1907 to Nov. 21, 1941.
Reles was a killer employed by Lepke Buchalter's "Murder Inc." unit of the national crime Syndicate. Born in 1907, he grew up in the gangs of Brownsville, Brooklyn, eventually earning notice from Buchalter. He was a key member of the Syndicate's enforcement arm beginning in the early 1930s.
In 1940, facing first degree murder charges, Reles became an informant for New York prosecutor Burton Turkus. Reles provided much information into the workings of the enforcement group and its relationship to the Syndicate's ruling Commission.
The info provided Turkus with strong cases against Murder Inc. chief Buchalter and Commission liaison Albert Anastasia. Anastasia would wriggle free of the state's case against him. But Buchalter was convicted and sent to the chair on March 5, 1944.
Assassin Charlie "Bug" Workman, believed to have handled the killing of Dutch Schultz, was given a life sentence. Other assassins suffered worse penalties as a result of Kid Twist's testimony.
Reles, held under police protection at the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, continued to sing about everything he knew relating to organized crime, and the Mafia Commission decided to end the song. Early on Nov. 12, 1941, just as the state was set to begin its trial against Anastasia, Reles was found beneath his hotel room window - five stories beneath (his room was on the sixth floor, and he landed on a low roof of an adjoining structure).
A couple of knotted sheets were dangling out of the window, not nearly enough to reach anywhere close to the ground, but enough to allow the police to claim that Reles died while trying to escape. The distance Reles "fell" - horizontally - from the building tells a different story.
The informant was apparently thrown from his window. Police guards either performed the defenestration themselves or agreed to look the other way while it was done.
© 2007 T.Hunt
The American "Mafia"