12 June 1941 – Harry Strauss
For his was a life devoted to death and crime. Strauss was known to his mates as ‘Pep’ or ‘Pittsburgh Phil’ and he was famed for murdering as many as 30 victims as a key member of the sinister Murder Inc. This was a team of Mafia hitmen, tasked with doing all the dirty work – from contract killings to instigating vicious reprisals on rival gangs.
Strauss is said to have employed various methods to exact his ends – from shooting and stabbing, to the more depraved death by ice pick (a la Catherine Tramell in ‘Basic Instinct’) or by burying victims alive (think Joe Pesci in ‘Casino’).
He was finally hauled in after one of the former hitmen on the team turned supergrass and ratted on the others. The whole operation was blown wide open and, with the downfall of the likes of Lepke Buchalter, it was only a matter of time before the others followed suit.
So, Strauss’ rancid reign of terror was shorted when he was sat on Old Sparky at Sing Sing, aged just 32.