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Edward "Eddie The Butcher" Cummiskey (died August 20, 1976) was a New York mobster who served as a mentor to Jimmy Coonan, leader of the Westies. Cummiskey is reputed to have shown Coonan how to dismember and dispose of murder victims by scattering their remains into New York's waterfronts, notably in the Hudson River. Cummiskey was murdered by hitman Joseph Sullivan on August 20, 1976 in a bar.
A longtime gangster of the Manhattan's Westside ghetto known as Hell's Kitchen, Cummiskey served under Mickey Spillane following his release from prison. He was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of Genovese bookmaker Eli Zicardi as well as later participating in the gang war between Spillane and Coonan during the mid-1960s. While serving time in an upstate New York prison, Cummiskey learned the trade of butchery, allowing him to take advantage of his sentence to perfect a new and gruesome murder method.
During the early 1970s, Cummiskey took on a young protégé by the name of James "Jimmy C" Coonan, a violent younger generation Irish hoodlum who wanted to take out the old-timer Mickey Spillane.
Coonan had a following amongst the younger Irish in the neighborhood (including Billie Beattie, Billy Bokun, Jackie Coonan, Eddie Coonan, Mickey Featherstone, Jimmy McElroy, Joey Schultz, Richie Ryan and Tommy Hess) as well as earning the respect of some old timers such as Tommy Collins, who shifted their allegiance to Coonan from Spillane. It was not long before the feared Cummiskey favored working for Coonan over Spillane.
Two of Coonan's hoods were Dennis Curley and Paddy Dugan, both lifelong best friends. On August 25, 1975, Curley jokingly pulled a gun on Dugan while the two were drinking in a local pub. Dugan took the jest as a personal insult and stormed out on his friend. Later that evening, Paddy Dugan came across Dennis Curley walking around the streets of Hell's Kitchen and shot Curley twice in the head, killing him instantly. This murder between friends rocked the entire neighborhood, violent as it was known for being. Eddie Cummiskey was among those unhappy about this killing. Curley was like a younger brother to Cummiskey, as both had started out as small-time Irish hoods in Hell's Kitchen. However, Cummiskey was part of the Spillane crew and Dugan was part of the Coonan crew, and Spillane forbade violence against the Coonan gang unless they struck against his men first.
Cummiskey and the Westies
Coonan, looking for a more feared and respected gangster like Cummiskey on his side, decided to use Dugan to lure in Cummiskey. Coonan and Cummiskey soon became known associates, as Cummiskey taught Coonan the "tricks of the trade". This new friendship was not to Spillane's liking; however, he did not act on his anger as he did not yet want to risk severing ties with Cummiskey, one of his heaviest hitters.
Almost three months after the Curley murder on November 17, 1975, Coonan and Cummiskey called Paddy Dugan in under the pretense of a hit against the Spillane crew, claiming they needed Dugan to be the wheelman in the murder. However, the two soon proceeded with their real plan by brutally murdering and butchering Dugan. Cummiskey, the so-called "Butcher of Hell's Kitchen" taught young Coonan the "art" of body dismemberment, using Paddy Dugan as the textbook. Coonan's niece Alberta Sachs was party to the murder, providing the knives and helping with the cleanup.
The following day, Coonan and Cummiskey went out for a drink with Billie Beattie at the Sunbrite Bar. Allegedly, they brought the head of Dugan with them, set it down on the bar stool, ordered his favorite whiskey, lit one of his cigarettes and put it in his mouth. They are reputed to have said that "Although he fucked up, he was still a good Irishman". Beattie was then instructed to go over to Dugan's apartment and bring down the carton of milk from the refrigerator. Upon his return, Coonan and Cummiskey instructed him to leave the bar and get rid of the contents of the carton. According to lore, the carton contained Dugan's penis, which was later rumored to have been placed in a pickle jar and kept in a refrigerator.
Over the next two and a half to three years Cummiskey would further himself from the Spillane-led faction of the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob known as The Spillane Gang and become more and more a member and follower of the young Jimmy Coonan. Then, it was finally time to begin building the Jacob Javits Center in Hell's Kitchen, which would turn into a tremendous money maker. Because the construction site was in Hell's Kitchen that made it Mickey Spillane's territory, but, the Genovese Family boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno did not like that, so, he sent a freelance Irish hitman from Queens by name of Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan to get rid of some of Spillane's main men.
Although reportedly on good relations with both Spillane and Coonan (despite rumors of Cummiskey defecting to the Westies), he was shot at point blank range and killed by Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan while drinking at the Sunbrite bar on August 20, 1976. His death would be one of many ordered by Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno seeking to eliminate high ranking and veteran members of Spillane's organization.
- Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 0-06-016357-7
- English, T.J. The Westies: Inside the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob. St Martin's Paperbacks, 1991. ISBN 0-312-92429-1
- English, T.J. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-059002-5