The Chicago Syndicate: Richard Cain
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Showing posts with label Richard Cain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richard Cain. Show all posts

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chicago Brothers Discover their Father's Friends were #Mobsters. So, They Wrote a Book #MobAdjacent

Childhood is, or should be, a time of innocence, and for a while that is the way it was for brothers Michael Jr. and Jeffrey Gentile. And then a pistol fell out of a coat.

“We were taking the coats from people who had come over to visit our parents and this gun just dropped on the floor,” says Michael. “For us it wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh my God, look, a gun!’ but, ‘Hey, we better figure out which coat this fell from and put it back.’”

The brothers were born 14 months apart in the mid-1950s, and grew up in the western suburbs and everything was just fine for a time, or as Jeffrey puts it, “just like episodes of ‘The Wonder Years’ until they started to get interrupted by episodes of ‘The Sopranos.’ ”

As they write in their book, “Mob Adjacent: A Family Memoir”: “Once Michael and I started paying attention, the veneer that wrapped around our family fiction cracked, and there was no putting it back together. One day you’re a kid learning to read; the next you’re reading the newspaper, and there’s an article about the man who came to dinner last week. Pictures, too. Yup, that’s him. The newspaper said he’d been indicted for running a suburban gambling ring and was looking at five years in prison.”

The man who came to dinner remains nameless but the names of many of the others who pepper the book’s pages and frequented the brothers’ lives read almost like an old most-wanted list.

“Through geography and happenstance, our father grew up and knew well the post-Capone generation of Chicago criminals and crime bosses,” says Michael Jr. “They were his friends.”

The names of those people, some with well-known nicknames, pop from the pages: Manny Skar, Richard Cain, Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, Frank “Skip” Cerone and his brother James “Tar Baby” Cerone and their cousin “Jackie the Lackey” Cerone.

The brothers’ grandfather came here as a 2-year-old from Italy in 1896, settling with his parents and siblings in the then heavily Italian neighborhood around Grand Avenue and Aberdeen Street. After he helped a neighbor fight off two men who were attacking him, that man, a crime figure named Vincent Benevento, conferred on him the sort of respect and supplied the connections that can go a long way in Chicago.

He had a son named Michael (in 1929), the father of Michael Jr. and Jeffrey, and together they worked in the produce business. Then the son went to war (Korea) and afterward, with the help of some by-then nefarious childhood friends, opened a bar. He married (a woman named Mary Ann) and started a family. The Gentile brothers have a sister named Lisa.

“My dad was kind of the go-to guy for his friends,” says Jeffrey. “He was always clean as a whistle and good at what he did and so when a place was in trouble, my dad was called in.”

And so it was that in the early 1960s, he was running a place called Orlando’s Hideaway, part of a notorious strip of entertainments along Mannheim Road in the near western suburbs. Those of a certain age are likely to remember the fancy hotels, nightclubs and restaurants of that strip, and perhaps some of the illegal gambling and prostitution activities too, that comprised what was known as “Glitter Gulch,” a sort of mini Las Vegas.

It was at Orlando’s where the brothers met “a small, quiet, balding man, always perfectly tailored.” The boys were told to address him as “Mr. Sam.” He was Sam Giancana, the head of the Chicago outfit from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

Giancana, often known as “Momo,” used Orlando’s as a meeting place. The brothers were there when Frank Sinatra came to call and, they write, “We heard an unforgettable explosion as Mr. Sam raged at Sinatra” — about a Nevada casino deal that supposedly involved Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK, a Sinatra pal. “We have never seen anyone so angry before or since. Snarling, really. Spitting mad. Literally. Red face. Eyes bulging. Insane. Terrifying.”

That is but one of the lively anecdotes in “Mob Adjacent,” a book that came to life after Michael Jr., who has had a long career in the produce business, produced and hosted a 10-part series of short YouTube videos about his family.

These premiered in November 2016. “I thought that the videos were good but that they were only a half effort,” says Jeffrey. “I always wanted to write a book about our family and so Michael and I began to collaborate, to share memories and stories.”

