Nickname: “The Executioner”
Alias: Richard Aucoin
Born: December 13, 1940, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Affiliations: Winter Hill Gang
With 50 plus known murders on his resume, John Vincent Martorano was one of Boston’s most lethal thugs, a hit man for hire with both charisma and a dead aim.He was a prolific enforcer for the Winter Hill Gang and close friends with Whitey Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, taking orders from them on contract killings with no questions asked.Above all, he hated rats, that is guys who turn on their friends by giving them up to the federal government.
Johnny Martorano was born into a middle-class family to an Irish mother and Italian father and grew up in the Boston suburbs with his brother Jimmy, who was just eleven months younger.He attended grammar school with now Congressman William Delahunt, whom was a Norfolk County District Attorney in hot pursuit of Bulger Inc., aka Murder Inc.They were both altar boys together. Martorano was a standout football player (as was his brother Jimmy), after graduating from Milton High School in 1959 he helped out at his family’s restaurant, “Luigi’s” in Boston’s Combat Zone, the red-light district of Boston.
By the age twenty-five, he had committed his first murder and would soon develop a reputation as a reliable, accurate, cunning and fearless hit man for hire.His brother Jimmy also wracked up his own body count. Martorano’s first hit was in November 1962, when he killed Robert Palladino, a 32 year old hoodlum to silence him from possibly implicating his brother Jimmy for murdering a waitress; Palladino’s body was dumped at North Station in Boston.Other meaningful hits followed” Joseph J. Notarageli, 35 years old was shot at lunchtime while sitting in a restaurant in Medford Square on the outskirts of Boston, on April 19, 1973; James “Spike” O’Toole, a rival gang member was killed in December 1973 (see “Neponset River Bridge” burial); Richard Castucci was killed on December 29, 1976, for ratting out members of the Winter Hill Gang; and John W. Jackson, another potential witness to Jimmy’s waitress slaying, was killed in September 1966. Just a partial list. Martorano was also known as the Sickle Cell Killer killing more than 25 African American’s.
In a particularly heinous case, Martorano was told to take care of Herbert “Smitty” Smith, a manager at the Basin Street South Club in Roxbury.Smitty, an African American, had a run-in with Stephen Flemmi, who frequented a mostly black club.In the wee hours of Saturday, January 6, 1968, Martorano came upon the 47 year old Smitty in his car with two passengers on Normandy and Brunswick Streets in Roxbury. Without hesitation, he shot everyone in the car.
The passengers were 19 year old Elizabeth Dickson and 17 year old Douglas Barrett, innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time.Dickson still clutched a package of cigarettes, and there was a trial of blood on Normandy Street. “Police Seek Motive in Bizarre Slaying of 3,” the Boston Globe declaredJanuary 7th, 1968.But the victims were all black, and in Boston’s racially tinged culture, the murders were soon forgotten–until Martorano confessed to them in Federal Court in Boston years later.Murder brings murder. On June 12, 1975, Eddie Connors, age 42, a former New England Middleweight champion and owner of two taverns, was found gunned down in a phone booth on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, a borough in Boston.The phone receiver was still off the hook swinging back & forth above the bloody body bullet riddled body of Connors.
Connors a ex-con, was awaiting trial on an armed robbery charge. Martorano later said that Whitey Bulger and Rifleman Flemmi carried out the hit, designed to silence Connors from talking about the Spike O’Toole murder, and also Martorano admitted to driving the get-away car on the hit.In 1978, Johnny Martorano had already accumulated over 18 murders and he had fled to Florida, where he attempted to retire from killing more people. But he was tapped to do two more important hits for Bulger Inc.
On May 27, 1981, he shot and killed businessman Roger Wheeler in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on orders from Bulger Inc., who feared Wheeler would learn of the profit-skimming from his Multi-Million dollar business of World Jai Alai gambling business.After Bulger and Flemmi were tipped off by former FBI agents: Connolly, H. Paul Rico, et al., that another leak in that murder may arise in the form of James Callahan, the former president of World Jai Alai, was a liability. Martorano took care of that liability. His body was found in the trunk of his Cadillac at the Miami International Airport leaking blood from the trunk in August 1982.Martorano would later say that he felt “lousy” about the hit and that he didn’t want to kill a guy whom he had killed someone for earlier. That was the only remorse that Martorano had concerning all of his 50 plus murders.
Martorano was arrested and tried in 1998 with the Boss of the New England Mafia: Frank “Cadillac Frank” Salemme Sr., Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and also appearing on that indictment was fugitive (then) James “Whitey” Bulger and others on a variety of charges.He plead guilty to only twenty murders that he could remember spanning three states and three decades and testified against Bulger, and FBI agent Connolly in two trials Federal trial in Boston and State Trial in Miami, Florida. FBI agent Connolly was eventually convicted of racketeering in the Boston Federal case and was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison and then thereafter convicted of murder in the State of Florida case and is now serving a 40 year sentence on and after the 10 year federal conviction as the PUBLIC RECORDS so supports.
Slap on the wrist:
In a controversial deal, Martorano got 12 years in prison–seemingly a slap on the wrist for over 50 murders because prosecutors were anxious to nail Bulger and Flemmi.In 2007, Martorano was released from prison. Declining witness protection, he returned to Boston, where he claimed, he wanted to make a new start with his family.He appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes (it was, he said later, a favor to the late Ed Bradley, an acquaintance when both played high school football in Boston. Correspondent Steve Kroft asked him for his hit count. Martorano said I confessed to 20 murders in Court and could not recalled the other 30 murders.Later Martorano sat down with Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr for interviews that formed the basis for Carr’s 2011 book, “Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano. “Carr writes that the interviews were held on Sunday mornings in the herald newsroom, where one of Carr’s herald colleagues commented on how “damned likable” the murderous thug Martorano seemed to be.Some of the victims families, however, may find it hard to comprehend that Martorano was a free man and living in Boston after a substantial trail of blood as long as the freedom trial.