Albert Anastasia Murdered at the Park Sheraton

Death called the executioner yesterday. Umberto (called Albert) Anastasia, master lolly for –Murder, Inc., a homicidal gangster troop that plagued the city frbm 1931 to 1940, was murdered by two g-urlmen. They approached him from behind at 10:20 A. M. as he sat for a hair. cut in the Park Sheraton Hotel barber shop at Seventh Avenue and Fifty-fifth Street. The trigger-men fired ten shots. Five took effect. he first two caught Anastasia’s left hand and left wrist. One tore into his right hip. This fourth got him in the back after he had come out of the chair and had stumbled into the mirror he had been facing as  the battier worked. The fifth bullet caught him in the back of the head. Both killers had scarves over the lower part of their faces. They got away. Two Weapons Are Found – The pistols used in the killing were dropped ri ght after they were used.

One was found a few minutes later in a vestibule just outside the barber shop that opens into Fifty-fifth Street. The other was dropped into a trash basket at the Fifty-fifth Street end of the Fifty-seventh Street EMT subway station.

A porter who was emptying the bin’s. found it. Eleven persons besides Anastasia • were in the shop when the gun en entered—five barbers, two other customers, two shoeshine men, a valet and a manicurist. They, and persons just outside the shop, fled screaming and shouting into the sheet, with the killers among them or right behind them. Where the killers went no one noticed.

The police last night issued a thirteen-state alarm for two men in the murder. One was described as about 40 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, sallow complexion, wearing a gray suit, dark gray fedoras with three-inch brim and dark-green, aviator-type glasses. The other was said to be about 303 about 5 feet 5 inches, weighing 150 pounds, light complexion, thin black pencil mustache, wearing a dark brown suit, lighter brown fedora with three-inch brim and dark green glasses. Although 100 detectives wen thrown into the case immedi mately by Chief of Detective: James B. Leggett, the police ha( no positive motive for the kill ing.

There was talk that Anastasia was trying to reorganize the remnants of old racket groups in town, and that the younger hoodlums would have none of his leadership. In addition, countless under-world figures had scores to set-tle with Anastasia. For 36 of his 55 years he had plotted gang killings, or had seen to them himself. Of Murder, Inc.’s sixty-three assassinations, thirty-one are supposed to have been Anastasia’s handiwork. The police were quick to throw guards around all persons they questioned in the Anastasia murder yesterday—the barber shop crew, a hotel elevator boy, several men and women who might have brushed shoulders with the fleeing gun-men as they left; owners of near-by shops that i give upon the barber shop. The dead man’s kin were guarded, too, against their wishes, among them Anthony (Tough Tony) , Anastasia, 50-year-old brother. He is a vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association and business manager for Local 1814 of that organization. He lives at 8220 Eleventh Avenue, in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights district.
Umberto Anastasia lived in rather splendid fashion behind the seven-foot barbed-wire fence at 75 13Iuff Road, in the Palisade section of Fort Lee, N. J. Great ,Doberman pinschers roamed his lawns like sleek dark shadows at-night. They would give tongue a.rhen strangers went by. Anastasia drove away from the house at 7 o’clock yester-day morning in a blue 1957 -Oldsmobile hardtop sedan regis-tered in the name of his cur-rent driver and bodyguard, Anthony Coppola. He parked it at the Corvan Garage, 124 West’ 9fty-fourth Street, at 9:28 A. M. An hour-and-a-half later, the 49-year-old bodyguard drove it sack to his own home at 450 i’ark Avenue, Fairview, N. J. 4’… rater, a friend drove the car to a parking lot on Centre ;Street—across from the Criminal Courts Building.

The police took it from there to the West Fifty-fourth Street police station. At 6:30 P. M. the last of the many drivers and bodyguards Anastasia had kept close to him walked into police headquarters here and said he was ready for cues tioning. Detectives took him at once to West Fifty-fourth – Street, where all the other witnesses had been taken. Mike Mirante, another long-time Anastasia associate, had turned up about a half hour before. Detectives took him for questioning too. The police would not disclose what they had learned from those questioned, By midnight, the detectives had questioned fifty witnesses, and ten more were waiting their turns. One of the first group was Harry Stasser, 58, of 30 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, for ten years Anastasia’s partner in the Madison Dress Company. The concern does about a $150,-000 annual gross.
Anastasia strolled into the hotel barber shop at about 10:15 and called greetings to the help. Joseph Bochino who holds down Chair 4, facing Fifty-fifth street, gave the chair a few wipes while Anastasia hung up ps topcoat and stripped open kith white shirt. He was dressed ill in brown—brown shoes with rather an amateur polish, brown suit, a rather untidy brown tie. “Haircut,” he said, and he seemed to need one. His hair was thin in front, but thick tend lush over-all, especially down the back. He sat upright, t broad-chested, broad-shouldered fellow with fleshy nose, round but firm chin. The barber draped a cloth around the gangster’s neck, swirled the sheet into place, and got out the electric clippers for the back of the neck. No one in the shop was jogged out of morning dreaminess. The room, 35 by 28 feet, was filled with customary hum. The recessed overhead fluorescents lighted the place well, but not with glare.

Arthur Grasso, the shop owner, was at the cashier’s stand near one of the doors leading from a hotel corridor. A minute or two later, as Mr. Bocchino plied the clippers from Anastasia’s left side, the door opened. The gunmen stepped in. They were middle-sized men, dark and rather broad. Their weapons came out as they crossed the threshold. One of the two men spoke through- his scarf. He told Mr. Grasso: “Keep your mouth shut if you don’t want your head blown off.” The shopowner’s jaw fell. Then his lips com-pressed.