The foundation for the book was letters and journal entries that Jeffrey had been keeping for decades. To flesh those out the brothers talked, often for more than 14 hours at a stretch, at Michael’s home here and Jeffrey’s in Pasadena, Calif.

“Mob Adjacent” is a fine and lively book, one that gives a solid and not overwhelming history of organized crime in these parts, and offers a very detailed narrative of their family and their own lives. It is frank and honest and surprisingly amusing.

“Our lives are the result of geography and happenstance,” says Jeffrey. Or, as he writes in the book, “Being mob adjacent meant we got the best seats in the house. It also meant we got to go home after the show.”

Their father died in 1995. At his wake, Jimmy Cerone approached the open casket, patted the corpse’s cheek and whispered into the coffin, “You were a good boy.”

His sons do justice to their father’s life and this project has made them appreciate one another. “Writing this book gave us a greater understanding of who we are and where we came from,” says Michael.

It has also given them something of a cottage industry. At their website, you will find a way to order the self-published book, see the video segments and purchase all manner of items, from an array of T-shirts to shot glasses, pens and mugs. The brothers have written a pilot episode for a television series that they are shopping around to agents and producers.

“It is a sitcom based on our lives,” says Michael. “But it could also be a drama.”

Thanks to Rick Kogan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

History Lesson from Former Illinois Governor Touches on Mobsters

Dan Walker sent an e-mail from Mexico because he doesn't like newspaper reporters lumping him in with crooked governors.

Yes, that Dan Walker, governor of Illinois from 1972 to 1976.

The Internet is a magical thing that never ceases to amaze. Sitting in his home down in Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico, Walker, 87, read a column that appeared online March 17 in the SouthtownStar and obviously felt the need to respond.

"Phil, I read and enjoyed your good article about (Gov. Pat) Quinn and (former Gov. Richard) Ogilvie," Walker e-mailed. "I'd like to share with you a few thoughts since I lived through those days about which you wrote."

I wrote about Quinn's plan for an income tax increase and mentioned that Ogilvie had created the first state income tax while governor in 1969. In 1972, I noted, Ogilvie was defeated by Walker.

That election has been cited ever since by Illinois politicians as proof that voters will rebel against any elected leader who backs an income tax increase.

Walker suggested that he didn't win the election because of the tax hike but because of scandals in the Ogilvie administration.

"Perhaps you're unaware that I said publicly both at the time time he did it and during my campaign for governor that Dick Ogilvie deserved to be complimented for having the guts to give Illinois the income tax," Walker wrote. "I've said repeatedly, then and now, that the state could not have continued without it. I went on while campaigning, of course, to criticize Ogilvie for the way he spent the money that came in."

Walker reminded me that Ogilvie was the first governor to welcome William Cellini into his administration. Cellini, a Springfield wheeler-dealer, is under federal indictment in connection with pay-to-play politics in the administration of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but he has been cutting deals with governors and lining his pockets with government dough for decades.

Ogilvie hired Cellini to be the state's first transportation director, and Cellini became embroiled in a scandal involving ties to state highway contractors who made large campaign contributions.

"Cellini cut deals with every governor of Illinois, Republican and Democrat, except me," Walker boasted in his e-mail. "My aide threw him out of his office when he came to make a bad proposition."

Walker proudly claims that during his administration, state support for public education reached its highest levels, financing 48 percent of the cost of a K-12 education, "just short of the 50 percent goal set in the constitution."

That's true, but I e-mailed in response that Walker's administration benefited from the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the 2.5 percent income tax passed by Ogilvie to fund education.

In my column, I called Ogilvie a governor who built a reputation for honesty by taking on organized crime and the original Mayor Daley's political machine.

That apparently really hit a nerve with Walker.

"Phil, I too had the courage to do what was right when I was governor and tried to change the system, knocking down the excessive power of the rotten Chicago machine," Walker wrote. "And my political career ended because of that.

