The Jimmy Goodnight Murder: Pittsburgh Mob Associate’s Clipping Set Off String Of Hits In ‘The Rocks’

A near-decade’s worth of mob murders in the rough-and-tumble suburban Pittsburgh town of McKees Rocks tipped off in early 1979 with the mysterious poisoning death of McKees Rocks Streets Commissioner Jimmy Goodnight. Two more would follow: the 1987 slaying of retired McKees Rocks policeman Marty Fitzpatrick and the 1988 execution of local bookie, racketeer and rat, Bobby Mancini. Pittsburgh mafia figure Adolpho (Junior) Williams was considered a suspect in all three unsolved homicides. Williams, the working-class city’s policy boss for practically 20 years, died of a heart attack last week at 82.

Goodnight, a 47-year old convicted felon and alleged mob-associate, dropped dead of cyanide intoxication on the night of January 4, 1979 inside the city’s Streets & Sanitation Department after overseeing a salting and cindering of the area roads in the wake of a snow storm. His customary bottle of whisky was poisoned with enough cyanide to kill 30 people. Per state police informants, rumors of Goodnight being in gambling debt were circulating around the time of his death, which was first ruled a heart attack prior to the autopsy.

The appointment of Goodnight to his Streets Commissioner job drew controversy due to Goodnight’s criminal history. In 1971, Goodnight was convicted in federal court for hijacking $20,000 of gourmet cheese being transported between Baltimore and Chicago and served three years in prison.

Junior Williams was a multiple-time convicted felon (aggravated assault, battery, larceny, gambling). He walked free from his last stint as a guest of the government in 2006, having served four years in prison for bookmaking, policy and a parole violation. Almost a decade later, in 2014, a retired-from-the-mob Williams appeared on the A&E reality television show ‘Godfather of Pittsburgh.’ From the 1960s through the mid-1980s, he was in a crew of hoodlums operating partially out of McKees Rocks led by infamous independent Western Pennsylvania gangster Tony Grosso, who maintained a cordial relationship with the traditional Italian mafia by exchanging access his to wide array of “greased” politicians, judges and police officers for the ability to run his own underworld empire unencumbered.

"Junior" Williams

“Junior” Williams

Grosso’s contact in the Pittsburgh mafia was Anthony (Wango) Capizzi, the crime family’s representative in the region on behalf of longtime Godfather Sebastian (Big John) LaRocca and his protégé and eventual predecessor Michael Genovese. According to FBI records, Williams was Grosso’s liaison to the LaRocca crime family and when Grosso was convicted in a racketeering case in 1986 and sent to prison, he assumed command of Grosso’s regime and joined forces with the mafia.

The Grosso organization included bookmaking, backdoor casino gambling, numbers, loansharking and extortion territory in Pittsburgh’s East End, the north side Hill district and McKees Rocks. The transition in leadership from Grosso to Williams went off seamlessly in the East End, where Williams and his two brothers (Salvatore and Eugene) headquartered out of, and the Hill, a haven of numbers activity dating back to Prohibition, however notoriously-corrupt McKees Rocks was a different story.

Marty Fitzpatrick, two years retired from the McKees Rocks Police Department, was robbed and heinously murdered just after leaving a Williams crew-run social club and gambling parlor in July 1987 – Fitzpatrick was beaten, strangled and tied to the bumper of a car and dragged several blocks. One state police document cites informants telling authorities years earlier Fitzpatrick had gotten into a dispute with Big John La Rocca’s underboss Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino and Mannarino (d. 1980) had left instructions before he passed away to wait until Fitzpatrick left the police force and then to kill him.

Bobby Mancini was shot to death in his apartment in October 1988 after he was outed as an informant. Mancini was trying to challenge Junior Williams for gangland supremacy in McKees Rocks as well. McKees Rocks’ then-Mayor Dennis Skosnik, an associate of both Mancini’s and Williams’, was indicted for taking bribes, but had the charges vacated before trial following Mancini (set to be the state’s star witness) getting killed. Skosnik was finally convicted on corruption charges in 2006 related to his job as Allegheny County Sherriff’s Department Chief Deputy.

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