Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

Going Out
with a Bang

It can truly be said of Shondor Birns that nothing in his life so befitted him as his leaving of it.

The blast that broke the Holy Saturday silence in 1975 could be heard for blocks. It brought people running to the parking lot behind Christy's Lounge, a go-go bar across the Cuyahoga River from downtown Cleveland.

They found the wreckage of a light blue Lincoln Continental Mark IV. Next to the open driver's door lay the upper body of the 68-year-old man the newspapers called Alex "Shondor" Birns. It had been blown through what was now a gaping hole in the roof.

Other parts of Birns came down nearby. Parts of the car landed on the steps of St. Malachi Catholic Church 1,000 feet away. Parishioners arriving for the 8 p.m. Easter Vigil Mass could see patches of Birns' clothing in the churchyard trees.

St. Malachi Catholic Church
St. Malachi Catholic Church

Police said the blast was among the most powerful they had ever investigated.

Next: Such a Nice Guy

 

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