Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dutch Schultz: Beer Baron of the Bronx

October 23, 1935

As with the plot to assassinate Tom Dewey, there are several versions of what took place in Newark, New Jersey on the night of October 23, 1935 in the Palace Chop House. As some movies and books suggest, the four men who were shot that night did not die where they sat, blasted into eternity by the guns of the sinister killers of Murder, Inc. In fact, none of the men shot in the restaurant actually died there. In reality it was quite a shoot out in the true sense of the term with partys firing back and forth and chasing each other through the restaurant leaving unanswered questions to this very day.

Charlie 'The Bug' Workman
Charlie 'The Bug' Workman
Selected to carry out the hit were Murder, Inc. stalwarts Charles Charlie the Bug Workman, Emanuel Mendy Weiss, and the driver, an individual who will be remembered throughout the ages only as Piggy. On the night of the murders we have one version of what happened from second hand knowledge of the killings. Workman and Weiss never confessed to law enforcement the events of that evening, but they had conversations with other members of Murder, Inc. who later ratted out their compatriots to the authorities.

Emmanuel 'Mendy' Weiss
Emmanuel 'Mendy'
Weiss
According to Burton Turkus, Workman strolled into the Palace Chop House while Weiss provided cover, and Piggy sat poised behind the wheel. Workman walked the length of the bar and then flipped open the door to the mens room. Inside was a man washing his hands who Workman thought was a Schultzbodyguard. He shot the man who immediately dropped to the floor.

Workman then darted into the back dining room and opened up on the Schultz men Lulu Rosencrantz, Abe Landau and Abbadabba Berman wounding all three. Not seeing Dutch among the wounded, Workman realized Schultz must have been the man washing his hands. He then went back to rifle Schultzs pockets for cash, which was said to be Workmans custom.

Paul Sann provided a different description of the shooting. He states that both Weiss and Workman blasted away at the three men in the dining room first. Then, after not spotting Schultz, Workman went into the mens room and found Dutch relieving himself at the urinal. Workman fired twice and one bullet hit Schultz causing a mortal wound. Again, Workman was said to have searched Schultz for money.

Rosenkrantz, who was believed to have been sitting with his back to the doorway, was hit seven times. He suffered wounds in the chest, abdomen, right arm, and right foot. Berman, the oldest and heaviest of the shooting victims, was hit six times body, neck, wrist, elbow and shoulder. He dropped to the floor and remained there. Abe Landau, who the newspapers originally identified as Leo Frank, took three bullets in the back, left arm, and right wrist.

Landau, although wounded in his shooting arm, pulled a .45 automatic and gave chase, with Rosenkrantz behind him. Landau fired wildly as he staggered after Workman. When he made it to the street, his gun empty, he fell backward, landing in a garbage can in a sitting position. Rosenkrantz had collapsed momentarily on the floor of the restaurant.

If Turkuss tale is true, it seems amazing that two gunmen, who could react while riddled with bullets, couldnt hear Schultz getting shot first and react faster. All the crime scene information indicates that the three men were sitting when they were fired upon. If Sanns account is true, why didnt Schultz react by trying to hide or escape when he heard all the blasting going on outside? (We are told that Schultz wasnt armed.) Sann states that after Workman emptied his .38 he looked in the mens room and found Schultz relieving himself. Certainly the cautious thirty-five year old Schultz, would have heard the shots, tucked it away, and been on the move. Also, with Landau and Rosenkrantz after him, how could Workman have had the time, not only to shoot Schultz, but go through his pockets? While these remain interesting questions, they will never be answered.

After Schultz staggered out of the mens room he collapsed at a table. He moaned, Get a doctor, quick. At this point Rosenkrantz pulled himself up from the floor and incredibly gave the restaurant owner a quarter and asked for change so he could make a nickel phone call. He then dialed O on the restaurants payphone before collapsing again.

All four men were transported to Newark City Hospital and were surrounded there by police officers asking questions.

Who shot you? asked Newark Police Chief John Harris.
Let me alone, replied Schultz. Youre killing me. Im getting weaker.

Rosenkrantz was even less cooperative. Get the hell away from me, he hollered. Go out and get me an ice cream soda.

Berman was the first to die, passing away at 2:55 a.m. about four and half-hours after the shooting. Landau followed him at 6:30 a.m., as too much blood was lost from a severed artery in his neck. Rosenkrantz held out the longest of the four victims. He passed away at 3:20 a.m. on October 25.

The men shot with the Dutchman in the Palace Chop House were not the only Schultz associates under the gun that night. Apparently Murder, Inc. was going for a clean sweep. Marty Krompier, Schultzs accomplice in the Chink Sherman beating, had been assigned to keep an eye on the Dutchmans Manhattan interests while the boss was in self-imposed exile across the Hudson River. Krompier was Schultzs chief enforcer of the Harlem numbers rackets and kept the policy bankers in line.

