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CPD mugshot of Gus Winkler
|Born||August Henry Winkeler
March 28, 1901
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Died||October 9, 1933
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Spouse(s)||Georgette (Bence) Winkeler|
Gus Winkler (born August Henry Winkeler; March 28, 1901 – October 9, 1933 North Center, Chicago) was an American gangster who headed a Prohibition-era criminal gang specializing in armed robbery and murder for hire with Fred "Killer" Burke.
Winkler was born August Henry Winkeler to Bernard J. Winkeler (September 28, 1862- November 23, 1928) and Mary K. (June 1, 1862- March 5, 1923) in Lemay, Missouri; he was a brother to Clara (April 21, 1895-June 23, 1987), Jacob C. (1893-1961) and Anna C. (1890-1960).
In 1916, at the age of 13, Winkler started associating himself with the Bottoms Gang, which would later evolve into The Cuckoo Gang, headed by during his teenage years. After a stint as a driver for the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps during World War I, at the age of 19, Winkler joined up with the Egan's Rats gang before moving to Detroit, Michigan in the mid-1920s. He later moved to New Center, Detroit and quickly aligned himself with the Purple Gang that was under control of Abe Bernstein where he worked until mid-1927.
Partnership with Fred Burke
Winkeler and Fred Burke were hired out for freelance work from Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit. Circumstantial evidence points to Winkler who, along with Burke, Bob Carey and Fred Goetz, may have been some of the gunmen involved in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The two men began a national crime spree holding up banks, armored cars, and mail trucks from New York to Los Angeles. He told people that he worked as a 'contractor' which might have played on the undertone of the word and his career as a contract killer. He married a woman named 'Georgette Bence' (1898-1962) who wrote in her unpublished memoirs that Gus, along with Bob Carey, Ray Nugent, Fred Goetz and Fred Burke as a 'special assignment squad' and was part of Jack McGurn's 'American boys'.
Winkler and Burke's organization broke up during the fallout from the Valentine's Day massacre, and Winkler was suspected of planning and later taking part in the robbery of US$2 million from a bank in Lincoln, Nebraska in September 1930. Soon enough, Gus was able to carve out a lucrative position in the rackets of Chicago's North Side, despite his cooperation with authorities.
Upon Capone's 1931 imprisonment, Winkler was surrounded by gangsters who he didn't trust, particularly Frank Nitti, who had always been resentful at how close Gus had been to Capone.
While entering the beer distribution office of Charles Weber, at 1414 Roscoe Street in the Roscoe Village section of North Center, Chicago, on October 9, 1933, Winkler was shot six times and killed by unknown assailants armed with shotguns and died a half-an-hour later after arriving at a local hospital. He was buried at Park Lawn Cemetery in St. Louis.
- Waugh, Daniel. Egan's Rats: The Untold Story of the Prohibition-Era Gang that ran St. Louis. Cumberland House Publishing, 2007.
- Gomes, Mario. "Gravesites 2". MyAlCaponeMuseum.com.
- Helmer, William J, with Georgette Winkeler. Al Capone and His American Boys: Memoirs of a Mobster's Wife. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.
- Taking Care Of Winkler: The Last of the Independents by John William Tuohy
- Gus Winkler at Find-A-Grave