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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gangsters and Serial Killers that Haunt the " Windy City" of Chicago

     As we've all probably noticed by now, most haunted places in the United States claim to be the most haunted city in the United States. But Chicago, Illinois claims that they are one of the most haunted cities in the world! Cocky!  As far as a dark history of crime and disasters, Chicago has it covered.  From fires, to gangsters, murders and even the first serial killer in the United States, Chicago definitely has a colorful past, to say the least.  It is filled with eerie events that range from the truly chilling, to the museum that hosts ghost& gangster tours, fine dining, seminars, and other events that showcase Chicago's eerie and shocking past.This is going to be part one of two for Haunted Chicago. Chicago has so many ghosts and haunted places supposedly, that this blog would have turned into a novel if I wrote about them all right now. Chicago allegedly has more ghosts "per capita" than any other haunted city. I'm not sure how they can really prove that.  How do you prove how haunted a place is?  As the curious type, this has been added to my list of America's most haunted places I want to visit. The history alone is fascinating. Gangsters and Serial Killers still haunt their favorite places to hang out while they were alive. There are gangster tours that take you to the gangsters favorite "haunts" in life and death. Part two of this blog will focus more on the other haunted places in Chicago and the ghosts that inhabit them, co-existing with the living.

    Legendary gangsters made Chicago their home during the "Gangster Era." These hardened hooligans left a permanent mark in the history books of this bustling city by coining the Windy City as their center of operations for organized crime. Chicago gangsters as we now know them sprung up in Chicago in 1920 right after the passing of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the United States. That was a stupid law. That's all I'm saying, anyway, Al Capone was the most infamous Chicago gangster. Capone was born to a poor Italian immigrant family in 1899. Capone became the protégé of Johnny Torrio, leader of the Five Points Gang. Torrio was bootlegger, and his gang made a fortune during Prohibition. After Torrio retired in 1925, Capone took over and became the major crime boss of Chicago, running gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging rackets and expanding his turf by the killing rivals. His gang later became called, the "Outfit." Besides being social deviants, Chicago's gangsters were highly active in politics. By interfering with elections, threatening the police, and pulling other illegal maneuvers, gangsters succeeded in influencing the greater Chicago area. Experts say that Capone was worth $100 million in 1927.  Chicago had the nation's highest rates of violence as reformers attempted to destroy the bootleggers but failed miserably. Of course this means that the more violence, the more ghosts that still "live" there, so to speak. The overwhelming demand for "hootch" (alcohol) led to the formation of groups of Chicago gangsters that trafficked illegal alcohol and managed prostitution and gambling rings.I know that it's petty, but looking at the picture below of Capone, you'd think a gangster would be more into their own appearances and he not only was the crime king of Chicago, he was king of the streets, and of the uni-brow apparently. He sort of resembled a bulldog, in my opinion.

Capone and Moran
      After Bugs Moran's gang had tried to kill Capone several times, and he was almost killed himself in September 1926. The following month, Capone shooters assassinated Hymie Weiss, who had been running the north side mob after the death of O’Banion. His murder left the operation in the hands of George “Bugs” Moran, a long-time enemy of Capone. For the most part, Moran stood alone against the Capone mob, since most of his allies had succumbed in the fighting. He continued to taunt his powerful enemy and looked for ways to destroy him. In early 1929, Moran sided with Joe Aiello in another attack against Capone. He and Aiello reportedly gunned down Pasquillano Lolordo, one of Capone’s men, and Capone vowed that he would have him wiped out on February 14. He was living on his estate outside of Miami at the time and put in a call to Chicago. Capone had a very special “valentine” that we wanted delivered to Moran.  Not your typical Valentine's Day gift. I prefer flowers and candy myself.

      George Moran was running late for the morning meeting. This turned out to be a twist of fate that worked in his favor. He was due to arrive at 10:30 at SMC Cartage Co. garage that he used for his illegal business, but didn't leave for the rendezvous, with of Willie Marks and Ted Newberry, until several minutes after that. As the seven men waited inside of the warehouse, they had no idea that a police car had pulled up outside, or that Moran had spotted the car as he was driving south on Clark Street. It's too bad they didn't have cell phones back then. Rather than deal with what he believed was a shakedown, stopped at the next corner for a cup of coffee. Five men got out of the police car, two of them in uniforms and three in civilian clothing. They entered the building and a few moments later, the clatter of machine gun fire broke the stillness of the snowy morning. May's dog, inside of the warehouse, began barking and howling at the men, so he was a fatality as well. Soon after, five figures emerged and they drove away.The landlady in the next building, Mrs. Jeanette Landesman, was bothered by the sound of the dog (not the machine guns?) and she sent one of her boarders, C.L. McAllister, to the garage to see what was going on. He must have been late on his rent to get that job. He came outside two minutes later, his face a pale white color. He ran frantically up the stairs to beg Mrs. Landesman to call the police. He cried that the garage was full of dead men! The police were quickly summoned and found a very brutal execution.  They were stunned at the carnage. Moran's men had been lined up against the rear wall of the garage and had been sprayed with machine guns. Pete Gusenberg had died kneeling, slumped over a chair. James Clark had fallen on his face with half of his head blown away and Heyer, Schwimmer, Weinshank and May were thrown lifeless onto their backs. Only one of the men survived the slaughter and he lived for only a few hours. Frank Gusenberg had crawled from the blood-sprayed wall where he had fallen and dragged himself into the middle of the dirty floor. He was rushed to the Alexian Brothers Hospital, barely hanging on. When the doctors had Gusenberg stabilized, police tried to question him but when asked who shot him, he replied "Nobody shot me", despite having sustained fourteen bullet wounds. He died later that night. The death toll of the massacre stood at seven but the killers had missed Moran. When the police contacted him later and told him what had happened at the garage, he “raved like a madman”. To the newspapers, Moran targeted Capone as ordering the hit. The authorities claimed to be baffled though, since Capone was in Florida at the time of the massacre. When he was asked to comment on the news, Capone stated, "the only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran". At the same time, Moran was proclaiming that "only Capone kills guys like that". Moran was right. The murders broke the power of the north side gang.

