Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Butcher: Anatomy Of A Mafia Psychopath / Philip Carlo

Anyone who's seen the godfather won't soon forget Luca Brasi, the Don's personal hitman and one truly ruthless human being. Thomas "Tommy Karate" Pitera was the real life version. A brutal wingman, or capo, in the Bonanno crime family who allegedly killed 60 people, Pitera wasn't just a hired assassin, he was a carefully trained killer who specialized in particularly gruesome methods of murder. Born in Brooklyn in 1954 into a modest family whose reputation was both upstanding in the community and well-acknowledged within mafia circles, a young Tommy instantly found favor with mob heavyweights in the Bonanno family. The Bonannos were a well-known racketeering outfit who grew increasingly more into drug dealing with time. Street violence was always inevitable.

It wasn't until the mid-eighties when Pitera returned to the US after spending two years in Japan studying martial arts that the Bonannos began to fully utilize his skills. Pitera possessed a wide repertoire of aggressive fighting tactics, an efficiency in killing and a flare for surprise attacks. He was also a certifiable sociopath with no remorse or conscious about killing whomever, whenever, wherever. Often he would disguise himself in various wacky get-ups (priests, women, street vendors, etc.) to score a hit, admitting later that he just enjoyed the startling effects it would have on his victims. It wasn't long before Pitera was one of the most feared footsoldiers in New York City, lodging an estimated 34 murders over the course of only a few years.

His bloody rampage would come to an end in 1990 when the DEA got a hold of certain Bonanno drug clientele who led them to mob members and ultimately Pitera. Heading the operation was Jim Hunt, an agent who followed a lengthy trail of evidence and shady testimonials to catch Pitera and his crew after a set of severely sadistic murders--dismembered corpses were found in Pitera's apartment on the day he was indicted--caused an uncommon amount of commotion within the gangland syndicate. Author Philip Carlo knows his subject well. Having published several well-recieved books on the mafia already, his handle on the mob and its associations with the most extreme forms of violence is that of an experienced chronicler of the criminal element in society. This well-detailed depiction of this grisly bit of mafia history is enhanced by 16 previously unpublished photos and is as gruesome a portrait of a killer as it gets. (364.1523092 CARLO)

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