Famous (and Not So Famous) Last Words
By: Ink-Slinger

Dominick (Sonny Black) Napolitano
1930 – 1981

Sonny Black was ordered to be killed in retaliation for allowing FBI agent Joseph Pistone to become an associate of his crew. On the evening of August 17, 1981 he was summoned to a meeting at the home of Bonanno crime family associate Ron (Monkey Man) Filocomo, in Flatlands, Brooklyn. Black knew he didn’t have long to live and gave his Rolex and gold rings to his favorite bartender at the Motion Lounge telling him that he had been called to a meeting from which he would not be returning. He also gave the bartender the keys to his apartment so that his beloved racing pigeons could be cared for. Upon arrival at the meeting place, Black was pushed down the staircase into the basement by Filocomo and Frank Lino. The first shot misfired, to which Sonny uttered some haunting last words:

“Hit me one more time and make it good”
The second shot, hit its mark. A few weeks later, Napolitano’s body was found with his hands cut off and his face was badly decomposed.

Napolitano was unusually tough and savvy, even for a Mafia capo. Although he was a stone-cold gangster, he ran his crew in a laid-back style. He was a fine marksman with small-caliber pistols, which made him an efficient killer.

In restaurants or in public, he was a gentleman and never flamboyant or brazen. He always carried his own suitcases when traveling, which was not traditionally done by other capos. Pistone said that Napolitano was not a 24-hour gangster, that you could talk to him about other things besides the Mafia, unlike other mobsters who only wanted to talk about illegal activities and Mafia business. When working, Napolitano was respected and feared, but when hanging out with Pistone, they would go out to dinner, have coffee and just "shoot the shit" like two friends.

Dominick Napolitano was 51 years old when he died.


Lester (Baby Face Nelson) Gillis
1908 – 1934

Public Enemy Number #1, Baby Face Nelson had a short but violent gun battle with FBI agents in 1934 which resulted not only in his own death, but also the deaths of two FBI agents. On the morning of November 27, Nelson, along with his wife and John Paul Chase, headed south in a stolen V8 Ford towards Chicago on U.S. Highway 12 (now US-14). Nelson, was always keen to spot federal agents and caught sight of a sedan driving in the opposite direction by agents Thomas McDade and William Ryan. The agents and the outlaw simultaneously recognized each other and after several U-turns by both vehicles, Nelson wound up in pursuit of the agents' car.

When Nelson's Ford caught up to the agents' sedan, Nelson and Chase fired at the agents. The agents returned fire, sped up, then pulled into a field and awaited Nelson and Chase. In the meantime, a second vehicle carrying two additional FBI agents, Ed Hollis and Samuel P. Cowley arrived on the scene and encountered Nelson’s Ford parked at the entrance of Barrington’s North Side Park. A short but furious gun battled ensued. During the battle a single .45 slug from Cowley's machine gun struck Nelson in the abdomen, slicing through the liver and pancreas before exiting the lower back. Chase then heard Nelson complain that his weapon was jamming, and the wounded bank robber swapped it out for a .351 Winchester rifle that had been customized to fire fully automatic. Despite his severe wound, Nelson moved from behind the car toward the agents while firing the Winchester. Two of his bullets struck Cowley in the chest and stomach, knocking him over. Buckshot pellets from Hollis's shotgun then struck Nelson in the legs and knocked him down. As Nelson regained his feet, Hollis moved to better cover behind a utility pole. As he drew his service pistol, Hollis was fatally wounded by a round to the head. Cowley would later succumb to a stomach wound similar to Nelson’s.

Nelson and Chase escaped the scene along with Nelson’s wife, Helen (Wawryzniak) Gillis. He uttered his final words to Helen on their way to a safe house 14 miles away in Wilmette.

I’m done for.
He passed away a few hours later with his wife by his side. He had been shot nine times.

I knew Les was going to die, and I wanted to be with him as long as I could.

--Helen Gillis
His body was later discovered wrapped in a Native American patterned blanket in front of St. Paul's Lutheran Church Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois and taken to Haben's Funeral Home, both of which still exist today. Helen Gillis later stated that she had placed the blanket around Nelson's body because, "He always hated being cold..."

