William Jackson (gangster)

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For other uses, see Action Jackson (disambiguation).

William Jackson, also known as Action Jackson (December 1920 Chicago, Illinois – August 11, 1961 Streeterville) was an enforcer and loan collector for the Chicago Outfit. He earned his nickname of "Action" because it was slang for "Juice Man", which meant debt-collector. He was tortured to death by his fellow gangsters, allegedly on suspicion that he had become an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Criminal career[edit]

Chicago police described him as a man with the body of a giant and the brain of a child, who was known in syndicate circles as a mob "juice" collector who specialized in pain for delinquent customers. In 1941 he was arrested in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for assault and robbery. In 1947, he was arrested and charged with rape; he went on to beat those charges. In 1949, he was arrested and sentenced to four to eight years in prison for robbery. In 1953, he was paroled and became a muscle man for gangsters in Chicago.

In 1961, Jackson was arrested, along with five others, at a warehouse as they were unloading $70,000 worth of electrical appliances from a stolen truck. While the others tried to escape, Jackson stood still because he was too fat to run. Agents learned that Jackson was a "juice" collector for Sam DeStefano.

Suspected informant[edit]

In 1960, FBI agent Bill Roemer asked Jackson to become an informant for the FBI. Being a loyal member of the Outfit, Jackson declined.

Nonetheless, in 1961 Jackson was so accused. According to sources, he was kidnapped and taken to a meat-rendering plant on Chicago's South Side, where he was tortured by gangster Sam DeStefano.[1] It is suspected that DeStefano and his crew took Jackson at gunpoint and led him to the plant, where he was tortured and killed in what is known as one of the most brutal gangland killings in American history.

Torture and death[edit]

When police found the almost nude body of Jackson, he was face forward with rope marks on his wrists and feet. He had many cuts and burns all over his body, his chest had been crushed and he had a hole in his right ear from some type of sharp object.

Jackson was impaled, while hanging a foot in the air through his rectum with a meat hook while being questioned by mob enforcers. Jackson kept insisting he was not an informer but his torturers did not believe him. They stripped him naked, smashed his kneecaps with a bat, shot one of them with a gun, broke his ribs, stuck him with sharp objects, used a cattle prod on his penis and anus making him lose his bowels, burned parts of his body with a blow torch, and told him how they were going to kill his wife and children if he did not confess. Then they left him for three days until he finally succumbed to his wounds.

Jackson's body was found on August 12, 1961 in the trunk of his own car, a green Cadillac convertible, which was abandoned on Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago.[2]

Other theories[edit]

According to Gus Russo, author of The Outfit, there were Mob insiders who believed Jackson was killed for raping an imprisoned Mob-connected burglar's wife. Russo also states that Mrs. Humphreys, wife of Outfit fixer Murray "The Camel" Humphreys, asserted the conversation where the government learned about Jackson's fate was staged by mobsters who were aware that the government had planted a microphone. These possibilities have not been verified.[3][4][5][6]

On film[edit]

Jackson's death is named and shown near the beginning of the semi-biographical movie Ruby. He is portrayed by Frank Orsatti in the film.[7]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Roemer, Jr., William F., The Enforcer (1994) p.25; FBI Agent William F. Roemer, Jr., didn't have the information to verify whether DeStefano had a part in killing Jackson. Roemer also points out that he understood that Jackson actually worked for another ruthless Outfit boss, William "Willie Potatoes" Daddano, Sr.
  2. ^ Loughran, Robert T. (August 23, 1961). "Death of Action Jackson puts squeeze on Chicago's police". Redlands Daily Facts. UPI. p. 11. Retrieved 11 August 2014 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ "Body Found in Car Trunk", Chicago Daily Tribune, August 12, 1961, pp. 3.
  4. ^ "Chicago Slaughter", Time, November 24, 1961. Retrieved on 2008-06-26.
  5. ^ Cain, Michael J. (2007). The Tangled Web: The Life and Death of Richard Cain- Chicago Cop and Mafia Hitman. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1-60239-044-4. 
  6. ^ Lindberg, Richard (1999). Return to the Scene of the Crime: A Guide to Infamous Places in Chicago. Cumberland House. p. 9. ISBN 1-58182-013-5. 
  7. ^ March 27, 1992, movie release, Ruby.

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