Tuesday, March 21, 2017


3/21/1934 - Created and mentored by Al Capone for "special" jobs like the elimination of New York gangster Frankie Yale and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, with the notorious Scarface in prison for income tax evasion, afraid capture for bank jobs could bring forth testimony on mob activities, new Chicago headman Frank Nitti does some housekeeping, eliminating 37-year-old "American Boy" killer Fred Samuel Goetz (aka "Shotgun" George Ziegler), the man many crime historians believe planned assorted crimes for the Chicago mob and the Barker-Karpis gang of the 1930s, courtesy of three shotgun blasts to the gunman's face and chest (a fourth blast misses).

An unusual criminal, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde style double life of Goetz begins with his 2/13/1897 birth in Chicago, to German immigrants, Samuel and Ottilie Goetz (Samuel is a baker of European pastries at the city's famous Viennese restaurant, Henrici's).  The only boy (he has an older sister, Sophie) and youngest member of the family, Fred grows up on Chicago's north side, a handsome 5'9" muscled youth with blue eyes and sandy blonde hair, graduating from Lane Technical College Prep High School in 1914, seemingly leading a normal life, with no indications that he will someday become a multiple time murderer.  With the advent of WWI for the United States, Goetz enlists in the military and becomes a Second Lieutenant pilot in the United States Army Aviation Branch. Honorably discharged at the conclusion of the war, upon his return to Chicago, Goetz enrolls at the Champaign branch of the University of Illinois ... thriving in Academia, he studies business and engineering, becoming an honors student, joins the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, is known as "Fritz" to his classmates, is elected to the local American Legion's board of directors, joins the school's aviation club, and plays on the freshman basketball team and makes the college's Varsity football team.  In front of his happy parents, Goetz graduates with a business degree in 1922.

Out of school, still searching for exactly what he wants to do with his life, Goetz fills his summer's by life guarding at Chicago's Clarendon Beach, and it is as such that he lets the public view his Mr. Hyde persona for the first time in 1921 ... seeing a group of men attack fellow lifeguard Roger Bessner (the altercation involves insults exchanged with a female bather) with broken bottles, Goetz leads a rescue that results in he and his comrades, using oar handles and a hammer, beating the snot out of the upset beach goers (the left eye of one man, Harry Brown, is knocked out, and it is reported that he is still pummeled after becoming unconscious) and instigating a 500 person riot that police have to be called in to suppress.  First taste of being a bad boy, the tipping point takes place in 1925, when 7-year-old Jean Lambert is sexually assaulted in a basement near her home, and Goetz is arrested fleeing the scene.  Out on bail, knowing his case will go to trial and that he needs a good lawyer, Goetz seeks legal funds for his situation by robbing Dr. Henry Gross and his wife ... but makes things even worse, getting into a gun battle that wounds the doctor and kills the doctor's chauffeur, Bonificias Hernandez. Ratted out by an accomplice that is also wounded in the gun fight, Goetz will be on the run the rest of his life ... nine years.

Discovering he enjoys the criminal life, and that it can be extremely lucrative during hard times, Goetz lives in plain sight as George Ziegler (he also masquerades as a George Von Ash and about twenty other aliases), operates a garage in Cicero, Illinois, has a resort on 400 acres of wooded Wisconsin real estate (Al Capone will be a frequent visitor and he nicknames the non-Italian killers Goetz associates with "The American Boys"), and becomes heavily involved in armed robbery, bootlegging, and making hits for Mr. Capone, often partnering with killers Fred "Killer" Burke and Gus Winkler.  A quick study in the art of mayhem. Goetz soon has a criminal resume that among other heinous acts includes a $12,000 heist of cash and jewelry, a failed armored truck robbery in 1927 (one of the men in the caper forgets to bring dynamite for the two safes that are stolen, and the robbers miss out on $200,000) during which he kills police officer George Zientara, the New York assassination of former Capone friend, gangster Frankie Yale, a $93,000 robbery of the First National Bank of Peru, Indiana, a $350,000 robbery of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Jefferson, Wisconsin, loosing a torrent of lead into members of the George Moran gang during the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in which seven men are killed (1929), running liquor from Havana to Miami, participates in the Barker-Karpis gang robbery of a postal carrier in downtown Chicago (1932), participates in the Barker-Karpis gang kidnapping of brewer William Hamm (1933), for awhile, is mistakenly identified as one of the killers at the Kansas City Massacre, joins the Barker-Karpis gang for the Chicago robbery of a mail truck in which one police officer is killed (the garage Goetz owns creates an armored getaway car that can release clouds of blinding smoke) and a St. Paul, Minnesota job in which two police officers and an innocent bystander are gunned down, and helps the Barker-Karpis gang kidnap banker Edward Bremer in 1934 (the best educated of the crew, Goetz rents the house Bremer is held in, is in on the snatch, types up the ransom demand letters and instructions, and he is the one that scoops up the loot when Bremer's family meets the kidnapper's terms of $200,000 in ransom).  And all the while, Goetz appears to be a wealthy businessman, living with a beautiful wife (his girlfriend, Irene ... he also has a secret apartment for a mistress) in the best parts of town, with taste for fine foods and music, gardening, and a huge passion for the game of golf.

Federal and local heat covering the Midwest underworld due to the antics of John Dillinger, the Karpis-Barker gang, Baby Face Nelson, and other desperadoes, when Goetz is identified as a suspect in the Bremer kidnapping, Frank Nitti and other Chicago Outfit mobsters decide they can not risk the gunman's capture, and the chance that he might someday try to buy his way out of the capital offense by trading mob information for a lighter sentence, and a hit is contracted.  Racing each other to find Goetz first, Chicago gunmen beat the Federals to the wanted man on a cool Wednesday evening in the town of Cicero.

At around 11:00 in the evening, Goetz is standing on the sidewalk, in front of a tavern called Minerva, lighting a cigarette, when a touring car suddenly comes screeching around a corner, jumps the curb, and men inside fire four shotgun blasts at the hitman and robber.  A buckshot mess, dead instantly, when police examine the outlaw's corpse they find membership cards in the name of George Ziegler for the Chicago Yacht Club, the Onwentsia Golf and Country Club, the Elks Club, the Oakdale Riding Club, and the Mohawk Country Club, the Associated News Service, the Sheriffs and Police Officers Association, and the American Landscapers Association.  They also find a single $1,000 bill in Goetz's wallet ... and within his belt, six small steel saw blades suitable for instigating jail cell leavings. Names and hangouts investigated, despite the corpse's mangled face (he will be identified by marks on his body by his sister), it soon becomes clear that justice of a type has finally caught up with Fred Goetz.

Secrets taken to the grave, the mystery of who actually pulled the triggers at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre is buried with Goetz (Fred "Killer" Burke dies of a heart attack while in jail in 1940, and much like Goetz himself, Gus Winkler will be shotgun assassinated in 1933, with some saying Goetz actually does the job himself) ... just as the Chicago mob wanted ... and no suspects are ever arrested for the murder. 

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