Valentines Day Carnage

Different angle of Valentine's Day Massacre

crowd watching bodies be removed
     Bugs Moran was undoubtedly right. The murders broke the power of the north side gang and while there have been many claims as to who the actual shooters were that day, most likely they included John Scalise, Albert Anselmi and "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, all of whom were some of Capone's most trusted men. All three men, along with Joseph Guinta, were arrested but McGurn had an alibi and Scalise and Guinta were killed before they could be tried. So that was that. No one was held liable for the massacre, officially. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre marked the end of any significant gang opposition to Capone but it was also the act that finally began the decline of Capone’s criminal empire. He had just gone too far and the authorities, and even Capone's adoring public, were ready to put an end to the bootleg wars. 

Massacre victims at morgue
      Perhaps the strangest bit of history in regards to the massacre involved the fact that Capone had not seen the last of one of the men killed on that fateful day. In May 1929, Capone slipped out of town to avoid the heat that was still coming down from the massacre and to avoid being suspected in the deaths of several of the men believed responsible for the killing of the Moran gang. While in Philadelphia, he and his bodyguard, Frankie Rio, were picked up on charges of carrying concealed weapons and were sentenced to a year in prison. They eventually ended up in the Eastern State Penitentiary. Capone continued to conduct business from prison. Sadly, the system is still corrupt enough to allow certain powerful people a "cushy" lifestyle in prison. He was given a private cell and allowed to make long-distance telephone calls from the warden’s office and to meet with his lawyers and with Frank Nitti, Jake Guzik and his brother, Ralph, all of whom made frequent trips to Philadelphia. He was released two months early on good behavior and when he returned to Chicago, he found himself branded “Public Enemy Number One”. It was while he was incarcerated in Pennsylvania that Capone first began to be haunted by the ghost of James Clark, one of the massacre victims and the brother-in-law of George Moran. Karma perhaps?  

James Clark, who supposedly haunted Capone
Jame's Clark's Body being removed
      While in prison, other inmates said that they could hear Capone screaming in his cell, often. He would be begging “Jimmy” to go away and leave him alone. Of course was a constant reminder that Bugs was still alive. I'm sure that didn't settle well with Al Capone. After Capone returned to Chicago, he took up residence at the Lexington Hotel and while here, would report his most frequent encounters with the ghost. While living at the Lexington Hotel, there were many times when Capone’s men would hear from begging for the specter to leave him in peace. On several occasions, bodyguards broke into his rooms, fearing that someone had gotten to their boss. Capone would then tell them of Clark’s ghost. Whether the ghost was real or not, Capone certainly believed that he was. Word started to get around that he was going crazy. The crime boss even went so far as to contact a psychic named Alice Britt to get rid of Clark’s angry spirit. He must have made her "an offer she couldn't refuse," though few would deny Capone anything. He was respected and feared, and had a huge God complex. Not long after a séance was conducted to try and rid Capone of the vengeful spirit, Hymie Cornish, Capone’s personal valet also believed that he saw the ghost. He entered the lounge of Capone’s apartment and spotted a tall man standing near the window. He demanded to know the man’s identity but the shadowy figure slipped behind a curtain and out of sight. Cornish immediately summoned two of his employer’s bodyguards but a search of the room revealed there was no one there but Al Capone, who continued to insist the figure had been Jimmy Clark. Years later, Capone would also insist that Jimmy Clark followed him to the grave. Capone was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to federal prison and went to the "new" Alcatraz prison for only the most hardened and depraved of criminals. Capone spent the last year of his prison sentence, which had been reduced to six years and five months for a combination of good behavior and work credits, in the hospital section being treated for syphilis. He was released in November of 1939 and taken to a hospital in Baltimore where he was treated until March of 1940. For his remaining years, Capone slowly deteriorated while staying at his Palm Island estate in Miami. On January 25, 1947, he died of cardiac arrest at the age of 48. Being a huge gang leader and always looking over your shoulder is stressful I suppose. It took a toll, or maybe he just had bad genes. His rival, Bugs Moran, outlived him. I'll bet that made Capone roll over in his grave. He's probably still haunting the area, mad.

