tried to escape in his own car but had another collision. Abandoning his wrecked vehicle, the fugitive stopped a passing motorist and at gun point commandeered his car.

Papers found in the wrecked automobile led the police to a home in St. Joseph occupied by Fred Burke's wife. Burke was one of the criminals for East St. Louis believed to have been on the St. Valentine's Day execution squad after an eye-witness had identified him as the driver of the phony police car. Burke wasn't home, but a search of the house revealed an arsenal which included two Thompson sub-machine guns. The police also seized Thompson ammunition clips and drums.

Five days later, the district attorney in St. Joseph delivered the weapons and ammunition to Goddard. Goddard was immediately encouraged when he found that much of the ammunition had been made by the U.S. Cartridge Company during the one year period from 1927 to 1928.

Goddard test-fired twenty bullets through one gun and fifteen through the other. When he compared these thirty-five bullets and their shell casings with those found at the murder scene, he was certain the two tommy guns found in Burke's home were the weapons that had been used to kill Moran’s men.

On December 23, 1929, Goddard presented his evidence before the coroner's jury. As a result of his testimony, the jury recommended that Fred Burke be apprehended and held for the grand jury on a charge of murder.

Burke was captured the following April, but the authorities in Michigan refused to surrender him to Illinois. Instead, Burke was tried in Michigan for the murder of the policeman. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in the Michigan State Penitentiary, never to be returned to Chicago to be tried for his role in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. He died in the Michigan State Penitentiary.9

With three of the murder suspects dead, another missing, one off the hook, and another in prison for life, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre became a dead issue. There would be no more arrests.

A St. Valentine's Day Massacre trial would have been a spectacular event that would have publicized the science of firearms identification.

As for Al Capone, his career was coming to an end. In October, 1931, he was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to eleven years at the federal prison in Atlanta. Suffering from syphilis, Capone was released in 1939 and died in 1947.

Jack McGurn, the suspected brains behind the massacre, was machine-gunned by other gangsters in 1936. He died on the streets of Chicago with fourteen bullets in his body.

Bugs Moran was later convicted of bank robbery. He died in 1957 while serving time in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

8. When Anselmi and Scalise were arrested and tossed into prison with Jack McGurn, they tried to entice him away from Capone in order to form a new gang. It was Guinta who tipped off Capone about this. Capone killed Scalise and Anselmi because they were disloyal and a threat. He killed Guinta because he didn’t like owing people favors. (Cashman, Sean Dennis, Prohibition: The Lie of the Land, NY: The Free Press, 1981, pp 99-100.)
Other accounts of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre can be found in: Kobler, John, Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1971 and Lyle, John H., The Dry and Lawless Years, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1960.

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A. James Fisher
Dept. of Political Science & Criminal Justice, 146 Hendricks Hall
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 16444
e-mail: jfisher@edinboro.edu blog: http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com