Although decades have passed since his criminal reign, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t familiar with the name “Al Capone.” Named Alphonse Gabriel Capone at birth, he was an infamous American gangster who used violence and murder as a means to gain success and power during the Prohibition period. Despite having been such a powerful crime boss, his final years were spent screaming out at night for “Jimmy” to leave him alone. This odd behavior left those around him to question if Capone was suffering from mental illness or if he was being haunted by one of his many victims.
Capone entered a life of crime at a young age, and had managed (perhaps by having half of Chicago’s police force on his payroll) to get away with it for the most part — that is, until the St. Valentine’s massacre of 1929.
On the morning of February 14, 1929, Capone’s men brutally murdered 7 members of a group known as the “North Side Gang” with machine guns. The North Side Gang was a group of rival racketeers that posed a threat to Capone’s domination of the illegal liquor trade in Chicago, so naturally, he had to take care of them. Capone’s men posed as police to enter the gang’s bootlegging headquarters on Chicago’s North Side. They launched a fake raid on the gang, lining them up along a wall and gunning them all down. One of the men killed in the massacre was named James “Jimmy” Clark.
Authorities were unable to prove a connection between Capone and the massacre, but in May of 1929, he was arrested for carrying a concealed and unlicensed .38 revolver during a trip to Philadelphia. The bootlegger was sentenced to serve the maximum sentence of 1 year in prison in the city’s notorious Eastern State Penitentiary (said to be one of the most haunted locations in the country. I’ve been here many times and can definitely attest to the chilling vibe this place gives off).
One of the Penitentiary’s biggest attractions is Capone’s cell, which has been preserved to look the same as it had when Capone had inhabited it and is a must on any Philadelphia tourism checklist. Where every other prisoner lived out their sentence in bare concrete cells, Capone’s was well-furnished, decorated with paintings and even had a radio. Check out the shocking comparison below:
But to Capone, it seemed the “luxurious” accommodations were meaningless, as he was being tormented by the unseen “Jimmy.” Even after his release from Eastern State, Capone didn’t seem to leave alone. At one point, he even hired a psychic to help get rid of the unwanted spirit, but to no avail.
Capone was arrested again for tax evasion, originally imprisoned in Atlanta but sent to Alcatraz, and as you probably could have guessed by now, Jimmy went with him. At this time, Capone was suffering from syphilis, a disease that begins in your genitals but, left untreated, will work its way into your major organs, including your brain.
Eventually, Capone’s behavior became so bizarre he was actually released early from Alcatraz “on good behavior.” In 1947, he passed away at the age of 48 at his Palm Island Estate, leaving me to wonder if Jimmy followed him all the way to hell.
Sure, one could argue that “Jimmy” was actually conjured up by the disease slowly eating away at Capone’s brain. But isn’t it fun to wonder if a man like Al Capone, with such a violent history, could perhaps actually have been getting stalked by one a particularly bitter victim?
Featured image courtesy of WBUR