Bugs Moran
   Bugs Moran, like most gangsters,very steriotypically, got started with crime early in life. After moving to Chicago at 19, Moran was jailed three times at the age of 20. Moran quickly became pals with O’Banion and became leader of the North Side Gang in 1927 after the murders of O’Banion and a few other leaders. Moran was known as being Hardcore and unafraid of being the leader in a bloody shoot-out. Moran was so colorful and humorous with the press, ever so cocky, peppering their stories with insults of Capone, the feud with his chief rival escalated. This led to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where many of Moran’s top men (but not Moran himself) were killed. Moran’s power began to waver in the 1930s, and after being in and out of prison. In July 1946, Moran was arrested in Ohio for robbing a bank messenger of $10,000. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years in the Ohio, Penitentiary (which is known to be haunted). Shortly after his release, Moran was again arrested for a bank robbery in Ansonio, Ohio on November 8, 1956. He just didn't learn.  Like the other gangsters of his time, he thought he was above the law and invincible.  Moran received another ten years and was sent to the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary on January 11, 1957. On February 25, 1957, he died of lung cancer (those darn cigars) aged 65. That's one way to shorten your prison sentence. He was estimated to be worth about $100 at his death, and received a pauper's burial in the prison cemetery.
Dion O' Banion
     Dion O’Banion was in the Chicago area in 1892, O’Banion (whose real name was Dean) grew up in Chicago. As a child, he was in the choir at the Holy Name Cathedral, however, neither music or religion held O'Banion's interest; instead the street life of Kilgubbin caught his eye. An early nickname for O'Banion was "Gimpy" due to his short left leg, but few people had enough nerve to call him that. The shorter leg was said to be the result of a childhood streetcar accident, but he could have been born that way also. All accounts of all history vary, so it's a matter of sifting through everything and doing your best to put it together. He became a singing waiter at McGovern’s Saloon and Cabaret, a mobster hangout. O'Banion also drugged his patrons' drinksWhen the drunk patrons left the club, O'Banion and his pals would rob them. The gang also met the political bosses of the 42nd and 43rd ward through Annenberg(he is mentioned below); their job was to use violence to help steer the outcome of elections. Fellow Irish-American Gene Geary, a notorious gunman, took O’Banion under his wing and taught him the ropes. Soon after, O’Banion became the leader of the North Side Gang in Chicago during the bootlegging heyday of the 1920s.Dion O'Banion who had a burgeoning bootlegging and florist business. That's an odd combination; a gangster, florist and bootlegger. Dion could be quite likeable and had a habit of calling even enemies, 'swell fellow' , which mirrored an ingrained cheeriness and courtesy. He chronically beamed at the world; it amounted to a fixed grin, belied only by unblinkingly cold blue eyes of a killer. He was a vigorous hand shaker and backslapper, though never at the same timeAt least one hand stayed free to go for one of the three gun pockets tailored into his clothes, at any given time. O'Banion was known for bizarre behavior which included gunning down a man in front of crowds of people for trivial  reasons and then killing a man after meeting him at Capone's Four Deuces, which dragged Capone into a murder investigation needlessly. He must have been bi-polar, or just plain nuts. Maybe it was the modern cop out of "having a bad childhood" and becoming a murderer or criminal because of it. There was a growing sense of realization that something was going to have to be done about Dion O'Banion's childishly impulsive, reckless behavior. Mike Merlo, the head of the Unione Sicilana in Chicago, a group that provided national cover to gangsters of that era, died of cancer. A huge funeral was planned in which Dion, florist to the gangs, naturally had a large role. Frankie Yale, head of the powerful New York branch, agreed with Torrio and Capone that Angelo Genna, who Dion had just humiliated over a gambling IOU, would take over the Chicago branch. Two days after Merlo's death on November 10, 1924, Dion was in his flower shop fixing flowers for the Merlo funeral when 3 gangsters came into the shop. Dion's employee left the men alone to their business. O'Banion had expected the visit to pick up a wreath. He greeted the men and prepared to shake hands. One of the men pulled O'Banion's arm and knocked him off balance. Next, Dion's employee heard six gun shots and ran to help his boss who was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. They couldn't at least have let him finish the flower arrangments for Merlo's funeral first? Thats so inconsiderate of them.  I wonder who did the flower arrangments for Dion's funeral. The three men had vanished. It seems certain that two of the men were the vicious Silician assassins John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. There is some confusion as to whether the third man was Frankie Yale, who was in town for Merlo's funeral, or Mike Genna. None of the likely murderers ever came to trial. Dion's funeral was stupendous. The Chicago Tribune loved every gaudy detail of it: "At the corners of the casket are solid silver posts, carved in wonderful designs. Modest is the dignified silver gray of the casket, content with the austere glory of the carved silver post at its corners....Silver angels stood at the head and feet with their heads bowed in the light of the ten candles that burned in the solid golden candlesticks they held in their hands...And over it all the perfume of flowers."

Dion's Funeral

Tony Accardo

     Tony Accardo grew up on the West Side of Chicago in the 1910s, and when he was around 18 he met up with Capone. As the organization of the gangs in Chicago progressed, Capone needed more and more soldiers(as he called them, to us-thugs) to carry out his orders (Good help is so hard to find!) and he would often turn to his friend McGurn for names of likely recruits. One of the first guys McGurn singled out for consideration was Tony Accardo. By this time Accardo had had his hands in all of the rackets a career criminal could get involved in including hijacking and bootlegging. He was a prime choice for Capone and so Accardo was graduated from the street gangs of the 1920s to the Outfit run by Scar Face Al. Accardo is believed to be involved with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the assassinations of gang bosses Frankie Yale and Hymie Weiss. Accardo did odd jobs for Capone, delivering moonshine and committing muggings, pick pocketing, burglary, car theft, armed robbery and assault, later becoming a killer. After Capone was sent to jail, Accardo became a mob boss himself, and aroused the suspicion of the IRS due to all the money Accardo’s outfit brought in. Surprisingly, Accardo denied all mob connections to the day he died (wire taps suggest otherwise), and Accardo died of natural causes in 1992.
Tony and "The Outfit" in early 70's, just relaxing
John Dillinger
Dillinger posing outside of one of his parties
     John Dillinger was in a league of his own. He was infamous, the public loved him, even though at one point he was named, "Public Enemy Number One." During the height of the Depression of the 1930s many people were unable to pay their mortgages and the banks were taking their homes and farms away(Kind of like it is now). The government seemed unwilling to take any action that might alleviate the suffering. That isn't unusual.  Average people began to hate the banks and distrust their government. That definitely hasn't changed. It was a time when the public began to idolize some of the more colorful criminals, especially John Dillinger. For, he wasn't a gangster in the Capone or O’Banion sense, Dillinger was a prolific bank robber with ties to Chicago. He was even compared to Robin Hood at one point, stealing from the rich.  But he didn't give it to the poor. Dillinger and his accomplices robbed banks, and they did it with style. They would use ruses and phony stories like they were bank alarm salesmen or film directors looking for locations for a bank robbery scene. Prolific, as he may have been, Dillinger gang’s crime spree only lasted from September 1933 to July 1934, but during that time they killed 10 men, wounded 7, robbed 10 banks and staged three jail breaks. Dillinger and his men roamed the Midwest, stealing more than $300,000 from dozens of banks. 