The two trigger-men moved swiftly behind Anas-tasiars chair, If his heavy-lidded eyes had been open apparently they were not he might have seen them in the mirror, but he sat, relaxed, with no notion that death was close. Both men seemed to open fire at once. The shots came in short spurts. One gun roared, and stopped. The other gun roared and stopped. The sound had a weird cadence, Anastasia leaped forward with the first report. His heavy feet kicked at the foot rest and pre it away. He landed on his

missing column———

thing more, but his voice failed .I He hung up. Longshoremen sitting in the office sat white-faced at the news. They raced downstairs behind Anthony, one got be-hind th” wheel of • his Chevro-let, and they raced for Man-hattan. They made it in al-most record’ time. When Anthony hurried into the barbershop, a detective held the sheeting aside. The union chief stared at his brother’s face as if in disbelief. He spoke no word, but he shook with sobbing. One of his men touched him on the shoulder. He got up and let them lead him back to the car. He had them drive tliem to the West Fifty-fourth Street police station. Detectives kept him only a little while. As-sistant District Attorney Alex-ander Herman of the Homicide Division told reporters later, “He was completely cooperative. That’s all we can tell you now.” Even before Anthony identi-fied the body, the police had the first of the two murder weapons. It was a .38-caliber Colt re-volver, with only one of it’s six bullets unfired. The gunman had dropped it in a glassed-in vestibule on his way out to Fifty-fifth Street. The fact that the second weapon, a .32 with five shots discharged, was found in the subway, seemed fair indication that both killers had run out of the vestibule in the panicky rush that followed the shooting. The subway entrance in Fifty-fifth Street is only a few steps away. Both weapons, inciden-tally, were originally sold by dealers out of town; the .32 thirty-seven years ago, the other in 1934, Detectives did not tell in what town they were bought. The guns were turned. over to ballistics experts and to finger-print men. • A few hours later, after an autopsy, Umberto Anastasia Jr. son of the dead executioner, came to identify his father. He looked at the figure for only a moment, and turned away. Then he left with Robert Anastasio (Anastasio was the original spelling of the family name and some ,branches still use it) , a nephew of the old gang boss who lives in Brooklyn, original stamping ground of the clan.
Detectives expressed no sor-row over the passing of Umberto Anastasia. lie had been the most notorious hoodlum in New York –probably in the East for bet-ter than twenty years and had managed to cover his tracks every time. It was common knowledge that he fancied him-self as The Executioner. Even the fact that he had spent some time in the Sing Sing Prison death house himself thirty-six years ago did not seem to lessen his appetite for violence. Even the underworld “big shots” who moved in Tht Execu-tioner’s private circle stood in deathly fear of him. They in-eluded the late Louis (Lepke) Buchalter, chief of rackets in New York City that brought in millions. , Frank Costello, Joe Adonis and Augie Pisano, men of might in gambling and night-club operations on both shores of the Hudspn, were never easy in his company.

The late Willie Moretti, a mob boss on the New Jersey side, stood in mortal fear of Umberto. He was boxed in, one night in October, 1951, in a dark little inn in Cliffside Park, N. J., and shot to death by four gunmen. Yet, Anastasia, who managed a peaceful garment factory in Hazelton, Pa., on the side, could seem pleasant, genial and gen-erous. The men in the Park Sheraton barber shop exclaimed over his tips. So did all the other hired hands there.

Douglas du Lac, owner of a toy shop in the hotel, had always thought of him as “very much the gentleman, nice to deal with, a man with a real love for kids.” Anastasia seemed to buy toys about twice a month. which was about as often as he came to the barber shop. “Always big expensive toys, too,” Mr. du Lac recalled. He might have had a spend-ing spree in mind even yester-day, though he never got around -to it. When detectives went through his pockets they came up with roughly, $1,900 in cash, in notes ranging from $1 to $100. He had no weapon on him.

The detectives were not too happy over the murder in one way. They have apparently made no headway into the motives for the attempted murder, last May, of Frank Costello, an associate of Anastasia. A gunman stepped up to Costello one spring evening in the lobby of his apartment house on Central Park West and cut loose, at fairly close range, with several shots. The gambler got a burning wound, but quickly recovered. He in-sisted that he knew no reason for the attempt on his life. The police were left baffled.

The Anastasia shooting yes-terday was the second of its kind in the hotel in twenty-nine years,- Arnold Rothstein, the gambler, who lived there when it was the Park Central Hotel, was shot within its walls on Nov, 4, 1928. He lingered in a hospital a few days after the shooting before dying. The police acknovdedged last night that they were closely guarding not only innocent by-standers in the Anastasia case, but members of the Anastasia family, too, and the homes of Anastasia associates brought in for questioning.
When they threw men around Anthony Anastasia’s place in Dyker Heights last night, they termed the move “special attention,” a gesture that An-thony has resented on past oc-casions. Men in radio cars in the neighborhood also had or-ders to tour by the home once every fifteen minutes. The District Attorney’s office in the Bronx heard of The Ex-ecutioner’s killing with sothe regret. He was • wanted in the Bronx for questioning about the murder of Vincent° Mach of 4499 Henry Hudson Parkway, found shot to death and stuffed in a trunk in the spring of 1952. The district attorney thought he might shed some light on the disappearance of Benedetto Macri, Vincenzo’s brother, whose blooft-stained automobile turned up ten days later on a lonely road in Harrison, N. J. Bene-detto’s body was never found. Chief of Detectives Leggett, wearied with work on the Anas-tasia case last night, finally snapped back a bit bitterly at an innocent who asked: “Why do you think they killed him, Chief ?” His answer was: “Maybe somebody didn’t like him.”

 

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