"Phil, I continue to wish that reporters would recognize what I tried to do. Most folks are entirely unaware of what I did as outlined above on education and fighting guys like Cellini and (in) other good government matters.

"I've made my mistakes (they've been well publicized), but I still get sick inside when I see my name coupled with those guys like Ryan, who went to jail for corruption in office."

Walker has a legitimate complaint on that last point. He served 18 months in a federal prison for bank fraud, but that happened years after he left office.

Yet, whenever anyone lists the Illinois politicians who have gone to prison on charges of corruption, his name appears along with those of Otto Kerner and George Ryan.

I asked Walker what he's doing these days, and he wrote back that despite rumors that he made a fortune from his banking days, he lives with his wife on their Social Security benefits "plus such stipends as my seven kids see fit to send me from time to time." He wrote that he lives a "pleasant life" and continues to love politics.

By the way, while mentioning Ogilvie, Walker also dropped the name of Richard Cain. I had completely forgotten about Cain, one of the most notorious figures in Illinois history.

Cain was recruited by Chicago mob chief Sam Giancana as a young man and eventually became a police officer, organized crime's guy on the inside. He ended up heading the Cook County sheriff's special investigations section when Ogilvie was sheriff.

Cain apparently did bring down some big-time mobsters, but some of them were guys the mob wanted to take out. In the meantime, he provided information to the mob on government investigations.

He eventually was whacked by hit men who entered a neighborhood restaurant, lined the patrons up against the wall and put a shotgun to Cain's head. The blast, according to reports at the time, blew off his face.

Illinois politics: If you don't know the history, you don't know the half of it.

Thanks to Phil Kadner

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frank 'The German' Schweihs - "A Killer, That's All, A Killer of a Girl"

Diane Pappas learned that Chicago isn't Camelot a lifetime ago when a tugboat captain found her sister's murdered body in the Chicago River. Eugenia "Becca" Pappas was only 18.

So last week, 46 years after Becca's death, when Diane heard the German was dead, she knew what to do: Drive out to the cemetery, to Becca's grave in the shade of a giant Norwegian pine, and talk to her little sister. "I'm going to the cemetery right now," Diane said. "I've got to be there. Now I want to tell Becca. The big, tough man. The big killer. The murderer of my sister. The German. The murderer of a girl."

If Frank "The German" Schweihs ever wondered about hell, he's not wondering now. He died last week, at 78, of cancer, waiting to stand federal trial in the Family Secrets case.

The FBI considers him the Babe Ruth of Outfit hit men, with dozens of Outfit victims, mobsters from New York to Los Angeles, murderous bosses and their turncoat business associates. Other hit men were terrified to be near him, even when he was sleeping. A glimpse of the German in Los Angeles, a chance sighting in a car window, frightened Jimmy "The Weasel" Frattiano so much that the mobster ran shrieking into the federal witness protection program.

Schweihs the enforcer was the reason those frail, old men could run things without worrying about ambitious underlings. He's the reason they made fortunes, and a president and mayors and judges.

The list of the German's dead is a history of organized crime in America. Except for Becca Pappas, a beauty, tall, slim, black eyes, black hair. "I know he killed her. I just know. She was in his car. She was driving his car the last time anyone saw her. His car disappeared. Then it was auctioned a month later, totally stripped clean, washed down," Diane said.

Becca's murder was investigated by corrupt Chicago lawman Richard CainThe Tangled Web: The Life and Death of Richard Cain - Chicago Cop and Mafia Hitman. This being Chicago, Schweihs was released without charges. Still, I agree with Diane that Schweihs killed her sister.

Why? Because, as explained to me by mob-watchers and former FBI agents, no man in Chicago, or anywhere else, would have dared approach the German's girlfriend. Not even to say hello. They wouldn't have allowed their brains to think of it. Not one. Schweihs would have skinned them alive with a paring knife.

The German is said to have later shotgunned Cain at Rose's Sandwich Shop. And killed Jimmy "the Bomber" Catuara. Teamsters lawyer Allan Dorfman died in a parking lot, shot in the head with a .22. Joe Testa was blown up in his car. Sam DeStefano's arms were shotgunned off in his garage. Patsy Riccardi, Chucky Nicoletti, the list continues.

