Al Capone: Chicago's Most Infamous Mob Boss
O'Banion was known for bizarre behavior which included gunning down a man in front of crowds of people for the flimsiest of reasons and then killing a man after meeting him at Capone's Four Deuces, which dragged Capone into a murder investigation needlessly. There was a growing sense of realization that something was going to have to be done about Dion O'Banion's irresponsible and childishly impulsive behavior.
O'Banion offered Torrio an out. Dion offered to retire to Colorado if Torrio bought out his interest in the Sieben Brewery. Knowing full well that there was going to be a raid, O'Banion arranged to close the deal with Torrio at the brewery. Not only did Torrio end up in jail, but O'Banion refused to return the money for a now padlocked brewery. Even worse, he bragged about how he had tricked Torrio. His fate was sealed.
Mike Merlo, the head of the Unione Sicilana in Chicago, a group that provided national cover to gangsters of that era, died of cancer. A huge funeral was planned in which Dion, florist to the gangs, naturally had a large role. Frankie Yale, head of the powerful New York branch, agreed with Torrio and Capone that Angelo Genna, who Dion had just humiliated over a gambling IOU, would take over the Chicago branch.
2 days after Merlo's death on November 10, 1924, Dion was in his flower shop fixing flowers for the Merlo funeral when 3 gangsters came into the shop. Dion's employee left the men alone to their business. O'Banion had expected the visit to pick up a wreath. He greeted the men and prepared to shake hands. One of the men pulled O'Banion's arm and knocked him off balance.
Dion's funeral was stupendous. The Chicago Tribune loved every gaudy detail of it: "At the corners of the casket are solid silver posts, carved in wonderful designs. Modest is the dignified silver gray of the casket, content with the austere glory of the carved silver post at its corners....Silver angels stood at the head and feet with their heads bowed in the light of the ten candles that burned in the solid golden candlesticks they held in their hands...And over it all the perfume of flowers.
But vying with that perfume was the fragrance of the perfumed women, wrapped in furs from ears to ankles, who tiptoed down the aisle, escorted by soft stepping, tailored gentlemen with black, shining pompadours."
Some 10,000 people fell in before and after the funeral cortege, while another 5,000 people waited at the cemetery. Twenty-six cars and trucks carried the funeral flowers, three bands and the police escort.
Dion's funeral was a celebration for Torrio and Capone because they took over Dion's excellent bootlegging territory and they had finally rid themselves of a dangerously unpredictable colleague. What they didn't appreciate at the time was the aftermath of Dion's death and what it meant to them personally. While the police scratched their heads over who killed O'Banion, Dion's friend "Hymie" Weiss knew exactly who was responsible and he vowed revenge.