      Dillinger’s main hideout was in Chicago. He tried his first robbery at 21 and it did not go well. He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. During this "Gangster Era," FBI Director J Edgar Hoover, appointed Special Agent Melvin Purvis, who was the head of the Chicago, to take charge of a task force whose mission was to get Dillinger and his gang—dead or alive. After Dillinger was paroled in 1933, he was again jailed after a bank robbery, but was broken out of jail later that same year. Dillinger was charming and a ladies man, cocky, and social. He had another softer side, and a great love that captured his heart. John Dillinger met Evelyn "Billie" Frechette in 1933 at a dance hall, and they had an unfortunately short whirlwind romance. It was love at first sight. 

Billie Frechette
     Frechette later told True Confessions magazine that when she met John Dilllinger, "There was something in those eyes that I will never forget. They were piercing and electric, yet there was an amused carefree twinkle in them too. They met my eyes and held me hypnotized for an instant." Frechette, who was then 26, described the 30-year-old Dillinger as a gentleman: "John was good to me. He looked after me and bought me all kinds of jewelry and cars and pets, and we went places and saw things, and he gave me everything a girl wants. He treated me like a lady." Frechette made purchases for him, such as clothing and cars, but for the most part, she performed the role of a housewife. Besides being Dillinger's lover and companion, Frechette did his cooking and cleaning. The two lovers were reunited in Chicago after Dillinger's escape from Crown Point, Indiana, an escape which Billie may have facilitated by smuggling money and maps into the jail during a visit with Louis Piquett, Dillinger's lawyer. They remained together until Frechette was arrested by Department of Investigation Special Agents on April 9, 1934. Dillinger drove around the block several times before Pat Cherrington, the girlfriend of Dillinger gang member John Hamilton, convinced him that he would be killed if he tried to rescue Frechette. Cherrington's later said that he started "crying like a baby."  Dillinger paid Louis Piquett, his own lawyer, to take on Frechette's case, and try to free her through legal means. During her trial in St. Paul, Frechette testified that during her D.O.I. interrogation, she had been slapped and deprived of food and sleep for two days. Dillinger became so angry that he vowed to kill Harold H. Reinecke, the agent in charge of Frechette's interrogation. Dillinger reluctantly gave up his intention only after she threatened to leave him if he killed anyone. I suppose it would be more of a "break-up" than her "leaving him" since she was incarcerated. Logistics. Before his death, Dillinger frequently met Piquett or his legal investigator, Arthur O'Leary. Each time he asked about Frechette's appeal. In one letter Frechette sent Dillinger through O'Leary, she begged him not to try to rescue her, for fear he would be killed. In spite of her protests, on July 11, 1934, Dillinger told O'Leary on about a recent trip to Milan, Michigan. He had driven there to see the federal prison where Frechette was being held. After looking over the surrounding area, he reluctantly decided that any escape attempt would be impossible. Frechette served two years in federal prison for harboring a criminal. She stayed loyal to her love for Dillinger instead of ratting him out to get released.  Dillinger’s main hideout remained Chicago, and reports say that only weeks before his death he attended Chicago Cubs games. He continued on with his life after Billie was imprisoned, he even had a girlfriend at one time supposedly, but Billie had been his "True Love," and he wasn't ever the same after her. The guilt must have ate away at him, of her being imprisoned to get to him. Billie's efforts to protect Dillinger were only temporarily effective. A "friend" of his, Anna Sage, later called,"The Lady in Red," ratted him out to the FBI. He was hiding out at her residence. She had come to America from Romania as Ana Cumpanas, and was a successful operator of houses of prostitution. I'm sure her family would have been so proud. Deportation proceedings had been started against her, so the FBI backed her into a corner and offered her a deal if she helped them get Dillinger. 

Anna Sage
     Anna gave in and told the FBI that her and Polly Hamilton, a waitress that Dillinger was supposedly dating, were going with Dillinger to a show one evening and she would wear an orange skirt so they would be able to spot them leaving the theater. On that warm evening, Dillinger and the two women;Sage in an orange skirt that looked red in the light of the marquee, and Polly, left the Biograph about 10:30 p.m. in July of 1934.  More than 20 law-enforcement officers were waiting. As the three walked south on Lincoln, Dillinger realized he was walking into a trap and bolted for the alley. The FBI pounced. Shots rang out. One bullet hit Dillinger in the back of the neck and exited through his right eye. That shot killed him. He supposedly haunts the area as well as the Red Lion Pub, that claimed to be the last place Dillinger had a drink before he died.
The Biograph Theater after Dillinger was shot
Alley where Dillinger was shot

10,000 people visited Dillinger in morgue and speculated and gawked at the "supposed erection" he seemed to have. Then the "story of his 12 inch penis started circulating. The press ended up editing the "erection" out of photos because it "gave the wrong idea." But it wasn't that at all but it was how his arm was positioned. That's still a funny story, none the less.
Red Lion Pub, where Dillinger had his last drink
Dillinger's weapons and death mask at the FBI Headquarters in Washington.

