History Stub
35 Years Ago:
The Murder of Sam Giancana

Sam Giancana (1908 - 1975)     On the night of June 19, 1975, Momo Salvatore “Sam” Giancana, age 67, was murdered in the basement of his suburban Oak Park, Illinois, residence by an unknown gunman who shot him seven times in the head with a silencer-equipped .22-caliber automatic pistol.

      Giancana was better known as Samuel M. Giancana. His most common alias was Sam Mooney. Known by his underlings as Mo, Mooney, or The Cigar, he was the Outfit’s top boss from 1957 to 1966.

      During Giancana’s 9-year rule as the Midwest’s leading Mafia boss, the Chicago Crime Commission tracked more than 80 gangland-style murders throughout the greater Chicago area. As the Outfit’s CEO, he had to have ordered the vast majority of those hits.

      Like Al Capone before him, Sam Giancana became a celebrity gangster. Just like with the Big Fellow decades earlier, that led to the Cigar’s downfall.

      After spending a year in jail on contempt charges, he stepped down from his lofty position atop the Outfit and left for Mexico in mid-1966. He stayed far away from Chicago for eight years, building up international gambling interests.

      In 1974, the Mexican government escorted him out of the country and turned him over to American authorities. He was taken back to Chicago. Various medical ailments prevented him from straying too far this time. He was back home long enough for a trusted friend to end his life with a volley of bullets to the head at point-blank range.

New York Times headline
PHOTO: New York Times headline

      Why was Giancana killed? At the time, there were numerous theories regarding that. None have ever been reliably confirmed.

      Who gave the order? This question is an easy one to answer.

      Law enforcement sources agree that the hit could have only been sanctioned by then top boss Joseph J. “Joey Doves” Auippa and the Outfit’s so-called “bosses of bosses”: Anthony J. “Joe Batters” Accardo.

      Who pulled the trigger? There were several suspects. None have ever been reliably confirmed as the actual killer.

Also see:
View the Giancana murder scene
[Editor’s Note: Photo is very graphic.]

Suggested Reading:

Brashler, William. The Don: The Life and Death of Sam Giancana. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.