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Murder Inc.

Originally a society of mostly Jewish hitmen, Murder Inc. eventually became the American Crime Syndicate's rub-out wing. In the early 30's, as Lucky Luciano was building his empire, his associates Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel started Murder Inc. as a way to deal with "problems."

Murder Inc. was an unqualified success. Eventually, Seigel and Lansky moved on to bigger and better things, but it continued to grow under the care of Albert Anastasia and Louis Buchalter. Murder Inc. hitmen were treated very well, even by today's standards. They recieved insurance, health care, retirement packages, and a very respectable paycheck. In addition to their killing fees, hitmen would receive a yearly salary to simply sit around and wait for a call.

Murder Inc. elicited great loyalty from it's employees, thanks to it's excellent HR department. When George Young and Joseph Schaefer were arrested for a hit they had performed, Bugsy Seigel bought the men top flight lawyers and payed salaries to their families while they were incarcerated.

The Very Definition of Whacking

All that was needed to call in a Murder Inc. job was a phone call. Police routinely tapped the phones of top mobsters in the 30's, so euphemisms became commonplace. Some words, like hit, contract, and mark recieved their darker meanings from these phone calls.

Hundreds of gangsters were employed by Murder Inc. during its heyday. Some famous hitmen included Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, Seymour "Blue Jaw" Magoon, Frank "The Dasher" Abbandando, Harry "Happy" Maione, Vito Gurino, Albert "Allie" Tannenbaum, and the infamous Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss.

An Incredible List of Clients

Many famous gangsters fell to Murder Inc. gunmen, including Dutch Schultz. But sometimes, Murder Ind. had to take care of its own. When Charles "The Bug" Workman left the Palace Chop House after killing Dutch Schultz and three of his men, he found his getaway car gone and himself on foot. The driver, known only as Piggy, had panicked and driven off ahead of schedule. After some discussion within Murder Inc.'s ranks, it was decided that Piggy had committed a grievous sin. Kid Twist Reles and a few other Murder Inc. men dragged Piggy to a remote woodland retreat, stabbed him to death with an ice pick, and set his body ablaze.

But Piggy wasn't the only employee to meet his own co-workers in a business transaction. In 1946, Bugsy Seigel was shot through the eye; killed by a goon working for the very company he helped create.

The Jig is Up

Like all comapnies, Murder Inc. had some disgruntled workers. Harry Rudolph was one of them. When he found himself in jail and adrift from the famous Murder Inc. charity, he demanded to speak to the district attorney about the murder racket. In his statements to the D.A., he mentioned the name of Abe Reles. Reles was also in custody at the time, and the D.A. immediately called him in for questioning. Kid Twist sang like a canary. For two years Reles spilled the beans on every aspect of Murder Inc. and the Syndicate. His testimony led the the eventual electrocution of Lepke Buchalter, the only board member of the Syndicate to ever be executed.

In exchange for his testimony, Reles was given a soft sentence for the many murders he was eventually convicted of. In court, he recounted numerous killings, both his own and those of others. One particularly was of the murder of George "Whitey" Rudnick. In the words of Kid Twist,

Pep has an ice pick. Happer has meat cleaver. It is the kind you chop with, you know, butcher cleaver. Abby grabs Rudnick by the feet and drags him over to the car. Pep and Happy grab it by the head. They put it in the car. Somebody says "It don't fit." Just as they push the body in it gives a little cough or something. With that, Pep starts with the ice pick and starts punching away at Whitey. Maione says "Let me hit the bastard one for luck." And he hits him with the cleaver some place on the head."
George's body had been found with 63 stab wounds and a half opened skull.

His testimony led to the execution of Frank "The Dasher" Abbandando, Harry "Happy" Maione, Mendy Weiss, Louis Capone, and Harry Strauss. The New York City Police Department worked overtime guarding Reles in his Coney Island hotel room. Despite a huge cavalcade of armed police in and around his room, Abe somehow managed to take a dive off balcony to his death in 1941. With a $100,000 price tag on his head, it's believed that one of his guards rubbed him out.

Thanks to Reles, by the mid 40's, Murder Inc. was history. The business model it provided for the Syndicate's murderous tasks lasts to this day.

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