      After Dillinger's death, Billie Freschette sold her story, "True Confessions, True Romance" to The Chicago Herald and Examiner. She was broke, and was probably desperate to make money after being put in prison. She went to prison for her love of Dillinger and upon her release in 1936, Frechette toured in a theatrical show called "Crime Doesn't Pay" with members of Dillinger's family. Ironic. She talked about her life with Dillinger, and answered the audience's questions about him. Frechette eventually had two subsequent marriages. Perhaps she was rebounding and trying to get over Dillinger, to start her life over, but the other 2 marriages apparently didn't fill the void in her heart left by Dillinger  Perhaps he was her only "True Love." She died of cancer on January 13, 1969, in Shawano, Wisconsin.

John Dillinger Death Mask
    After Prohibition ended, the groups of gangsters slowly dissolved in Chicago, but there are remnants of these gangs still active today. On that note, be careful with Chicago's current gangs. Definitely worth the trip though.

Holy Name Cathedral now
     The Holy Name Cathedral, formally the Cathedral of the Holy Name, in the heart of Chicago retains a deep connection to the city’s gangster past. Now it is in the National Register of Historic places. Many bootlegging criminals in the 1920s held strong to the Catholic faith and often attended mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday. In 1926, the North Side Gang leader Ear "Hymie" Weiss was gunned to death steps outside of the Cathedral. The sub machine gun that ended his life left a permanent bullet mark in the white stone that visitors still can fit their finger in today. Enter the Gothic-style church to view the intricately carved bronze doors, heavenly bronze statues, and the Cathedral alter adorned with Catholic relics. Maybe Hymie Weiss and other gangsters still attend mass there.

Weiss on Coroner's Table after being gunned down and falling the rest of the way down the Church Stairs.
     For a city that is so filled with the history of crime, there has been little preservation of the landmarks that were once so important to the legend of the mob in Chicago. Gone are the landmarks like the Lexington Hotel, where Al Capone kept the fifth floor suite and used the place as his headquarters. But most tragic, at least to crime buffs, was the destruction of the warehouse that was located at 2122 North Clark Street where the most spectacular mob hit in gangland history took place..... the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The garage, which stood at 2122 N. Clark Street, was demolished in 1967. passersby still claim to hear the sounds of screams and gunfire as they walk past. Many report odd sensations like anxiety or a certain "heaviness" as of something bad is about to occur. There is little doubt about the site on Clark Street being haunted. Even today, people walking along the street at night have reported the sounds of screams and machine guns as they pass the site. The building is long gone but the area is marked as a fenced-off lawn that belongs to the nearby nursing home. That doesn't seem like a great place to put a nursing home to me, personally. Five trees were planted along the place in a line and the one in the middle marks the location where the rear wall once stood. Passerby often report these strange sounds and the indescribable feeling of fear as they walk past. Those who are accompanied by dogs report their share of strangeness as well. Dogs appear to be especially bothered by this piece of lawn, especially German Shephards, since one was killed in the massacre, an innocent bystander. It was John May's German Shepherd, Highball. Sometimes dogs passing by will bark and howl, sometimes they will whine and cower in fear, or try to enter the area aggressively. Their sense of what happened here many years ago seems to be much greater than our own.  Animals, especially dogs, are more sensitive to the paranormal than we are.  They don't know how to react to something they don't understand, as with humans. So they either ignore it or react fearfully, like most humans. In the middle of the lot said to the the scene of shadow activity around its base and some residents of the retirement home claim to hear knocking on their doors only to find no one there when they respond. Those victims no doubt haunt the location, lost and confused. Perhaps they still see it as a small garage where they were butchered. Maybe they are forced to relive that scene over an over for eternity. But, hopefully they mostly stay outside and don't terrorize the inhabitants of the nursing home. They'd scare the hell out of the patients.  Since five trees form a rough line in the lot; and the one in the middle marks the spot where the wall stood, if you want to visit, do it soon. People love to build and build. Who knows how long those trees will be there. As with all attractions that depend on trees, you should visit before their location changes or they are mowed down for condos or an office building. That would be a great place to visit. They have gangster tours now. So you can see where they frequented in life and linger in death.

trees planted at site of Valentine's day massacre

Chicago Daily article about massacre
Gangsters killed in Vday massacre. Poor dog. That wasn't necesary!
      Chicago, in its own style, memorialized the warehouse on Clark Street. The place became a tourist attraction and the newspapers even printed the photos of the corpses upside-down so that readers would not have to turn their papers around to identify the bodies. In 1949, the front portion of the S-M-G Garage was turned into an antique furniture storage business by a couple who had no idea of the building's bloody past. That's something you might want to look into BEFORE you buy a place. They soon found that the place was visited much more by tourists and curiosity-seekers than by customers and eventually closed the business. In 1967, the building was demolished, as part of then-Mayor Daley's efforts to expunge the sites of notorious mob locations around the city to improve the city's national image. The bricks were purchased by a Canadian businessman named George Patey who saw the remnants as a perfect opportunity to keep the past alive for his own benefit. He opened a nightclub in a "Roaring '20's" theme, The Banjo Palace in Vancouver in 1972. With more than 400 bricks from the massacre, he reconstructed the wall inside the men's room, as a urinal. That wouldn't be where I would choose to display it, but to each his own. Three nights each week, women were allowed to peek inside at this macabre attraction. Lucky them. They got to look into a men's urinal at a wall they peed on.  