The Chicago Outfit's flamboyant Hollywood connection, Johnny Rosselli, was found stuffed into an oil drum, floating at sea. Angelo Boscarino was shotgunned, though his son was later given a piece of the failed Rosemont casino deal.

If I've missed a few names, Schweihs didn't miss.

In the late 1980s, he was held in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center at the same time as Outfit member-turned-federal informant Gerald Scarpelli. The official story is Scarpelli committed suicide. He must have seen the German in the day room and then decided to tie his own feet and hands and choke himself to death with a plastic bag in the shower. The German is also credited with torturing and killing several burglars who dared rob the home of Anthony Accardo.

"He never informed. He killed who they told him to kill. And if he was involved in the killing of that young woman—it sheds an entirely new light on his personality," said FBI Special Agent John Mallul, a supervisor of the Organized Crime Unit. "No criminal ever wanted to see this guy around. Even if they knew that Frank was coming around and knew why, they were still terrified."

Law enforcement says that just about his only friend was Chicago political figure Peter Schivarelli, currently the manager of the rock group Chicago and the former 43rd Ward supervisor of Streets and San. Schivarelli is reputed to have been around Outfit types all his life and is the nephew of late mobster Johnny "The Bug" Varelli.

One night, Schweihs was arrested after fighting with police. "Schivarelli came down to the station trying to get him out, throwing his political clout around, and all hell broke loose," former FBI agent Jack O'Rourke recalled a while back. "It was a madhouse."

"That's not my recollection," Schivarelli said when I tracked him down. He talked on the phone as if I held a subpoena. "But I'd rather not debate it. I'll respectfully decline to comment."

Too bad. I was waiting to hear that the German was kind to tiny children and animals and helped old women cross the street. None of it matters to Becca Pappas' sister. "Schweihs still lived 46 years when he shouldn't have. And people glorify him, and they glorify the mob with their movies and TV shows. But all he was, was a killer. That's all. A killer of a girl."

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Was Marilyn Monroe Whacked by the Chicago Mob?

The I-Team looked into one of Chicago's most feared mob hit men, Frank "The German" Schweihs and whether he was behind the mysterious death of Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe in 1962.

Frank Schweihs' cancer kept him from being tried with the rest of the family secrets clan last summer. But on Thursday morning in federal court, prosecutors will proceed with their plans to try Schweihs this fall on charges of mob crimes and murder.

There won't be paparazzi nor any mention of Marilyn MonroeWas Marilyn Monroe whacked by the Chicago Mob?, even though her death and the death of a Chicago manicurist have been pinned on Schweihs.

In Chicago in 1962, the Dan Ryan Expressway opened. Mayor Richard J. Daley was in his second term. Integration started in the Chicago schools. The Cubs lost 101 games. And Frank Schweihs was a rising star in the Outfit, living in the west suburban home of his Outfit boss. By '62, Schweihs had been arrested as often as his age - he was 32 years old - for crimes from burglary to homicide. But he seemed to carry a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Even though he was German, Schweihs hung out in Greektown and it may have been during a night out there that he met a tall, slender 18-year-old manicurist, Eugenia Pappas. They called her Becca. They began to date to the dismay of her family.

"My sister came to see me eight days before she was murdered and I said, 'Please don't be involved with anyone like that because when you die, they just step over your body,'" said sister Diane Pappas.

It was advice not taken. Becca's body was found floating in the Chicago River. She had been shot through the heart, according to police, while sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Chicago detective Richard Cain, who led that investigation, was himself secretly on the mob's payroll. Schweihs was questioned but never charged.

Diane Pappas said she doesn't know what Schweihs' motive would've been.

"I wouldn't know. She was a naive 18-year old girl and that's all I know. She was smitten with him," Diane Pappas said.

The Pappas family cringed at reporting that Outfit bosses had ordered Schweihs to silence Becca because he had told her about his role in another murder.

