Harry Strauss

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Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss (July 28, 1909 – June 12, 1941) was a prolific contract killer for Murder, Inc. in the 1930s. He purportedly killed over one hundred men (some historians put the number as high as 500)[1] using a variety of methods, including: shooting, stabbing with ice picks, drowning, live burial, and strangulation. Strauss never carried a weapon in case the local police picked him up on suspicion. He would scout his murder spot for any tool that would do the job.[2]

Most of his associates called him "Pep". In the 1930s, he was committing assaults, larcenies, and drug dealing. He was arrested 18 times but was never convicted until he was found guilty of the homicide that sent him and fellow Murder, Inc. hitman Martin "Bugsy" Goldstein to the electric chair. After hitman Abe "Kid Twist" Reles turned informant, Strauss was arrested for the murder of Irving "Puggy" Feinstein, and at least five other known murders. Strauss tried to avoid conviction by feigning insanity in the courtroom and on death row. Strauss and Goldstein were convicted September 19, 1940, and executed by electrocution using Sing Sing's Old Sparky on June 12, 1941.[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Carl Sifakis, The Mafia Encyclopedia. Checkmark Books, 2005. Page 360.
  2. ^ Jay Robert Nash Bloodletters and badmen. M. Evans; distributed in association with Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1973. ISBN 0-871-31113-5.
  3. ^ "2 in Murder Ring Are Put to Death; Pittsburgh Phil Strauss and Buggsy Goldstein Go to Chair for Brooklyn Slaying" (PDF). The New York Times. June 13, 1941. p. 15.(subscription required)


  • Turkus, Burton B. and Sid Feder. Murder, Inc: The Story of "the Syndicate". New York: Da Capo Press, 2003. ISBN 0-306-81288-6

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