The Michigan Connection To Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
It's interesting. We just passed the 93rd anniversary of the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre, where seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down in a Lincoln Park garage. Moran was quoted the next day on the front page of the Chicago Tribune as saying "Only Capone kills like that". But there's a Michigan connection. No, not the silly rumor about Capone having a house off Gull Road in Kalamazoo. It's a real connection to the city of St. Joseph.
At the time it happened, the crime was shocking, even if they were mobsters. Seven people gunned down. (But coincidentally, today, a settlement was announced with the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Twenty-six children and teachers were killed there, almost four times as many people). The murders inspired several movies, including one that some call the greatest comedy ever made, 1959's Some Like It Hot, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe.
But the actual crime was anything but funny. It was for control of organized crime in Chicago, between Moran's Irish mob and Capone's Italian mob during Prohibition. Moran said it was Capone, but other gangster who had worked for Capone likely did it, although there were some unproven stories that Chicago cops were involved, in retaliation for a police officer's son being killed.
The cops had some leads, some of which pointed towards St. Louis gangsters. two of whom were known to wear police uniforms during their crimes. Still the case was going nowhere in December of 1929, until,
"the Berrien County, Michigan Sheriff's Department raided the St. Joseph, Michigan bungalow of "Frederick Dane", the registered owner of a vehicle driven by Fred "Killer" Burke. Burke had been drinking that night, then rear-ended another vehicle and drove off. Patrolman Charles Skelly pursued, finally forcing him off the road. Skelly hopped onto the running board of Burke's car, but he was shot three times and died of his wounds that night. The car was found wrecked and abandoned just outside St. Joseph and traced to Fred Dane. By this time, police photos confirmed that Dane was in fact Fred Burke, wanted by the Chicago police for his participation in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre." -wikipedia
Burke was tried and convicted (in Michigan, which seems odd), for Skelly's murder and died in prison in 1940. Over the years, there were as many stories as there were over the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Most stories pointed towards Capone having a role in the killings, but to this day, nothing conclusive.
If you're thinking you want to see where it happened, you're out of luck. The building was torn down in 1967. The bricks were purchased by a Canadian businessman and some reportedly are on display in Las Vegas. Some Like It Hot is still a great movie.