A 1993 book about Marilyn Monroe, written by an L.A. private eye, concludes that "Eugenia Pappas found out about Marilyn Monroe," from Schweihs, who was then ordered to kill her. Whether that is true, Monroe's death was never officially ruled a suicide due to lack of evidence. Many investigators believe Monroe was *murdered* by the Chicago Outfit because of her connections to the Kennedy family and Chicago mob boss Sam "Momo" Giancana.

Did Frank 'The German' Schweihs partner with Tony Spilotro to kill Marilyn Monroe at the direct of Chicago Mob Boss Sam Giancana?A police informant reportedly stated that Giancana deployed Schweihs and Anthony "Ant" Spilotro to kill Marilyn Monroe and make it look like a drug overdose.

John Flood spent 41 years in metro-Chicago law enforcement, most with the Cook County sheriff's police. He is now retired in Las Vegas and is considered an Outfit expert. Flood says there's a possibility they were involved because of the close relationship of Giancana, the Chicago boss, and Frank Sinatra. They would meet in Reno.

Flood says Schweihs, or Schways as he knew him, was the prime suspect in dozens of gangland hits.

"A cold-blooded, tough killer who would murder anyone if ordered to," Flood said of Schweihs.

In 1989, Schweihs was convicted of shaking down porno store owners and was recorded on an FBI tape boasting that he was the boss and no one else.

When the Family Secrets indictments were handed up in 2005, Schweihs went into hiding and was finally arrested in a Kentucky apartment house at age 76, living with a girlfriend, while his long-ago girlfriend can never rest in peace.

"How is that justice? Walking around for 45 years doing horrible deeds like he's always done? That's very unfortunate," said Diane Pappas. "I hope he goes to jail for the rest of his life and suffers pain with the cancer."

And after 45 years, Diane Pappas heeded the suggestion of her late husband, a career Chicago cop, not to be too public in accusing Frank Schweihs. A crotchety, bad tempered hoodlum, Schweihs has never buckled under the weight of authority and will likely take to his grave, whatever he may know about a Hollywood death that stunned the world and a Chicago murder that has divested a family.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's Still the Chicago Way, New Books Prove Nothing Changes

“Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about Hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.”

Those were the profound words of Carl Sandburg, published in his book of “Chicago Poems: Unabridged (Dover Thrift Editions)” in 1916.

Ninety-one years later, Chicago’s landscape may have changed, but the sordid souls, who poisoned Sandburg’s time, live here in infamy.

That much is evident after sitting through last week’s Operation Family Secrets trial in federal court in Chicago. Five elderly men connected to the Chicago Outfit are charged with running mob rackets and torturing and killing 18 people the past four decades by strangulation, beating and shooting, with ropes, ball bats, blowtorches, shotguns, fists and feet. But the five hoodlums with witty nicknames such as the Clown, the Breeze, Little Jimmy and Twan, didn’t operate without help from outside their secret organization.

Just as in Sandburg’s day, when the hell-bent were called Big Jim and the Fox, the mobsters of our era admit they bribed police and public officials to protect their illegal businesses.

Two new books prove that nothing has changed. Despite the modernization of Michigan Avenue, lakefront beautification and regular police department announcements that crime is declining, the dirty business of public corruption at the behest of the Outfit thrives.

InSin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul her book “Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul.” author Karen Abbott writes about the open sex trade in Chicago’s Levee District on the near South Side in the early 1900s. It focuses on the turn-of-the-previous-century whorehouse, the Everleigh Club. The story amounts to a blueprint for the modern rackets that the Calabrese/Lombardo Outfit is now on trial for allegedly running.

In 1900, dance hall operator Ike Bloom was in charge of making sure the police allowed bordello operators, call girls and pimps to freely conduct their business. "So integral was Bloom to the web of Levee graft that his portrait, handsomely framed, hung in a prominent place of honor in the squad room of the 22nd Street police station,” writes Abbott.

