Thomas Pitera, also known as Tommy Karate will turn 61 today, and is currently serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, Allenwood, in Pennsylvania. Pitera’s inmate number is 29465-053.
During his criminal career Tommy worked as a hitman for the Bonanno crime family and quickly earned the reputation as a sadistic and dangerous killer who would take pleasure from his killings. Do this date the FBI reckon that he is responsible for at least 60 murders, and because he studied karate from a young age he became a dominant force in the American Mafia.
The Sadistic Serial Killer
When police discovered some of Pitera’s victims they would find that the hitman would usually chop bodies up into around 6 pieces, decapitating the bodies and burying their heads in separate location to disrupt identification.
Pitera studied books on dissection and carried a special tool kit for cutting up bodies and always insisted on burying corpses deep enough so that police dogs could not locate their scents. Before burying body parts, Pitera either wrapped them in plastic or placed them in suitcases. The only drawback that would turn into a weakness for Pitera was that he enjoyed keeping jewelry and other souvenirs of his work.
This went beyond Mafia culture and was classic serial killer behavior.
Working for the Bonanno Crime Family
Pitera formed a close relationship with Anthony Spero who was a consigliere for the Bonanno’s and also served as a one-time acting boss. In 1988 Pitera ambushed Willie Boy Johnson who was a close associate to Gambino mob boss, John Gotti. The order to kill Johnson actually came from Gotti who found that Johnson has been a government informant back in 1966, so Pitera shot Johnson down as a favour to Gotti.
The Life Sentence Handed to Pitera
One of Pitera’s men, Frank Gangi who was a nephew of a Genovese Capo testified against him.
“Gangi said he was sorry about killing five people and that he became an informer because he wanted to start a new life. He gets 10 years, a good deal, and he goes whimpering and weeping to the judge looking for a break. If you’re really sorry for killing five people, you take your punishment like a man.”
On June 25, 1992, Pitera was convicted of murdering six people and supervising a massive drug dealing operation in Brooklyn. However, Pitera was acquitted in the 1988 Johnson murder. Somehow he ducked out of a death penalty verdict.
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