I recently read T.J. English’s ‘The Westies’ which is a book that documents one of New York’s most fearsome crime syndicates. Like many people, the gory details of crime and punishment hold some attraction for me, and The Westies certainly satisfy an appetite for brutality. The Westies were the last notable faction of the Irish mob in New York, led by the cold and ruthless Jimmy Coonan, a man who was unfazed by anything other than his own downfall. Over a 20 year period, Coonan assembled a cast of depraved misfits in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen and led them in building a grungy empire through extortion, numbers running, loansharking and drug-peddling.
Throughout their existence, there was a fragility to their operation which was in part due to the increasing pressure that law enforcement was putting on organised crime, but there was also a constant element of self-sabotage amongst The Westies, which came from the volatile nature of the gangs dysfunctional members. Unlike their Italian counterparts in the city, there was a lesser sense of tradition amongst The Westies, nor was there any real structure and organisation to their operation. At many times, they relied on loyalty alone, however even that wavered frequently as internal rivalries emerged. Their story was flawed on many levels, but in a way this mirrored the image of the city which found itself in turmoil from the 1960s through to the 1980s. At this time, New York carried its own brutality which encouraged a kill or be killed mentality for many of its residence, particularly those that lived in the rot and decay of Hell’s Kitchen.
Whilst this book does provide important insights into the mob and conditions in New York during this period, one thing that will certainly stay with me after reading this book is The Westies’ savage methods for murder and body dismemberment. I will now give you the skinny on the this murder strategy incase you ever need it:
First you kill someone, obvious I know but you want to make sure they’re dead. You can achieve this with a few extra gun shots (preferably to the head) or maybe just plunge a knife into their heart, either will do.
The next step is the prep for the dismemberment of the dead body. Before you start, you want to get the body completely naked and placed in a bathtub so that you can manage the blood. Once you’ve got the body in a bathtub, you want to find a large and preferably lacerated knife that can cut through flesh with ease. If possible, get an actual butcher involved, particularity if it’s your first time. The Westies seemed to always have a butcher on hand, but I understand that butchers were more in abundance back in the mid 20th century. If you don’t know a butcher, don’t worry! I have put a link to some simple butchering tips at the bottom of this article.
Once you’ve cut up the body, there are a couple of things to remember: Always puncture the lungs and stomach as this will prevent the torso from floating in water if you decide to dump the remains in a river. Something else to consider is cutting off the hands of your victim and preserving them in a freezer. If you’re puzzled to why you should do this, you clearly don’t have a killer mentality, but that’s ok, I’ll let you in on a secret. If you keep the hands of your victim, you will then be able to use the finger prints of your victim on the murder weapon for your next killing. Another optional body part to keep is the penis of your victim. This is little more than a power play, but it can be a really useful prop in shaking up someone that owes you money. I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly pay up if someone presented me with a severed penis.
Once the body is completely cut up, distribute the parts in various locations, rivers and sewers work well. Just before the job is done, make sure you clear the crime scene of any evidence such as murder weapons, shell casings from bullets and obviously mop up every drip of blood. And there you go, you’ve done a ‘Houdini’ on the body and you can go back to your family in time for dinner.
The more you read, the more you know.