Below Bloom’s picture was a price list of the appropriate bribes to be paid to police: “Massage parlors: $25 weekly; Larger houses of ill fame, $50-$100 weekly, with $25 additional each week if drinks are sold; Saloons allowed to stay open after hours, $50 per month; Sale of liquor in apartment houses without license …”

The architects were First Ward Alderman “Bathhouse” John Coughlin and Democratic Party boss Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna.

In a second new book, “The Tangled Web: The Life and Death of Richard Cain - Chicago Cop and Mafia Hitman,” author Michael J. Cain reports on the devilish work of his brother Dick. In the late 1950s and ’60s, Dick Cain was a Chicago police vice detective and then chief investigator for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

Author Cain says his brother was also “a made Mafia soldier and a protégé and informer for legendary mob boss Sam Giancana.”

Dick Cain was a Chicago mobster, groomed by the mob to be a Chicago cop. “Dick was one of a very small number that reported directly to Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana,” writes Michael Cain.

Dick Cain distributed weekly mob bribes to other cops, according to his brother, and tipped Outfit bosses to gambling and prostitution raids. When independent, non-mob rackets were raided, Cain would be seen in the next morning’s newspapers posed with a Tommy gun, a la Eliot Ness.

Cain’s mob work stretched to Mexico and Cuba and probably included murders, admits his brother. Dick Cain was killed in 1973, five days before Christmas. Two gunman ambushed him in a West Side sandwich shop.

Richard Cain and Sam Giancana’s corrupt DNA was the same that Ike Bloom and his ilk had in 1900. And now a century later, the bad genes are on display in Operation Family Secrets.

Testimony revealed that modern-day Chicago cops were on the Outfit payroll. Mob informants testified they were tipped off by dirty cops about upcoming raids.

An alleged Chicago mob boss testified about his cozy relationship with politically connected labor union bosses and with the late First Ward Alderman Fred Roti, who was convicted of corruption.

Another accused mob boss, who once bribed a U.S. senator, last week implicated all 50 Chicago aldermen in a payoff scheme to allow illegal gambling in their wards.

An admitted Outfit hit man pinned a suburban firebombing on one of Mayor Daley’s close friends.

So nothing changes. We just keep writing about Chicago, after looking the town over for years and years.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Tangled Web: The Life and Death of Richard Cain - Chicago Cop and Mafia Hitman

Friends of ours: Richard Cain

"Richard Cain was possibly the most corrupt police official in the history of Chicago." - Federal Bureau of Investigation

Here is the dramatic story of Detective Richard Cain's criminal career as revealed by his half-brother. Cain led a double life: one as a well known cop who led raids that landed on the front pages, and the other as a "made man" in one of Chicago's most notorious mafia crime families.

Michael Cain weaves together years of research, interviews, family anecdotes, and rare documents to create a comprehensive biography of this complex, articulate, and self-contradictory criminal genius. In a story that reads like the plot of Martin Scorsese's The Departed, Cain played both ends against the middle to become a household name in Chicagoland and a notorious figure in both the Mob and the world of Chicago law enforcement. Eventually murdered in a cafe by two masked men wielding shotguns, he lived and died in a world of bloodshed and violence. Cain left behind a story so outlandish that he has even been accused of being involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Filled with fascinating and until-now unknown facts, The Tangled Web tells the full story of this one-man crime wave."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wintry grave may be part of mob's legacy

Friends of ours: Frank "the German" Schweihs, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, William Hanhardt, Paul Schiro, Richard Cain, Sam "Momo" Gianacana

In a few days, U.S. marshals will drive the fugitive Chicago Outfit enforcer Frank "The German" Schweihs from Kentucky back to Chicago. Here, he will stand trial for two gangland murders that are part of the FBI's Family Secrets investigation of unsolved mob killings. But once in the Chicago area, on the way to the federal lockup, the marshals might think about taking a short detour to Elmwood Cemetery in suburban River Grove.

They should drive about a half-mile past the cemetery office and start looking for a giant Norwegian pine that throws shade on the gravestones in the afternoon. From the road, with that tree as a marker, it is only a few paces to Section 47-Lot 15-Grave 2.