One of the bricks from the massacre, they are said to be cursed
     The club continued to operate for a few years and when it closed the owner placed the 417 bricks into storage. He then offered them for sale with a written account of the massacre. He sold the bricks for $1000 each, but soon found that he was getting back as many as he sold. It seemed that anyone who bought one of the bricks was suddenly stricken with bad luck in the form of illness, financial ruin, divorce and even death. According to the stories, the bricks themselves had somehow been infested with the powerful negative energy of the massacre! They were bad luck. Cursed.

H.H. Holmes
    Now for Chicago's brutal and sadistic history of serial killers. H.H. Holmes was America's first serial killer, at least according to most. I'm sure that there are people who would argue with that. But this is my blog so, oh well! Henry H. Holmes, whose real name was Herman W. Mudgett, was born in 1860 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, where his father was a wealthy and respected citizen and had been the local postmaster for nearly 25 years. Early in life, Mudgett dropped his given name and became known as H.H. Holmes, a name under which he attended medical school and began his career in crime. He was constantly in trouble as a boy and young man and in later years was remembered for his cruelty to animals and smaller children. (I guess they didn't know this was a bad sign?) His only redeeming trait was that he was always an excellent student and did well in school. He was incredibly intelligent. In 1878, Holmes married Clara Lovering, the daughter of a prosperous farmer in Loudon, New Hampshire and that same year, began studying medicine at a small college in Burlington, Vermont. He paid his tuition with a tidy legacy that had been inherited by his wife. How convenient. As a student though, Holmes became a bit more depraved, and found new hobbies. In 1879, he transferred to the medical school of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor while there, devised a method of stealing cadavers from the laboratory. He would then disfigure the corpses and plant them in places where it would look as though they had been killed in accidents. Conveniently, Holmes had already taken out insurance policies on these "family members" and he would collect on them as soon as the bodies were discovered. Then he started to sell skeletons to medical schools for profit. He moved to Chicago to pursue a career in pharmocuticals. He also engaged in many shady businesses, real estate, and promotional deals. This was before the "gangster era," so the police had to step up their game a bit. Little did they know this would be the first of many Serial Killers in Chicago, and that in about 20 years, the "gangster era would start.   How could you not know your husband not only had other wives but was murdering and torturing people for years? In 1893, Chicago, Illinois was host to a spectacular World’s Fair, "The Columbian Exposition" that celebrated the anniversary of Columbus’ accidental discovery of America, a land that had already been discovered and inhabited by Native Americans. Good job Columbus, points for originallity. But if he hadn't gotten lost, we wouldn't be here today. So it is what it is.

The World Fair where H.H. Holmes hunted for victims
      During this time, Holmes opened up his home as a hotel for visitors to the world’s fair. Unfortunately, some of his guests did not survive his hospitality. Many of these victims were women who he seduced, swindled, tortured and then killed. All that I can figure is that his wife was in her room all the time, deaf and blind, or just unintelligent to miss all of this. Perhaps she wasn't an idiot and realized what he was dong but was too afraid to say anything. The sneaky bastard managed to have 3 wives, and even children without any of them knowing about each other, because he would travel sometimes, so that's when he "collected" wives in the United States. He would stay with them for a bit but he mainly lived in Chicago with his 1st "wife", Clara. Others were lured there by the offer of employment. It was a boom time for the city and thousands of people came from all over the country to attend. Unfortunately though, the list of those “gone missing” at the end of the fair was extensive and as the police later tried to track down where these people had vanished to the trail turned cold on the south side of Chicago. 
H.H. Holmes murder castle
      Everything was not as wonderful and beautiful as the advertising for the Exposition’s “White City” would have everyone believe, for “a devil” as he was sometimes called, was alive and well on the city’s south side, luring visitors to his "hotel", where scores of them vanished without a trace, never to be seen again. Holmes's murder spree finally ended when he was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts on November 17, 1894, after being tracked there from Philadelphia, He was held on an outstanding warrant for horse theft in Texas, as the authorities had little more than suspicions at this point and Holmes appeared poised to flee the country, in the company of his unsuspecting third wife. He really married some dense women. Maybe he should have just stayed in Chicago. He seemed to have a good set up there. But allas, most serial killers screw up or we couldn't read about them.

Diagram of "Murder Castle"

     After the custodian for "the Castle" informed police that he was never allowed to clean the upper floors, police began a thorough investigation over the course of the next month, uncovering Holmes's efficient methods of committing murders and then disposing of the corpses. H.H. Holmes, "Murder Castle" had maze like narrow, winding passages with doors that opened to brick walls, (sounds like the Winchester house), hidden stairways, cleverly concealed doors, secret panels and passages. There was a vault that was only big enough for one person to stand in.  The vault was said to be a homemade gas chamber, which was equipped with a chute that could carry a body directly into the basement. Efficient and convenient. I guess he set the standards for serial killers everywhere. He would be so proud to know that. The steel walls were asbestos lined to absorb sound and the door was secured with a top-of-the-line lock, which only Holmes could open. The expense to build such a room would have been phenomenal. Investigators realized what the iron plated chamber was used for when they found the single scuffed mark of a foot print the inside of the door. It was a small print that had probably been made by a woman who had attempted to escape as the gas flowed into the room, into her lungs, slowly suffocating her. What an awful death. He would get what was coming to him though.
     The number of his victims has typically been estimated between 20 and 100, and even as high as 200, based upon missing persons reports of the time as well as the testimony of Holmes's neighbors who reported seeing him accompany unidentified young women into his hotel—that they never saw exit. The discrepancy in numbers can perhaps best be attributed to the fact that a great many people came to Chicago to see the World's Fair but, for one reason or another, never returned home. The only verified number is 27, although police had commented that some of the bodies in the basement were so badly dismembered and decomposed that it was difficult to tell how many bodies there actually were. He also had a furnace to burn the bodies. Holmes's victims were mainly women (and primarily blonde), but included some men and children.  

