March 11, 2021 – A cold-case squad in suburban Boston has identified mob associate Howard (Chinky) Ferrini’s killer. The problem is, he was murdered, too.
The killer’s murder is also getting a fresh look from authorities in recent years. And so it goes in the brutal New England mafia known locally as the Patriarca crime family.
The 53 year-old Ferrini was bludgeoned and asphyxiated to death in the early 1990s amidst rising tensions and an ongoing power struggle being engaged in by warring factions of the Patriarca clan. At the time, then boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme was fighting a group of rouges from East Boston, exacting revenge for an assassination attempt aimed at him carried out in the parking lot of a Saugus, Massachusetts International House of Pancakes in June 1989. Salemme’s five-year tear of bloodshed resulted in at least a half-dozen gangland slayings and retribution executions.
The District Attorneys Office in Bristol County, Massachusetts reopened the Ferrini case last year. State Police lab techs matched a finger print and DNA from infamous slain Irish mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan to the crime scene.
Chinky Ferrini disappeared on his way to the Raynham Dog Track on August 16, 1991. A week later, on August 21, Boston Police found Ferrini’s decomposing body in the trunk of his light blue-colored Cadillac in the long-term parking section at Logan International Airport. His head had been crushed by a hammer and was covered by a blue plastic bag. He had $6,000 in cash on him when police discovered his body.
Police found Hanrahan’s finger print on the plastic bag. The feisty Irish strong arm can’t be charged in the homicide because he was killed gangland-style shortly thereafter.
Investigators believe Hanrahan and another person beat, stomped and choked Ferrini to death inside his brand new Berkley, Massachusetts home and then put him in the trunk of his own car and drove it to the airport. While Hanrahan might be long gone from this earth and unable to be arrested for the brutal mob hit, Bristol County officials, State Police and FBI investigators feel the second perp may very well still be alive today.
A bookie and professional gambler from the melting pot town of Fall River, Ferrini was aligned against Cadillac Frank Salemme’s regime, siding with North End capo Vinnie (The Animal) Ferrara, who was in prison at the time of Ferrini’s murder, in the Beantown mob war. Ferrara’s North End crew joined forces with an East Boston contingent to oppose Salemme’s reign. Ferrini was close to Salemme’s Fall River crew boss Timmy (The Bat) Mello, an independent rackets chief Cadillac Frank befriended in prison, but sided with the renegades in the North End and East Boston when war erupted, according to FBI records.
Salemme became a government informant in 1999. He was ripped out of the Witness Protection Program and convicted of a 1993 cold-case murder three years ago (the slaying of nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro in Salemme’s Sharon, Massachusetts residence). The 88-year old Cadillac Frank is serving life in prison, still refusing to admit responsibility for the gangland homicides that occurred on his watch in the 1990s.
Hanrahan, 39, was allegedly murdered on Salemme’s orders in September 1992 in Providence, gunned down outside The Arch steakhouse in Federal Hill by a pair of masked gunmen after leaving a dinner with mobsters. Salemme believed Hanrahan was plotting to murder him and had caught him extorting protected bookmakers in Massachusetts’ South Coast.
When he died, Hanrahan was a suspect in multiple Patriarca crime family-connected murders. A federal grand jury in Providence has been convened since 2017 hearing testimony in the Hanrahan case, per sources in New England law enforcement and people called to testify in the proceedings. Two sources directly involved in the current investigation into the Ferrini case says authorities are exploring the possibility that one of the shooters in the Hanrahan hit could have been Hanrahan’s accomplice in completing the Ferrini murder contract.