After that long drive up from Kentucky, it might be good for Schweihs to stretch his legs a bit, to take a short walk on the snow and stand at the grave I have in mind, one of those graves in the shadow of the big pine tree. That's where Eugenia Pappas, also known as "Becca," is buried. She's been there a long time now. She wasn't a tough guy. She wasn't a jewel thief or an iceman, wasn't a burglar or extortionist. She wasn't a puppet master, giving politicians orders. She was young and beautiful, with big brown eyes, only 18 years old when she dated Schweihs, a bodyguard for mobster Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio.

Her father, Christopher, and her mother, Helen, didn't like it that one of Chicago's most fearsome and untouchable hoodlums had taken a fancy to their daughter. Christopher moved the family to Arizona, to start a new life, to give his daughter a chance away from Schweihs. Eventually, though, she returned to Chicago. A few weeks later, she stopped dating Schweihs. She stopped dating him about the time a bullet pierced her heart.

I spoke to Pappas family members, but they were too afraid to be quoted in this column and declined to be interviewed. I also spoke to a family friend who told me about Pappas on the condition her name was not used. I understand. Every so often, some writer announces that the Outfit is dead. But if it's so dead, why are people in Chicago still afraid?

"The whole family, they were so close, so loving," the family friend told me Tuesday. "When Becca was found, it was so horrible, devastating. It was like somebody scooped their insides out and left the shells. Her mother, Helen, was a strong woman, she was American, but she wore black from that day on. She died later, but she really died the day Becca was found."

Becca was last seen a week or so before Christmas of 1962. Her distraught father went to the newspapers for help in mid-January. An article in the Tribune, under the headline "Girl Sought" ran in the Jan. 12, 1963, editions. "Left behind in the apartment, Pappas said, were all her clothes, except those she was wearing," the story said.

On Feb. 9, a tugboat captain found her body floating in the Chicago River. She'd been in the water about two weeks. Authorities surmised she was killed while sitting in the passenger's seat of an automobile. She was buried on Feb. 15, 1963. "You've seen those wakes where people get emotional and loud," the family friend told me. "This wasn't like that. It was silent, completely silent. That was worse."

Schweihs was hauled in for questioning by a celebrated crime fighter, Richard Cain, the homicide chief of the Cook County sheriff's police. After much questioning and investigating--or simply the appearance of questioning and investigating--the case against Schweihs, if there ever was one, fizzled. He was let go and no charges regarding the Pappas murder were ever filed against him. Schweihs, the papers noted, had a long police record, but no convictions. That's not hard to figure, since he was usually being investigated by one of those celebrated crime fighters.

It's a Chicago thing. The relationship between mobsters and top local cops isn't new, and it isn't old. William Hanhardt, the former chief of detectives for the Chicago Police Department, was recently convicted of running the Outfit's interstate jewelry theft ring, using police information to set up the victims. One of Hanhardt's convicted accomplices in the jewel ring is Paul Schiro, an Outfit enforcer. Schiro and Schweihs have been charged by the feds with an Outfit killing in Arizona.

When the victim is another mobster, Chicago shrugs. But this victim was a girl, a civilian, whose family had no power. So the local law spit on her and the Outfit spit on her and the investigation was dropped.

I said that Richard Cain, the detective who cleared Schweihs of the Pappas killing, was a celebrated crime fighter. He was celebrated, sure, the way Hanhardt was celebrated, in gushing media accounts as some heroic tough guy, ready-made for Hollywood. Cain was a bodyguard for Outfit boss Sam "Momo" Giancana. On Dec. 20, 1973, Cain was in Rose's Sandwich Shop on the West Side when two men entered with shotguns. He took two blasts to the face. The second one was just to make sure.

Schweihs is an old man, now, at 75, and Cain is dead. And Eugenia Pappas' grave was silent in the shadow of that pine tree in the snow. "Elusive in life," reads the inscription on her gravestone. "Elusive in death."

Thanks to John Kass


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