Types of weapons Holmes used on victims
      He gave various contradictory accounts of his life, claiming initially innocence and later that he was possessed by Satan. His penchant for lying has made it difficult for researchers to establish any truth on the basis of his statements. On May 8, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison(what a name!), also known as the Philadelphia County Prison(that's much easier to pronounce!). Until the moment of his death, Holmes remained calm and amiable, showing very few signs of fear, anxiety or depression. Holmes's neck did not snap; he instead was strangled to death slowly, twitching over 15 minutes before being pronounced dead 20 minutes after the trap had been sprung. It seems fair since he liked to torture his victims. Why should he get a quick death after everything he had done?

Holmes being executed
    Shortly thereafter, either by arson as part of a cover up or by disgusted neighbors, or even an accident, which I doubt; the house burned to the ground. Neighbors avoided the block, claiming that the victims' ghosts haunted the building, their moans and cries lingering on. After Holmes was hanged for his crimes in 1895 following a swift trial, a number of the people involved with his trial died under bizarre circumstances, including a priest who had visited him before his execution, the doctor who certified him dead, the jury foreman, and others. This embroidered the legend: that Holmes was continuing his despicable behavior from beyond the grave, still killing for revenge and the joy of killing. In 1938 a US Post Office was erected at the site, but the rumors did not fade. Reports of poltergeists and apparitions continue to this day, and some claim that Holmes's ghost also visits the nearby Museum of Science and Industry, one of the few remaining structures from the 1893 Exposition.

Museum of Science and Industry
Gacy mugshot
     There were other infamous serial killers in Chicago, such as the disgusting John Wayne Gacy in the 60s and 70s. He was insane. He came across normal, to a point, and was even dabbled in politics. His victims were usually young boys. Perhaps he served as inspiration for Michael Jackson. Assaulted, and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in a crawl space in his home and buried three others elsewhere on his property. Then he dumped the remains of his last four known victims in a nearby river. He was convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death for 12 of these killings. He probably didn't do too well in prison either.  Child molesters don't ever do well in prison. He was executed in May 1994. Gacy later became known as the "Killer Clown" due to his charitable services at fundraising events, parades and children's parties where he would dress as "Pogo the Clown", a character he devised himself.

William Gacy-the original Michael Jackson. Sicko. An absolutely terrifying clown
       There was the lipstick murderer, what a manly nickname. He was also known as William Heirens in the 40s. He wrote on the walls of victims in lipstick, begging cops to catch him because he couldn't stop killing. According to his confession, he had, in the course of six months, murdered two women and dismembered a six-year-old child. He had already been a central suspect since he had been arrested some fifty days prior to his confession. An admitted petty burglar, he was apprehended, in fact, during one of his house-breakings. He was not a person blessed with the best intellect clearly.  While in custody, he was targeted by authorities as the butcher of the three victims. He claimed that he was harshly interrogated and interviewed under the effects of a truth serum, when he confessed. Poor baby, a rough interigation for a murderer? After what he had done he should have considered himself lucky. Heirens finally admitted to the murders in answer to a plea bargain that promised him immunity from death row. ("I confessed to live," he later said.) If you ask me, he was full of crap and guilty as hell. He was sentenced to prison for three life terms. He lives today, still in prison, 53 years later. He continues to assert his innocence. Yes, there are a lot of people in prison that say they are "innocent." Join the club buddy. They really don't like child murderers in prison. He probably is not having a good time there at all. 

The Lipstick Killer's cryptic message at murder scene

     There were also Robin Gecht and the Chicago Rippers, that once worked for William Gacy it's said.  There was Richard Speck as well. All brutal, twisted and infamous in their own right. I just found H.H. Holmes more fascinating. He was original. He set the stage for the violence that the gangster era would soon bring.

Richard Speck
The Ripper Crew
     There are so many places in Chicago haunted by ghosts that led very violent lives and continue to roam around.  It's home for them, forever.  Perhaps they are cursed to wonder forever as ghosts and never be at rest for the heinous crimes that they committed.  That seems fair to me.  It would be very cool to visit the places that still stand, and the buildings that replaced ones that were torn down.  Maybe I could have a few creepy encounters with a gangster. Maybe Dillinger, wondering lost, feeling his life was cut too short. Who knows?! He enjoyed Cubs games so maybe he takes in a game every once a while. So if you happen to go to a Cubs game and feel a cold presence with a demanding demeanor, Dillinger might be there with you. Or one of the other many gangsters that enjoyed taking in some games, like Capone. People have claimed to have had ghostly encounters with the ghosts from Chicago's St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929 that haunt Clark Street.

