Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which remains unsolved. The Chicago Tribune says that no one was convicted of taking part in it. The victims were six henchmen of Al Capone rival George “Bugs” Moran, along with a 29-year-old optometrist who hung around organized crime figures. The Tribune says that it’s not known why the seven were in a garage that morning, “decked out in silk shirts, white scarves and diamond stickpins,” or why Moran was not there.
“There will always be competing hypotheses” about the case, said Capone biographer Laurence Bergreen. The massacre “solidified Chicago as a place of esoteric criminal behavior and violent gangs,” said UCLA history professor Eric Monkkonen. It wasn’t the worst mass killing in U.S. history, but it is notable for “a funny configuration of facts,” says Northwestern University School of Law professor Leigh Bienen. “The famous photographs of the victims became an incendiary visual trigger.”
Suspected of masterminding the event although he was never charged, Capone was named America’s first Public Enemy No. 1. Jailed about a year later on a minor gun charge, Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion in 1932. He would spend his last years in a syphilis-induced dementia and die in 1947. And the crime he masterminded would go unsolved.