Willie the Wop Squeaks

Thug Names 11.pngA tremendous effort was put into finding the gunman who in 1924 ambushed Schenectady Police Captain Albert Youmans, who died instantly, and Patrolman John Flynn, who died years later from his wounds. The underworld didn’t back down, immediately threatening the mayor, William Campbell, and the new chief Billy Funston. Investigations continued for months with occasional raids of the “tenderloin,” the anything-goes district on Edison Avenue not far from GE’s front gates. On Oct. 15, 1925 the Associated Press reported:

“Eleven men were being sought in various cities of the East to-night for complicity in plots to kill police officers in Schenectady. Their identity was disclosed to-day by William Mundia, alias William Ross, and known as “Willie the Wop,” who is to be sentenced to-morrow for first-degree robbery in a highway hold-up near here a few weeks ago.

“Mundia told police the names of five men who plotted the slaying of Acting Police Captain Albert L. Youmans, of Schenectady, who was fatally shot while on duty last November; of four who laid plans for the proposed murder of Police Chief William H. Funston, of Schenectady, and of two men who shot and killed Sergeant Thomas P. Oates, of Troy, in April.”

Willie told police that a New York gunman was brought in to murder Youmans for $6,000, brought in by a Schenectady resident “who said he was the ‘boss’ and that he was ‘all right with the District Attorney’ and that he ‘had his own judge on the bench.'” The “boss” apparently felt that Youmans was framing him and wanted him out of the way.

Willie himself was supposed to receive $7,400 and a sawed-off shotgun for killing Chief Funston, but when he only received a few hundred dollars in advance, he chose not to go through with it. Willie was also involved in a scheme with a local hotel proprietor — Willie robbed some hotel patrons and split the take with the hotelier.

In the end, though, the naming of Youmans’s purported killer wasn’t enough. A Staten Island thug named Sammy Gross was held and questioned for a time, but police were unable to pin anything on him. The murder of Albert Youmans was never solved.

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