     The Wrigley Stadium is still standing and still haunted.  The gangsters that enjoyed going to see the Cubs baseball games, other more "sporty" ghosts and others. They cover all of the "bases." There have been various accounts over the years of ghostly sightings seen and experienced by players, fans, security guards, grounds crew and various other Cubs personnel. It's even been called the "Field of Screams," by some. These ghost stories seem to center on three specific individuals who’ve made a name with the Cubs franchise and are now, haunting Wrigley Field. They weren't "Gangster related" but still interesting stories that would make the Field a good haunted place in Chicago to visit, and take in a game, if that's your thing. One of the ghosts that supposedly haunts the famous field is Charlie Grimm. Grimm, who was a player for the Cubs before managing the team to several National League pennants in 1932, 1935, and 1945 is known to be one of the more creepier spirits roaming the ballpark. Security guards have reported hearing their name called out while patroling the building and witnessed the telephone ringing in the middle of the night in the player’s bullpen, with the prevailing theory being that Grimm was calling the bullpen to make a pitching change. Cubs executives have also told tales of seeing an apparition resembling Charlie Grimm roaming the hallways at night. The rumour is that the departed manager’s ashes are buried in a box in the left-center field. If that is the case, then it might explain why the former manager makes his presence felt.

Grimm, looking grim
      In 1998, the beloved Chicago Cubs broadcaster, Harry Caray (on left below) passed away and since his death, fans have reportedly seen unexplained mists in the press box and bleachers, pressing the notion that perhaps his ghost lingers around the ballpark. The third ghost that makes his presence known at the Wrigly Field, is songwriter, Steve Goodman (right). Goodman wrote the Cubs’ anthem, “Go, Cubs, Go”. It is said that after his untimely death from leukemia, his ashes were scattered at Wrigley Field as per his last request and perhaps because of this, he still attends games. He was a longtime season ticket holder and many Cubs employees report seeing his ghostly form sitting in the stands behind home plate.The Chicago Cubs ownership hired Ursula Bielski and her team, Chicago Hauntings, inc.,to investigate the ballpark. When looking back at what the team investigated, the team did not find anything in the broadcasting booth but reported experiencing unexplained cold spots and weird energy readings all over the stadium as well as peculiar electromagnetic readings in the famed Wrigley Field bleachers. Couple that with paranormal activity and Wrigley has seen it’s fair share of hauntings! It is noted that some fans in stealth mode, quickly scatter their loved ones’ ashes on the ivy when they can. Players and fans have reportedly seen balls hit into the ivy and then “disappear” as well as shadowy figures seen in offices and bleachers. There were also said "gangster ties" with certain cubs players and certain Gangsters back in that era. They would often party together. So there are a bunch of ghosts hanging in the Wrigley field. From 1920-1926 it was called Cubs Park, then renamed Wrigley Field for the new team owner, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who bought the team in 1925. Between 1921 and 1970, Wrigley Field also was home to the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. Wrigley Field is famous among professional baseball parks for its ivy-covered walls, hand-turned score board, intimate dimensions and also, unfortunately, for the fact that it hasn’t hosted a World Series game since 1945. Its said to be a curse. But tours are very popular. Maybe if they have such ghost problems they should stop scattering ashes in the stadium. But what do I know?

     With amazing and innovative architecture, 40 world class museums, over 200 theaters and more than 200 independent art galleries, and over 7000 restaurants serving award-winning food, Chicago is a great place to visit for a weekend of culture, cuisine and history any time of year.  Even if you aren't into history or ghosts. If you are into them, it's the perfect place for you to visit. If you aren't into that type of thing there's a ton of stuff to do in the Windy City. For a Midwest city, Chicago has a lot to offer the beach bum traveler. Chicago has 26 miles of shoreline within its city limits, with 15 swimming beaches. There are beaches for families, party beaches, quiet beaches, and even dog-friendly beaches. From May to September, the beaches are the place to see and be seen on warm, sunny days. You can work on your tan, grab a bite to eat at a beachside restaurant, play in the waves, and visit some of Chicago's haunted places.  I want to stand by the trees where the wall at St. Valentine's day massacre used to be; to feel the energy of of area. I'm sure it has a majorly creepy vibe. H.H. Holmes probably haunts the streets, or should I say "hunts" the streets? Maybe he is  looking for his next victim that he'll never have. Upset that he will never be able to kill again? Do his victims pursue his ghost? Do they chase him, seeking retribution, revenge. Revenge that they will never get. You will probably recognize many famous movie locations just walking around the city. They have a Chicago Film Tour as well. During the summer, it seems like there is a street festival nearly every weekend. There are festivals for neighborhoods festivals that celebrate certain drinks or food, cultural festival, art and crafts festivals and more.  Going to at least one summer festival is practically a requirement if you visit in the summer! That sounds like the perfect vacation! Beaches, festivals, good food, a lot to do, nightlife, tours and ghosts. With many different tours available you can plan for a Haunted night out, a trip into the minds of Chicago's Serial Killers, take a Blood, Guns & Valentines Crime Tour for all you Mafia lovers out there, or if your feeling naughty, take the Red Light District Sex Tour. I definitely will visit as soon as I can. Well, maybe not the Red Light District Sex Tour, but the others. Oh hell, who knows! It could be interesting to say the least!

The beaches
    As for a teaser for part two of this article, I will be going into more of Chicago's Bloody and Haunted pasts, and will cover the other haunted places in Chicago, like the fires of Chicago, Resurrection Mary and other hitchhiking ghosts, haunted cemetaries, and other extremely haunted places with crazy histories. Stay tuned!!! Please feel free to visit my page and read my other blogs about Haunted Places if you haven't already. You are welcome to post comments and follow my blog. I'm trying to get it out there. Please feel free to post link on your social networking sights if you or any of your friends might be interested. Thanks so much!

Possible ghost