This article was last modified on May 23, 2012.


Letter to Doyle Getter, April 20, 1954

The following letter was sent to reporter Doyle Getter (of the Milwaukee Journal) on April 20, 1954. Getter turned it over to the police.

To Whom it may concern –

The DiTrapani murder, which has shocked thousands of your Journal readers, will indubitably wend its way to the police files as an unsolved case.

As I have a personal regard in his matter, I have the temerity to write this epistle – And – wish it to remain confidential. Due to my limited knowledge, I see no reason to contact officers of the law, thus, you may use this letter as trivial information and consider it quite possibly as a blind but well known lead.

DiTrapani had the control of buying and selling legal and unlegal liquor throughout this state and nearby vicinities. This had gone on for some time, until recently when it was awkwardly handled, and could no longer go on unnoticed.

At this time DiTrapani, after accumulating a good deal of money from his devious enterprises, including many which need not be mentioned because of their lack of importance, decided to embark on the biggest but fatal business venture of his life. A contact was made in Las Vegas which was to make him rich beyond dreams of the little Italian boy who fought his way up to attain position and success.

One of his mistakes was to approach several of his business associates and well known friends – and offer them the opportunity to ride along on his fabulous tide towards prosperity. But something was in the wind, a trap was being laid, and only those foolish enough to heed elusive warnings would consider entering DiTrapani’s proposition. He, who did, was in a precarious position. The stage was set and the deal went through. (Why are some of his closest friends now carrying guns? Have they something to fear?)

On the day of DiTrapani’s death, he made his usual round of taverns and clubs, tending to his business transactions and participating in sociable chats. He was in an amiable mood, and as luck would have it, his talk incessantly turned to his daughter’s impending marriage and the large wedding she would have. Money was no object, over ½ percent of the oil wells had come in and almost triple the amount of money he invested came home to roost. (I prefer not to mention the number and evaluation as it would implicate both myself and the person who relayed this information on to me.) Life was wonderful at that moment. He had transferred the stocks and money in his wife’s name. Nothing should be said of Mrs DiTrapani at this time, except that she seldom talks out of turn or at the wrong time.

DiTrapani did. He acquired the annoying and dangerous habit of telling too much and to the wrong people. The Sicilianos do not appreciate one of their organization who feels himself self important and threatens their closely knit unione.

DiTrapani didn’t note or discern the blank expressions of his close friends that day of March 17th. Or, perhaps if he did notice, and received no explanations, he decided to ignore the puzzling situation and return to happier thoughts. After all, in case he was bothered with an unwelcome intrusion, he always had his gun laying comfortably between hip and knee.

But then, earlier in the evening, thoughts of his daughters wedding was placed in a minor position. He had a serious discussion with a very good friend of his, who gave warning that the word was out that he was relating too many important events and deals without discretion to some who would impair the well being with those of whom he had to be in contact with to stay in business.

Also, there was a small matter of money. Either there was a slip up, which was very doubtful, or certain reported money was never received not turned in. For protection and aid which met with the rules. One does not deceive the unione, or one of its members of the organization, unless he expects to vanish or die. The result of mistakes is death. And the Mafia, as it is popularly called, is powerful because of the fear for obedience which must be in control at all times.

The latter part of this letter will be of my own tangled opinions – with anecdotes of truth and mingled information.

DiTrapani’s last brief hours alone must have been madness. He knew he was in a great deal of trouble and had to bluff his way out of it somehow. He came to a decision and made a phone call to someone he was sure he could count on to help and abet him. (It wasn’t the pretty-divorced-young waitress as their date had been made at an earlier time.)

1. He did go to the Holliday House, and possibly his friend was there. Its not at all improbable that they sat at a table because of the intimacy of the bar when one is well known as Johnie was.They might have talked until closing – or before that time, but they (DiTrapani definitely) then went to the La Tosca for a drink and something to eat. (When I say Drink and Coffee Royal, it must make some elderly police officials flinch but still smile and pat their pocket book. Know DiMaggio, Show your money, and you can have drinks, girls, etc.) Well, DiTrapani and his friend ate and finally left. Say they went to the car, got in, and without warning DiTrapani was shot. Remember – he never drew his gun. (Oh yes – where the second and third gun came from is puzzling. Johnie only carried one gun – possibly there was a second in the glove compartment – but its very doubtful about the third.)

2. Or – is it possible that DiTrapani never really expected that his friend would make it to the Holliday House before his closing time at 2: O clock. Maybe it was a phone call he was waiting for. No matter, he went to the La Tosca and ate. He wasn’t alone. Either his friend went with him or he waited in his care, and another car pulled up – its lights blinked on and off. This was a well known car and one which was seen leaving the neighborhood after the killing. Who ever it was that killed DiTrapani, walked in the passenger side of the care under invitation. He stared to talk and DiTrapani leaned back and started to relax. It was soon over, no grief and explanations, Death tood over in the riders seat. Johnie’s friend slipped out of the car, slid into the waiting care and was driven away.

There are many other possibilities. But there is one thing for certain:

1. This was not a gangland killing although it was dramatic in that style.

2. There is a very good reason that there were no witnesses, as no Italian would jeopardize himself or the lives of his family.

3. The aftermath robbery was committed with craftiness and its explanation will ever remain in the dark. The insurance company will have to take a liability.

4. Any amorous adventures in which DiTrapani participated were entirely secondary to his first love – which was family, money, business and self comfort.

5. Unless this killing is made a Federal case, due to income Tax evasion, it is very doubtful that the real factor behind DiTrapani’s murder will be exposed. Not that anything could be done about the Unione Siciliano, even if checked it would still flourish.

6. But – to satisfy the Police Dept. and the American Public of Milwaukee – the decoy killer could be convicted.

a. have they ever thought, who was one of Johnie’s best friends – in the same business as he was in – one who was also in on many of his deals and transactions.

b. Who was the man he considered that he could trust and confide in more than anyone else.

c. Who covered up for Johnie and helped him out of many a jam, and at the finish was instructed to kill him.

d. Who was it that went to the funeral and cried tears for Johnie’s wife and children, with the knowledge of guilt in his mind. But – he had to do what he was told or it would be his family crying at the coffin.

Find out the answer, who this man is, and you have your murderer.

7. Inquire into the matter – as to the fabulous sum of money from the oil wells, now in Mrs. DiTrapani’s name. This is the reason or rather the most important clue to Johnie’s murder the morning of March 18th.

If you have read this letter, and I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would, may I please say again that I would prefer not having any part of this printed as human interest. I too have a family.

Also try another article under Historical / Biographical
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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