Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Times of the Sicilian Robin Hood

The Making of
the Legend

After that chance encounter with the killing of the state police officer in 1943, Salvatore Giuliano became a fugitive.  He would be hunted relentlessly for the next seven years, defying the authorities to capture him.  His legend began almost immediately after his wound had healed.

Giuliano showing his healed wounds
Giuliano showing his healed wounds

The identity card he had left behind gave the caribineri his name.  Unfortunately for his father, Salvatore Giuliano, Sr., the authorities did not particularly care which Salvatore Giuliano they arrested.  Giuliano's father, uncle, and several cousins were imprisoned.  Furious, Giuliano managed to free all but his father from the regional jail, an act so daring that it immediately captured the attention of the small towns west and south of Palermo.  The lightly guarded jail was no match for the ferocity of Giuliano, as he literally shot his way into the building, wounded one guard, and subdued the cowering  three others.  Thus, with this audacious jail break, he no longer was a mere outlaw, but had now begun his career as a bandit.  One of his closest friends, Gaspare Pissciotta, became his second in command.  The core group of bandits probably numbered no greater than a dozen, though at times the government claimed that he had as many as a thousand men.  (Later, when Giuliano took on more complex missions, he would augment his band with others, so that the group became as large as fifty.  It was never much larger than that.)

The jail break was the first act to bring Giuliano notoriety.  Soon thereafter he and his bandits attacked a caribineri barracks outside of Palermo, killing two of the officers and making off with a load of arms and ammunition.  The mystique of Salvatore Giuliano was growing.


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