restricted access 44 End of the Empire
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240 The entire complexion of the Gus Winkeler inquiry had been changed. Starting out as a thorough sifting of Chicago’s wide-flung gambling empire, it had simmered down to an investigation of the ramifications of the enterprises in which my husband was involved, and appeared likely to fail in that. There was very good reason for this change of motive. Ofallofthewitnessessummonedattwoprevioushearings,heldearlier in October, there was a conspicuous absence of most of them. Those who showed up were mostly lesser lights who had so few irons in the fire they had very small chance of losing anything, least of all their lives. My attempt to quit this world had caused postponement of a third session of the jury, and it was during my period of recovery that I studied in the newspapers what already had transpired at the hearings. Considering the nature of the testimony, it is not unusual that I was deeply interested. In fact, quite a bit of the testimony would have been downright amusing if I had not been in such desperate straits. On October 9, Charles Weber, Charles Conrad, and Arthur Schroe­ der, their associate in the distributing establishment, and the Streets of Paris and other concessions at the Century of Progress fair, were in Miami, Florida, when the assassination had occurred. When they testified at the investigation, none of the three knew my husband, even by sight. Weber had no idea why “Big Mike” Winkeler was entering his distributing company office when he was killed. 44 End of the Empire End of the Empire 241 Other employees said they had never seen him about the place— some hadn’t even heard of him until his death. Frank Nitti and other members of the syndicate could not be found at all. I was ordered to appear on October 30, and many of those interested in the investigation were literally on tiptoes with expectation, half expecting a “blowup.” IwasstillweakandillwhenItookthewitnessstand,butdetermined that my testimony would in no way contribute to the general endeavor to learn the truth. My attitude could be attributed to one major reason: I was in fear of my life. I was suspicious of everyone in the courtroom. Under questioning I told the coroner’s jury that I knew nothing of my husband’s affairs and thought he was connected with an automobile selling concern. Asked if I knew Charles Weber, my answer was “No.” Itoldthemthatmyhusbandhadneverdiscussedhisaffairswithme, and since he seemed to do well, I had never asked any questions except on one occasion when I inquired why he carried a gun, and he told me to “mind my own business.” I fabricated some minor untruths concerning the last time I had seen my husband, and under what circumstances, before being asked to explain why my husband was in a borrowed automobile. I explained that Gus had been harassed by police every time they saw his car, and on this occasion he must have borrowed a car to avoid detection. Fortunately, they did not press me far on this testimony, or I might have become involved in my own falsehoods. Those conducting the questioning seemed to take cognizance of my physical condition and were not insistent. After escaping photographers, who swarmed in the court room before and after I left the stand, I became an interested student of further developments in the last phase of inquiry. At this point the inquiry had practically disintegrated from a gambling investigation to a meager effort to ascertain facts in connection 242 al capone and his american boys with my husband’s death—a very ordinary procedure. The entire matter was becoming what is commonly known as a “frost.” Lieutenant Otto Erlanson, homicide officer, confessed his inability to discover any reason for Gus’ murder and said that Goldblatt, who he believed was in a position to know more than anyone about the case, had been of no help whatever. Joe Bergl said he knew nothing of my husband’s business, and his only connection with him had been in auto sales deals. End of the Empire 243 Bergl was under arrest for alleged implication in the Loop holdup. Jack Rubens, the public administrator’s chief investigator, told the jury he had visited the 225 Club, but had found nothing there indicating that my husband had had any connection with either the operation of the club or the late Eddie Lebensberger, who managed it. So it went—an amazing lack of information. The names of witnesses were called by the...


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Subject Headings

  • Crime -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
  • Murder -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
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