Feature Articles

May 2001

The Lingle Killing

By John William Tuohy

     On June 9, 1930, all hell broke loose in the Chicago underworld when reporter Jake Lingle was shot and killed as he walked through an underground subway tunnel.

     Jake Lingle came from a moderately successful Irish working class family out of the valley, an Irish slum near the Loop. He managed to graduate from the Calhoun elementary school.

     Lingle was with the Chicago Tribune newspaper at $65 a week, not a fortune, but a respectable salary for a working reporter in 1933. Lingle was a "legman" -- the street person who gathered the news and called it in to the city editor's room, where the stories were written up by professional news writers. Yet on his modest income Lingle had a chauffeured limo that whisked him across town, he spent $1000 a day on the ponies, wore a diamond studded belt given to him by Capone, but then again Capone gave a lot of those out.

     It was a known fact that Lingle was a liaison between the Capone organization and police commissioner William P. Russel, Russel and Lingle having known each other since their childhood days in the Valley. Later, after Lingle was dead and the facts of their relationship came to light, Russel resigned his position.

     Through Lingle's connection with the commissioner and the higher ups in the police department, Lingle was able to pass on information to the Capone's and others willing to pay, as to what speakeasies were going to be raided, what whorehouses were marked to be shut down and so forth. Lingle also spied on Bugs Moran and his North Siders for Capone.

     Friend of the commission or not, it still didn't explain the way Lingle lived his life or the money he spent. None of that made sense until it was learned that Lingle owed Capone $100,000 in bad gambling debts and he tried to pay it off by extortion against both Moran and Capone by using his influence to barter gambling and limited liqueur licenses, essential to both hoodlums' operations.

     "I fix the price of beer in this town," Lingle said, and he may have been right in a fool's sort of way.

     One of the hundreds of rumors going around the city was that Lingle had been given $50,000 to keep a racetrack open and had kept the money and as a result the track was closed.

     Another story involved the Sheridan Club, owned and operated by Weiss and Moran, and which had been closed for eighteen months after the St. Valentine's Day murders.

     Moran tried to muster help to reopen the place all over the city with no luck at all until Julian "Potatoes" Kaufman approached Jake Lingle and asked him to use his contacts to get the place reopened.

     Jake Lingle said he would help for 50% of the profits, Moran refused and the club remained closed. Moran turned to Boss McLaughlin for advice. McLaughlin, a criminal mastermind and freelancer who occasionally worked with the Touhy organization on burglaries, hated Lingle and had once threatened to kill the newsman when he refused to intercede in obtaining police and Capone's permission to open a gambling house.

     It was McLaughlin's advice that Moran go to the State's Attorneys office if no help was coming from Lingle but Moran decided against it and now the rumor was that Moran and the boys had blown Lingle's brain out.

     There was another rumor going around that the Capone ordered Lingle killed because the reporter was blackmailing Capone and his boys so he could pay off the money he owed to Bookies all over town. The story was that Lingle had gone to Capone and his men and said that for a set price he would see to it that no more of Capone's places were shut down. The Capones refused and Lingle threatened to have one of Capone's speakeasies shut down every day until Lingle got his price. Then and there, Capone ordered Lingle dead.

     Only hours after the killing the cops were hauling in everybody. Frankie Foster, who would live to see the Chicago outfit take over the entire American west, was suspected off the murder. He had the credentials for it too. Foster's brother, John Citro was a founding member of the O'Bannion gang and within a few hours it was established that Foster had purchased the murder weapon, a .38 from Peter Von Frantzius, a Diversey Park retailer who provided the machineguns used in the St. Valentine's Day murders.

     Foster vanished but was picked up in Los Angeles, his future home, several weeks later. The cops extradited him to Chicago where he was held and then released.

     An awful lot of people decided that Teddy Newberry did it since he and Frankie Foster were partners in several ventures and Newberry was with Foster when he purchased the murder weapon. Many decades later, mobster Johnny Roselli claimed that the real killers were Foster and Newberry.

     Another suspect that the cops hauled in was James Red Forsythe but he was released for lack of evidence to hold him; others picked up were Grover Dullard, the manager of the Sheridan Wave Tournament Club and Terry Druggans, a onetime bodyguard. Dullard had known Lingle since childhood. They hauled in Simon Gorman, a union official; they also pulled in Frank Noonan and Julian "Potatoes" Kaufman and of course Fred Burke was considered a suspect and the cops might have been right about that, if Burke wasn't the murderer he must have played some role in the shooting. The word was that Burke, a former charter member of St Louis's Eagan's rats organization, had hired the actual killer and trailed Lingle with the murder on the subway, with Eagan dressed as a priest.

     Burke had brought in one of his St. Louis trainees, a young man named Leo Vincent Brothers, otherwise known as Buster from St. Louis and Leo Bader, who earned his way as a labor terrorist, burglar, extortionist and bootlegger.

     It was said that Brothers was with the St. Louis mob called Eagan's Rats but Burke was with whoever paid the highest for his services. He had been loaned out, purchased for a price, from Eagan's Rats by the New York mobs during the worst of the Castellamarese war where he was credited with several murders of middle management mobsters and a few lowly henchmen as well.

     Brothers donned a different disguise every day to follow Lingle so he could get an idea of his schedule and then decide on the right time and place to kill him.

     On the day they killed Lingle, Burke and Brothers, dressed as Roman Catholic priests followed Lingle across town, with Burke staying on the subway after Lingle and Brothers got off.

     But Lingle was shrewd and smart and he spotted Brothers despite his disguise. After having had lunch at the Sherman House Hotel, a mob hang out, Lingle walked toward the subway station at Randolf and Michigan where he passed Detective Sergeant Thomas Alcock.

     Alcock stopped to speak with Lingle but Lingle would only stop for a second and whisper "I'm being tailed, Tom" and then moved along quickly.

     Lingle stopped at a newsstand in front of the public library at about 1:30 and purchased a copy of the Daily Racing Form. He walked on a few steps with Brothers behind him. A car stopped at the corner and Lingle waved to the occupants inside the car. One of them yelled over to Lingle "Play Hy Sneider in the third Jake."

     'I've got him," Lingle shouted back. Lingle lit up one of his expensive imported Cuban cigars and began walking down into a 100 foot long subway tunnel.

     The killer ran up from behind Lingle and fired a round off into the reporter's head just as Lingle walked into an underground pass at Randolf and Michigan, his face buried in the daily racing form. It was at rush hour and a dozen citizens were in or near the tunnel when Lingle was gunned down.

     The Lingle case, with the Zuta aftermath, dogged Chicago's gangland for the summer and fall. The cops were tearing the town apart and hauling in everybody and business was off.

     Roache stayed on Capone to turn over the man who had killed Lingle. Capone refused saying instead that he would have his execution squad take out the killer which would bring an end to the matter. Roache refused the offer and finally Capone turned over Leo Brothers, making Brothers the only man Capone had ever turned into the law in his entire criminal career.

     Brothers was picked up at a third rate rooming house with a few dollars found on his person. His trial began March 16, 1931, and ended on April 2, 1931, when he was convicted of murder and sentenced to eight years.

     On April 2, 1931, Leo Vincent brothers who shot Jake Lingle was sentenced to 14 years. He was paroled eight years later; the sentence was light because the jury believed he was taking the fall for someone else.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

Past Issues
div. of PLR International
P.O. Box 19146
Cleveland, OH 44119-0146
216 374-0000

Copyright © 1998 - 2001 PLR International