Alias: Kid Twist
Born: Thursday May 10th 1906
Died: Wednesday November 12th 1941
Cause of Death: Pushed out of a Window
Crime Family Association: Murder Inc Contractor
About Abe Reles
Abraham Reles, was born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. In his early years Abe Reles attended school through the 8th grade. After leaving school, Abe began hanging out at pool rooms and candy stores in and around Brownsville. It wasn’t long after he started hanging around these joints that he met up with two of his childhood friends who eventually rose to power with him in the group known as Murder Inc. His friends went by the names of Martin Goldstein and Harry Strauss.
The first time that he came face to face with the law was in 1921 (Just after prohibition started). He was arrested for stealing $2 worth of gum from a vending machine.
Abe Reles was quite a short guy but that did not deter him from committing ruthless acts of violence. When carrying out murders, his weapon of choice was an ice pick. With the ice pick he would ram it through his victim’s ear right into the brain, nasty huh?
Through the years he became more and more psychotic and aggressive in his ways, and on one occasion, in broad daylight, he attacked a worker at a car wash for failing to clean a smudge from the fender of his car. Another report around the same time claimed that Abe Reles killed a parking lot attendant for failing to fetch his car fast enough.
One interesting fact is that he rarely touched alcohol, even though he was a bootlegger.
Kid Twist was his nickname which was given to him after an earlier New York killer, Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach. There are also other theories out there that say it was the name of his favourite candy, or even the way he killed people.
During the Prohibition days of the 1920s Abe was still a teenager, and he and a friend ended up working for the Shapiro brothers who controlled many of the rackets in Brooklyn. This was to be the first step on the criminal ladder for Abe as he started committing small crimes for the brothers. On one occasion he was caught by the police and then sentenced to two in juvenile institution. The Shapiro brothers did nothing to help Abe which was something that he couldn’t forget and was the start of his revenge plan against them.
Shortly after becoming a free man he teamed up with a few friends which included George Defeo (who had connections with Meyer Lansky). Meyer Lansky needed access to the poorer neighbourhoods of Brooklyn and decided to make a deal with the Abe Reles and Co. This turned out to be one of the most successful times in Abe’s life as both his party and Meyer Lansky came out of it well.
Trouble With The Shapiro Brothers
The success they were having soon turned the heads of the Shapiro brothers who now had Abe Reles and his associate on their hit list.
On one evening Abe Reles received a call from an alleged friend who had tipped him off about the Shapiro’s leaving their headquarters. Abe Reles, George Defeo and Goldstein all left in their car and headed to the Shapiro’s headquarters, but it was a trap and al 3 were wounded although not fatally.
One of the Shapiro brothers then decided to abduct Abe Reles’ girlfriends, took her out to an open field and proceeded to rape her and beat her.
Abe Reles Seeks Revenge
Of course, as you can imagine this was the last straw for Abe, so he enlisted the help of his Murder Inc Family who saw potential in taking over the Shapiro operations as well.
The first to get hit was Irving Shapiro, he was dragged out of his own home by Abe, onto the street where he was kicked, beaten and finally shot a number of times.
The second was Meyer Shapiro 2 months later, who beat and raped Abe’s girlfriend. He met Meyer on the street and killed him by shooting him point blank in the face.
Finally the third brother William, which was three years later. William was taken off the street and nearly beaten to death, he was then put in a sack (still alive) and driven out to a remote location where Abe Reles began to bury him. However a passersby halted proceedings and Abe left the scene. William Shapiro’s body was exhumed shortly thereafter, and after being autopsied, it was determined that he had been buried alive.
Abe The Rat
The 1940’s didn’t get off to the best of starts for Abe when he wasimplicated in a number of killings. This is where Abe Reles became a government witness to save his own neck from execution.
It was then when he decided to implicate firstly his boss Louis Buchalter in the murder of Brooklyn candy store owner Joseph Rosen (In which he was eventually executed for the crime).
Secondly he implicated Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, Mendy Weiss, Harry “Happy” Maione, Frank “The Dasher” Abbandando, and even his old school friend Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein. Needless to say they were all convicted and put to death.
A Step Too Far
Next on Abe’s hit list of implications was Albert Anastasia, who had been co-chief of operations of Murder, Inc. However this was a step too far for Abe Reles as Anastasia was high-ranking member of the Cosa Nostra.
Abe was to implicate Anastasia on the murder of union longshoreman Pete Panto, and the trial was set to take place on November 12, 1941 with only Abe Reles’ testimony to go on.
As you can imagine, with Abe out of the equation Anastasia walks free, and with such backing behind him and the New York Crime Families exposure at stake Frank Costello (head of the Genovese Crime Family) managed to raise $100,000 to get one of the body guards who was looking after Abe Reles, to kill him.
Abe Reles Found Dead
In the early morning of November 12, 1941, Abe Reles was found dead outside the hotel where he was staying at. Many believe that he fell to his death from the hotel window by being pushed, although some also say he was trying to escape.
The way in which he landed and the trajectory certainly points to him being pushed however.
Due to him turning snitch, and the way in which he met his end, Abe Reles was given another nickname: “The Canary Who Could Sing, But Couldn’t Fly.”