Typical Murder Inc. Hits
Murder Incorporated’s killers usually put in a lot of prep work before carrying out a hit. Often, a getaway car would be stolen weeks before the planned killing, and stashed away until the day of the hit. A trailing car, whose job would be to “accidentally” ram or otherwise block pursuing police cruisers in case of a chase, would also be stolen and stashed away. Fake or stolen license plates would be secured to further muddy the waters and make vehicle identification that much more difficult.
Weapons were secured for the murder, and destroyed immediately afterwards. Any other evidence, along with the cars used in the hit, would be burned after the job was done. Different hitmen had different preferences. Most used pistols, but some preferred ice picks. Others liked using garrotes. Some opted for shotguns. A minority even liked killing with their bare hands. Murder Incorporated’s two most enthusiastic murderers were Harry “Happy” Maione, and Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss. The duo really liked killing, and eagerly volunteered for every assignment that was announced.
The most famous hit carried out by Murder Inc. was on mob boss Dutch Schultz, in 1935. Schultz was close friends with many in the highest rungs of organized crime, such as Charles “Lucky” Luciano. However, Schultz threatened to become a loose cannon after crusading prosecutor Thomas Dewey put him in his crosshairs. He sought permission from The Commission to kill Dewey, but was turned down – the mob had a strict policy against targeting law enforcement.
When Schultz gave signs that he might go rogue and go after Dewey anyhow, The Commission ordered his death before he invited a catastrophic backlash upon all of them by murdering the prominent prosecutor. Three Murder Inc. hitmen were sent out, and they tracked him to The Palace Chop restaurant in Newark, New Jersey. There, they executed Shultz, his accountant, and two bodyguards.
Another example was the hit carried out in November of 1937 against Harry Millman, a troublesome Detroit gangster whose violent antics had roiled that city’s underworld. Millman was a member of Detroit’s Purple Gang, a bootlegging outfit, who became a loose cannon. He stirred trouble with beefs against members of his own gang, and those of competing gangs. Millman’s behavior was bad for business, and the locals repeatedly tried to do him in, but failed – including a car bomb that killed an unfortunate valet attendant, but spared Millman.
Finally, The Commission got involved, and ordered Millman’s execution. A call was made to the waiting hitmen at Midnight Rose, and Murder Incorporated’s two most enthusiastic killers, Maione and Strauss, caught a train to Detroit. Upon arrival, the began planning the hit. In Millman’s case, it was simplified by the fact that the target was a known drunkard, who spent a lot of time at a few favored bars.
Maione and Strauss picked the most suitable bar for their hit, and planned out their entrance and exit and escape routes. Then they simply walked into the bar and started shooting. After dropping their target dead, the two hitmen made their escape, and were on a train back to NYC before their victim’s corpse had turned cold. Although there had been numerous eyewitnesses, the hitmen were out of towners unknown to any locals, so nobody was able to identify them.