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One And Two: The Spilotro Murders

The second of a two-part authorized excerpt from Tribune reporter Jeff Coen's Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob. (Part one.)


By Jeff Coen

In Oak Park, Michael Spilotro had been getting ready for what supposedly was his making day, but there were signs that the brothers weren't simply blindly heading for their doom. With the recent troubles they were certainly suspicious, but not answering such a request for their appearances was not an option. Michael was worried enough to give his daughter his jewelry in a plastic sandwich bad and ask for her to bring it to a graduation party they were to attend that night. He told his wife he would meet her after his business was finished, but if he wasn't there by 9:00, she should assume that something was very wrong.

Marcello parked the van, and the men walked into the open garage. Turning left into the house, they were met by a collection of Outfit heavyweights, including some of the men who had been present for Nick's own making ceremony. John DiFronzo was there, he said, a man he know as "Johnny Bananas." Carlisi was in the house, too, Nick said to Mars, as was Wild Bunch leader Ferriola. And what did Nick do then?

"Shook their hands, said hello, and then when I got to Sam, he made some kind of comment about my tan," Nick said, because he was still showing the sun he had gotten in Arizona. And Carlisi made a wisecrack about money, too, he said, an unnerving remark because Fecarotta had blown a good deal of cash in Phoenix for things that didn't have to do with the work there. The comment scared Nick a little, but it seriously rattled Fecarotta.

He and Fecarotta walked down to the house's basement, Nick said, and Fecarotta went straight for the bathroom.

"He was in the bathroom quite a while, and I kept thinking something's wrong," Nick recalled. "When he came out, he was pale. I figure, he thinks this is for him."

It wasn't. But it would be only a few months until Nick and Fecarotta were driving up an alley together, with Nick reaching into his bag for a pistol.

On Nick's left in the basement were mobsters Louis Marino and Louis "the Mooch" Eboli, he said, along with three men he didn't recognize. He remembered that one of the men he didn't know was wearing glasses and that everyone was wearing gloves.

Thirty minutes or more passed as the men waited in the basement, listening and watching again for Marcello to appear, a sign that what they had come to do was about to happen. Then there was a voice. Someone had seen Marcello and said, "Here he comes."

On the edge of the basement, Nick heard the door and then the sound of voices greeting each other. The Spilotros were being welcome to the death house with smiles and handshakes.

Mars asked whether Nick could recognize the voices drifting down to the men in the basement. No was his answer.

"I wasn't - at this time I'm wound up," Nick remembered. "I'm tense and I'm not really - I'm focusing on what I'm going to do."

Moments later, Michael Spilotro was coming down the stairs. Nick approached him first, he said, because he knew him.

"I said, 'How you doing, Mike?'"

Spilotro walked toward Marino and Eboli next. And then it began.

Realizing what was happening, Anthony made a final request. Nick said he heard it as he was grabbing Michael's legs and the struggle was beginning.

"All I heard was that when he come down he said, 'Can I say a prayer?'"

"And then what happened?" Mars asked in the silent courtroom. Everyone in the gallery was straining to listen so they didn't miss anything Nick might say next.

"I didn't hear anymore."

Nick was holding Michael as Eboli put a rope around his neck and strangled him, Nick told Mars. Somewhere nearby in the basement, Anthony was being killed, too.

Once it was over, Michael's pants were searched for his car keys. Michael's suspicion had led him to bring a pocket-size .22-caliber pistol, which apparently he couldn't reach in any final, panicked bid to save himself. DiFronzo was holding it and trying to unload it.

And there was a small spot of blood where Anthony had been killed, Nick said. So he went to the bathroom were Fecarotta had been and got a tissue to try to wipe it up.

And that would be the extent of Nick's help in getting rid of the bodies, he told Mars. The brothers would turn up a little more than a week later buried in Enos, Indiana, more than one hundred miles from the subdivision, near land Aiuppa had used for hunting. A farmer had noticed a disturbance in the neat rows of corn he had planted that spring and, thinking maybe someone had buried a deer on his property, made the gruesome discovery. Michael and Anthony were found about five feet down, buried one atop the other. Fecarotta has long been suspected of botching the burial, and it reportedly contributed to the decision of Outfit leaders that he should be killed. But Nick, who would wind up shooting him, made no mention of the supposed Fecarotta mistake in his testimony. Fecarotta did move Michael Spilotro's Lincoln, Nick said, leaving it at a nearby hotel.

Nick said Fecarotta was with him and Jimmy LaPietra was Marcello drove them back to the shopping center where they had met him earlier. The three from the Chinatown crew were dropped off and left in the van Nick had parked there in the lot.

They wound up having coffee, and Nick recalled Ferriola joining them. The Wild Bunch leader had a little advice about gloves as the men made small talk, Nick said.

"He says, 'Yeah, what you gotta do is, when you're done with a pair of gloves, just cut them up and throw them a piece at a time because they can take fingerprints off the inside of the gloves'," Nick said. It sounded like a good idea, and he would destroy his own gloves in just that way later in the evening.

He would of course not get the chance to destroy the gloves from his next murder. If he had, he might never have been in court testifying that day.

Nick recalled that after another job well done, Jimmy LaPietra had demanded to know how much Frank Sr. was paying him. It was only $3,000 a month, Nick said, so Jimmy, who had by then taken over for his brother Angelo while he was in prison, told Nick that he should tell his brother to up his pay to $5,000 a month instead. Nick would pass along that message as he talked with Frank Sr. about what had happened. And as they had always done before, the brothers would come to use a code name for the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

"One and Two."


See also:
* Meet The Spilotros


Upcoming Chicagoland readings by Jeff Coen:
* Saturday, May 16: Centuries & Sleuths, Forest Park. 2 p.m.
* Thursday, May 21: Barnes & Noble, Webster Place, Chicago. 7:30 p.m.
* Saturday, May 23: Borders, Oak Park. 2 p.m.


Posted on April 30, 2009

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