Filumena Costanzo Lassandro (1900- May 1923) was the last woman to be executed in Alberta.
Born in Cosenza, Italy, Filumena emigrated with her family to Southern Alberta and married Carlo Sanfidele (Canadian name: Charles Lassandro) on October 16, 1915 in Fernie, British Columbia. This allegedly poor marriage led Lassandro into the world of bootlegging, as Prohibition was not in effect in Alberta. She developed a professional and criminal relationship with Emil Picariello also known as “The Emperor Pic".
Picariello was an entrepreneur based in Blairmore, Alberta. He was engaged in legal businesses such as manufacturing ice cream and as an hotelier (the Alberta Hotel in Blairmore), however this was a front for rampant bootlegging activity.
Charlie Lassandro was one of Picariello’s employees and permitted Filumena to work with Picariello to smuggle alcohol from British Columbia to Alberta and Montana. It was alleged that Filumena was in love with Picariello’s son, Steve.
Steve became involved in a police chase in September 1921, during which he was shot by a Constable Lawson of the Alberta Provincial Police. Steve escaped to Michel/Natal B.C.; the extent of his injuries was not clear. In Coleman, Emilio Picariello and Filumena met up with Constable Lawson, who was fatally wounded in front of his home where the incident was witnessed by his 9 year old daughter, Pearl.
Both Emilio and Filumena were convicted for the Constable’s murder; however, the trial was a questionable affair (who fired the fatal shot was never confirmed; the judge instructed the jury it didn't matter. The jury could find both suspects guilty if it chose). Both were sentenced to hanging; they unsuccessfully sought clemency from the courts, the Justice Minister, and the Prime Minister. Filumena was hanged on the gallows of Fort Saskatchewan penitentiary.
On February 1, 2003, Canadian composer John Estacio, and Canadian librettist John Murrell, premiered, in Calgary, Alberta, an opera based on Lassandro's life and death. The opera was performed at the Banff Centre for the Arts in August 2003; was featured in Ottawa, Ontario in April 2005, during the Alberta Scene Festival, which celebrated Albertan culture during the centenary anniversary; and, in November 2005, was the opening work of the 2005/2006 season of the Edmonton Opera in Edmonton, Alberta. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast a performance of this opera on March 9, 2006.
This opera was a gift to the people of Alberta, as a story about Alberta and its tragic past.
- "Who was Filumena?". Alberta Scene. Retrieved 3 March 2014.