Marty Krompier
Marty Krompier
As was his custom, Krompier stopped at the Hollywood Barber Shop at Seventh Avenue and Forty-seventh Street around midnight with his brother Jules and bookmaker, Sammy Gold. The three men occupied barber stools, with Marty in the middle. His shave completed, Krompier stood looking at himself in the mirror, while a Black porter was poised behind him waiting to help him on with his coat.

At that moment, a gunman, described as a short dark man, wearing a dark hat, brown overcoat and dark suit, entered the shop. Waiting for the porter to clear his line of fire, the gunman grew impatient and sent a bullet crashing into the ceiling. Bullets from at least two guns were flying with four slugs hitting Marty Krompier and two catching Gold. Jules Krompier escaped harm. Another gunman had fired from the doorway because at least seven bullets were spent, and witnesses saw four men hurry away. The first shooter sped out the door and fled through a nearby subway, discarding a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver on the steps. The gun still had two live rounds in the cylinder.

Krompier was critically wounded. He was hit in the chest, stomach, and both arms. Gold was hit in his left side and arm. When police arrived they asked Krompier if he saw the gunman.

Sure, replied Krompier. Id know him if I saw him again.

Had he ever seen the man before, questioned one officer.

No, I dont know him. Id know him if I ever saw him again, said Krompier.

The wounded men were taken to New Yorks Polyclinic Hospital, where Arnold Rothstein had succumbed to gunfire seven years earlier. Krompier received blood transfusions from Jules and another brother, Milton. Doctors could not remove the bullet in Krompiers abdomen, which had lodged itself deep in his intestines. The prognosis was not good.

Back at Newark City Hospital, Schultz was still languishing. The bullet that went through him was a rusty steel-jacketed .45 that entered just below his chest on the left side. The slug ripped through his abdomen, passing through his large intestines, gall bladder, and liver before exiting his body. His spleen and stomach were also perforated. There was tremendous internal damage and bleeding. In addition, peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal wall, had set in. Schultz was on the operating table for ninety minutes.

The Dutchman was placed in a vacant four-bed ward on the hospitals second floor surrounded by police officials who were still trying to question the dying mobster. While still coherent, he asked for a priest. Father Cornelius McInerney was summoned. Schultz wanted to die a Catholic. Father McInerney baptized him and gave Schultz the last rites of the Catholic Church. He then stayed and comforted the three women in the Dutchmans life his mother, sister and wife.

Schultz shortly before his death
Schultz shortly before his
death
Schultz showed some signs of rallying, but by 2:00 p.m. on October 24, he began to fade. As he did he began to ramble. Police officials in the room began to write down what the Dutchman was saying. By four oclock, Police Chief Harris assigned a stenographer to record the statements of Schultz who was passing in and out of consciousness with a 106-degree temperature. His last words were spoken at 6:00 p.m. and then Schultz fell into a deep coma. At 8:20 p.m., the Dutchmans young wife was allowed to enter the room and say her farewell. At 8:35 Schultz passed into eternity.

Schultzs deathbed statements were a cryptic, yet poetic, rambling in gangster jargon. It was reported that the text of his statements was practically a glossary of mobster lingo, so rich in form that scholars would later study them as a piece of American folk literature. Priceless among his incoherent uttering was the comment, Mother is the best bet and dont let Satan draw you too fast. In 1969, writer William S. Burroughs, author of the Naked Lunch, wrote The Last Words of Dutch Schultz: A Fiction in the Form of a Film Script, based on the Dutchmans last hours.

In life, Schultz had been able to avoid a fate that happened to many of his bootlegging colleagues being taken for a one way ride. Ironically, in death, thats exactly what happened, and it took place under the noses of police guards assigned to watch his body.

On October 28, employees of Daniel F. Coughlin & Brothers, an undertaking establishment, were able to sneak Schultzs coffin out of the funeral parlor and into a hearse. From 4:30 to 10:00 a.m. they drove the body around the city making frequent stops for coffee. At 10:00 a.m. they met Richard Coughlin at the Yonkers city limit and he accompanied the hearse to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery for burial.

At the cemetery there were three mourners, Schultzs mother, Mrs. Emma Flegenheimer, his sister, Mrs Helen Ursprung, and wife, Mrs. Frances Flegenheimer. Two state troopers and Father McInerney who had baptized Schultz just before his death accompanied them.

At his mothers request, the traditional Jewish talis, or praying shawl, was draped over his shoulders. Schultz was buried in consecrated ground due to his deathbed conversion to the Catholic faith. The gravesite was located less than one hundred yards from slain bootlegger and Broadway personality Larry Fay.

An apparent gangland snub, only four floral tributes arrived at the grave.

 

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