The Ant is buried in a cornfield. The sentence may sound odd, but to fans of the Italian Mafia, it’s standard jargon. Tony “The Ant” Spilotro’s body was found buried in a cornfield along with his brother’s.
Anthony John “Tony, the Ant” Spilotro, was born on May 19, 1986, to immigrant parents. Pasquale “Patsy” Spilotro, Sr. had six sons. Five of them would join the criminal underworld, but one went to school and became a respected oral surgeon in Chicago.
No one knows why some people choose the life of crime, and others choose a better path. Perhaps Patsy’s restaurant turned mobster hangout introduced his sons to crime at an early age. Who knows? Whatever the reasons, Tony chose the Mafia. He dropped out of high school and started his life of crime with petty larceny and purse snatching.
Spilotro officially became a made member of La Cosa Nostra in 1963 at the age of 25. In 1971, “Joe Batters” put Spilotro in charge of Las Vegas matters, but Spilotro would spell the beginning of the end of the Mafia’s reign of Las Vegas. He was a brutal enforcer and brought a lot of media and law enforcement attention to the operations.
In 1974 an article in the L.A. Times stated there were more gangland-style killings in Vegas than in the past 25 years combined! Obviously, that type of spike in murder will draw attention from the FBI and local law enforcement.
Two years after that article hit the headlines, Spilotro decided to branch out beyond the Mafia’s control. He created the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” Like most other monikers, the name was given to him by the media. The group was known to drill through walls and ceilings to gain access to their target. The stolen goods were fenced through the Gold Rush, LTD pawnshop that sat right off Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas.
During this time, The Ant’s relationship with his childhood friend became strained. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was a casino executive and ran four different major casinos for the Mafia. Lefty and The Ant’s relationship reached a boiling point when The Ant began having an affair with a Vegas showgirl named Geri McGee. McGee was married to Lefty at the time.
July 4, 1981:The Bertha’s Robbery Disaster
The Hole In The Wall Gang had spent weeks laying out an elaborate plan to rob the Bertha’s Gifts & Jewelry store. Spilotro and his gang were set to cash in big time, but there was one problem. Sal Romano was a specialist in disabling alarm systems. He was also an informant. By the time the robbery went down, the FBI and the local police had the building under surveillance.
Six members of the gang were arrested, but four avoided the arrest. After sitting in jail for six months, the authorities successfully turn one of Spilotro’s men. Somehow the police had gotten Spilotro on tape hiring a hit on Frank Cullotta. This was all that Frank could take. He had done everything for The Ant. Cullotta agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify against Spilotro.
Spilotro was tried and acquitted due to lack of evidence, but he had bigger problems lurking in the shadows of his organization. A secret meeting had taken place, and the Mafia wasn’t happy with Spilotro’s behavior. He was supposed to be protecting the mob’s interest in the casinos, not running around with a mobster’s wife, and bringing attention from the FBI for his robberies. A hit was sanctioned, and two of the six Spilotro brothers would pay.
June 14, 1986: The Disappearance:
Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael left Mike’s home in Oak Park and was never heard from again. Mike’s car was found abandoned in a motel parking lot near the O’Hare International Airport.
Eight days later, their bodies were found by an Indiana farmer 96 miles south of Chicago. The farmer noticed the fresh grave and thought a poacher had buried an illegally killed deer, but he was in for a shock. Tony Spilotro and Mike Spilotro had been killed by blunt force trauma, stripped of their clothes, leaving nothing but their underwear and buried on top of each other. The burial plot was in a cornfield near the Willow Slough Preserve just outside of Enos, Indiana.
Sadly, the one brother who took the high road ended up having to supply his own brothers’ dental records for identification. This case would go unsolved for nineteen years. On April 25, 2005, the FBI announced it had indicted 14 members of the Chicago Outfit for 18 murders, including the two Spilotro boys.
By the time of his death, the FBI suspected Tony “The Ant” Spilotro in 22 murders. This information and more was obtained through the FBI’s inquiry called “Operation Family Secrets.” Not only were several mobsters indicted, but two former Chicago police officers were also included.
Anthony Doyle was a former officer included in the indictment. Doyle worked as a counterintelligence officer for the Mafia and kept the mob bosses informed of various investigations. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The other officer indicted was Michael Ricci. Ricci was convicted of passing information for the imprisoned mob boss, Frank Calabrese, SR.
During this investigation, officials learned the true story of what happened to the Spilotro brothers. The two men were lured to a house in Bensenville, IL, under the pretense of making Michael a made man. Once the brothers entered the basement, they were beaten to death and taken to the cornfield.
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There have been several books written on Tony Spilotro. Here are a couple of them.
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