He employed over 1,000 gunmen and half of the police in Chicago were on his payroll. Dozens of city officials were paid off and he controlled elections with threats and terror. That man was Alphonse “Al” Capone. He was perhaps the most powerful crime boss of his day and one of the most recognized men in American history. During prohibition, Capon basically owned the city of Chicago.
Capone was born in 1899, in Brooklyn, NY. He moved to Chicago in 1920 with his uncle, a mob boss named Big Jim Collisimo and worked for him until he and a fellow mobster had Collisimo killed. By the time Capone was 26, he controlled a crime organization worth over $30 million and had a payroll of over $300,000.
Eventually arrested for tax evasion in 1934, Capone was sentenced to 11 years in Federal Prison in Atlanta, but was eventually transferred to Alcatraz, one of the toughest prisons of the time. Prisoners were severely beaten for the slightest infraction and spent long stretches in solitary confinement, also called The Hole. Capone was arrogant and had a difficult time believing that the rules of the prison applied to him, so he was sent to The Hole several times during his stay, once for bribing a guard and twice for speaking. Each time he emerged, fellow inmates reported that Capone appeared shaken and changed for the worse.
In Alcatraz, Capone’s life was threatened regularly and he was often attacked by other inmates, receiving beatings and, in one instance, a stabbing. He was granted permission to spend rec time in his cell and, in an effort to give him something to occupy his mind, his wife Mae sent him a banjo. He often sat in his cell and played.
After five years, Capone had snapped. He refused to go to the mess hall to take his meals and was often seen crouched in a corner of his cell rocking and babbling to himself. He made his bunk several times a day and was said to have entire conversations with something unseen. Capone left Alcatraz in 1939 and retired to his mansion in Miami, FL, reportedly flitting between lucidity and psychosis for the remainder of his life.
Some visitors to Alcatraz have reported hearing banjo music in Capone’s cell, but his ghost is not said to haunt the structure. Rather, Capone himself was a haunted man. Capone had ordered James Clark, the brother in law of Bugs Moran, killed, and asserted that Clark’s ghost haunted him daily. Capone’s body guards reported hearing him begging to be left in peace and, when they broke down the door to his bedroom fearing for his safety, they found Capone alone and shaking. His employees would often hear him talking to himself and asking to be left alone. Capone had even employed a psychic, Alice Britt, to rid him of the spirit causing him unrest. All of these instances were before Capone was ever imprisoned.
Was Capone haunted by the ghost of James Clark? Capone ordered the murder of many people during his time as a crime kingpin. Why would only one ghost attach itself to him?
Do you think Capone was actually being haunted by Clarke’s ghost? Have you visited Alcatraz and heard Capone’s banjo music? Let us know in the comments.
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