Nelson was just 25 yrs old when he was killed.


Pasquale Barbaro
1981 – 2016

A more recent death that captured the news was that of Australian mobster Pasquale Barbaro a notorious Sydney crime figure with links to Italy’s Calabrian mafia. Before he was murdered Barbaro was one of the most controversial figures in the Australian underworld.

To get a better sense of who this guy really was, a local news outlet met up with a guy they called “Robbie”. Robbie recounted how he met (and partied with) Barbaro at a local strip club shortly before his murder. When asked what his first impression of Barbaro was, Robbie had this to say:

His ego. He certainly made you feel like he was running the show. He got in people's faces. He always stared me straight in the eyes whenever we spoke. He made a point of aggressively detesting authority of any sort. He dressed sharp, wore heaps of jewelry, and obsessed over his gangster persona. His iPhone screensaver was a picture of John Gotti. He told me he had the same watch as Rick Ross, except his was covered in VVS diamonds. I don't even know what VVS means but it sounded cool.
At the time of his death, Barbaro was known to be "mixing with bikies, Middle eastern gang heavies, and various drug dealers from differing nationalities." Others say he worked as an informant against other criminal elements. A number referred to him as a "dog" but never dared say that to his face while still alive.

In November of 2016 he was killed execution style with a gunshot to the head by two hooded hitmen on a footpath outside the Larkhall Avenue home of underworld figure George Alex. He managed to crawl to the home where neighbors heard him scream his chilling last words…..

Open the fucking door, open the door!”

He was desperately asking for help but no one would open the door. Moments later he was dead. Pasquale Barbaro was 35.


Francesco Raffaele Nitto aka Frank (The Enforcer) Nitti
1886 – 1943

Frank Nitti was an Italian-American gangster. One of Al Capone's top henchmen, Nitti was in charge of all money flowing through the operation. Nitti later succeeded Capone as boss of the Chicago Outfit.

Although his nickname was "The Enforcer," Frank Nitti rarely took part in violent activities, delegating them instead to underlings. In 1931, both Frank Nitti and Al Capone were convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison, but Nitti received an 18-month sentence, while Capone received 11 years. Severely claustrophobic, Nitti served his time in extreme discomfort, an experience that would mark him until the day he died.

In 1943, Nitti and many top members of the Chicago Outfit were indicted for extorting money from some of the largest movie studios in Hollywood, including MGM, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox, and they faced stiff sentences if convicted. Because of his claustrophobia, enhanced during his first prison term, Nitti feared the idea of long-term confinement. Add to that the rumors that he had terminal cancer, and the cocktail was there for Nitti to take his own life.

On March 19th in 1943 Nitti’s wife Toni was about the leave for church, he told her:

I’m going to take a walk..
After she left he drank heavily and then took a walk down to a railroad yard with a .32 in his pocket. The first shot missed and went through his fedora, whilst the second went through his jaw through the top of his head. Still alive, he fired another bullet which went behind his ear into the top of his skull. He was 57 years old.


Emanuel “Mendy” Weiss
1906 – 1944

Mendy was a New York organized crime figure who was an associate of the notorious Louis “Leple” Buchalter and part of Buchalter's criminal organization known as Murder, Inc. during the 1930s and up to the time of his arrest in 1941. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics claimed that Weiss was heavily involved in narcotics trafficking. Although he was indicted on multiple drug charges, Weiss was never sentenced for any of these crimes.

Mendy was a key member of the Mafia’s enforcement arm and personally took part in a number of high-profile contract killings for the National Crime Syndicate including the Dutch Schultz and Joseph Rosen murders. Thanks to testimony from fellow Murder Inc associate, Abe Reles, Mendy was implicated in several of the murders along with Louis Capone and Buchalter. On Saturday night, March 4, 1944 the three men were executed by electric chair at Sing Sing. Weiss’s last words before his execution were:

Can I say something? … All I want to say is I’m innocent. I’m here on a framed-up case. And Governor Dewey knows it. I want to thank Judge Lehman. He knows me because I am a Jew. Give my love to my family … and everything.
Weiss was 37 years old.

To be continued ……………