The Kansas City mafia erupted into war in the late 1970s related to an internal dispute over control of the city’s River Quay neighborhood, its then-trendy nightlife and entertainment center. The unrest set off a near-decade of violence and instability in the Civella crime family. On one side of the feud was ambitious and bloodthirsty Civella clan capo and street boss William (Willie the Rat) Cammisano, intent on turning the neighborhood into a red-light district. On the other, K.C. mob soldier David Bonadonna, his businessman son Freddy, who had spearheaded the real estate development and economic resurgence in the area, and their main muscle, the independent Spero brothers (Carl, Joe & Mike), upset with the Civellas for killing their older brother and underworld mentor Nick in 1973. The Bonadonna faction resisted the crusty Cammisano and his crew’s move into the neighborhood and their desire to rebrand and tax local establishments for fear that it would drive consumers away, which it wound up doing.

July 22, 1976 – Kansas City mobster David Bonadonna is found in the trunk of his Mustang automobile, shot in the back of the head, a short distance away from Willie the Rat Cammisano’s garage headquarters where he was last seen in the hours before being killed.

November 17, 1976 – Kansas City wiseguy and Bonadonna loyalist John (Johnny B) Brocato is found stuffed in the trunk of his car at the airport, shot in the back of the head.

February 19, 1977 – Civella crime family lieutenant John (Johnny Green) Amaro is shot to death in his garage.

February 22, 1977 – Bonadonna faction enforcer and hit man Harold (Sonny) Bowen is shot-gunned to death inside a crowded bar in the heart of the River Quay on the evening of Amaro’s wake. Bowen is believed to have killed Amaro.

March 27, 1977 – Popular River Quay establishments, Pat O’Brien’s and nearby Judge Roy Bean’s Tavern are decimating in a bombing. Many historians point to this event as the unofficial end of the River Quay era in the city, with the once-bustling and booming neighborhood becoming a virtual ghost town overnight due to the increasing tensions in the area and the perception that it was unsafe. Bowen was slain inside Pat O’Brien’s.

August 5, 1977 – Bonadonna faction enforcer Gary Parker is blown up in a car bomb in his driveway.

May 2, 1978 – Local hood, thief and Bonadonna-loyalist Myron (Alley Cat Andy) Mancuso is shot to death behind the wheel of his car, last seen leaving a 24-hour diner with Willie the Rat’s son and protégé William (Little Willie) Cammisano, Jr. a half hour before being found dead.

May 4, 1978 – Local hood, thief and Bonadonna-loyalist Michael (Minuteman Mike) Massey, Mancuso’s partner-in-crime and an informant that got Kansas City mobster Anthony (Tiger) Cardarella busted for racketeering, is shot to death behind the wheel of his car.

May 17, 1978 – Bonadonna faction enforcer and independent gangster Mike Spero is slain in the infamous Virginian Tavern Massacre, where several Civella crime family hit men came blasting into the Spero brothers’ headquarters with shotguns blazing. Mike’s brother Joe is wounded fleeing out of a side door and his brother Carl is paralyzed in the attack.

June 18, 1980 – Bonadonna faction enforcer and independent gangster Joe Spero is killed in a bombing in Clay County while fiddling with booby-trapped explosives in his work shed on his farm.

January 6, 1984 – “Spero Gang” leader and one-time Bonadonna backer, the wheelchair-bound Carl Spero is blown up at his Five-Star Investment Used Cars office headquarters in the time surrounding Willie the Rat’s release from federal prison and ascension to don. Cammisano assumed the reins on an official basis upon the passing of crime family namesake Nick Civella and the incarceration of his brother and underboss Carl (Corky) Civella.

February 9, 1984 – Longtime Kansas City mafia figure Anthony (Tiger) Cardarella, once on the frontlines of the River Quay War for the Civella syndicate, disappears and isn’t found until three weeks later strangled to death in the trunk of his car in parking lot of freight company warehouse on February 27.

September 19, 1984 – Longtime Kansas City mafia figure Felix (Little Phil) Ferina, Cardarella’s trusted gangland running buddy and another former front-liner in the battle for the River Quay in the 1970s, is shot to death in front of his house. Ferina and Cardarella allegedly spoke openly of trying to overthrow Willie the Rat.

*Willie Cammisano died of cancer in 1995. Freddy Bonadonna committed suicide inside the Witness Protection Program. None of the River Quay murders were ever solved.


The River Quay’s main drag in 1974 before the mob violence in the area set in


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