Prosecution Of Gangsters May Explain Death

Hutchinson (KS) News/April 28, 1926

Young Chicago Prosecutor Is Assassinated While Driving With Three

 William H. McSwiggin, youthful assistant state’s attorney, known as the “hanging prosecutor” because of his zeal in conducting criminal trials, was slain last night in a blast of machine gun fire poured by gangsters into an automobile in which he and three other men were riding.

Two of his companions also were killed. They were James J. Doherty, reputed leader of beer runners of Cicero, a suburb, and Thomas Duffy, owner of a saloon.

The hail of lead came from an automobile which drew up beside the car in which McSwiggin and his companions were driving on the boundary line between Chicago and Cicero.

A Marked Man

While authorities were delving in a maze of possible motives for the shooting, John Stege, veteran captain of detectives, said that the assistant prosecutor was marked for death because of his prosecution of John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, Genna gangsters, under sentence to 14 years in prison for the slaying of two policemen.

“The word was passed along the line that he was on his way to Cicero, plans were quickly made and the slayers with their machine gun were soon on the scene,” Captain Stege asserted.

In connection with this theory, the Chicago Tribune said that only two days ago McSwiggin had told a reporter for the Tribune that he had been offered $30,000 to neglect his duty and aid the two gunmen in gaining their freedom.

McSwiggin and his companions were driving toward Chicago when the car which had been following them drew alongside to place the machine gun in range. After the first volley the occupants of the attacked car deserted their machine and as they ran away they were sprayed with bullets.

Duffy fell and died several hours later in a hospital. The other three staggered back to the automobile and sped away.

Put Up A Fight

A mile and a half from the scene, the bodies of McSwiggin and Doherty were found. The police believe that the fleeing car was overtaken, but whether the victims were given their death wounds in their own car or in that of the attackers was a matter of speculation. Indications were that McSwiggen had put up a desperate struggle to escape or overpower his captors.

The fate of the fourth member of the McSwiggin party is a mystery and the automobile has been found.

Three general theories for slayings were advanced by investigators. McSwiggin may have been the victim of a beer war, with the attackers not knowing that he was with Doherty and Duffy; he may have been slain for his prosecution of several recent cases, he having obtained five hanging verdicts in the last year; or it has been suggested he may have become involved in election disputes. Duffy was a precinct captain for the faction with which the prosecutor was aligned.

A Huge Toll

The assassinations last night of William McSwiggin, assistant state’s attorney, and two companions brought the roster of three years of slayings in Chicago gang warfare and illicit liquor running rivalry to nearly 100.

Gang slayings and murders because of liquor handling have become so frequent of late that even the city’s experienced detectives have failed, apparently, to differentiate.

The most popular method in disposing of enemies has been to “take him for a ride.” In three recent attacks, however, machine guns have been used. When the “ride” was resorted to, the man to be killed was invited or forced into an automobile, driven to the city’s outskirts, riddled with bullets and dumped out of the machine.





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