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John James Vincent Martorano also known as "Vincent Joseph Rancourt", "Richard Aucoin", "Nick", "The Cook", "The Executioner", "The Basin Street Butcher" (born December 13, 1940), is a former hitman for the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, Massachusetts who has admitted to 20 mob-related killings.
John Martorano was born in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1940. He is the older brother of James Martorano by eleven months. His father was an immigrant from Riesi, Sicily, Italy. He was raised Catholic and served as an altar boy.
The Martorano family moved to the Irish enclave of East Milton, Massachusetts. John attended Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts with his brother Jimmie in grades 6 and 7. He later enrolled in Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island where he graduated. During high school, he played football with future CBS News television journalist Ed Bradley whom he affectionately referred to as "Big Ed".
In a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft he claimed that when he was young his father told him, "You're the oldest son and this is your heritage" (referring to his father's connections to organized crime). "You've got to take care of your family and be a man."
After graduating from high school, John turned down seven football scholarships and instead stayed in Boston. Hanging out in the Combat Zone, Martorano fell under the guidance of Stephen Flemmi, and by the age of twenty-five had become a professional mobster. He committed his first murder at 24 when he allegedly murdered Patriarca crime family made man Robert S. Palladino who was going to testify in a case involving the murder of prostitute Barbara Sylvester in his father's restaurant.[clarification needed]
Ralph DeMasi, a Boston mobster incarcerated in White Deer, Pennsylvania, would later write to the courts that when he was driving down Morrissey Boulevard with fellow Irish mobster William (Billy) O'Brien in 1964, Martorano pulled up in a car alongside them and gunned down O'Brien, shooting him seventeen times with a machine gun and wounding DeMasi. In his letter about the events that almost led to his death he wrote, "I thought someone was taking target practice at us. It was my good friend John Martorano."
John rapidly became one of the Winter Hill Gang's most prolific enforcers. In January 1968, after an African-American beat up Flemmi in an after-hours saloon, Martorano tracked the man to a car on Normandy Street in Dorchester. As it happened, the man was accompanied by a nineteen-year-old girl and a seventeen-year-old boy. John walked up to the car and killed all three occupants with his .38-caliber snubnosed revolver. As a result of this, Martorano was facetiously called "Sickle Cell Anemia" by his fellow gangsters.
During his sixteen years as a fugitive he lived off his illicit bookmaking operation.[clarification needed]
Arrested in 1995, Martorano agreed to a plea bargain deal in 1999. In return for confessing his murders, Martorano received a reduced prison sentence of 14 years. In 2007, he was released from prison and given $20,000 to start a new life.
Murder victims of John Martorano
- Alfredo (Indian Al) Angeli
- John Banno
- Douglas Barrett
- John Callahan
- Richard Castucci
- Elizabeth Dickson
- Ronald Hicks
- John Jackson
- Tommy King
- Michael Milano
- Joseph J. "Native American Joe" Notarangelli
- William O'Brien
- James "Spike" O'Toole
- Robert Palladino
- Albert Plummer
- Herbert "Smitty" Smith
- James Sousa
- Anthony Veranis
- Roger Wheeler
60 Minutes interview
On January 15, 2008, Martorano was interviewed by Steve Kroft on the CBS News television program 60 Minutes. Initially Martorano had agreed to have his friend Ed Bradley interview him, but Bradley died before this could occur. During the interview, Martorano expressed remorse for killing Elizabeth Dickson, the girl in the car in Dorchester.
Although his friends James Bulger and Stephen Flemmi are considered by many criminologists and investigators to be serial killers, Martorano told Bradley, "I might be a vigilante, but not a serial killer. Serial killers, you have to stop them. They'll never stop, they enjoy it. I never enjoyed it. I don't enjoy risking my life but if the cause was right, I would."
Whitey Bulger trial
In June 2013 John Martorano testified as a prosecution witness in the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston Mass.
Martorano was married to Carolyn Wood, an Irish-American, with whom he fathered a son, John Martorano Jr., and a daughter, Jeannie. Carolyn divorced him in 1975.
- Cullen, Kevin. "A Rat Through and Through." The Boston Globe: January 7, 2008.
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Mike Huff. First person interview conducted on August 13, 2013 with Detective Mike Huff about Roger Wheeler's murder case. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.